For about 12 minutes, the Oakland Raiders seemed to have a pretty good handle on what the Washington Redskins were doing on both sides of the ball. It changed quickly, however, following a critical interception thrown by quarterback Matt Flynn.
From that point on, Oakland’s offense had an uneasy feel to it.
The defense was only marginally better, and there was another missed field goal from kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
It all added up to a 24-14 loss to the Washington Redskins that dropped Oakland to 1-3.
Here’s the full roster report card from the game.
Matt Flynn was, in a word, terrible. Outside of the offense’s only scoring drive when he connected on four of five pass attempts, Flynn looked as out of sync as a quarterback can be.
He was sacked seven times, fumbled twice and threw a poorly thrown pass that was picked off and returned for a touchdown. Even on the touchdown drive which Flynn capped with a nice 18-yard throw to tight end Mychal Rivera, his passes were awkward at best.
He threw on the wrong shoulder to Rashad Jennings which Jennings still hauled in for an 11-yard gain. On the next play, Flynn underthrew Denarius Moore on a pass Moore had to come back for. About the only thing accomplished was in cementing Terrelle Pryor’s status as the team’s starting quarterback.
It gets pretty bad for an offense when the entire starting backfield goes out of the game injured. Darren McFadden (hamstring) went out on the third series of the afternoon, and fullback Marcel Reece (knee) didn’t last much longer.
Although the Raiders tried to stick to the game plan of pounding the ball, it was difficult after that. Rashad Jennings, who replaced McFadden, was more effective catching passes than he was running the ball. He led the team with eight receptions for 71 yards, to go with 45 yards rushing. The ground game, as a whole, totaled 104 yards.
The trio of Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Brice Butler combined for seven catches or one fewer than running back Rashad Jennings had himself. Part of that was because Matt Flynn struggled throwing the ball downfield, and part was due to Washington’s pass rush which forced Flynn to use the checkdown throws.
Moore made a nice adjustment to make a 34-yard reception on a poorly thrown pass in the first quarter, and he continues to make strides after a slow start to the season. Streater, on the other hand, wasn’t much of a factor at all in his least productive game of the season.
Jeron Mastrud started for the fourth consecutive week, but rookie Mychal Rivera has been stealing the thunder. Rivera continues to be a solid threat down the middle of the field, and he has a good knack for finding holes in the coverage. He’s also very raw still, as evidenced by his key drop in the second half.
It would be easy to pin the seven sacks (Oakland’s most allowed since Nov. 6, 2006) on the front five, but that would also be a mistake. Right tackle Tony Pashos was beaten for a sack early in the game, but after that, most of the problems quarterback Matt Flynn had were of his doing by holding on to the ball too long.
The running game was decent, but not great, and Washington’s defensive line, at times, put together a pretty strong push up front. On the plus side, Oakland’s offensive line was called for just one penalty (holding on left tackle Khalif Barnes), and it was declined.
The Raiders did a good job pressuring Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III early in the game, forcing him out of the pocket and into hurried throws on the run. They did the same thing in the second half, only the near-misses often turned into big gains for the Redskins after Griffin eluded the pressure.
The biggest problem up front was defending the run. Alfred Morris rushed for 71 yards before leaving the game with bruised ribs. Backup Roy Helu added 41 yards on 13 carries, including a 14-yard touchdown that sealed the win for the Redskins. Lamarr Houston had two hurries, but committed a costly offside penalty that negated a turnover.
An active day by Nick Roach (seven tackles, forced fumble) and Kevin Burnett (five tackles, fumble recovery) got lost in the shuffle after Washington rallied on the strength of its no-huddle offense.
A lack of tackling against the running game also was critical, particularly on Roy Helu’s touchdown run when he met very little resistance from the middle interior of Oakland’s defense. Robert Griffin III also escaped too many times when he should have been brought down for a loss, particularly in the second half.
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III completed 18 passes, 10 of them to wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson. Not all of them were against Oakland’s cornerbacks, but enough to be a concern.
Mike Jenkins continues to have trouble sticking with receivers, while Tracy Porter was beaten twice before temporarily leaving the game injured.
The most glaring breakdown came on Garcon’s five-yard touchdown reception when rookie D.J. Hayden, who was lined up in the slot, allowed Garcon to come off the line untouched, which enabled Griffin to make the easy throw on the slant pattern for a touchdown.
Charles Woodson came flying in to drop Griffin for a 10-yard sack late in the first half, and he was in on the play where Griffin was sacked and fumbled in the second half, but that was about it as far as highlights go for the back-end of Oakland’s defense.
Woodson and Brandian Ross combined for 13 tackles. At some point, the safeties have to start forcing some turnovers, particular on interceptions. So far, that hasn’t happened.
Four games into the 2013 season and kicker Sebastian Janikowski already has as many missed field-goal attempts as he had all of last year. He shanked a 52-yarder against Washington, which is no gimme, but, with a kicker like Janikowski, it usually is.
That was about the only blemish on an otherwise fairly solid day for the specialists. Rashad Jennings’ blocked punt and recovery in the end zone helped build some momentum, as did Taiwan Jones’ fake punt which he turned into a 19-yard gain. Punter Marquette King averaged nearly 45 yards, but has not been as comfortable a holder as Janikowski needs, and it shows.