The Raiders offense came out guarding in their preseason opener versus the Cardinals. They scored on their opening drive but the only first down was on a pass interference call on the opening play. They settled for a field goal to begin the game and managed just one touchdown the rest of the way.
The final score doesn't matter too much in the preseason. The devil is in the details. When the team was lined up to score, they opted to go for the field goal instead of try for the touchdown. Hue Jackson will tell you that they just couldn't punch it in but when they got in range, they got all Marty Schottenheimer.
The preseason is the time you take some chances and see what your offense is capable of. The defense was certainly on top of things early but that was the story last season. What we have seen thus far in camp is a much more high-powered offense. Certainly one that works quickly and moves the ball down the field. There was some semblance of the Raiders' new offense under Al Saunders but it seemed mostly relegated to between the 20's.
The big scare came early when Chaz Schilens limped off the field. He has a knee injury the extent of which is yet to be determined. Every time he goes down, it is a scare. We should find out tomorrow if he will miss any time due to this injury.
The Raiders started out the game opting to kick off to the Cardinals. This seemed perfectly normal until the second half came and saw the Raiders kicking off again. According to Hue Jackson the team captains had told the refs they deferred and were misheard. And the mixup caused the Raider offense to have that much less time on the field.
The first team defense held strong the first drive. It held the second drive as well but not until after Demarcus Van Dyke had given up a 43 yard catch to Larry Fitzgerald. It took a goal line stand to give the Raiders the ball back on downs. The most impressive part of the goal line stand was that it was the Raiders' second team defense against the Cardinals' first team offense.
The Raiders' ensuing offensive possession was highlighted by a short slant to Denarius Moore that he turned into a 26 yard gain. But the drive stalled again and when Sebastian Janikowski came on to try another field goal, Khalif Barnes had the second of his FOUR false starts. This one changed a 52 yard field goal attempt to a 57 yarder and the Raiders opted to punt instead.
Then it was more of the same. The defense had a three and out and the offense followed it up with a field goal. The Cardinal offense woke up and scored a touchdown, which instantly gave the Cardinals the lead and sent the Raiders into the locker room thinking all of their efforts were for nought.
The third quarter started with Hiram Eugene going down with a dislocated hip that will end his season and possibly worse. They say that the only real losses you have in preseason are players who go down due to injury. The Raiders made an investment in Eugene this offseason for a player who won't take the field.
Next, the Cardinals kicked a field goal of their own to go up 10-6. Then the Raiders drove to the Arizona 3 yard line. But instead of taking a shot at the endzone, they again opted for a field goal.
Midway through the third quarter it looked as if rookie phenom Denarius Moore had a big return but it was called for an illegal block in the back on Kevin Brock.
It wasn't until late in the third quarter when Raider undrafted rookie Zac Etheridge forced a fumble on a punt return that the Raiders were able to convert. The next play was Trent Edwards hitting rookie tight end David Ausberry in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown. This gave the Raiders the lead, 15-10.
But on the next drive, the Cardinals took the lead right back when they drove down the field thanks in large part to a late hit out of bounds by Sam Williams and a 41 yard catch by DeMarco Sampson to put the Cardinals in business at the Oakland 11 yard line.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Raiders got a big 57 yard field goal from Janikowski. But the Cardinals got the ball back with 2:32 on the clock and drove it right down to score the game winning touchdown.
This was not a game of missed opportunities, it was a game of opportunities not taken. Hopefully in the practices this upcoming week, and in the ensuing games, the Raiders can go for the proverbial jugular. This team needs the practice.
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