The Oakland Raiders ended their season with a thud, getting walloped by the Denver Broncos in the Week 17 regular-season finale for both teams. The final score wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the game was, particularly when considering likely NFL MVP Peyton Manning didn’t even play the second half.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who had a mostly miserable game in his first game back in the starting lineup after sitting out six weeks.
Defensively, it wasn’t much better. The Broncos took advantage of favorable field position and built a 31-0 lead while cruising to their fifth consecutive win over their AFC West rivals.
Here are some of the top takeaways from the Raiders’ loss to the Broncos.
*All information and quotes used in this and any report by Michael Wagaman were obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
The job security for Oakland’s head coach has been speculated to be in jeopardy for nearly two months now. Getting mopped up at home by a division rival certainly can’t help Dennis Allen’s chances to stick around, either.
Nonetheless, the two men who will collaborate to make that decision have yet to speak publicly on the matter. General manager Reggie McKenzie has declined to talk on the record about Allen’s job, while owner Mark Davis has made only a handful of passing marks about it.
The trio is expected to meet within the next two weeks to discuss future plans. The coaching staff will first do its end-of-season player evaluations before Allen sits down with the GM and owner.
Allen sounds optimistic that he’ll return for 2014.
“Those are decisions that somebody else is going to make, but yeah, I expect to be back,” Allen said. “We’ll sit down when this is all said and done and we get a chance to sit down and visit, we’ll discuss in further depth where we go from here, what the direction of the program is, what we need to do to get to where everybody wants us to be and that’s a playoff contending team.
“I fully believe that I deserve the opportunity to come back here and get a chance to, as we’ve said, go through the deconstruction phase; I want to be part of the rebuilding phase.”
Even with a full complement of defensive backs, the Raiders would have had a difficult time trying to slow down the Manning locomotive. Trying to do it with the likes of reserve cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Phillip Adams was simply impossible.
Manning carved up Oakland’s pass defense with not-so-surprising ease and broke Drew Brees’ single-season passing record along the way. He passed for 266 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, then gave way to backup Brock Osweiler in the second half.
“He’s maybe the best in our business,” Allen said. “There were a couple of opportunities that we had to make plays and we weren’t able to come up with those plays. They made them when they had the opportunity.”
Manning was an equal-opportunity quarterback. He went after Chekwa twice on the opening drive, found big gains toward safety Brandian Ross and managed to sneak a completion over the middle against Charles Woodson.
Oakland’s only success against Manning came when defensive end Lamarr Houston dropped him for a nine-yard sack early in the second quarter. Woodson later sacked Manning as well.
Many people felt Taiwan Jones got a raw deal when he was left off the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster. His week didn’t get any better after that.
Oakland’s top special teams player suffered an ankle injury while returning a kickoff in the final seconds of the first half. Jones lay on the field for several moments after being tackled on the play and was examined by team doctors before being helped onto a nearby cart and taken into the locker room for further examination.
Jones has been one of the few players on the Raiders to have any consistent success this season. He finished the season leading Oakland in special teams tackles, and he also had one of the team’s two forced fumbles with the unit.
Allen has repeatedly called Jones one of the best special teams players in the NFL, but Jones was not on the Pro Bowl roster announced on Friday.
On a day devoid of any excitement whatsoever for the Raiders, backup fullback Jamize Olawale provided a moment of respite when he broke through the line to block a punt by Denver’s Britton Colquitt in the third quarter.
It’s Oakland’s third blocked punt of the season—Rashad Jennings and Jeremy Stewart had the others—giving the Raiders their most since they had three in 2000.
The block gave Oakland the ball in Denver territory for the first time all afternoon, but as luck would have it, Sebastian Janikowski missed the ensuing field-goal attempt.
It seems so long ago that Oakland’s powerful kicker was considered one of the league’s elite. This year has been one of the worst of Janikowski’s career and was as big a factor in the team’s overall struggles as anything.
Janikowski put an emphatic stamp on the end of his disastrous season when he shanked a 42-yard field goal wide right, his ninth miss this season and the most from the Polish Cannon since he went 23-of-32 in 2007.
He finished the season 21-of-30, the third-fewest field goals of his career. Janikowski also was held to fewer than 100 points for the first time since 2009.
When Charles Woodson left the Raiders in 2005 to sign with the Green Bay Packers, he left behind a team that ended the season on a six-game losing streak. Not much has changed in his return.
Oakland once again lost its final half-dozen games, and like there were eight years ago, several questions remain about Woodson’s future with the team.
The eight-time Pro Bowl defensive back is scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason, and although he has repeatedly stated his preference to return, there’s no guarantee the Raiders will want to bring back a player who will turn 38 next October.
Whether he returns or not, Woodson believes Oakland has the structure in place to be successful in the future.
“It’s kind of hard to see things when you have a couple of losing seasons like they’ve had here,” said Woodson, who had a team-high 11 tackles. “Of course the knee-jerk reaction is to blow it up. But I think to get the consistency you have to give someone a chance to let it run its course. We’ll see what happens.”
Darren McFadden won’t look back on the 2013 season with many fond memories. The Raiders probably feel the same way about the veteran running back’s entire career up to this date.
A free agent in the offseason, McFadden managed just six yards on seven carries in what very likely will be his final game with the team that drafted him with the fourth overall pick in 2008.
If it was McFadden’s last appearance in a Raiders’ uniform, it caps the end to the second-worst season of his career.
McFadden finished the season with 379 yards and a 3.3 yards-per-carry average that matches the worst of his career—that, despite the Raiders switching blocking schemes to better suit his style. Yet McFadden was still out-gained this season by his backup Rashad Jennings, along with quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
On a day when the Oakland Coliseum was mostly quiet outside of a steady cascade of boos, Streater gave the hometown fans something to cheer about when he caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Terrelle Pryor in the fourth quarter, ending the Broncos’ bid for a shutout.
Unfortunately for Streater, it was one of the few plays he made. The second-year wide receiver led the Raiders with five catches but fell well short in his attempt to become the first Oakland wide receiver to reach the 1,000-yard mark since Randy Moss did it in 2005.
Streater finished the season with 60 receptions and a team-high 888 yards with four touchdowns. Along the way, he firmly established himself as Oakland’s second-best receiver behind Denarius Moore.
It will be interesting to see where the duo fits in next season. The Raiders don’t have a clear No. 1 receiver and might be tempted to bring in another veteran or use one of their early draft picks to find someone to try to fill that role.