Raiders close out preseason with 31-16 loss to Cowboys

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Las Vegas Raiders finshed their preseason with a 31-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys

The Las Vegas Raiders dropped their final preseason game in what was essentially a throwaway game, a 31-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

But there were bigger and better things surrounding the Raiders, who sat their starters and a slew of key personnel who will regularly see playing time during the regular season.

First of all, hours before kickoff, running back Josh Jacobs ended his holdout when the reigning NFL rushing king agreed to terms with the Raiders for a reported $12 million. Jacobs, who would have received $10.1 million this season if he had signed the franchise tag tender, led the NFL in rushing with 1,653 yards last season. The announcement lifted the final dark cloud hovering over the Raiders’ facility since training camp opened.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Tyree Wilson makes his debut

Las Vegas first-round pick, who was cleared to practice 10 days ago after recovering from a broken foot he suffered in November, made his debut Saturday against the Cowboys. Though it wasn’t significant playing time, it was significant in the fact he registered live-action minutes two weeks before the regular season. The edge rusher finished exhibited natural agility and fire off the line, justifying why the Raiders drafted him seventh overall in April. He finished with one solo tackle and notably was able to apply pressure to Dallas quarterback Will Grier during a first-quarter series.

“Just following this plan in place all along,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. “The medical people have given us very good direction and a guideline of what to do and when to do it and we’re just trying to follow through with that. Today was another step in the right direction. Get him out there on a game field; he had padded practices this week. I thought he showed up a little bit, I’ll have to see the film just to know exactly how it went. Just another positive step in the right direction.”

Daniel Carlson in midseason form

It should come as no surprise the Raiders’ All-Pro placekicker has been in midseason form since preseason started. The sixth-year pro booted three field goals, giving him seven this preseason in as many attempts. Carlson finished the preseason 6 of 6 from 40 yards or longer, including a 62-yard boot against the Cowboys on the final play of the first half. Carlson has a career accuracy rate of 88%. The 62-yarder was the second-longest in franchise history – in preseason, regular season, or postseason – one yard shorter than Sebastian Janikowski’s 63-yard field goal on Sept. 12, 2011.

“Sometimes, it’s a very selfish world,” Carlson said. “I always got to be like hoping for a chance to get a field goal and expecting to make that to help the team. That’s the best way I can help team. Whenever I do end up out there, whether the drive stalls out or an extra point, I’ve got to take advantage of that. Whether it’s too many field goals, hopefully those can add up…those three points. Obviously, we want more extra points in the long run, especially when the regular season hits.”

Red Zone improvement

The Raiders finished last season 26th in converting their Red Zone trips into touchdowns just 47.9% of the time. Though they were 0 for 2 inside the 20 on Saturday in Dallas, the Raiders finished the preseason 7 for 10 with their trips to the Red Zone. In averaging 28.0 points per game, the Raiders showed vast improvement in their offensive efficiency on the whole. Much of that can be attributed to the play of rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who took the majority of the snaps for Las Vegas during the preseason. O’Connell finished 17 of 26 for 178 yards against Dallas, while Kristian Wilkerson had 10 of those catches for 122 yards.

“You just want to see guys fighting, playing hard,” veteran wide receiver Davante Adams said. “A lot of effort, a lot of attention to detail, which is a compilation – basically a buildup of everything you learned in preseason or in training camp and just applying that. You just want to see guys flying around and having fun out there. I think obviously you didn’t do that and get a victory tonight, but we definitely saw some guys give some good effort and make some good plays.”