Another big start wasted, another trip to the East Coast ending in futility. The Oakland Raiders are quickly running out of time to make any type of move in the AFC, and their 24-20 loss to the New York Giants in Week 10 only makes things worse.
Dennis Allen’s team shook off a home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles a week earlier and had the Giants on the ropes for most of the afternoon thanks to a stout effort by the Raiders defense and special teams.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the offense couldn’t make it hold up, however. A week after racking up nearly 600 yards of offense, the Raiders went down rather meekly and committed a pair of costly turnovers to help fuel New York’s win.
Here are some of the top takeaways from Oakland’s loss.
For the second time in three weeks quarterback Terrelle Pryor failed to get the passing game off the ground. Once again, it was costly.
Pryor scored a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage and completed his first two pass attempts. After that, it was all downhill for the former Ohio State star.
Under heavy pressure much of the day and put behind the eight ball numerous times by penalties, Pryor never got into any kind of rhythm. He looked skittish, was indecisive at times and repeatedly tried to force passes into coverage.
Oakland’s offense has lived on the edge with Pryor at quarterback. This was one of the times he took them over the edge.
His interception late in the third quarter was inexcusable, as were the sack and fumble that ended the Raiders’ final drive. Both turnovers could have been avoided had Pryor made quicker, smarter decisions.
The 122 passing yards by Pryor are the second fewest of his career in games that he’s started.
A week after giving up an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes, the Raiders couldn’t stop the run. Not in the beginning of the game, at no point in the middle, and certainly not in the end when Andre Brown helped the Giants milk the final 3:21 off the clock to secure the game.
Brown, who missed the first eight games of the regular season after suffering a broken left leg in the preseason, gouged the Raiders throughout the afternoon and became the first running back this season to run for more than 100 yards against Oakland’s defense.
There were a few plays when the Raiders were able to contain Brown. Outside linebacker Kevin Burnett drilled him for a four-yard loss on the first play of the fourth quarter, for example.
Yet those plays were few and far between. Brown had 115 yards on a career-high 30 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown.
Talk about a Jekyll-Hyde start.
The Raiders opened the game with a fumble recovery on the opening kickoff, setting up Terrelle Pryor’s short touchdown run. Then on their next possession, Damontre Moore of the Giants shot through an open gap between long snapper Jon Condo and Jack Crawford to block Marquette King’s punt. The ball bounced perfectly into the hands of New York’s Cooper Taylor, who returned it 21 yards for a touchdown.
All of that in the first six minutes.
Kaelin Burnett later appeared to block a punt for Oakland, but the ball rolled past the line of scrimmage, nullifying the block.
All in all it was one of the Raiders' most productive games on special teams.
King shook off the first blocked punt of his career and put together a stellar afternoon. He landed two of his next three kicks inside the 15-yard line, including a picture-perfect punt that died at the Giants’ 3 and opened the door for Tracy Porter’s interception return.
Taiwan Jones also gave the kickoff return team a spark with his 41-yard scamper after fielding the ball two yards deep in the end zone. It’s the longest return for Jones this season and the best by any Oakland kickoff returner this year.
New York quarterback Eli Manning spent most of the first half running for his life trying to get away from Oakland’s pass rush. The pressure dried up in the second half, though, when the Giants relied more heavily on their ground game.
Defensive tackle Vance Walker, rookie linebacker Sio Moore and back-up safety Usama Young each sacked Manning in the first half.
Two of the sacks came on New York’s first two possessions. Young got his on the Giants’ third play from scrimmage when he and cornerback Tracy Porter blitzed from opposite sides of the field.
After that, the pass rush went mostly silent. Daniel Muir did get a good hit in on Manning when the New York quarterback threw an interception to Porter.
Because the Giants had so much success running the ball, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was forced to cut back on the blitzing, and Manning took advantage of it.
Rashad Jennings followed up his first 100-yard game in three years with another solid performance while lending some much-needed power and pop to Oakland’s running game.
Making his second start of the season while Darren McFadden rested back in the Bay Area with a sore hamstring, Jennings repeatedly bashed into New York’s defense and pushed the pile backward while churning out big chunks of yards.
That’s been something sorely missing from the Raiders offense when McFadden has been in the backfield.
Jennings’ day was magnified even more because of the problems the offense had trying to throw the ball. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was under pressure most of the afternoon and would have been in big trouble had the ground game struggled.
Jennings finished with 88 yards on 20 carries, but the Giants did a good job limiting him to two catches after he had been so successful bailing out Pryor a week earlier.
The Raiders clearly have a problem at left tackle and have since Jared Veldheer suffered a torn triceps in training camp. Khalif Barnes has been erratic at best and continues to be one of the weakest links on the offensive line. His game against the Giants might have been the worst yet for the veteran tackle.
Barnes was called for a pair of holding penalties and a false start. One of his holding calls wiped out a 20-yard run by Rashad Jennings, while the other put the offense in a big hole after the Giants took the lead in the second half.
Barnes was also manhandled for a sack by Jason Pierre-Paul in the first half when the New York defensive end drove Barnes back into quarterback Terrelle Pryor with little to no resistance.
If and when Veldheer returns, Barnes will likely go back to right tackle. It’s hard to imagine things getting any worse over there than they have been on the left side.
Not all of the problems the Raiders had passing the ball were entirely quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s fault. Oakland’s wide receivers were missing in action most of the game and only made marginal contributions.
Pryor didn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver until making back-to-back throws to Denarius Moore midway through the Raiders’ opening drive of the second half. Moore finished with three catches, but he also dropped a key second-down pass on the Oakland series that ended in a blocked punt return for touchdown by the Giants.
Rod Streater had just one catch total. He also dropped a pass from Pryor in the first half. Of course, when only 11 passes are completed total, there’s not going to be much to go around.
The inconsistencies from the receivers have been a hindrance both to the offense and to Pryor’s growth. Oakland’s passing game has very little margin for error, and the drops by Moore and Streater shrink it even more.
If there has been one encouraging sign over the last two weeks it’s been the kicking of Sebastian Janikowski.
Janikowski got off to a terrible start this season and missed four of his first seven field-goal attempts, two of them critical misses. He’s come back to make his last four tries, however, including a pair of gimmes against the Giants.
Hobbled much of the last week by sore ribs, Janikowski also boomed four of his five kickoffs deep into the end zone for touchbacks. The one kickoff the Giants did return ended in a turnover that the Raiders ultimately cashed in for a touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead.
Given the problems the offense has had scoring, particularly in the second halves of games, any production and consistency from Janikowski will be met with open arms.