OAKLAND — With Jon Gruden in the broadcast booth and general manager Reggie McKenzie relighting the Al Davis torch to signify a new era, the Raiders had the scene properly set for a night of drama at O.co Coliseum.
If only exhibition football ever worked out that way.
Instead, a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night in the debut of coach Dennis Allen will recede from memory the same way it did for Gruden and every other Raiders leader in his first game, not to mention an announced crowd of 50,403.
"I thought our first-team defense played exceptionally well," Allen said. "I was pleased with the way Darren McFadden played in the first quarter. We got a lot of young guys a lot of reps, but the execution is not where it needs to be, and we need to get better."
The only points came on a 33-yard field goal by Cowboys place-kicker Dan Bailey in the third quarter. The Raiders failed on a chance to tie with 6 minutes, 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Eddy Carmona pushed a field-goal attempt wide right.
Carmona, who struck the upright four times in five attempts during a recent practice, felt terrible about it. What it did accomplish was preventing overtime — something probably neither team nor a national television audience wanted to see.
McFadden got out of the blocks with a 4-yard run, an 18-yard burst with a Carson Palmer swing pass and then an 18-yard run on the first three plays from scrimmage.
"We got accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished, which was let him get a few touches early, let him get bounced around a little bit, and get him out of the game," Allen said. "We’ll evaluate next week as we go into the game and see how much we want him to play next week."
The Raiders first-team defense was quick, aggressive and unafraid to bring pressure — just as advertised. Dallas gained only 16 yards rushing in the first half, and even when the reserves gave up some second-half gains, the Cowboys had just 2.7 yards per carry.
When it was all over, the most visibly upset player was No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who hadn’t played in 20 months and looked that way.
Pryor was 8 for 15 for 50 yards, had his final pass picked off by Manu Silva and saw a handful of other passes nose-dive into the turf. He also rushed for 21 yards on six carries. He looked light years away from backup Matt Leinart (11 for 16, 89 yards) and starter Carson Palmer (3 for 6, 33 yards).
"I’m angry at myself," Pryor said. " I don’t think I played well. I thought Matt played great. I thought Carson played great. I thought everybody else on the team played great."
Pryor might have had a better night than wide receiver and return specialist Jacoby Ford.
On a Palmer interception by Gerald Sensabaugh on Oakland’s opening drive, Ford had little chance to make the catch but didn’t appear to go up and fight for the ball. Later, he dropped back-to-back Palmer passes.
Ford also got penned in at the 14 on the Cowboys opening kickoff and later fumbled a punt that bounced out of bounds.
It was surprising given Ford’s generally strong performance during training camp.
Ford wasn’t the only player with a drop. Juron Criner lost a potential big gainer when he mishandled a Leinart pass on a rollout on the first series of the second quarter.
- Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Rod Streater, who had only 19 catches last year at Temple, caught six passes for 66 yards — all from Leinart.
- The Raiders had just five penalties for 37 yards as opposed to 12 for 91 for the Cowboys. There was only one presnap penalty, a false start on left tackle Kevin Haslam, although he wasn’t the only lineman who jumped.
- Dallas had just 202 yards overall as the Raiders blitzed frequently and gave a sneak previous of their new style.
- Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was trailing his man on a few pass plays and also had a pass interference penalty after being an early training camp standout.
- Gruden made his way to the Black Hole and was greeted enthusiastically by early arrivals. The focus of an upcoming HBO "Real Sports" profile, Gruden was followed by cameras.
- Raiders who didn’t suit up included punter Shane Lechler; wide receivers Duke Calhoun, Eddie McGee and Denarius Moore; running backs Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson; linebackers Mario Kurn and Aaron Corry; offensive tackle Zach Hurd; tight end Brandon Myers; and defensive tackle Richard Seymour.
Courtesy: Jerry McDonald | Oakland Tribune