Strengths and weaknesses show

Published: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 - 8:39 am

OAKLAND – Not great, but not bad, either.

There weren't any absolute truths to be gleaned from the Raiders' 19-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Friday night in their exhibition opener, but there were signs the team could be an improvement over last season's 4-12 disaster.

Considering many prognosticators consider the Raiders to be one of the least-talented teams in the NFL, it was at least baby steps in the right direction.

Sebastian Janikowski and Eddy Carmona each kicked two field goals, and Brice Butler caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Matt McGloin to account for the Raiders' scoring.

Raiders starting quarterback Matt Flynn and backup Terrelle Pryor each had a turnover and led the team to a field goal in the first half, with Janikowski converting from 51 and 40 yards. Both quarterbacks showed their strengths and weaknesses.

Carmona had field goals of 42 and 23 yards, the latter following a fumbled Marquette King punt by D.W. Webb that was recovered by Eric Harper at the 13-yard line to put the Raiders up 19-17.

Defensively, the Raiders put 10 new starters on the field and kept Dallas out of the end zone following their first turnover – a sack and lost fumble by Flynn.

Only Raiders coach Dennis Allen knows who did and didn't enhance their chances of being a major player, but Butler gave himself a chance to be the outside playmaker the offense desperately needs.

Butler caught a 40-yard pass from third-string quarterback Matt McGloin, then later made a diving catch in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown while being tightly guarded by Sterling Moore.

Flynn for the most part did what Allen and offensive coordinator Greg Olson wanted him to do – manage the team, keep drives alive, use some clock and make the safe play. He finished 4 of 5 for 37 yards.

He couldn't be faulted for the lone turnover – a blindside sack by Sean Lee that Jason Hatcher recovered at the Oakland 16-yard line.

Flynn's second series resulted on a 12-play, 49-yard drive that included a 17-yard strike to Denarius Moore on third and six and a four-yard scramble on second and six that set up a four-yard pass to Rod Streater for a first down.

The Raiders got as far as the Dallas 33 before Flynn threw incomplete on third and three, with Janikowski kicking a 51-yard field goal off the infield dirt.

"Practice is one thing, but it's a whole different ballgame when you come out here to play a game," Flynn said.

Pryor demonstrated in his second-quarter performance the kind of running-passing threat currently in vogue in the NFL, rushing three times for 31 yards and hitting 6 of 10 passes for 88 yards.

The Raiders also received production from Rashad Jennings, who ran well in short yardage, had a 16-yard run and finished with nine carries for 39 yards.

The backup quarterback also made the kind of error that makes him a risk. After an athletic and creative drive that opened at the Oakland 10 and faced with third and four from the Dallas 6, Pryor's inexperience showed.

Rolling to his right, he threw late and over the middle, with J.J. Wilcox intercepting the pass.

Pryor later drove the Raiders from their 24 to the Dallas 22 before Janikowski connected from 40 yards to put the Raiders within 10-6.

The Raiders first-team defense, playing without tackles Vance Walker and Pat Sims, allowed only a Cowboys field goal after Flynn's lost fumble.

"After the fumble, for us to keep them out of the end zone was good," Allen said.

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Read more articles by Jerry McDonald



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