Defense reigned during the Raiders’ final preseason game Thursday night, with the Seattle Seahawks emerging with a 23-21 win off a late-game interception.
The contest was the last chance for Oakland to get a look at who they want — and don’t — on their final 53-man roster. 22 cuts will be necessary by Saturday.
Even after a loss, Jack Del Rio seemed happy with how his team competed, particularly the defensive line:
“I thought our guys did compete. We did make a few mistakes, overall really happy with our effort. I thought some guys on our D-line really showed up. I thought (Autry) had a really good game tonight. Good to see (Calhoun) and Latham in the backfield a lot.”
The first points of the game were scored by the Silver and Black’s defense. Midway through the second quarter, defensive ends Denico Autry and James Cowser brought heavy pressure on Seattle backup quarterback Trevone Boykin.
Boykin barely threw the ball away while being dragged to the ground in the end zone, resulting in an intentional grounding call for a safety.
The quarterback pressure was just one of many on the night for Autry, who had a monster game for the Raiders. Autry finished the night with six tackles and one sack, and was a defensive wall for Oakland in the first half.
“I just try to get better week through week with the preseason.”
In somewhat of a surprise, the Seahawks started their first-team offense during the first series of the game, but that didn’t stop Autry from having his way with Seattle’s offensive line. On Seattle’s first play, Autry combined with rookie defensive tackle Darius Latham to blow up a run in the backfield for a loss of two.
Autry continually stuffed the run and pressured the quarterback. Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. may miss the first six games of the season, so Autry’s performance was a reassuring bright spot.
Oakland’s quarterback play, on the other hand, was poor.
Matt McGloin looked less-than-impressive starting the first three series of the game. After a three-and-out to start things, McGloin missed an open Seth Roberts along the sideline, and on the subsequent play held on to the ball too long and didn’t allow tight end Mychal Rivera a chance to possibly get a first down.
McGloin got hammered by Seattle defensive end Frank Clark after throwing the ball away on the next series, and his night was over. He finished 4-for-6 for 37 yards.
Rookie Connor Cook came in afterwards and was shaky to start, consistently late and underthrowing several balls. He almost threw a pick into double coverage, but Jaydon Mickens had the awareness to bat a ball out of the air away from two Seattle defenders.
Late in the fourth quarter, Cook made a critical mistake with the Raiders up 8-3, giving up an interception and touchdown to former Raider Ryan Robinson. The Seahawks failed a two-point conversion to go up 9-8.
Cook said there is room for improvement in his play:
“I wasn’t really that happy with the performance. There were some good things and bad things. It’s a learning experience. It’s preseason, and it’s my first season in the NFL. As long as I don’t make the same mistake twice, I learn from it and improve from there that’s all you can ask for.”
The remainder of the game was back and forth between both teams. George Atkinson III scored from one yard out to bring the Raiders within two at 16-14 with less than three minutes remaining, but failed to convert a two-point conversion, and were unable to keep Seattle from extending their lead late.
Who upped their stock Thursday night, and who put their roster spot at risk?
Stock up: Jalen Richard
Richard ran well, and was also a threat returning kicks and punts. He had a crafty punt return for 23 yards where he reversed fields and juked past a few defenders.
Stock up: Darius Latham
The undrafted free agent defensive tackle consistently brought pressure up the middle and stuffed multiple runs plays. He also had a batted pass at the line and seems to have secured himself a roster spot.
Stock Down: Atkinson III and Taiwan Jones.
Atkinson saw play in the second half, but did not impress. Connor Cook threw a perfect ball to him that would have allowed him to walk into the end zone, but Atkinson flat-out dropped it. He also fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter, which Seattle pounced on and recovered.
Atkinson scored on a touchdown run and an 81-yard kickoff return late in the game, but they came when the game was essentially decided.
Jones had zero carries, and his roster spot looks to be in jeopardy.
Stock Down: Stacy McGee
McGee hasn’t showcased any consistency all preseason, and Thursday was the same story, largely overshadowed by the play of Autry and Latham. He did bat a ball down at the line, but wasn’t involved in any tackles.
The Raiders will have some tough choices to make over the final roster before beginning to prepare for their season opener Sept. 11 visiting the New Orleans Saints.