The Raiders may well make good on their promise to bury their recent past, but a 10-6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium did nothing to inspire confidence among the fan base.
Instead of looking like an intriguing mix of veterans and young players rounding into a playoff contender, the Raiders looked like what they are – a bunch of guys still getting to know one another after a dozen training camp practices.
“I was disappointed in the way we played,’’ Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I thought we’d come out a lot sharper than that.’’
Instead, the Vikings opened with an effortless 70-yard drive engineered by Matt Cassel to open the game, with Matt Asiata scoring on a 1-yard run, and added a 30-yard field goal by Blair Walsh with 54 seconds left in the first quarter. That stood up until Matt McGloin scrambled 10 yards for a touchdown with 1:25 remaining.
The Raiders went for two, figuring they wanted to win or lose without overtime and because backup place kicker Kevin Goessling’s first place kick had resulted in a blocked field goal attempt from 44 yards out. McGloin threw incomplete.
McGloin got the ball back one last time, with his Hail Mary pass to the end zone getting knocked to the ground, mercifully ending the preseason opener for both teams.
When they return to practice Sunday, penalties will be a primary topic of conversation. The Raiders were flagged 13 times for 94 yards. The first offensive snap was a false start on Menelik Watson, and the second drive opened with a facemask on tight end Brian Leonhardt.
They helped derail the first two possessions of starting quarterback Matt Schaub, who finished 3 of 7 for 21 yards.
“It was the first time for us to form our identity for the season and we went out and we didn’t play near to our expectations or our standard,’’ Schaub said. “We need to go back and figure out how to play that way next week.’’
Schaub had two potential first down passes to tight end Mychal Rivera, but Rivera came down with neither of them. A 16-yard strike to Andre Holmes on a third-and-6 play was erased on a hold by left tackle Donald Penn.
In the battle of the reserves, the Raiders did little offensively and the Vikings even less.
At the time of McGloin’s departure, Minnesota had a 120-51 advantage in offensive yardage and had 9 first downs to one for Oakland.
By game’s end, the Raiders had outgained Minnesota 268-237 and had 16 first downs to 17 for the Vikings.
Minnesota’s first possession conjured up memories of some of last year’s defensive meltdowns, with Cassel completing 5 of 6 passes for 62 yards and four first downs.
Two of the first downs went to Cordarelle Patterson against cornerback Tarrel Brown, a 23-yard strike to Greg Jennings came against Carlos Rogers, and finally a 22-yard strike to Kyle Rudolph put the Vikings on the 1 with Tyvon Branch arriving late.
“They came out with a game plan, they executed it,’’ cornerback Chimdi Chekwa said. “There were some things we needed to correct that first series.’’
Rookie quarterback Derek Carr completed 7 of 10 passes for 45 yards, but had the game’s lone turnover when he threw too high for fullback Jamize Olawale. The ball glanced off Olawale’s hands to the Vikings’ Kurt Coleman at the Minnesota 39.
“It was my fault,’’ Carr said. “I threw it too high. I have to make a better throw.’’
Minnesota, 5-10-1 last season, was in its first game with new coach Mike Zimmer and playing for the first time at TCF Bank Stadium, home of the University of Minnesota. The Vikings will play at TCF for at least two seasons while awaiting construction of a stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
— Rookie defensive tackle Justin Ellis sustained a concussion and was the only player not to finish the game because of injury for the Raiders.
— Wide receiver Denarius Moore caught three passes for 28 yards including two passes from Carr that thrown behind him. Besides Rivera and Olawalke, receivers with drops included Greg Little and Jake Murphy.
“When you have an opportunity to make the play, guys have to step up and make the play,’’ Allen said.
— Running backs Jones-Drew (2 carries, 10 yards), Darren McFadden (23 yards on one carry) and Latavius Murray (7 rushes, 28 yards) were cause for optimism with decisive running and cutting.
— Rookie Shelby Harris, a seventh-round pick who has moved up to second team, had a strip-sack fumble and also a tackle for loss.