Asked to offer his impression of the offense in the Dallas Cowboys 3-0 victory against the Oakland Raiders in the preseason opener, coach Jason Garrett didn’t even attempt to put lipstick on a pig.
The first team offense gained 14 net yards on 10 plays. They gained just four yards rushing and they managed one first down.
They also managed to get quarterback Tony Romo sacked while attempting a screen pass.
“Not real good,” Garrett said matter of factly. “We didn’t play with good rhythm. It took us a couple of drives to make some first downs. We didn’t run it as well as we needed to. We didn’t drive it as well as we need to. The self inflicted wounds were a part of that.”
The Cowboys certainly use injuries as an excuse considering they were playing without three starters in guard Nate Livings, center Phil Costa and receiver Miles Austin.
But Garrett said the Cowboys needed to be better regardless who was in there.
“We are expecting these guys to come in and play,” Garrett said. “The next man up philosophy. There are things we have to get better it. It was not a good performance.
The Cowboys pitched their third preseason shutout in franchise history with Monday’s 3-0 win against Oakland.
The last preseason shutout was Aug. 26, 1995, at the Alamodome when the Cowboys beat Houston, 10-0. The first preseason shutout came Sept. 8, 1977, when the Cowboys beat Pittsburgh, 30-0.
The 3-0 game was also the Cowboys’ lowest-scoring game in franchise history. The previous low was their 5-0 victory in the divisional round of the 1970 playoffs against Detroit.
“Anytime you can shut out a team, no matter what the game plan is, it’s an accomplishment,” inside linebacker Sean Lee said. “If you look at some of the second-team guys, some of the younger guys, the passion they played with was good. The first game usually there is a lot of mistakes, but you saw a lot of guys play hard. That’s why I think we were able to keep them out of the end zone.”
It also can do nothing but help the confidence of a unit that was beaten down over the final month of last season when a playoff spot slipped out of its hands.
The defenders talk about how coordinator Rob Ryan simplified the scheme and how an offseason of work helped familiarize them more with Ryan’s scheme.
“It’s big for morale,” linebacker Alex Albright said, “That’s what we strive to do. Even if it’s the preseason, it’s still something that’s tough. It’s tough to shut out teams in the NFL. I’m very proud of the defense.”
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
Of all the football games I’ve ever watched, the Dallas Cowboys’ 3-0 preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night was definitely … well, it was one of them. It was a sluggish, poorly played game by two teams that obviously weren’t at full strength or interested in showing a national TV audience very much of their playbooks. At the time that it ended, nine Major League Baseball teams had outscored the two NFL teams’ combined total.
But it was a game a defensive coordinator could love, and surely Dallas’ Rob Ryan will use it as a rallying point for his defense in the days and weeks to come. As we say all the time here, there is little or no predictive value in any of these games. Some teams game-plan for them, many don’t, and there’s no way to really know what you’re watching in terms of who’s trying and who’s not. But if you’re a defensive coordinator, you’d better believe you can hold up a 3-0 victory and shout at your guys about what they’re capable of if they play hard. Can’t hurt, could help, you know.
The Cowboys’ offense … won’t have as much fun watching film of this one. Let’s get to what we saw from the Cowboys in Oakland on Monday night.
1. The interior of the offensive line is not good right now, and it affects everything the offense tries to do. Tony Romo had no time to throw, DeMarco Murray had no room to run, and the No. 3 wide receiver candidates who were running with the first team had no opportunity to show what they could do. David Arkin started at center in place of the injured Phil Costa, and in the first half he got abused by Tommy Kelly for one sack and was also called for holding. The good news for Arkin is that he didn’t botch any snaps, and he did look better as he continued to play into the third quarter (and the Raiders kept taking out first-team and second-team defensive players). Mackenzy Bernadeau, who started at right guard, is likely to get snaps at center in upcoming preseason games, but since he’s coming off an injury the Cowboys are trying to work him in at guard to get him acclimated. Derrick Dockery started at left guard, and Ronald Leary struggled with the second and third teams. Now, the key things to remember are (a) this isn’t news and (b) preseason games are about figuring out what you need to improve. There’s no reason to think the Cowboys’ offensive line will look worse at any point this year than it does right now, and they’ve known for a while that they have issues there. If they can get Costa and Nate Livings and Bernadeau healthy, they’ll at least have the crew with which they planned to go into the season. I’m just not sure that’s good enough — or that they have anything behind the starters that can help in case of injury. And it’s worth mentioning that right tackle Doug Free didn’t look good either.
