Before Friday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders had even begun, the Packers suffered an injury to a key player. It’s a miracle that the team escaped Oakland without one of their quarterbacks getting hurt.
The Packers’ backup offensive linemen — which played the whole game — allowed pressure after pressure after pressure all game long, ruining any hope of getting good evaluation tape of the team’s offensive personnel. Although the defense and special teams played pretty well and J’Mon Moore had his best performance of the preseason, it wasn’t enough as the Packers came up just short late in the game. A sack on fourth-and-ten in Raiders territory effectively put an end to the Packers’ late push, a fitting finish to this contest.
After trading punts and field goals through three-plus quarters, the Raiders finally found the end zone midway through the fourth quarter to break a 6-6 tie, Chris Warren’s one-yard plunge was the only touchdown in the game as the Raiders emerged victorious in a game marred by double-digit penalties for both teams.
With 18 players sitting the game out — including ten of eleven projected starters on offense — the Packers’ lineup looked very different in the first half from the group that lined up to begin last week’s game against Pittsburgh. Still, Brett Hundley led a scoring drive on the first series against the Raiders’ defensive starters, finding Geronimo Allison for a few big plays to get into Raiders territory. A Lance Kendricks drop in the end zone sent out Mason Crosby, who tied the game at three.
Hundley seemed to struggle as the first half went on, however, as he was regularly harried by an effective Raiders pass rush that was given only token competition by the Packers’ second-string offensive line. In particular, Kyle Murphy could not block anyone all game long at right tackle, allowing multiple sacks once again with both Hundley and DeShone Kizer under center.
Although the Packers’ offense struggled throughout the game, the defense largely played well, forcing a pair of turnovers and avoiding too many penalties. One area in particular where the Packers have to feel good is at the cornerback position — particularly in regards to their two rookie draft picks. First-rounder Jaire Alexander had a few struggles in coverage (including giving up a 49-yard gain to Amari Cooper on the first drive), but he made an early game-changing play with an athletic interception, his first in the NFL, which stopped a Raiders drive into Packers territory. Second-round pick Josh Jackson would have had a pick-six in his second straight game later on, but his touchdown was wiped away by a holding penalty on the other side of the field by Herb Waters.
While Alexander made a big play on defense, he also showed solid punt return ability despite not actually returning a punt in the first half. Alexander alertly blocked a gunner to ensure that one punt went for a touchback, then drew what should have been a kick catch interference penalty before the flag was picked up.
The Packers also saw a few nice plays from their reserve defenders in the second half. Undrafted rookie safety Raven Greene forced a fumble out of a scrambling E.J. Manuel, and linebacker Greer Martini recovered to set up the Packers in Raiders territory. That play and the DeShone Kizer-to-Emanuel Byrd connection set up the Packers for a go-ahead score on another Crosby field goal before the Raiders tied the game on the next series and took the lead for good later in the fourth quarter.
On the bright side, the Packers got a very good performance from fourth-round rookie J’Mon Moore tonight. Moore caught four passes for 62 yards on the night and displayed good route running and the ability to get separation. With neither Marquez Valdez-Scantling or Equanimeous St. Brown recording a catch in this game, Moore made a statement that he is not to be forgotten in the battle for the Packers’ fourth wide receiver job.
The Packers will conclude their preseason next Thursday in Kansas City against the Chiefs.