If Lane Kiffin needed the preseason finale to decide who his starting quarterback will be, Daunte Culpepper should be his man.
The Raiders first-year coach watched the recently deposed Miami Dolphins starter complete 11 of 19 passes for 108 yards and lead the offense to its only touchdown in Oakland's 19-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night.
The winning score came early in the fourth quarter, when backup Marquis Weeks ran 11 yards for a touchdown.
Culpepper, signed July 31, was 11-for-19 for 108 yards with a touchdown and an interception while playing from 2:59 left in the first half until midway through the fourth quarter. The Raiders gained 123 yards on 27 plays while Culpepper was in, and was 3-for-5 converting third downs with him.
He was 7-for-8 for 86 yards on the Raiders' march to a touchdown in the third quarter, a 5-yard scoring pass to James Adkisson on which he could have easily jogged for the touchdown off a bootleg.
Josh McCown started and completed five of 12 passes for 75 yards in four series. Oakland gained 130 yards, was 1-for-5 converting third downs and did not score on offense while he was in. His first drive ended when Tyler Fredrickson, giving Sebastian Janikowski the night off, missed a 39-yard field goal.
McCown did show some elusiveness, with Seattle's defensive front pressuring him on about half his throws.
He was fortunate to not have an interception. His first throw was a lofted jump ball on a short out route that Seattle's Pete Hunter nearly ripped from the hands of Johnnie Lee Higgins before it fell incomplete.
The Raiders' only points while McCown played came when Higgins zoomed past Niko Koutouvides, then up the middle and easily past punter Ryan Plackemeier for a 90-yard touchdown. Higgins then vaulted into a cartwheel and a back flip in the end zone &
easily the most athletic move of the night.
Culpepper entered for a drive that began at his own 1, with third-string center Chris Morris. It was a novel way to force Culpepper into correcting a trend of fumbling &
he had four in his first two preseason games with Oakland.
On his second play, Darryl Tapp dumped Dominic Rhodes in the end zone for a safety and a 12-7 lead that Seattle took into halftime.
Culpepper completed two of his first four passes before he found Justin Fargas on a screen pass for 25 yards. On the next play, an open Higgins dropped Culpepper's long throw. Culpepper converted consecutive third downs, the second a third-and-14 with a 17-yard pass on the sideline to Travis Taylor.
Culpepper then clapped his hands and emphatically slapped the hand of Fargas, showing this was no ho-hum preseason game for the nine-year veteran.
One completion later, Culpepper found Adkisson for the touchdown. His interception was on a deep pass overthrown to Carlos Francis and intercepted by C.J. Wallace.
The Seahawks' night contained far less drama for starting jobs. Only three of their 22 regular starters on offense and defense started Thursday. Seneca Wallace, playing into the fourth quarter while starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck sat out his second complete game this preseason, was 12-for-26 for 181 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Nate Burleson made a final push to start opposite Deion Branch at wide receiver. While competitor D.J. Hackett had one catch for 15 yards, Burleson caught three passes for 54 yards &
including a 34-yard catch on which he deftly spun away from befuddled Chris Johnson. On the next play, Burleson caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to put Seattle up 10-7 early in the second quarter.
Seahawks defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs, who returned to practice this month for the first time since having microfracture surgery on his left knee last November, left the field on the back of a motorized cart with a sprained right knee.
Cornerback Josh Wilson, Seattle's top draft choice in April, had a 31-yard kickoff return early but left in the third quarter &
also on a cart &
with a left hip injury.
Culpepper outshines McCown in final tune-up