2. Andre Holmes had a good night. Of those No. 3 wide receiver candidates, Holmes stood out the most, with 40 yards on three catches. Holmes’ asset is his size, and he looks like he’s doing a good job of using his big body to shield the ball from defenders and make catches in traffic. Long way to go and a lot to see, but Holmes helped his case. Kevin Ogletree likely remains the favorite and got the first crack at it, starting in place of the injured Miles Austin. Ogletree caught the only ball thrown his way, for 12 yards, and had a goofy moment when he fell on his face trying to make a block and slipping on the infield dirt at the Oakland Coliseum. Expect to see more from Dwayne Harris, Tim Benford, Cole Beasley and Danny Coale in upcoming games. Beasley was the slot receiver with the first-team offense but didn’t see any action. Interesting that Dez Bryant did start in spite of his hamstring injury and made one excellent 24-yard catch before taking a seat.
3. The defense did look fired-up and kind of deep in spots. Defensive end Marcus Spears played like a man who knows he needs to win a roster spot. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh came up with an early interception on a play on which cornerback Orlando Scandrick had his man well covered. Kyle Wilber showed some ability to generate pressure on Matt Leinart on a third-down play, though he did leave the game with a broken thumb. Tyrone Crawford pushed the pocket a little bit during his time in there. And I think that inside linebacker spot is going to be a real strength, as Sean Lee and Bruce Carter both looked good. Yes, the Raiders ran the ball effectively against the first-team defense, but that first-team defense was without starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff as well as defensive end Jason Hatcher and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. So I imagine they’ll be better once those guys are on the field.
4. Not-so-special teams. The Cowboys were called for penalties on two punts and one field-goal attempt, each time allowing the Raiders to keep the ball. That needs to be tightened up, clearly, and it’s the kind of thing that just infuriates coaches in these preseason games.
5. Miscellany: Adrian Hamilton, the undrafted linebacker who had 20.5 sacks at Prairie View last year, looked active and quick. Remains to be seen whether he has the size and speed to play against NFL offenses… Rookie tight end James Hanna showed good hands as a receiver and looked good on kick coverage… Dwayne Harris was called for holding, and yeah, that can work against a guy who’s trying to get a job as a No. 3 wide receiver… Yes, you like what you see from Victor Butler, as you always do in August. Still need to see whether and how the coaches find more ways to get him on the field once the real games begin… Seemed like punter Chris Jones was fine.
Dan Graziano | ESPN Dallas
|Dallas Cowboys (1-0-0)||Oakland Raiders (0-1-0)|
|D. Van Dyke||1-0||0.0||0||0|
|Total First Downs||11||Total First Downs||18|
|By Rushing||3||By Rushing||5|
|By Passing||7||By Passing||9|
|By Penalty||By Penalty|
|Third Down Efficiency||2/10 – 20%||Third Down Efficiency||5/15 – 33%|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||0/1 – 0%||Fourth Down Efficiency||0/1 – 0%|
|Total Net Yards||202||Total Net Yards||253|
|Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||49||Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||67|
|Average Gain per Offensive Play||4.1||Average Gain per Offensive Play||3.8|
|Net Yards Rushing||54||Net Yards Rushing||89|
|Total Rushing Plays||20||Total Rushing Plays||28|
|Average Gain per Rushing Play||2.7||Average Gain per Rushing Play||3.2|
|Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||0-0||Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||4–13|
|Net Yards Passing||148||Net Yards Passing||164|
|Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||2 – 17||Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||2 – 17|
|Gross Yards Passing||165||Gross Yards Passing||181|
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||15 – 27 – 1||Pass Comp-Att-Int||22 – 37 – 2|
|Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||5.1||Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||4.2|
|Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||2 – 0 – 0||Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||1 – 1 – 0|
|Punts (Number-Average)||6 – 41.0||Punts (Number-Average)||5 – 40.2|
|Net Punting Average||39.8||Net Punting Average||33.0|
|FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0||FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||1 – 0|
|Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||83||Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||26|
|Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||1 – 16||Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||3 – 7|
|Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||1 – 19||Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 12|
|Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 67||Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||1 – 19|
|Penalties (Number-Yards)||12 – 91||Penalties (Number-Yards)||5 – 37|
|Fumbles (Number-Lost)||1 – 0||Fumbles (Number-Lost)||3 – 0|
|Kickoff Returns||0||Kickoff Returns||0|
|Fumble Returns||0||Fumble Returns||0|
|Punt Returns||0||Punt Returns||0|
|Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0||Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Kicking (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0||Kicking (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0||Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||1 – 1||Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 2|
|Red Zone Efficiency||0/1 – 0%||Red Zone Efficiency||0/1 – 0%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||0/0 – 0%||Goal To Go Efficiency||0/0 – 0%|
|Final Score||3||Final Score||0|
|Time of Possession||26:25||Time of Possession||33:35|
It was about what one would expect a preseason opener to look like.
