The defense came up big for the Oakland Raiders (1-0) repeatedly as they rallied late to defeat the Dallas Cowboys (1-0) in their preseason opener.
The Raiders defense started out looking like last year’s boom or bust edition as they would look strong on first and second down only to give up a big play to allow the Cowboys to continue the drive. However, once the Cowboys got into the red zone, the Raiders defense came up with the big play as linebacker Trevor Scott had a strip sack of Tony Romo on third and long. The Cowboys recovered the fumble, but were forced to settle for a field goal.
This initial Cowboy push was sandwiched around two three and outs by the Raiders first team offense.
The second Cowboy drive netted two first downs, including a third down conversion, but the Raiders defense held on the second third down of the drive to force the Cowboys into the fourth of their seven punts.
The Raiders offense began to come alive at the close of the first quarter where the Raiders were able to move convert on third down, but a sack of Campbell stalled the drive. After their defense recorded a three and out that twice nearly resulted in a safety the Raiders first team offense had their best drive of the day. Between Michael Bush running and Jason Campbell finding a rhythm in the passing game the Raiders drove down to the Cowboys 30 yard line with a 4th and one. Foregoing the regular season scenario of Sebastian Janikowski easily nailing a field goal, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson elect to go for it. They don’t convert when Campbell can’t connect with Zach Miller.
Both teams traded punts before the Cowboys would threaten again. After a punt return set the Cowboys up in Raiders territory, America’s team attempted to convert a 4th and 1, and heads up play by Ricky Brown put him in the position to stop Tashard Choice before he could convert. A 16 yard run by Rock Cartwright would be all the Raiders would muster as time expired on the first half.
Dallas opened up the second half by driving to the Raiders 9 yardline primarily on a deep p;ass from John Kitna where Sam Herd beat rookie Jeremy Ware. The drive fizzled at the nine and they had to settle for a field goal and a 6 point game. After trading two sets of punts, the Raiders used Michael Bennett’s running and two Johnnie Lee Higgins catches to drive to the Cowboys’ 17 yard-line. Swayze Waters wasn’t even close with the kick.
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The Raiders defense didn’t miss a beat in holding the Cowbohys again. Only a 19 yard pass interference call on Walter McFadden provided any downfield movement. The ensuing punt was muffed by Shaun Bodiford and the Cowboys recovered at the Raiders 11. The Cowbvoys had the opportunity to put the game away here early in the fourth quarter, but the Raiders defense forced them to once again settle for a field goal and a 9-0 lead.
Following the field goal and a touchback on the kickoff, Kyle Boller brought the Raiders offense to life. He would go 7/10 whilst Bennett and Cartwright added 15 yards rushing. For the touchdown, Boller hit a leaping Nick Miller in the back of the end zone. The touchdown catch was actually twice reversed as the initial indications on the field were that it was a touchdown. However, before the point after could be tried, referee Tony Corrente announced that the ruling on the field was an incomplete pass. Tom Cable challenged the call, and on replay it was reversed back to a touchdown for the Raiders first score.
The Raiders needed their defense to come up big and they did by forcing a three and and out. The Raiders offense went right back to work and aided by a 33 yard screen pass to Michael Bennett drove down for a go ahead field goal.
The Raiders defense now had to play with a lead for the first time in the 2010 campaign. Holding a late lead has been a problem for the Raider defense over the years. This drive started inauspiciously for the Silver and Black as they gave up a 4th down conversion. However, instead of wilting as the defense has frequently done in those situations Jerome Boyd made a play on ball off the hands of Manny Johnson to make the interception in stride and take it into the end zone for a touchdown that set the final score at 17-9.
Not content with making the win look easy at this point, as time was expiring, Joe Porter was beat down the sidelines by Hudgens for a 40 yard gain. However the final desperation heave towards the end zone was picked at the goal line by rookie defensive back Stevie Brown.
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Patrick Patterson’s other writing:
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