LOS ANGELES, August 16, 2013 — After starting the preseason with a win at home over the Dallas Cowboys, the Oakland Raiders traveled to the Superdome for a showdown with the New Orleans Saints. The Raiders have more questions than answers, while the Saints are expected to tear up the league after the aberration of last year.
If the Raiders could even slightly slow down the Drew Brees high octane offense, it would be a moral victory. Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen won a Super Bowl in 2009 as part of Sean Payton’s Saints staff.
One big problem surfaced early with the Raiders power running game. They do not have one. On 2nd and 3, Darren McFadden came up short. After a 3rd and 1 incomplete pass, Dennis Allen decided to go for it on 4th and 1. McFadden got stuffed again. The offensive line remains patchwork.
Dennis Allen loves the dink and dunk West Coast Offense. With a 3rd and 13, a short pass by Matt Flynn padded the statistics and led to a punt.
On one failed series, Flynn was sacked twice.
On special teams, the Raiders muffed a kickoff return. Punt returns had the Saints starting drives past their own 40, and in one case at the Oakland 42.
On defense, the Raiders gave up a 55-yard bomb to set up a Saints touchdown. Brees had another touchdown pass completed when the Raiders were unable to mount anything resembling a pass rush. This was the men against the boys, as the Saints led 17-0 after the opening quarter and tacked on another two more field goals in the second quarter.
The Raiders ended the first quarter with a penalty and began their first series of the second quarter with another one. A 3rd and 17 dink and dunk West Coast Offense pass thrilled fantasy football players who like four yard passes on 3rd and 17. Matt Flynn was sacked five times in the first half.
With 30 seconds left in the half, Flynn lobbed a pass to Denarius Moore for a 30 yard touchdown pass to cap off an 11-play, 82-yard drive. Yet anybody thinking that cutting the gap to 23-7 meant anything, did not watch the rest of the first half. Brees torched the Raiders for 240 yards passing in one half of football.
The entire second half was garbage time. Seneca Wallace is a capable backup who could start on some teams, but he is not Brees. Terrell Pryor showed another flash of brilliance by outrunning the entire Saints defense for a first down. Yet, at some point, quarterbacks need to throw the ball, and Pryor has not answered that question either way. He was one for five for nine yards.
One play defined not just the game, but the entire offensive philosophies of both teams. In the third quarter facing 3rd and 14 from their own 26, Wallace fired over the middle past the first down marker for an 18 yard gain. While the Raiders do their West Coast dink and dunk, the Saints stretch the field.
The Raiders made the score look close when a sack of Wallace by David Bass caused a fumble that was recovered by Ryan Robinson in the end zone for an Oakland touchdown and a 23-14 deficit. As for why the Raiders did not attempt the two point conversion to try and make it a one score game, ask Dennis Allen.
Wallace then had a pass deflected and intercepted by Omar Gaither at the Saints’ 20 yardline. Pryor ran for another touchdown, but it was called back by offensive holding. Backup kicker Eddie Carmona hit the field goal to have the Raiders down only 23-17 after three quarters.
Early in the fourth quarter the Raiders tacked on another field goal to get within 23-20. The Saints brought in their third string quarterback, and with eight minutes left the Saints faced a critical 4th and goal at the one. Sean Payton decided to go for it, and running back Robinson got nailed. The goal line stand showed that the silver and black backups have a ton of heart and character.
Yet as has been the case for the last decade, the defense would keep the Raiders in the game and the offense would give it away. The offensive line and running game are dreadful. After barely avoiding a safety on first down, the second down carry gave the Saints the two points and the 25-20 lead. The Oakland defense held the Saints to another field goal after the free kick, keeping it a one score game with three minutes left to play.
Oakland reached their own 40, but consecutive false starts, a sack of McGloin, and an interception with one minute left killed the comeback. The 28-20 loss was far uglier than the score indicated.
Preseason is about the starters, and little optimism should exist for the Raider Nation regarding their starters. Fourth string quarterback Tyler Wilson did not play. Based on the first stringers of the Raiders, the same could be said of them.
This game was a measuring stick to gauge the teams. The Saints are a very good team and the Raiders are a very bad team. In all phases of the game, the silver and black simply do not look like a competitive football team.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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