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Cowboys defeat Raiders, 31-16

By Elwyn Henderson

The Dallas Cowboys concluded their 3-game preseason schedule at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Saturday night, hosting the Las Vegas Raiders.  80,325 fans in attendance had a lot to be happy about as the backups controlled the game and Dallas walked off with a  31-16  victory to go 1-2 in the preseason.

      Las Vegas won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half, kicking off to begin the game.  Daniel Carlson’s kick went into and out of the end zone and Dallas set up shop on offense at their 25 to begin their first possession.

     Will Grier started at quarterback and played the entire contest.  It was a strange scenario as Dallas made a trade with the San Francisco Forty-Niners on Friday for Trey Lance, former 3rd pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.  Grier was told by the coaching staff in light of the trade that he would play the entire game and then would be cut by the team.  The Cowboys were praised around the league for being up front and honest with Grier.  Getting a full game in gave him a chance to audition for another team and hopefully secure a roster spot for the 2023 season.

    Grier led the team down the field and ran into the end zone from 2 yards out for the first score of the game with 9:25 left in the first quarter of play.  Brandon Aubrey added the PAT and Dallas led 7-0.  The drive was 11 plays 75 yards and took 5:35.

     Aubrey kicked away after the score and ball sailed through the end zone and the Raiders began their first drive at their 25 with Aiden O’Connell at quarterback.  The Dallas defense forced a three-and-out and AJ Cole punted the ball back to the Cowboys.  The kick traveled down to the Dallas 21 where Jalen Tolbert called for and made a fair catch, setting Grier and company up again on offense.

     Grier led the offense to the Vegas 41 where Aubrey attempted a 59-yard field goal.  The kick had the distance and looked like it was going to be good but pulled just wide left, keeping the score at 7-0 with 3:30 left in the first quarter.

     The Raiders began their next drive at their 49 following the missed field goal.  They moved down to the Dallas 25 and on 4th down Daniel Carlson booted a 44-yard field goal with 14:09 left in the first half and leaving the visitors trailing 7-3.  The drive was 10 plays, 26 yards and took 4:21 off the clock.

     After a touchback on the kickoff Grier led the offense back to field to begin their third drive of the game and they began at their 25.  The drive culminated with a 9-yard pass from Grier to tight end Luke Schoonmaker with 7:51 left in the first half.  Aubrey’s extra point kick was good and Dallas extended their lead to 14-3.  The drive was 13 plays, 75 yards and took 6:18 off the second quarter clock.

     Another kickoff out of the end zone set Las Vegas back up at their 25.  The moved down the field into the end zone with 4:38 left in the half.  The score came on a 24-yard TD run by Damien Williams.  Carlson added the extra point and Vegas closed the deficit to 14-10.  The drive was 6 plays, 75 yards and took 3:13.

     Yet another touchback resulted in Grier and the Dallas offense starting their next drive at their 25.  The Cowboys garnered a third touchdown with 50 seconds left in the half when Grier hit rookie Hunter Luepke on a 15-yard score.  Aubrey connected on the extra point kick and the Cowboys extended their lead to 21-10.  The drive was 9 plays, 75 yards and took 3:48.

     Las Vegas started their final drive of the half at their 25 after another touchback of Aubrey’s kickoff.  The Raiders drove to the Dallas 44 and on the final play of the half Carlson nailed a 62-yard field goal, bringing the score to 21-13 at the half.  The drive was 31 yards and 50 seconds in length.

     The Raiders began the second half of play receiving the Aubrey kickoff which was taken 5 yards deep in the end zone and run out to the 20.  Vegas went on an 8-play, 48-yard drive that consumed 3:53 off the clock. The drive ended with a Carlson 50-yard field goal with 11:07 left in the third quarter.  The kick narrowed the Dallas lead to 21-16.

     Grier brought his offensive unit out at his 35 following a touchback on the ensuing kick.  Grier moved the team down the field as he had done all night.  The drive ended with Grier rushing for a 7-yard TD with 4:29 left in the third quarter.  Aubrey added the PAT and the Dallas lead advanced to 28-16.  The drive was 12 plays, 75 yards and took 6:38.

     After another touchback the Raiders began their next drive at their 25 with O’Connell remaining at quarterback as he had been the entire game up to that point.  Jeff Traylor’s former star running back Sincere McCormick from UTSA ran the ball a lot in the drive and looked very good.

     The visitors closed out the possession with an incomplete pass on a 4th and 2 at the Dallas 10 and Grier brought his offensive unit back on the field with 14:25 remaining in the game.

     The drive stalled at the Vegas 40 and Aubrey attempted a 59-yard field goal that was good with 7:55 left in the game and pushing the Dallas lead to 31-16.  The drive was 12 plays, 48 yards and took 6:30.

     Aubrey’s next kickoff went out of the end zone and the Raiders began at their 25.  Chase Garbers came in at quarterback in relief of O’Connell.  He led his charges down the field but a 4th down pass from the Dallas 21 fell incomplete and Dallas took over on downs at that point with 2:54 left in the game.

     Grier moved the team to the Vegas 40 and the Cowboys ran out the clock to end the game and secure the 31-16 win.

     When Coach Mike McCarthy met with the media after the game the Mirror asked him if he thought he saw what he needed to see from the younger players to make the decisions on who would make the final roster.

     “I think so.  They definitely poured it out there for us.  I’m anticipating the video is going to be really good.  It’s really about 68 players (including practice squad players), so hopefully, we can see what we need and get the guys back.”

     All NFL teams will now have their cut down to their final 53 roster and will have next weekend off before the regular season beings.  Dallas will open on the road against the New York Giants.





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