A rough afternoon for Sebastian Janikowski hindered what was a solid offensive performance in rookie Matt McGloin’s second NFL start against the Tennessee Titans at the Oakland Coliseum.
A miss on a chip shot before the half after being set up with generous field position after a punt block and McGloin throw put Janikowski in gimmie territory and another missed 42 yard attempt were crucial errors in a game where the Raiders got a solid contribution from everywhere but the kicking game on Sunday, a spot that is usually one of the most consistent spots on the field on Sundays.
Janikowski clearly was mentally affected by his misses, going after holder Marquette King on the sidelines for all to see, blaming the rookie punter for his mistakes. For a guy who was perfect inside 50 yards in 2012, it was another fall from grace, a costly one in a 2013 season where SeaBass has left points on the field that could have swung a win for the Silver and Black.
McGloin to his credit, stepped up his play in the face of adversity on Sunday. Bouncing back from an interception on a screen pass during the second Raiders offensive drive of the game to throw for over 200 yards for the second straight game as a starter. Including a gutsy drive to put Oakland up 19-16 after finding Marcel Reece in the front corner of the endzone for the Raiders first touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter.
The Titans would rally under Ryan Fitzpatrick’s steady presence under center once down late. The veteran killed the Raiders on third down all game, and it was no different on the final drive of the fourth quarter. He killed them one last time on third down inside the Raiders ten hitting Kendall Wright for a ten yard touchdown pass with ten seconds left on the clock to give Tennessee Titans a 23-19 win.
The win gave the Titans the sixth seed in the AFC, a spot the Raiders could have been in had they won a game that arguably they deserved to win. Despite some poor third down defense, the Raiders held the Titans to just 23 points, a marker that would have been enough had they got the six points from Janikowski’s misses.
In the end Ryan Fitzpatrick won an entertaining quarterbacks duel of two backup quarterbacks at the Coliseum, throwing for 320 yards on 30/42 passing and the game winning drive, but halfway through the fourth quarter McGloin was the hero, connecting on impressive first down passes to receivers Rod Streater and Andre Holmes, tight end Mychal Rivera, and the touchdown catching fullback Reece on multiple occasions on Sunday. Batted balls at the line and an interception early hurt his cause, but in the end a near win and a 19/32, 254 yard day earned him at least the start on Thanksgiving.
Losing another close winnable game likely sunk the Raiders small playoff chances, but overall the Raiders performance showed potential. Something a fanbase that has been enduring rebuilding seasons year after year might not want to hear, but the Raiders stepped in the positive direction once again on Sunday with a balanced offensive and defensive performance. A tough loss on the final drive of the game will hurt, especially after their veteran kicker left points on the field, but there is a lot of season left and the team will have to regroup quickly. Thanksgiving in Dallas is just a few days away where the Raiders, and their undrafted rookie will try to bounce back in the crazy AFC one more time.