Today was the day a lot of Raiders fans in LA have waited 24 years for. The return of the Raider to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The parking lot was filled with Raiders tailgates and the stands were mostly black with a peppering of Rams faithful.
This one meant more than just a preseason game to these Raiders fans. And good thing it did, because they didn’t get much quality football on this day.
The Raiders sat 28 players, including their entire first team offense for the game, as did the Rams. It was vanilla public park level football out there with neither side wanting to tip their hands ahead of their next match-up in the season opener in three weeks.
As for the players themselves, we were looking to see if 1) Chris Warren III could have repeat strong effort and 2) If Connor Cook could prove his first preseason performance wasn’t a fluke. One of those things happened. The other did not.
From the first series of the day, the tone was set. Jon Feliciano snapped the ball and it sailed over Connor Cook’s head with the young QB just able to knock it down and fall on it for a 10-yard loss. The second play, Chris Warren III caught a pass for 7 yards.
The next series, Warren ran for five yards up the middle and Connor Cook threw a pass for a loss and missed high over the middle for Griff Whalen.
That was the day in a nutshell. The QB getting sacked and throwing wild passes and Chris Warren grinding out yards.
At the end of the first half, Chris Warren had 26 yards of offense (19 rushing) and the Raiders had 58 net yards. And the Raiders had just one first down and were getting beaten 13-0.
That was both Cook and EJ Manuel as Cook played the first quarter and Manuel played the second. At the half, both QB’s had a fumble. Cook went 4 for 7 for 15 yards and Manuel went 5 for 6 for 43 yards.
The second half showed improvement, with the Raiders finally getting on the board. Again, it was on the back of Warren, who rushed for 41 yards on the drive, including the 3-yard touchdown. The Raiders went for two and Feliciano again had a second bad snap, causing Cook to be smothered on the play.
Sitting at 16-6 at the end of the third, EJ Manuel came back in the finish it off. Warren had two runs on the drive of 13 and 23 to put the Raiders in scoring range and Mike Nugent brought the Raiders to within 7 on a 31-yard field goal.
The first play of the next series, James Cowser did the Raiders’ struggling offense a solid by picking off a short pass in the red zone. A holding penalty by David Sharpe would make the task of scoring a bit more difficult, but ultimately it was a nifty one-handed snag by Griff Whalen on a pass from EJ Manuel that was behind him that put the Raiders back in the end zone.
Rather than tie it up (no one wants that in a preseason game), Gruden had them for two to try for the lead. The handoff to Chris Warren was stuffed and the scored remained 16-15 Rams.
In the end, the Raiders’ fate was sealed by a facemask penalty by Shilique Calhoun that gave the Rams a first down and allowed them to kneel out the clock to take the game 19-15.
Chris Warren finished with 110 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. EJ Manuel went 10 for 16 for 89 yards and a touchdown. Connor Cook went 6 for 12 for 49 yards.
Leading receivers were Paul Butler and Jalen Richard who each caught 3 passes for 35 yards.
Marquel Lee led the team in first half tackles with 5 and Jason Cabinda finished as the leading tackler with 6. Calhoun had a couple tackles for loss and a couple QB hits as well, leading the team in both areas.