The Oakland Raiders knew exactly what to expect from Tennessee Titans' offense, yet they could do little to stop it. Even on the deciding play of the game, coach Dennis Allen’s team simply froze up and broke down, resulting in a costly 23-19 loss.
The defense also had problems getting off the field on third down and tracking down surprisingly elusive Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Sebastian Janikowski missed two field goals, raising his season’s total to seven already. That’s equal to the number of misses the Polish Cannon had for all of 2011 and 2012.
Quarterback Matt McGloin came back to earth a little bit in his second NFL start but did throw a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, doing just enough to keep the job.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the Raiders' loss to the Titans.
Any information and quotes used in this and any report by Michael Wagaman were obtained firsthand.
For some strange reason the Raiders dropped into zone coverage on Tennessee’s final play from scrimmage, opening the door for Kendall Wright’s game-winning touchdown catch in front of Oakland cornerback Tracy Porter.
Wright lined up in the slot opposite Porter and ran a simple out pattern after another Titans’ receiver had run a clear-out pattern. Porter, who has been stellar in the slot this season, was extremely slow in reacting and couldn’t get there to make a stop even after Wright had fallen at the 1-yard line before scurrying into the end zone.
For a franchise that built its legacy on playing tight man-to-man coverages, getting beaten while in a soft zone was painful.
“It was a great read,” Porter said. “Great throw by Fitz right between me and the corner. It was difficult for both of us to make the play in such a short window. It’s just what happened.”
Oakland’s inability to get off the field on third down was as much to blame as anything and left many players wandering around in disbelief.
The Titans converted 10 of 18 third-down opportunities and gained 175 of their 426 yards in total offense on those 10 plays.
Four of the conversions came on plays of 3rd-and-10 or longer. Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 54-yard touchdown on third down. He also fired the game-winning score on a third-down play.
“They just out-executed us, plain and simple,” Porter said. “Whether guys out of position on certain things, coverages, we were just out-executed. We didn’t wrap up with our tackles.”
For the record, the Raiders were just 3-for-10 offensively on third downs.
As much as he would like to do otherwise, Dennis Allen can no longer ignore Sebastian Janikowski’s problems. Not after the kicker told a sideline reporter during the game that the problem was with the holder.
Janikowski made attempts from 52, 48, 24 and 42 yards but he also shanked two wide left, from 32 and 48 yards.
In a game that Oakland lost by four points, the math is pretty simple.
The problem isn’t that Janikowski has been wildly inconsistent this season, even though he has. After missing from the right hash on the 48-yard try, Janikowski glared at holder Marquette King as the two men jogged off the field then walked over to former teammate Lincoln Kennedy on the sidelines.
Kennedy, hired prior to this year to be Oakland’s sideline reporter, later went on radio station 95.7 FM and said that Janikowski said there was an issue with the hold.
Janikowski wasn’t around when the media was allowed into the locker room, as is usually the case.
“We’re not making them, not consistently enough,” Allen said. “We have to continue to work to get better there. I still have all the confidence that when I send him out there that it’s going to go through.”
Rashad Jennings has been a breath of fresh air in the backfield, where he’s been the Raiders’ most productive offensive player since replacing Darren McFadden.
Jennings rushed for 73 yards on 16 carries and added another 49 yards on four receptions, marking the fourth straight game in which the veteran backup has piled up more than 100 yards in total offense.
Jennings, who suffered a shoulder stinger but was able to finish, has amassed 553 yards of offense throughout the past four games.
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson also made it a point to get Marcel Reece more involved. The veteran fullback ran five times for 14 yards and caught four passes for 44 yards.
Charles Woodson spent last week studying film of the Titans offense and came away with one conclusion: Tennessee’s receivers are a pretty stellar group when it comes to running crossing patterns across the middle.
Yet despite prepping for those routes, the Raiders looked like a lost bunch in the secondary for much of the afternoon. Time and time again, Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found open receivers cutting across the middle of the field and was able to make the completions for big gains.
It didn’t help that Oakland lost cornerback Mike Jenkins to a concussion in the second half. The Raiders were already short-handed after placing first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden on injured reserve.
Still, the plays were there to be made and the Raiders didn’t do much about it.
“It wasn’t like they were giving us anything we hadn’t seen on film,” Woodson said in a solemn locker room. “When I watched the game last week that’s all they ran—those crossing patterns. They did the same thing today. We allowed them to make a lot of those plays.”
Oakland’s defensive linemen will have nightmares all week about Ryan Fitzpatrick after the Titans quarterback repeatedly danced away from pressure and avoided sacks while keeping plays alive in much the same fashion Terrelle Pryor did for the Raiders earlier in the year.
Linebacker Nick Roach had one-and-a-half sacks while Kevin Burnett added a half of a sack. Beyond that, Fitzpatrick was allowed to operate without much resistance.
Although Oakland hit Fitzpatrick five other times, the Tennessee quarterback deftly moved around in the pocket and sidestepped several defenders who initially appeared to have a clear shot at taking him down.
“If he doesn’t have that first read, you know he’s going to move around,” safety Charles Woodson said. “He was able to escape a little bit today and get away from some of our pressure. That’s up to us to make the plays even if he does scramble.”
Rookie tight end Mychal Rivera left the game early in the second quarter after absorbing what looked like a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by Tennessee safety Michael Griffin. He did not return and was later diagnosed with a concussion.
The play left many people shaken, including Rivera’s actress sister Naya Rivera, who tweeted an expletive directed at Griffin shortly after her brother was helped off the field.
A photo of the Raiders’ injured rookie laying on the ground was released, showing an ashen-faced Rivera staring blankly ahead.
Rivera, who was coming off his best game of the season, finished with one catch for 10 yards. Without him for the final two-and-a-half quarters, however, the Raiders hardly used their tight ends at all in the passing game.
Jacoby Ford continues to slide deeper and deeper into football oblivion.
Two years removed from being a key member of Oakland’s wide-receiving corps, Ford has been mostly an afterthought on offense this season. He had just one pass thrown his way against Tennessee and played sparingly even though Denarius Moore was inactive.
The saving grace for Ford was supposed to be his work on special teams, but even those plans have gone awry. Ford fumbled a punt in the second quarter, though the Raiders quickly pounced on the loose ball.
It’s the fourth fumble this season for Ford. Three have come on special teams.