The Cowboys’ and Raiders’ offenses both showed lots of rust, the starters in large part responsible for a 0-0 halftime tie that was only barely broken when the bottom half of the Cowboys’ roster did just enough to propel them to a 3-0 win.
It was a tale of two phases for the team.
The starting defense was excellent, netting an interception to start the game, then forcing the Raiders to punt three times on the ensuing drive, which was extended by two special teams penalties. But as good as the defense played, the offense was just as bad. Other than a 22-yard Tony Romo-to-Dez Bryant pass, the first unit gained a total of only two yards despite getting three possessions of work.
“Not real good,” head coach and play-caller Jason Garrett said of his offense. “Overall, it was not a good enough performance, but it’s still early on in camp and we’ve got to learn from it.”
The offensive line, in particular, looked rugged. Missing two of the five presumed starters, the group allowed two Raiders’ pass-rushers to take a shot at Tony Romo, one ending in a sack, and opened no room for DeMarco Murray or Felix Jones, who combined for four yards on four carries.
“I think we need to eliminate some of the mistakes that put us in a hole tonight,” Romo said. “We have a lot of young guys playing right now and we are just going to be able to evaluate this tape and get better from it. Right now is a time for us to correct the mistakes that are on the tape. I think the effort was there tonight, we just need to have better execution, and we will.”
Their first game action since being eliminated from a playoff spot by the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants on New Year’s Day, Monday’s matchup was one of five contests the Cowboys will play in a 23-day span, culminating with the regular season opener at New York on Sept. 5.
Because of injuries and the heavy precaution befitting this stage of the season, the Cowboys were without seven starters – three on offense and four on defense – plus a handful of other players who are expected to have substantial roles. All told, 16 of the 90 players on the roster did not dress, most remaining back in Oxnard, Calif., where the team is set to wrap up camp with three final days of practice this week before heading to San Diego for the second game of the preseason, coming up on Saturday.
After the Raiders picked up a couple of first downs to start the game, Gerald Sensabaugh ranged over to intercept a deep Carson Palmer pass, returning it for 31 yards. The Cowboys then crossed into Raiders territory on a beautiful leaping grab by Bryant, who was a game-time decision with a hamstring injury.
The offense went backward from there and was forced to punt. New starting safety Barry Church finally ended Oakland’s second drive for good with a nice open-field tackle on third-and-11, the final play of a successful night for the Cowboys’ top defenders.
“I think it is always a good time to see where you stand and play against another opponent,” DeMarcus Ware said. “I felt like the first-team did pretty good. … There are always some things that we need to work on, but I think it was a good first half.”
The two teams simply traded punts for most of the night, with the Cowboys getting on the board first in the third quarter, new backup quarterback Kyle Orton engineering an 11-play, 67-yard drive to set up a 33-yard field goal by Dan Bailey.
Oakland missed two field goals in the contest, including one in the second quarter that was blocked by nose tackle Josh Brent, who filled in as a starter for the injured Jay Ratliff (foot). Sean Lissemore started at right end for Jason Hatcher (hamstring), while Victor Butler took the place of Anthony Spencer (hamstring) and Orlando Scandrick held down the right cornerback spot for first-round pick Morris Claiborne.
Offensively, the Cowboys were without Miles Austin (hamstring), Nate Livings (hamstring) and Phil Costa (back).
Even better than the victory may have been the fact that the team suffered only one real injury, a broken thumb for rookie linebacker Kyle Wilber. There is hope that the team is beginning to heal in time for most everyone to get some game work in before the matchups of consequence begin next month.
