OAKLAND – The Dennis Allen era got underway Monday night at the O.co Coliseum, but the Raiders’ new coach will have to wait at least a few more days to get his first NFL win – and to see his offense score its first points.
Allen and the Raiders opened the exhibition season with a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football, although Oakland running back Darren McFadden played well in his brief stint.
The Cowboys scored the game’s only points on Dan Bailey’s 33-yard field goal with 8:02 left in the third quarter. The Raiders had a chance to tie it with 6:44 left to play, but backup kicker Eddy Carmona missed from 36 yards, hooking his attempt wide right.
Raiders third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who didn’t take a snap in preseason last year, took over with 7:53 left in the third quarter. Like starter Carson Palmer and backup Matt Leinart before him, Pryor failed to put any points on the board. Pryor, though, did make some personal history, recording his first two completions as a Raider, on his second series. However, his final pass of the night was picked off by safety Mana Silva with under a minute to play.
“I think there’s obviously some positives in the game,” Allen said. “I thought our first-team defense played exceptionally well. I was really pleased with the way Darren McFadden played there in the first quarter. There’s some positives. We got a lot of young guys a lot of reps. But at the end of the day, the execution’s not where it needs to be and we got to be better.”
The Raiders’ starters on offense didn’t come close to reaching the end zone in the first quarter, but they still had reason to celebrate. They can thank McFadden for that. The running back put on a brief but impressive show in his first game since suffering a season-ending Lisfranc sprain of his right foot in Week 7 last year against Kansas City.
On the Raiders’ first play from scrimmage, McFadden shot around right end for 4 yards. On second down, he went in motion right, cut upfield, caught Palmer’s strike and raced 18 yards. Then on the Raiders’ next play, McFadden powered over left guard and gained 16 more yards.
“Pretty special,” Palmer said of McFadden. “Just great to have him in the huddle. Great to see him on the field. Just excited to keep working with him.”
The Raiders’ opening drive ended on the next play. Palmer tried to hit Jacoby Ford on a deep shot down the left side, but the pass was intercepted by Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh.
“We had some momentum going on that first drive and just wanted to get a shot downfield,” Palmer said. “Part of that’s what the preseason’s for, to see when you have those opportunities to take them. Obviously now I’d take it back. The safety ended up making a great play on it. We’ll continue to work and continue to figure out what’s best for our guys individually and when to take those shots. Just continue to work.”
Sensabaugh said Palmer “overthrew” Ford on the play. “It gave me a chance to get over the top and get the ball.”
After the interception, McFadden’s night was done. Allen said he had seen more than enough from his biggest offensive weapon for one night.
“We got him a couple of touches early, and he was able to make some explosive gains, and that’s what we anticipate out of him,” Allen said. “We got accomplished what we wanted — to get him a few touches early, let him get bounced around a little bit and see what he can do and then get him out of the game and get him ready for next week. We’ll evaluate next week as we go into the game and see how much we want to play him.”
McFadden gave way to former Cowboys running back Lonyae Miller, who carried 15 times for 39 yards.
Oakland wide receiver Rod Streater, an undrafted rookie out of Temple, has been a minicamp and training camp star. He took his act to Monday Night Football and caught six passes for 66 yards in the first half. If he wasn’t a lock to make the team before, he probably is now.
Allen and new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver unveiled an attacking, multiple defense that had the Cowboys reeling. Gone are the days of Oakland relying almost exclusively on man-to-man defense and a four-man rush.
On two of Dallas’ first four offensive plays, the Raiders sent a wave of blitzers at Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Romo hooked up with wide receiver Dez Bryant to burn new Raiders cornerback Ron Bartell for a 24-yard gain on the first blitz, but free safety Michael Huff broke up Romo’s pass over the middle on the second blitz.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Raiders outside linebacker Philip Wheeler said. “I feel like we’ve got some great players.”
Later in the first quarter, Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly broke free to drop Romo for a sack. Earlier in that series, middle linebacker Rolando McClain, looking slimmer and quicker, dropped Cowboys tight end Jason Witten for a 2-yard loss after he caught a Romo pass.
“We wanted more,” Romo said. “We made some mistakes and it cost us. We’ve got to get better from tonight’s game, and we will.”
Late in the second quarter, strong safety Mike Mitchell intercepted a pass from Cowboys backup Kyle Orton, who airmailed a throw.
Oakland rookie outside linebacker Miles Burris, a fourth-round pick from San Diego State, made his NFL debut, starting for the injured Aaron Curry. Burris played the entire first half and held up well.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Raiders had a chance to strike first early in the second, but Sebastian Janikowski’s 47-yard field goal try — off the infield dirt at the Coliseum — hooked wide right.
NOTES: Raiders starting defensive tackle Richard Seymour did not play. He has missed much of camp with a knee injury. Starting wide receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring), starting tight end Brandon Myers and reserve running backs Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and Mike Goodson (neck) did not suit up. Punter Shane Lechler (knee) was also out. … Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden, an analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, talked to fans in the “Black Hole” before the game. … Ex-Raiders coach Bill Callahan, who worked on Gruden’s staff, returned to the Coliseum as Dallas’ offensive coordinator. Former Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan runs Dallas’ defense. … The Cowboys were without five injured starters: wide receiver Miles Austin, nose tackle Jay Ratliff, center Phil Costa, guard Nate Livings and linebacker Anthony Spencer. … Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski left the game with a calf injury.