Coming into the first preseason game of the year, no one knew what to expect from the Oakland Raiders. The storied NFL franchise lost a lot of big names in the off-season for all sorts of reasons leaving many to speculate whether or not this team could compete with even the worst teams in the AFC during the 2013 NFL season.
Fortunately, the new-look Raiders were impressive to say the least right out of the gate against the Dallas Cowboys. Although the team’s top draft pick was unable to take the field with D.J. Hayden out with a hamstring injury, the Raiders played better than expected regardless.
Along with coming out with the win over the Cowboys, 19-17, the Raiders impressed on both sides of the football on Friday night in Oakland at O.co Coliseum.
Friday’s game did get off to a rocky start for the Raiders with starting quarterback Matt Flynn being sacked on the first possession resulting in a lost fumble. Flynn’s first play in silver and black didn’t go as anticipated, but the team began to come together shortly after the unfortunate first series.
Flynn finished with 37 yards on four completions in five attempts. Although the fumble led to a field goal for the Cowboys by Dan Bailey, Flynn’s debut in Oakland went well considering the circumstances.
Ironically, backup Terrelle Pryor quickly made Raiders fans forget about Flynn’s fumble electrifying the crowd with his feet. Pryor rushed for 31 yards on three carries while leading the Raiders down the field twice.
Unfortunately, Pryor threw an interception in the end zone after a brilliant drive showing to many that he still had a lot of work to do with his passing and decision-making ability. Pryor finished with 88 yards passing on six completions, but left the door open for a potential quarterback battle for the starting gig under center.
The quarterback play only improved from there on out with rookie Matt McGloin taking over in the third quarter with the Raiders down, 10-9. McGloin connected with fellow rookie Brice Butler on a 30-yard pass that was beautifully placed and resulted in the play of the game.
Butler’s catch was incredible to say the least. The relatively unknown wideout made a diving fingertip grab that propelled the Raiders ahead of the Cowboys, 16-10.
In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys struck back with a one-yard run by Joseph Randle, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Raiders with backup kicker Eddy Carmona hitting a field goal with 8:11 minutes remaining.
On the defensive side of the football, the Raiders showed signs of promise. Usama Young picked off Nick Stephens while rookie Sio Moore recorded sack early in the contest and Eric Harper recovered a fumble.
Although this team definitely needs work to be considered a force to be reckoned with during the regular season, this squad has clearly made progress and may continue to surprise throughout the rest of the preseason.