Wins and losses are the only units of measurement in the NFL that determine the success of a team. A win is a win, and the Oakland Raiders will take the 26-23 overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but if that’s all they take they aren’t likely to win many more.
The Raiders played like a bad team and only won because they played an even worse team. It was a terrible performance by the Raiders and one that is not a building block toward something bigger and better. It’s like the Raiders blew their entire stash playing ring toss at the fair and came away with only an ugly miniature elephant.
The Jaguars were one of the NFL’s worst teams, and the Raiders should have won convincingly, but instead needed several gifts from the Jaguars to win the game. Instead of the Raiders proving that last week’s great performance against the Atlanta Falcons wasn’t a fluke, they did the exact opposite.
The Raiders were down by a touchdown and wasted a timeout to decide to go for it on 4th-and-10 with 3:53 to play. Aaron Ross committed pass interference in the end zone and erased that coaching error, gave the Raiders 24 yards and the first down and nearly guaranteed them a touchdown. Once the Raiders tied it up it was like the Jaguars were trying to give the game away and ultimately succeeded.
The Raiders did some nice things, but they were handed the game on a silver and black platter. The Jaguars called a timeout to set up Sebastian Janikowski’s first attempt to win the game from 64 yards out at the end of regulation, and the Raiders couldn’t connect. The Jaguars then fumbled away their only possession in overtime, and Janikowski hit the game-winning field goal from 40 yards.
Oakland’s defense played well, but that should have been expected against a team like the Jaguars. The defense was granted a gift when Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert went down with an injury and the Raiders were playing against NFL stalwarts such as Chad Henne and Rashad Jennings.
At 2-4, the Raiders pulled within a game of the AFC West, but the Raiders proved on Sunday they have a long way to go before becoming a threat to the division leaders. The Raiders couldn’t run the ball, committed nine penalties and turned the ball over. If anything, the Raiders proved they aren’t much of a threat to quality teams at all.
The greatest concern for Oakland remains a sub-standard running game. Darren McFadden has yet to get going and averaged 2.8 yards per carry on 19 attempts against a statistically poor run defense. When the running game isn’t working it forces Carson Palmer to put the team on his back. With Palmer committed to throwing the ball, the offense line has had trouble giving him a clean pocket.
Once the Raiders stopped making stupid mental errors that killed drives and gave the ball to the Jaguars, they had a much easier time driving down the field and putting points on the board. The Raiders get another one-win opponent next week in the Kansas City Chiefs, who have made a habit of turning the ball over and are last in the league in turnover margin. The Chiefs, like the Raiders, are infinitely better when they aren’t killing drives and giving the ball to the other team with mental errors.
The Raiders didn’t play a great game, but there were a few notable performances on both sides of the ball.
Defensive end Lamarr Houston forced the fumble in overtime that set up the game-winning field goal, led the team in tackles and had a sack. Houston was good against the run and the pass and was a big reason Oakland’s defense was able to hold the Jaguars to just two field goals in the second half.
Rookie outside linebacker Miles Burris had another impressive game by recording a sack and four tackles. He’s really come on strong the last couple weeks and is making it hard for the Raiders because he plays the same position as Aaron Curry, who recently started practicing with the team while being on the PUP list.
Offensively there were a few bright spots. Palmer, despite an interception and two fumbles, played well. Darrius Heyward-Bey caught four passes for 85 yards and drew the interference call on fourth down that enabled the Raiders to tie the game. Rod Streater made a leaping catch of a Palmer pass on 3rd-and-6 to extend the drive five plays before Palmer dove into the end zone to make it 23-23.
Janikowski connected on four of his five field-goal attempts, only missing a 64-yard attempt at the end of the game. He’s as reliable a kicker as you will find in the NFL, and the Raiders are probably glad they have both his big leg and his reliability on their side.
Darren McFadden had just 81 total yards and only 53 rushing. It’s not good when the perceived best offensive player can’t even get going against a soft Jacksonville team. If the Raiders don’t get him going soon, they will not be able to challenge the Broncos or Chargers for the division.
The entire offensive line played poorly once again. McFadden has no place to run, and Palmer was sacked twice and fumbled twice. The offensive line was surprisingly good last year, but it appears that was just a mirage after another poor effort.
Greg Knapp again proved to be an uninspired and conservative play-caller. He gets too much blame, but there’s no good reason the running game shouldn’t be getting more positive yards with McFadden on the team.
Dennis Allen has to know what situations in which his team is going to go for it on fourth down so he can make the call. Instead, Allen had to call a timeout to pull the field-goal unit off the field to put the offense back on the field. What’s worse is the Raiders had no business even considering trying for a field goal in that situation. Allen got it right, but he wasted a timeout. Allen is lucky the Raiders didn’t end up needing the timeout.