Despite some big plays, including an interception returned for a touchdown by Tracy Porter to end the half, the Oakland Raiders once again were doomed by a lack of an offensive line and poor execution in what was a 24-20 loss to the now suddenly streaking New York Giants who now come out of their bye week with a third straight win.
The Raiders failed to score a second half touchdown for another week, and only put up 213 yards throughout the game in what was a performance that was masked by some timely plays that gave Oakland easy points.
Andre Holmes forced a fumble allowing the Raiders to move to 7-0 on the first sequence of the game following a Terrelle Pryor quarterback sneak, and a Peyton Hillis fumble set them up for a field goal before Porter’s interception. All in all Giants miscues kept the Raiders in the game when their total execution throughout the game likely called for another blowout loss against a NFC East opponent.
Oakland pissed away a chance to win with a obviously stared down throw from Terrelle Pryor that resulted in the Giants returning the ball to the Raiders 5 yard line, it would be the second major error that allowed New York back into the ballgame. A blocked punt was returned for a touchdown in the first half. Without those errors and a little more execution on offense the Raiders may have finished off what was a winnable game.
The Raiders’ 12th straight loss against on the East Coast has them well out of the AFC Wild Card race and exposed what many knew about Oakland heading into the season and that the team worked so hard to mask. This is a football team that has a total lack of depth.
From key injuries on the offensive line to the lack of talented depth on offense, the Raiders showed that they are a team with around $70 million worth of cap space hitting the books this offseason. With little pass protection and an injured/inexperienced Pryor under center even the 2-6 Giants eventually were able to impose their will on the Raiders despite making several mistakes themselves.
At 3-6 it is quite clear that the Raiders are going to be missing the playoffs barring an epic turnaround, but the fact that they lost to a 2-6 team after being handed several gifts from that sub.500 club is concerning. With Dennis Allen hoping he can stave off the recent rumors of a Jon Gruden return to coaching the Raiders will need to win more games to buy the current coaching staff time. If that is going to happen they will need sharper offense and a healthy offensive line as soon as possible. Based on Sunday’s performance more wins might be impossible given current circumstances.
Pryor Struggles Again
Terrelle Pryor continued his recent struggles on Sunday, throwing for just 126 yards passing and throwing several questionable passes that were lucky to not be intercepted.
Still he threw a costly INT anyways that marked the end of the Raiders momentum with the team holding onto a 20-14 lead after halftime and a Tracy Porter interception. The INT came into double coverage on a slant to Denarius Moore that the Giants secondary read like a book, the wrong throw at the worst possible time.
The Raiders had one last chance to win late in the fourth quarter following a punt deflected by Kaelin Burnett after the Giants were forced into a punting situation by the Oakland defense. Pryor’s lack of pocket presence once again hurt the Raiders on a sack that ended all hopes of an Oakland comeback.
At the end of the day the tape from this game will look bad for Pryor. Bad throws and missed reads seem to be far more common from Pryor than eye popping plays and that is a problem. Yes he has bad blocking, but enough is enough and a spade needs to be called a spade. Pryor is struggling royally right now.
Some poor playcalling from Greg Olson and some bad pass protection afford Pryor some excuses, as do some dropped balls from receivers, but it is impossible to deny that the once red hot breakout star for the Raiders has crashed back to earth as of late. A sore knee limited him from hurting the Giants with his legs, but it will be his arm that will define whether he continues to be the man under center for Oakland in the future. With a star studded 2014 NFL Draft Class at quarterback expect the Raiders controversy at pivot to continue into the offseason unless Pryor somehow wins the job over the next two months.
Jennings Shines Despite Greg Olson’s Questionable Play Calling
Rashad Jennings was Oakland’s best offensive player on Sunday, although offensive coordinator Greg Olson may have forgot that at a crucial point in the second half.
On the Giants two yard line, Olson called a pass to Pryor that was incomplete despite having tons of success with Jennings all day as the veteran back was putting the offense on his back. Jennings had 20 carries for 88 yards and zero touchdowns, that zero being the fault of Olson for not opting to plow it in instead of running the football.
Olson’s playcalling on third downs was also questionable as the Raiders went 2-12 on conversion chances, missing several in manageable yardage situations with incomplete passes. Jennings running was outstanding in place of Darren McFadden, but Olson’s lack of trust in Jennings was far from encouraging as the offensive coordinator will once again be under fire after a poor offensive display.
Defense Bounces Back
While the offense left a lot to be desired, the Raiders defense allowed just one true touchdown drive on Sunday, keeping Eli Manning from having a field day after Nick Foles’ 7TD afternoon last week.
Lamarr Houston bounced back in the pass rush and Tracy Porter took a touchdown to the house that gave Oakland the lead before half. In a rebuilding season Jason Tarver’s defense is being counted on to keep Oakland in games, on most Sundays they have been up to the challenge. This was one of those weeks where at least one side of the ball appeared to be heading in the right direction.