From penalties to red-zone issues to dropped touchdowns, Dennis Allen’s team did a little bit of everything while suffering their seventh loss in eight games.
The 26-13 final score wasn’t truly indicative of how poorly things went for the Raiders. That they still had a chance late in the fourth quarter spoke more to the Chargers’ inability to put opponents away than it did anything else.
The game did serve to clear up a few issues for Oakland. Running back Darren McFadden, for example, effectively cemented his way out of town with another poor performance. Pat Sims and the defensive line, on the other hand, were stellar against the run most of the afternoon in what was one of their most dominant efforts of the season.
Here’s a look at the full roster report card grades from the Raiders’ Week 16 loss to the Chargers.
A week after committing six turnovers, quarterback Matt McGloin continued to have problems holding onto the ball. The rookie had it knocked out of his hand while trying to throw a pass in the first half, then later made a critical error when he made a foolish throw that was intercepted at the edge of the red zone.
Both of those gaffes were big, but they only explain half of the story. As tough an afternoon as he had, McGloin made some key completions and continued to build on the solid connection he has with wide receiver Andre Holmes.
More importantly, McGloin showed improved pocket presence and moved around comfortably enough to avoid a handful of would-be sacks. He also didn’t have to look over his shoulder for Terrelle Pryor, who stayed on the sidelines the entire game.
There should be no doubt as to which of their pending free-agent running backs the Raiders should attempt to re-sign.
While Darren McFadden was busy doing pretty much next to nothing in his return to the lineup following a three-week absence, Rashad Jennings was making his case to return to Oakland. He didn’t put up big numbers but Jennings consistently ran hard and with purpose, something McFadden hasn’t done much of at all in 2013.
The backfield in general was mediocre against the Chargers. Sometimes it was downright ugly, like when fullback Marcel Reece let a sure touchdown pass slip through his hands in the fourth quarter.
If there’s been one steady bright spot throughout the second half of the season, it’s been the rapid development of Andre Holmes. Holmes has emerged as arguably Oakland’s best wide receiver, and he strengthened that point with another solid effort against San Diego.
Holmes’ five catches for 71 yards paced the Raiders on a day that Rod Streater and Denarius Moore had only four receptions combined. Streater would have had more than one catch, but an apparent 39-yard touchdown grab was negated when referees ruled that Streater had not scored before dropping the ball. He also had a 19-yard catch wiped out by an illegal-formation penalty.
Moore caught three passes but wasn’t able to stretch the field like he did earlier in the season. No other Oakland receiver came close to catching a pass.
For one of the few times this season the Raiders tried to get both of their tight ends involved in the passing game. Only Mychal Rivera answered the call, barely.
Rivera, who has caught at least one pass in 14 of Oakland’s first 15 games, helped set up the Raiders first touchdown. The rookie made an outstanding adjustment near the goal line to haul in a 37-yard catch after he got turned around against the coverage.
Jeron Mastrud caught one pass and had another go through his hands. He was also instrumental in helping the offensive line as an extra blocker in pass protection.
Matt McGloin deserves a lot of credit for keeping plays alive by dancing around in the pocket and avoiding sacks. Oakland’s front five also deserves a little bit of love for keeping the rookie quarterback upright.
One week after giving up just two sacks to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders offensive line surrendered only one to the Chargers. They also did a fairly solid job blocking for the run, though Oakland had to abandon the ground game after falling behind by double digits.
It wasn’t all pretty.
Center Stefen Wisniewski missed a critical block on Taiwan Jones’ end-around run. Left tackle Jared Veldheer picked up two costly penalties in the span of three plays, personally halting one drive.
Pat Sims has played in relative obscurity most of the season but came up with his most productive game of the year in helping to anchor Oakland’s run defense.
Sims recorded a season-high 10 tackles and spent much of the game in San Diego’s backfield while notching the only sack of the day for the Raiders.
He got plenty of help from fellow defensive tackle Vance Walker and defensive end Lamarr Houston, as the trio repeatedly helped shut down Chargers running back Ryan Mathews. Mathews did break loose for a 35-yard run in the second half, but that was the only big play the Raiders allowed on the ground.
On the flip side, defensive end Jason Hunter couldn’t get out of his own way. He dropped San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers for a 12-yard loss, only to be called for illegal hands to the face.
With the exception of his one big run, the Raiders did a pretty good job containing San Diego running back Ryan Mathews. They also did a good job preventing Chargers tight end Antonio Gates from becoming much of a factor.
Oakland still needed more out of its linebackers, particularly Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett. The duo has been the team’s leading tacklers for much of the season and combined for 14 stops against San Diego, though very few were impact plays.
Roach had problems in pass coverage, Burnett was slow to react on some running plays, while Miles Burris was called for roughing the quarterback. Sio Moore, the other linebacker in the rotation, split time with Burris and was kept under wraps most of the day.
The Raiders held San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers to 201 yards passing, his fourth-lowest total of the season. The Chargers’ longest pass play went for 24 yards.
Credit Charles Woodson and Brandian Ross for helping limit the effectiveness of San Diego’s passing, although they had plenty of support. Woodson did have one big error, when he whiffed on a tackle attempt in the second half that Danny Woodhead turned into an 18-yard gain.
The safeties should also share in the credit for keeping Chargers tight end Antonio Gates from becoming a bigger factor. A turnover or two would be greatly appreciated, but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.
Michael Jenkins picked off an underthrown pass intended for wide receiver Vincent Brown with the Raiders up 7-3 in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Oakland failed to capitalize because McGloin threw an interception of his own on the ensuing possession.
Otherwise, Chargers star rookie wideout Keenan Allen scored a touchdown but was held to only three catches and 26 yards, well below his season averages.
It was another up-and-down game for special teams coach Bobby April’s crew, a pattern with which the team has become all too familiar.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made good on a pair of field-goal attempts and looked strong kicking off despite appearing to have injured himself during pregame warmups. The team also got another lift from punter Marquette King, who strengthened his bid to lead the NFL in punting average.
Oakland also caught a break when San Diego punt returner Keenan Allen muffed a kick from King, and the Raiders converted the turnover into a field goal.
On the other hand, Greg Jenkins’ decision to run the ball out of the end zone was terrible, and he paid the price by fumbling after getting nailed during the return.