With Jon Gruden in the broadcast booth and general manager Reggie McKenzie re-lighting the Al Davis torch to signify a new era, the Raiders had the scene properly set for a night of drama.
Preseason football seldom works out that way, however, and a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Monday night in the debut of coach Dennis Allen will recede from memory the same way it did for Gruden and every other Raiders leader in his first game in charge.
Both offenses struggled throughout, with the Raiders failing to score with their first unit in large part due to a rough night by wide receiver Jacoby Ford.
Ford, who has enjoyed a mostly sure-handed and injury-free training camp, dropped a pair of passes from Carson Palmer and was the intended receiver on the first series on a Palmer pass that went into the hands of Dallas safety Gerald Sensabaugh.
The Raiders for the most part displayed the competitive nature Allen has stressed throughout training camp, but were lacking in terms of execution and crisp play.
The game ended when No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who struggled with his passing throughout, threw an interception on a fourth-and-26 overthrow to Mana Silva with 36 seconds to play.
The Cowboys weren’t much better, with a 33-yard field goal by Dan Bailey in the third quarter accounting for the game’s only points.
The Raiders missed a chance to tie with 6:44 left when place kicker Eddy Carmona, who hit the upright four times in five attempts during a recent practice, pushed a 36-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Oakland got in position with the help of a 9-yard Pryor scramble on third-and-7 for a first down and a pass interference call on Justin Taplin-Ross against tight end Tory Humphrey.
Dallas broke a scoreless tie on a 33-yard field goal by Bailey, a 67-yard, 11-play drive that include Kyle Orton completions of 20 yards to Andrew Szczerba and 16 yards on third-and-9 to Andre Holmes.
The Raiders outgained the Cowboys 181 to 81, had more first downs (11 to 4) and had the ball for 19:07 of the first 30 minutes but went into halftime tied because of an inability to convert key plays on offense.
Three dropped passes hurt _ two by Ford on successive plays and another by a wide open Juron Criner off a rollout by Matt Leinart.
On the plus size, Dallas had only 16 yards rushing on seven attempts with no gain longer than seven yards.
The first-half penalty total was manageable by Raiders standards _ three flags for 20 yards.
– The Raiders gave up only 38 penalty yards and the defense limited to the Cowboys to 11 first downs overaell.
– Running back Darren McFadden carried twice for 20 yards and caught an 18-yard pass and took the rest of the night off.
– Palmer was 3 of 6 for 33 yards before coming out with 6:36 left in the first quarter. Besides the two drops, Ford later fumbled a punt, retrieved it and stepped out of bounds, getting scattered boos from the home crowd.
– Wide receiver Rod Streater, an undrafted free agent out of Temple who has been a standout since the offseason, caught six passes for 66 yards. In his senior year at Temple, Streater had just 19 receptions all season.
– Backup quarterback Matt Leinart completed 11 of 16 passes for 98 yards and failed to lead the Raiders to a score.
– The second-string offensive line, which was in by the second quarter, had Joe Barksdale at left tackle, Tony Bergstrom at left guard, Alex Parsons at center, Lance Nix at right guard and Kevin Haslam at right tackle.
– Running back Lonyae Miller found it rough going against the team that cut him last year, gaining 39 yards on 15 carries as the primary runner with McFadden out of the game early and Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson injured.
– Gruden made his way to the Black Hole and was greeted enthusiastically by early arrivals. The focus of an upcoming HBO Real Sports profile, Gruden was followed by cameras.
– Raiders owner Mark Davis exchanged warm greetings with Cowboys defensive coordinator and former Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, long a staunch Al Davis supporter.
– Raiders who didn’t suit up included punter Shane Lechler wide receivers Duke Calhoun, Eddie McGee and Denarius Moore, Jones, running back Goodson, linebackers Mario Kurn and Aaron Corry, offensive tackle Zach Hurd, tight end Brandon Myers and defensive tackle Richard Seymour.