Raiders Defense Flunks Test Against High-Flying Eagles
By Sam McPherson
The Oakland Raiders 49-20 loss at home Sunday to the visiting Philadelphia Eagles wasn’t pretty for the hosts by any stretch of the imagination, especially considering the respective teams’ “momentum” coming into the contest. The Raiders were coming off a big home win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the Eagles had scored just 10 points in their previous two games (both losses).
None of that mattered on Sunday.
Offense Grade: C-
On paper, the Raiders offense had a great day, sort of. They actually out-gained the Eagles 560-542 in total yardage, and Oakland averaged 6.1 yards per play. The Raiders had been averaging a mere 314.9 yards per game, so they clearly moved the ball today. But this is really about context, too — Oakland ran 92 plays in this game to Philadelphia’s 57.
But the Raiders only scored 20 points with all these yardage gains, which was the problem in a game they lost by 29 points. Oakland did average 6.4 per carry on the ground, which is a great number. Rashad Jennings had a 102-yard day with a touchdown, on just 15 carries, and Terrelle Pryor ran for 94 yards on ten attempts, as well.
The National Football League fans and media have been mildly obsessed with the Eagles offensive scheme this season and its impact on both teams in any given game. This is a good example of how an opponent can also run up huge numbers against the Eagles, but the two turnovers hurt the Raiders offense, as did the 6-for-19 efforts on third- and fourth-down conversions.
Defense Grade: F
The flip side of the numbers above is that the defense was terrible against Philadelphia, especially considering how the Eagles were manhandled by Dallas and New York in the previous two weeks. The Raiders had been ranked 10th in the NFL in total defense prior to this game, however, so for the team to give up 49 points and 542 yards is very disappointing.
They also let Eagles QB Nick Foles tie an NFL record with seven touchdown passes — with 19:32 still left in the game. Considering Philadelphia averaged 9.5 yards per play in this game, it’s hard to grasp how the Oakland defense actually stopped them on six of 10 third-down conversion attempts.
Two Philadelphia quarterbacks completed 24 of 31 passes, averaging 13.5 yards per attempt, and the Raiders defense only sacked them twice. Oakland did hold LeSean McCoy to just 44 yards on 12 attempts, but otherwise, it was a very long day defensively for the Black and Silver, even though they were only on the field for 22:06 of the 60-minute game.
Quarterback Grade: D
Pryor has injected some life into what many predicted would be a dreary season in Oakland, but he struggled today against an Eagles defense that the likes of Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers have had good success against this season. He was 22-for-41, gaining 288 yards. Those numbers alone aren’t the issue — the two interceptions hurt the team’s chances to keep up in a scoring battle with Philadelphia.
A big part of the Raiders QB dynamic this season is Pryor’s ability to run, and he was successful doing that today. But he couldn’t get into the end zone with his arm or his legs today, and the QB’s struggles on third down (6-for-18 for the team overall) gave Oakland little chance to keep sustained drives going throughout the game, despite holding the ball for almost 38 minutes in this one.
Special Teams Grade: B-
With all the other issues in this loss, it’s hard to really gauge the effect of special teams on the day. But with all the scoring the Eagles did, the Raiders failed to use any kickoff returns effectively enough to jump-start scoring drives. Oakland averaged 21.0 yards on three kickoff returns, and they didn’t get any punt returns off six Philadelphia punts. While none of this is negative per se, it’s not positive, either.
On the opposite end, the Raiders gave up a 41-yard kickoff return to Brandon Boykin and a 32-yard punt return to DeSean Jackson, giving a short field to the Eagles offense — which didn’t need much help.
However, the Oakland kickers did their jobs well against Philadelphia: Sebastian Janikowski did hit two field goals, including a 53-yard effort, while Marquette King averaged 45.0 yards per punt on seven attempts. In the end, it really didn’t matter that much, however.
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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on Examiner.com.