In the end, the Cowboys likely achieved their biggest goal going into the preseason opener against the Raiders – they stayed healthy. But in winning 3-0 to Oakland in a nationally broadcast Monday Night Football game, Dallas showed that there are still a number of objectives that are, to put it kindly, a work in progress.
The team came into this game with 15 players already banged up, including starters
Perhaps the greatest concern last year and throughout this offseason, however, was the Cowboys’ offensive line. The unit struggled during the 2011 campaign, and with injuries playing havoc on the group in training camp,
"I think we need to eliminate some of the mistakes that put us in a hole tonight,” said Romo. “We have a lot of young guys playing right now and we are just going to be able to evaluate this tape and get better from it. Right now is a time for us to correct the mistakes that are on the tape. I think the effort was there tonight, we just need to have better execution and we will.”
For his part Romo finished the game connecting on 3-of-6 passing for 30 yards, of which 24 came on his first toss of the game, a target to
"It was good to get back on the field and compete against a different team after training camp and going against the same guys every day and every week,” said
On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s unit showed flashes of what could be, perhaps both good and bad. Oakland was able to make several sizeable gains, among them a dump-off to running back Darren McFadden on the Raiders’ opening drive that picked up 18 yards.
But, the starters were able to clamp down when they needed to and provided something both the Cowboys coaches and their fans were happy to see, an interception from
In all, they held Oakland starting quarterback Carson Palmer to just 33 yards on matching 3-of-6 passing, while McFadden picked up an additional 20 yards rushing on two carries.
“I felt like the first team did pretty good,” said
With neither team able to do much through a scoreless first quarter, both sides eventually got their big guns out of the game early in the second, the quality of play correspondingly dropping as the night wore on.
Case in point, the Raiders lined up for a field goal at the Dallas 34-yard line on their first possession of the second quarter, and proceeded to muff the snap. Only
Given a second opportunity, Sebastian Janikowski lined for another attempt, this one blocked by
The Cowboys actually opened the third quarter with a little rhythm, Orton marching the team 67 yards on 11 plays before
With that, Orton was done, going 7-for-12 on his attempts for 87 yards passing,
In the battle for the third quarterback spot, if indeed the team even decides to keep one, McGee didn’t exactly separate himself from
The Cowboys now head back for their final days in Oxnard perhaps discouraged with only three points put on the board, but pleased defensively with the shutout. Given the question marks on the offensive line, and the hopes for a strong effort from Ryan’s group this year, this may have to be the blueprint for success this season for Dallas.