Reporting Mike Fisher
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OAKLAND, Calif. (105.3 THE FAN) — The Cowboys’ first-team defense was in a playful postgame mood late Friday in Oakland, featuring starters Sean Lee and Jason Hatcher mock-jousting over which of them deserve more credit for a strip-sack-fumble recovery caused on Oakland’s first position.
But the Raiders’ come-from-behind 19-17 victory in this exhibition meeting left precious few other Cowboys position groups in celebratory moods.
On Oakland’s opening drive of the game, defensive tackle Hatcher got his hand on the ball as quarterback Matt Flynn was trying to avoid pressure, and a delayed blitz from linebacker Lee buried the quarterback and sent the ball squirting loss. Hatcher again got his hands on the ball for the recovery, the early takeaway – mirroring a fumble recovery for Dallas last week in its preseason-opening win over Miami – leading to a Cowboys field goal.
“It’s the preseason, so I’m not going to argue for credit,’’ joked Hatcher. “Ask Sean. He knows who did the damage.’’
The Cowboys got another takeaway (their fourth in two games under new coordinator Monte Kiffin) when rookie safety J.J. Wilcox thwarted a long Raiders possession during which he recorded six tackles by stealing an end-zone interception.
But beyond the accomplishments of a Dallas defense that forced just 16 turnovers last year, that’s about the end of the positive news.
Quarterback Tony Romo’s debut was a good one statistically as he completed 6 of 8 passes for 88 yards in his first two series of the preseason – series that were bogged down by a handful of errors. And offensive backups Cole Beasley (a 15-yard touchdown catch and negative x-rays on a foot injury), Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle (a 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter that gave Dallas a 17-16 lead). And maybe just being able to play football on the big stage was enough for some.
Said star receiver Dez Bryant: “I am so excited. Not only me, but the rest of this team. When we came to the sideline (after two drives for the first-team offense) and coach (Jason Garrett) told us we were done, me, (Jason) Witten and Miles (Austin) we were just talking about how good we felt and couldn’t wait to get back out there. It is a great feeling and I hate the fact that we only had a couple of drives because we are really ready to go and in good shape.’’
The Cowboys’ special teams were not in good shape. Rookie B.W. Webb fumbled a punt at his own 9 in the late going that set up a key Oakland field goal. The Cowboys also had a field goal blocked (and almost got valuable kicker Dan Bailey hurt on the play) and allowed an inopportune 51-yard kickoff return.
Some inconsequential Raiders ended up beating Dallas backups when an Usama Young interception of a pass from Dallas’ Nick Stephens set up a score and a 30-yard TD pass from Oakland QB Matt McGloin to Brice Butler provided the home team its biggest spark.
“I thought the starters on each of the units did a pretty good job,” said Garrett, who may not be so lavish in his praise when he watches the gamefilm and gets his Cowboys back in Oxnard for the final week of training camp.
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