Raiders pour it on late, beat Cowboys
ARLINGTON, Texas – Preseason games are all about breaking in new plays and new players. Some old standards still apply, though – basics like the importance of getting touchdowns whenever the offense is, say, within 16 yards of the goal line.
The Dallas Cowboys got a reminder Thursday night.
Dallas managed only three field goals out of drives that were 16, 13, 9 and 10 yards from reaching the Oakland end zone. The Raiders made the Cowboys pay for their inefficiency, scoring all of their points – two touchdowns and a field goal – in the final 4:58 to pull out a 17-9 victory.
“The thing that jumped out at me here is we just continue to keep battling,” Oakland coach Tom Cable said. “A lot of things to be excited about, a lot of work to do still, but with the spirit of the team, I think we’re in a place we need to be.”
Dallas had snaps from Oakland’s 16, 13, 9 and 10 without getting into the end zone. One of those drives was stopped on downs, and the others were settled by David Buehler making kicks of 42, 27 and 28 yards, putting the Cowboys ahead 9-0.
Kyle Boller got Oakland’s rally going by driving 80 yards in 13 plays, hitting Nick Miller with a 4-yard touchdown pass. There were questions whether he had both feet inbounds, but officials watched replays and said he did.
The Raiders went ahead 10-9 with 2:24 left when Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 28-yard field goal. Oakland turned to its ace kicker because backup Swayze Waters had badly missed a 34-yarder at the start of the fourth quarter.
Raiders safety Jerome Boyd stretched the lead when he intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown with 33 seconds left. The Cowboys were driving for a possible tying touchdown when fourth-stringer Matt Nichols threw another interception on a heave into the end zone on the final play.
“I tell you what I told the team: this proves we have more work to do,” Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. “I’m not happy obviously with the results. I thought we played more like the first preseason game than the second one in some areas. I thought we had complete control of the game and lost in the fourth quarter.”
Part of Dallas’ offensive woes trace to the line, which gave up four sacks in 20 snaps. Cowboys quarterbacks have been sacked 11 times in two preseason games.
“It’s something we’re working on, and we’ll continue to work on,” center Andre Gurode said.
Romo was sacked three times on the opening drive, twice after getting to the 16. Jon Kitna got a series with the starting blockers and wound up getting sacked, too, nearly for a safety.
At least one sack could’ve been Romo’s fault for holding the ball too long. But at least one was the fault of Doug Free, the new starter at left tackle.
Romo was 4 of 7 for 52 yards, with a 7-yard scramble for a first down. Kitna was 8 of 11 for 96 yards.
Oakland’s new starting quarterback Jason Campbell never came close to scoring on his four drives. Then again, he was facing a defense that came out with regular-season intensity, with linebackers Bradie James and Keith Brooking treating Campbell as if he was still with the rival Redskins.
Campbell’s first two drives went three-and-out. When his final series got rolling, the top nickel unit came back for a fourth-and-1 and Campbell’s pass sailed way over his target, tight end Zach Miller.
“It was the first time in a long time that I had some jitters in pregame warmups,” said Campbell, who was 7 of 13 for 49 yards. “Once the game started, I was OK. I felt comfortable. I’m just trying to learn my teammates.”
Campbell converted only one third down out of six. He was sacked once and didn’t have a turnover. He also indoctrinated himself as a Raiders QB by throwing deep twice, once down each sideline; the first was broken up by a rookie free agent, the other was caught out of bounds.
Boller was 12 of 21 for 148 yards. Cable never turned to third-stringer Colt Brennan.
For the Cowboys’ defense, this marked the second straight game they pitched a shutout for three quarters, then their deep reserves let it get away.
“It’s all a growing process,” James said. “Each game you just play to get in shape. You use the preseason to get in game shape for the regular season. This is really our second game so I wanted to come out and make some plays.”
Dallas also can feel better about Buehler, the linebacker-sized kicker who specialized in kickoffs as a rookie last season. By making all three of his tries, he’s 6 of 7 this preseason. All four of his kickoffs turned into touchbacks, too.
Oakland 0 0 0 17 – 17
Dallas 3 0 3 3 – 9
Dal-FG Buehler 42, 6:56.
Dal-FG Buehler 27, 10:14.
Dal-FG Buehler 28, 10:41.
Oak-N.Miller 4 pass from Boller (Waters kick), 4:58.
Oak-FG Janikowski 28, 2:24.
Oak-Boyd 48 interception return (Janikowski kick), :33.
First downs 18 13
Total Net Yards 317 263
Rushes-yards 28-129 22-66
Passing 188 197
Punt Returns 4-18 5-54
Kickoff Returns 0-0 4-64
Interceptions Ret. 2-48 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 19-34-0 22-39-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-9 6-34
Punts 6-49.5 7-48.1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 9-63 8-66
Time of Possession 27:42 32:18
RUSHING-Oakland, Bennett 12-68, Bush 7-31, Cartwright 7-25, Boller 2-5. Dallas, McGee 2-15, Choice 5-9, Miller 4-8, Donaldson 3-7, Jones 2-7, Romo 1-7, Barber 3-5, Gronkowski 1-5, Austin 1-3.
PASSING-Oakland, Boller 12-21-0-148, J.Campbell 7-13-0-49. Dallas, Kitna 8-11-0-96, Nichols 8-14-2-72, Romo 4-7-0-52, McGee 2-7-0-11.
RECEIVING-Oakland, Higgins 3-38, Figurs 3-34, Z.Miller 3-15, Cartwright 2-28, Bennett 1-33, Murphy 1-14, Watkins 1-10, Bush 1-8, Bodiford 1-6, Owens 1-5, N.Miller 1-4, Reece 1-2. Dallas, Hurd 4-57, Miller 4-18, M.Johnson 3-11, Austin 2-33, Anderson 2-16, Hudgins 1-40, Farr 1-18, Witten 1-18, Crayton 1-10, Ogletree 1-8, Barber 1-1, Gronkowski 1-1.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-Oakland, Waters 34 (WL).
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Fueled in part by Tampa Bay’s surprise victory in the Super Bowl, Nevada sports books recorded their fourth-highest win of all time in January.