Oakland Raiders receiver Jacoby Ford (photo by Levi Damien)
For a team to go scoreless in a game, a lot of things have to go wrong. Or perhaps not a lot of things go right. From the opening kickoff throughout the game, the one area that let the Raiders down was their special teams.
The Raiders elected to receive the opening kick. Jacoby Ford took the kickoff and was quickly staring down two Cowboys' coverage team players who both took a should and decked the miniscule receiver at the 14 yard line.
The next two times the special teams got their shot, the Cowboys let them off the hook. The first time they were called for running into the kicker and the second time they were offsides. Both resulted in first downs for the Raiders.
The first time the Cowboys didn't serve up a first down to the Raiders, they proceeded to screw it up on their own. Marquette King had a nice punt which the return man let go and it rolled toward the goal line with Chimdi Chekwa watching it. Unfortunately, he hovered too long and just watched it roll into the endzone for a touchback. He could have easily downed it at any time, pinning the Cowboys against their own goal line, but instead they got the ball at the 20.
The Raiders defense held and the Cowboys were forced to punt. Jacoby stood back to receive it and the ball bounced off his hands. He tracked it down and picked it up but stepped out of bounds in the process as opposed to what looked to be a lot of open space in which to run.
After a couple nice completions by Matt Leinart to Rod Streater, the Raiders were setup in field goal range. And this is when we saw the first signs of Lechler being out. King was not only punting, he was holding too. And when Jon Condo's snap was a bit high, King couldn't handle it. Luckily, the Cowboys were called for offsides so the Raiders would get another shot at getting it right. This time the snap was good, but the hold was not and Sebastian Janikowski's kick was a low knuckleball that missed wide right.
The Cowboys came out in the third quarter and kicked a field goal to go up 3-0. Then on the ensuing kickoff, this time it was Bryan McCann instead of Jacoby Ford. McCann didn't bobble it but despite running around a lot, he was unable to find any room and after gaining just eight yards, he was stopped at the 13 yard line.
Then after a good punt from King on the next drive, he shanked one that traveled just 18 yards.
The Raiders would get back to field goal range again and this time camp leg Eddy Carmona came out to try and tie the game. But it wasn't to be. After hitting the left upright four times in just five tries in one practice this week, he booted this one wide right.
And finally, the last time the Raiders saw the ball on special teams in this game, rookie Dre Muhammad tried to field a bouncing punt and it bounced off his chest where he was lucky to be able to fall on it.
This team was missing their All Pro punter, Shane Lechler and therefore his holding duties as well. They were also trying Jacoby Ford at punt returner for the first time and that didn't work out well. They had every opportunity to pull out a win if not for the mistakes on special teams. It goes to show you just how you can't take special teams for granted.