The Raiders entered the game Friday with many injuries at crucial positions and it showed during their 28-20 loss in New Orleans against the Saints.
One of the biggest injuries was losing starting left tackle Jared Veldheer who was under the knife on Friday instead of with his teammates at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, undergoing sugery to repair his partially torn tricep.
With Veldheer absent, head coach Dennis Allen inserted Alex Barron as the starting left tackle. Barron struggled from the beginning, unable to stay in front of Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan. Jordan was able to use his quickness on multiple occasions to get into the backfield and pressure starting quarterback Matt Flynn.
But Barron wasn’t the only member of the offensive line to disappoint. The Saints often went untouched as they got into the backfield to sack Flynn five times in the first half alone.
Flynn was largely unable to get the offense going in the first half while playing under duress with Saints defenders in his face for much of his time on the field.
In fact, the starting offense was unable to get on the scoreboard until the final drive of the first half, which coincidentally began with Flynn being sacked by Saints defensive end Will Smith. Smith was untouched on his way to the backfield.
After throwing behind his rookie tight end Mychal Rivera, Flynn was finally able to drive the ball downfield on 3rd and 15 and find Brice Butler for a nice 24-yard gain for the first down. Flynn seemed to find a rhythm after that.
Flynn completed another nice throw, this time to Denarius Moore after standing strong in the pocket and making the throw while absorbing the hit. On 1st and ten, Flynn found Moore again with a perfectly placed ball that was dropped in over the defender in the end zone for the 18-yard touchdown pass with just 31 seconds remaining in the first half.
Flynn’s first touchdown pass of the preseason made the score 23-7 heading into halftime, with the Raiders defense unable to stop Drew Brees and the Saints’ potent offense.
The Raiders were also missing three of their starting four defensive lineman, as defensive tackles Vance Walker and Pat Sims, along with defensive end Lamarr Houston all missed the game due to injury.
The absence of the Raiders defensive linemen certainly showed, as Brees had all day to locate an open receiver as the Raiders struggled to find a pass rush.
Brees and the offense repeatedly attacked former Saint and current Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter. The Saints’ first touchdown came after wide receiver Nick Toon was able to beat Porter deep and haul in a 56-yard reception. Saints running back Mark Ingram punched in the touchdown from two-yards out.
Porter left the game with an apparent groin injury. It is too early for a timetable for his return.
With largely any resistance, Brees finished the first half 14/18 for 202 yards and one touchdown while giving the Saints their 23-7 lead.
It was the Raiders’ second-team defense that was able to make a game out of the contest.
Second-year defensive end Jack Crawford got it started by taking over the first series of the half. On the very first play, Crawford got into the backfield to sack Saints backup quarterback Seneca Wallace for the eight-yard sack. Then, on 3rd and 14, Crawford got into the backfield again and forced an errant throw on the screen attempt to force the Saints to punt the ball.
On the Saints next drive, Crawford found himself in a fortuitous position once again as he recovered a fumble punched out by defensive back Brandian Ross.
Ross also had a nice day with his forced fumble and also making a nice play when coming in on a blitz but adjusting and tackling Saints running back Traveris Cadet for a six-yard loss.
The young defensive end duo of David Bass and Ryan Robinson were able to hook up on a play when Bass got back into the backfield to strip Wallace of the ball which Robinson recovered in the end zone for the touchdown.
While the second-team defense was able to hold the Saints, Terrelle Pryor and the second-team offense failed to capitalize. In fact, Pryor’s only scoring drive occurred on a series that went -7 yards and ended with an Eddy Carmona field goal. The field goal cut the Saints lead to just one score at 23-17.
Before Carmona’s field goal, Pryor made a poor decision trying to force the ball into the end zone after a bad snap, nearly having the ball intercepted.
Pryor finished 1/5 for nine yards, to go along with four rushes for 15 yards.
With the Saints threatening with the ball on the Raiders goal line, Robinson made another play by stuffing the rushing attempt and forcing the turnover on downs, giving the Raiders new life.
The life was short-lived as a couple of plays later fullback Jamize Olawale was tackled in the end zone for the safety. The Raiders defense was able to stand, limiting the Saints to just a field goal and giving the Raiders a chance.
Down 28-20, un-drafted rookie Matt McGloin had one more chance to tie the game.
After finding Greg Jenkins and Conner Vernon for a couple of first downs, the McGloin encountered a 3rd and one. While running the two-minute warning, McGloin snapped the ball too quickly as his team wasn’t set and they were called for an “illegal shift” penalty.
But the damage wasn’t done there. On the next play, the offensive line was called for a false start. But the damage still wasn’t done.
After a near fumble, McGloin had to heave up a prayer on 4th and 18 that was intercepted to end the game.
The Raiders return back home and will host the Chicago Bears at O.Co Coliseum next Friday for their third preseason game.