A national television audience on ESPN’s Monday Night Football was treated to a lackluster 3-0 Cowboys victory over the Oakland Raiders as Dallas opened its preseason schedule. The Cowboys defense played well while the questions about the offensive line and wide receiver position remain unanswered. Since the team came into this game with 15 players — including five starters — already banged up, they were fortunate with linebacker Kyle Wilbur’s thumb injury being the only addition to the ever-growing list.
Tony Romo faced intense pressure on the second offensive possession. He avoided some pressure to get a pass to Jason Witten, but it led to a two-yard loss and Witten getting drilled in the process. The next play, Romo was trying to set up a screen pass to DeMarco Murray, but Raiders nose tackle Tommy Kelly practically walked right past center David Arkin for an easy sack. In other words, Cowboys fans could have witnessed the end of Romo’s season in a meaningless exhibition game in the Bay Area as Arkin failed to get a body on the veteran defensive tackle who had 7.5 sacks last season.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant was in question after leaving practice early Saturday because of hamstring tightness. His importance to the team’s aerial attack was evident as he came up with the only big play for Dallas’ first-team offense when he made a good adjustment in the air for a 24-yard gain from Tony Romo on the Cowboys first drive. With Miles Austin already out due to injury and the well documented issues with the depth at the receiver position, I was not a big fan of seeing Bryant out on the field against the Raiders
Kicker Dan Bailey made a 33-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 3-0 lead in the third quarter and that was all Dallas would need as the defense would pitch a shutout against Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor and the rest of the Raiders offense. The one area that Oakland was effective on offense was when Darren McFadden and Lonyae Miller were rushing the ball in the first quarter. Cowboys standouts on defense included defensive end Marcus Spears with pressure in the backfield and three tackles and safeties Gerald Sensabaugh (with an interception of Palmer) and Barry Church.
“I think we need to eliminate some of the mistakes that put us in a hole tonight,” Romo said going in at halftime. “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.”
The Cowboys next preseason game is against the San Diego Chargers on Saturday August 18 at 8 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium. The game will be televised on Channel 11 (Silver Star Network).
SILVER & BLUE DEBUT AT COWBOYS STADIUM ON AUGUST 23
On August 23, Cowboys Stadium will open its doors to fans of all ages for the Dallas Cowboys Silver & Blue Debut Presented by Miller Lite.
The event will be a free practice open to all Cowboy fans anxious to see the team in action before the 2012 season officially kicks off. The practice will officially start at 4:30 p.m. However, parking will open up at 2:30 p.m., the plazas will open at 3 p.m. and the doors to the stadium will open at 3:30 p.m.
Parking at the stadium will be $10.
The team will be preparing to face the St. Louis Rams in their third preseason game and first home game of the season to take place on August 25 at 7 p.m.