“We’ve had a lot of guys who have not been able to practice and play for us, and you just have to fight through that,” Garrett said. “Injuries provide opportunities. So, a lot of guys got a chance to play tonight, maybe earlier than they would have, and that’s a good thing for them. It’s a good thing for our team to be able to evaluate them in those situations.”
The Cowboys clinched the win with inside two minutes to play, shutting down Oakland’ last-ditch drive on a sack by linebacker Baraka Atkins, a near-interception by safety Eddie Whitley and a fourth-down pick by safety Mana Silva. While not household names, those are the kind players who benefit most from extensive playing time in the preseason opener. Still, Monday was a good opportunity for many of the starters to get their feet wet.
“They are what you make them,” free agent cornerback addition Brandon Carr said of the exhibition games. “I like the preseason, especially in the position that I’m in now. I get a chance to get a feel for my teammates in live game action, get a feel for the coaches, how they coach and how they call plays.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to go out there and brush up my skills and get ready for Sept. 5.”
Courtesy: Josh Ellis
Darren McFadden needed one series to show he’s in midseason form for Oakland following a foot injury that cut his last season short.
Most of the rest of the first-team offensive players for the Raiders and Dallas Cowboys need plenty of work to get back to that level.
McFadden picked up where he left off last season by gaining 38 yards on Oakland’s first three plays of the exhibition season and the Raiders went on to lose to the Dallas Cowboys 3-0 on Monday night.
McFadden, who missed the last nine games of 2011 with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot, opened the game with a 4-yard run, an 18-yard reception and a 16-yard run to delight of the Raiders fans.
But Carson Palmer threw an interception to Gerald Sensabaugh on the next play for Oakland (tied for No. 23 in the AP Pro32) and both the Raiders and Cowboys (No. 15, AP Pro32) struggled to generate much of anything until the reserves took over in the second half.
Kyle Orton drove Dallas 67 yards on the opening drive of the second half to set up Dan Bailey’s 33-yard field goal and that proved to be the only scoring of the night.
McFadden left after that first series and Palmer couldn’t move the Raiders without him. Matt Leinart played the rest of a scoreless first half and completed six passes to undrafted free agent Rod Streater but couldn’t put any points on the board.
Dez Bryant, who status was in question after leaving practice early Saturday because of hamstring tightness, came up with the only big play for Dallas’ first-team offense when he made a good adjustment in the air for a 24-yard gain from Tony Romo on the first offensive drive for the Cowboys.
That was the only first down in three series with Romo under center. Only two of Dallas’ other 10 plays with Romo in the game went for more than 1 yard and both of those were on third-and-longs when the Cowboys couldn’t convert.
The play was sloppy all around as Dallas twice committed penalties on punts to prolong drives for Oakland and committed another before a botched snap on a field goal try.
The Raiders were unable to make the Cowboys pay for those mistakes as the first drive aided by two fourth-down penalties ended in a punt and usually reliable Sebastian Janikowski was wide right on a 47-yard field goal attempt after the third infraction.
Oakland had its share of mistakes as Chimdi Chekwa let a punt roll to the goal line instead of downing it at the 1 and receiver Jacoby Ford had a rough day all around.
Ford was stopped after a 4-yard return on the opening kickoff, had two passes from Palmer go through his hands, was the target on Palmer’s interception and muffed a punt that rolled out of bounds to miss a chance at a return.
Even the replacement officials had their own problems as they spotted one ball outside the hash marks only to have Romo correct them.
The game also marked the first real action as a pro for Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State star quarterback who had no official plays as a rookie with Oakland. Pryor missed last preseason because he entered the league late through the supplemental draft and committed a false start penalty before his only play in the regular season.
Pryor completed 8 of 15 passes for 50 yards, was sacked twice and was quick to leave the pocket to scramble, running six times for 21 yards. He put Oakland in position to score but Eddy Carmona missed a 36-yard field goal wide right with 6:44 remaining. Pryor then threw an interception on fourth-and-26 in the final minute to end the game.
Receiver Dez Bryant played early and had a 24-yard reception from Romo.
Andre Holmes, in the battle for the No. 3 receiving job, had a 20-yard pass reception among his three catches.
Courtesy: Associated Press
Photos Courtesy: Ft Worth Star-Telegram