Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell (2) is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end Tommy Kelly, right, in the second quarter during an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
The third game of the preseason is without a doubt the most important contest of the exhibition slate. It's the game where the starters play at least the first half, and the coaching staff gets an idea of what kind of team they have heading into the regular season.
After Saturday's preseason title against the Saints, the Raiders might want to ask for a do-over.
Oakland was held scoreless until the end of the fourth quarter when Jeff Garcia finally hooked up with Jonathan Holland for a 43-yard touchdown to avoid the shutout. Other than that, it was all Saints, as New Orleans won at the Coliseum, 45-7.
JaMarcus Russell had decent numbers (12/18, 153 yards), but the offense was unable to move the ball consistently. Russell's biggest mistake was a fumble lost in the first quarter when he was hit by Roman Harper as he was about to make a throw. The ball was recovered by the Saints' Jonathan Vilma.
After the game Russell and head coach Tom Cable agreed, the entire team was at fault for the poor performance. Now the Raiders will get back to work, with one final preseason game on Thursday in Seattle, before the season opener on Monday night against the Chargers, when a performance like Saturday's certainly won't cut it.