Whatever momentum the Oakland Raiders built by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8 has been completely wiped out and replaced with a two-game losing streak that has knocked Dennis Allen’s team one step closer to the basement in the AFC.
A week after the defense allowed a record-tying seven touchdown passes, Oakland played much better and held Giants quarterback Eli Manning to another mediocre afternoon. The special teams also came up with an improved effort despite giving up a blocked punt for touchdown.
Here’s the full roster report card from the Raiders’ latest setback.
The promise and potential Terrelle Pryor showed early in the season is gone. What the Raiders have now is a quarterback unsure of what to do when plays break down, one who has shown a tendency to panic in the face of pressure.
The first time Pryor dropped back to pass, it took all he had to avoid getting crushed by Giants defensive end Justin Tuck before throwing a 16-yard completion. That was about the last good decision Oakland’s quarterback made.
If you take away the two turnovers he committed (one an interception return for touchdown), it was still an ugly game for Pryor. He looked very indecisive in the pocket, rarely had room to run and, on more than one occasion, tried to force passes into tight coverage.
The few times Pryor was able to get out and run, he was still limited by the thick brace he wore on his right leg.
Not a good afternoon no matter how you slice it.
General manager Reggie McKenzie might not be sure whether to offer Darren McFadden a new contract. It shouldn’t be as difficult a decision regarding Rashad Jennings.
Jennings gave the ground game a much-needed lift in his second start of the season, repeatedly pushing the pile with his power-running style that has been lacking from Oakland’s offense most of the year. That helped keep the team in manageable down-and-distance situations, though penalties and poor play often negated it.
In doing so, Jennings fell just 12 yards shy of becoming the first Raiders running back since 2010 to record back-to-back 100-yard games. As it was, he still finished with a respectable 88 yards on 20 carries.
Fullback Marcel Reece had some nice blocks to help spring Jennings, and he also caught three passes. It would have been interesting had the Raiders given Reece the ball on a 3rd-and-1 play in the second quarter rather than trying a play-fake pass that fell incomplete.
Oakland’s passing game never took flight, and as many problems as quarterback Terrelle Pryor had, the performances from his wide receivers certainly didn’t help.
Denarius Moore caught just three passes, and Rod Streater had one. Both were shut out in the first half and had little effect the rest of the way.
Moore, who made a terrific leaping catch to help set up Sebastian Janikowski’s second field goal, and Andre Holmes were both able to get open deep downfield, but Pryor overthrew Moore and didn’t even see Holmes after he raced past a New York cornerback into the open.
It didn’t help that both Moore and Streater dropped passes from Pryor—though, to be fair, Streater’s came on a 3rd-and-40 play when he likely would have been stopped well shy of the first down had he held onto the ball.
Part of the credit goes to New York’s secondary, which put the clamps down on Oakland’s top two receivers and didn’t give Pryor much of a window to pass to.
It was encouraging to see offensive coordinator Greg Olson calling for more plays utilizing the tight ends other than extra blockers in the passing game. It’s just that quarterback Terrelle Pryor didn’t have much luck at all getting the ball to Mychal Rivera or Jeron Mastrud.
Rivera made a pair of receptions, one that came on a broken play when Pryor scrambled to his right and found the rookie for a big 16-yard completion. That turned out to be the high-water moment for Oakland’s tight ends, which should have been a much bigger factor considering how much attention New York focused on Oakland’s wide receivers.
The duo deserve some credit for helping spring running back Rashad Jennings, but until they start being more consistently productive in the passing game, the Raiders will be limited on what they can do downfield.
Another up-and-down performance by Oakland’s front five resulted in another promising but ultimately disappointing afternoon.
The line did a great job opening holes for running back Rashad Jennings, particularly center Steve Wisniewski, who is once again playing at a Pro Bowl level after missing a handful of games while injured. On at least five runs, Jennings was already into New York’s secondary before anyone laid a hand on him.
Conversely, the pass protection was shaky at best and was another reason the offense sputtered when trying to throw the ball. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was sacked four times, hit another four and rarely had time to set his feet and throw.
Left tackle Khalif Barnes was terrible, and rookie Menelik Watson allowed a sack in his most extensive playing time of the season.
For eight games, the Raiders defensive front played about as well as a team could against the run, with few exceptions. That all changed against the Giants when Andre Brown gashed Oakland’s defense for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Granted, he needed a career-high 30 carries to do it, but the Raiders never had an answer for how to slow Brown down.
Ten of Brown’s carries netted five yards or more. He also had a handful of runs when he was dropped in his tracks, but when it mattered most, the young Giants running back powered his way right through the heart of the Raiders defense.
Oakland’s biggest problem up front was the pass rush. The Raiders sacked Eli Manning three times in the first half but rarely laid a hand on him after halftime.
Statistically, the Raiders linebackers had an impressive day. Sio Moore had nine tackles and a sack, Nick Roach added seven tackles, and Kevin Burnett made one of the top plays of the day when he nailed New York running back Andre Brown for a four-yard loss on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Realistically, the trio had a mediocre game.
Far too many of the tackles were being made going backward after Brown had already made a nice gain. That’s not entirely the linebackers’ fault, but it certainly lands on their shoulders as well as the defensive line.
It wasn’t a total lost afternoon, however.
Burnett snapped out of a two-game funk with a pair of nice plays on Brown, while Moore notched his third sack in four games. The rookie continues to improve his pass rush each week, and the results are finally showing.
Tracy Porter made the most pivotal play for the Raiders secondary when he returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown, but it was his work in helping shut down Victor Cruz that really kept Oakland close.
Cruz is New York’s top wide receiver and Eli Manning’s favorite target. Porter shut down Cruz for most of the game, allowing just two of the three catches Cruz made.
Mike Jenkins, on the other hand, wasn’t as solid. He was beaten for a 20-yard completion in the first half and compounded things with a weak tackle attempt. On the same drive, Jenkins was victimized for a five-yard touchdown throw from Manning.
Phillip Adams, pressed into duty as the nickel back while D.J. Hayden rested a sore groin, also had a tough time. His most glaring mistake came in the third quarter after the Raiders had backed the Giants up into a 2nd-and-14. Adams let Hakeem Nicks run right by him without so much as a shove, and Manning hit the receiver for a 25-yard completion that helped set up Josh Brown’s game-clinching field goal.
With all of the problems the front seven had trying to stop running back Andre Brown, the safeties were often left to clean up the mess. That led to a bunch of tackles by Charles Woodson and Usama Young, but rare is the defense that wins when the back end of the defense is forced to mop up the messes.
Young had his most productive game of the season with seven tackles. He also made the first sack on New York quarterback Eli Manning and later made another terrific play when he faked a blitz, dropped way back into coverage and came racing toward the sidelines to break up a Manning pass.
Woodson also had seven tackles, while Brandian Ross made only one play of note when he made a nice read on a pass from Manning to Cruz and held the New York receiver to a minimal gain.
All things considered, this is the one area the Oakland coaching staff has to feel pretty good about despite the loss. Outside of a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown, which was critical, the Raiders had arguably their best game of the season on special teams.
They recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, blocked a punt in the second half and got solid outings from return man Taiwan Jones and kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Jones had two long returns and came close to taking one the distance, while Janikowski made a pair of field goals and drilled four kickoffs for touchbacks.
Punter Marquette King rebounded from the first blocked punt of his career and carried a 50.8-yard average. He landed three kicks inside the 20, including one that hit and died at New York's three-yard line.