Inconsistency was the word of the game for the Raiders who were shut out at home in their 2012 preseason opener versus the Dallas Cowboys.
The starting offense only played a few series and moved the ball well but some miscues between QB Carson Palmer and WR Jacoby Ford kept them from capitalizing on Darren McFadden's hard running.
In the first drive, the Raiders moved down the field 38 yards after starting on their own 14 yard line, mostly on the strength of McFadden who had runs of 4 and 16 yards and added a reception for another 18 yards. The fourth play of that drive was a deep pass down the left side where Palmer was trying to hit Ford for a long reception or possible TD but he threw an ill-advised pass into double coverage and Dallas S Gerald Sensabaugh, coming over from center field, was able to pick off the pass.
McFadden came out after that series and the Raiders struggled to move the ball with Lonyae Miller rushing. Aside from McFadden virtually no player showed consistent play making ability on the offensive side of the ball as the Raiders dealt with drops, poor protection from the offensive line and an inability to run the ball on the Dallas D.
The exception was rookie UDFA standout Rod Streater who continued his solid offseason with six receptions for 66 yards. At times he seemed to be the only player on the team that could get open and catch the ball.
QB Matt Leinart, coming into relieve Palmer mid way through the first quarter, showed his familiarity with the offense. He stayed away from costly interceptions and fumbles and was able to make some good plays with checkdowns. He also struggled with pressure at times and wasn't as accurate on the move as he's been in camp.
Many fans were expecting Terrelle Pryor to show the same skills that made him a highly touted QB at Ohio State but it took some time for Pryor to find his groove. Early on during his turn under center he tucked the football and ran at the slightest hint of the pocket collapsing around him and it wasn't until he got a better feel for the pressure that he was able to maneuver in the pocket and make some plays downfield.
Pryor struggled with the same issues that he's been working on since camp - footwork and fundamentals. His balls were consistently thrown nose-down which is common with his passes. This created a number of balls that were either thrown into the dirt or at the feet of his receivers. At the end of the game, he notably had two passes intercepted back to back - the first of which was ruled an incomplete pass but reviews indicated it was not. Dallas chose to not challenge the ruling on the first interception but promptly intercepted the next pass - a deep ball that had too much air on it.
The defense looked very good - the first team defense gave up hardly any yards to Dallas first team offense. It's difficult to know if this was a result of the defense gelling well or Dallas OL injuries combined with QB Tony Romo not being on the same page as his receiver. My guess is the latter.
Overall, there were some good plays and some bad plays - more of the bad - but preseason is about getting the first games out of the way, putting your players against a new opponent and then learning from the mistakes. Allen has a great many teaching opportunities from this game and if the young Raiders squad can take them to heart they can prepare themselves for Sept 10th, when the season- and their tests - truly start.
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