OAKLAND — There wasn’t a starter in sight for the Raiders, and for much of the night it looked that way Thursday night in 17-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at the Coliseum.
Georgio Tavecchio’s 28-yard field goal gave the Raiders the lead with 3:46 to play in game they trailed early on 10-0.
However, Seattle quarterback Austin Davis hit Kenny Lawler with a 16-yard scoring pass with 1:10 left to cap a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive as the Seahawks finished the exhibition season 4-0.
The Raiders were 0-4 in the preseason.
The key battle in the exhibition finale was to help determine whether EJ Manuel or Connor Cook would win the job of backup quarterback to Derek Carr, a position of importance the Raiders know all too well after losing their starter last Christmas Eve to a broken right fibula.
Manuel had the upper hand early on in training camp and retained most of the No. 2 snaps in Napa as a result. But Cook had come on, getting the Raiders a short-lived lead against the Los Angeles Rams and then putting his team in position to take a late lead against Dallas.
The plan was for Manuel, the former first-round pick from Buffalo, and Cook, last year’s fourth-round pick from Michigan State, to alternate possessions by two. Two for Manuel, two for Cook, and so on. Neither man was sharp at the outset. Both missed open throws and rhythm was non-existent.
In the end, Manuel had the edge, completing 9 of 14 passes for 85 yards and the Raiders’ only touchdown, a 14-yard pass to Keon Hatcher. Cook was 8 of 19 for 87 yards and ended with an interception to Seattle’s Otha Peters at the Oakland 33 with four seconds to play.
Momentum changed for Manuel after Breon Borders intercepted a Trevone Boykin pass at the 6-yard line, the Raiders’ second pick of the half.
Manuel then drove the Raiders 94 yards in 14 plays, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass Keon Hatcher to bring the Raiders within 10-7.
The drive consumed 7:57 off the clock, during which time Manuel completed 5 of 7 passes for 67 yards and had a six-yard scramble for a first down.
Manuel had passes of 8 and 19 yards to K.J. Brant, 14 yards to Johnnie Holton and 8 yards to tight end Pharaoh Brown.
The Raiders took a shot at the end zone from the 19-yard line, but Manuel’s pass sailed over the head of Holton and well out of bounds. After John Crockett gained a yard, Manuel’s third-and-9 pass was good for a touchdown Hatcher.
Up until the Borders interception, the Raiders didn’t have much going for them other than a Shalom Luani interception brought about when Jihad Ward pressured Boykin up the middle.
Cook drove the Raiders 45 yards on seven plays to tie the score 10-10 on a 34-yard field goal by Tavecchio, a drive that was helped by a pair of 15-yard roughness penalties in the secondary on Seattle.
On third-and-6 from the Seattle 16-yard line, Cook was fortunate to that flat pass to Holton wasn’t intercepted by Pierre Desir.
Cook also got the Raiders in position for a 36-yard field goal attempt that Tavecchio missed on his next possession, a drive aided by a 23-yard pass interference call on former Raider Neiko Thorpe.
The Seahawks, who opened with much of their first-team offensive line, struck first on a 21-yard field goal by Blair Bush set up by a lost fumble by the Raiders’ John Crockett.
Seattle made it 10-0 when Trevone Boykin found Rodney Smith for a 34-yard touchdown along the right sideline. Once Raiders cornerback Dexter McDonald slipped and fell in one-on-one coverage, all Boykin had to do was be on target to get the score.
The Raiders will cut their roster from 90 to 53 players on Saturday and can begin forming a practice squad the following day once players clear waivers.
Throughout the NFL more than 1,100 players will be cast free and the Raiders could be looking for help at cornerback and linebacker on the waiver wire.
— Marshawn Lynch was in his customary spot on the Raiders bench, either kneeling or sitting, during the playing of the national anthem. Once the anthem concluded, Lynch rose as his mother Delisa lit the torch in honor of Al Davis.
— Seasoning? The Raiders played without their first (Gareon Conley), second (Obi Melifonwu, third (Eddie Vanderdoes) and fifth (Marquel Lee) round draft picks.
— McDonald, victimized for a touchdown to Smith early, broke up another throw to Smith in the end zone in the third quarter.
— Seattle fullback and former Raiders Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece did not record a catch or carry for Seattle. Reece, 32, is a vested veteran, which may led to him being released at the cutdown to 53.
Vested veterans on the original 53-man roster are guaranteed their salaries for the season. A common tactic is for teams to cut such veterans, then bring them back after the first week of the season on a non-guaranteed deal.