By Sam McPherson
The Oakland Raiders fell behind early in Sunday’s 37-27 loss on the road to the New York Jets, and they never really caught up as the team fell to 4-9 on the 2013 season. The defense struggled again, but this time it was against a pitiful offensive squad that the Raiders really needed to shut down — and they couldn’t. Even the Oakland special teams had a disastrous day. So it’s hard to blame the offense for this one, especially with all the injuries to key positional starters for the Silver and Black.
Offense Grade: B-
The good news is the Raiders scored on their first four possessions of the second half, but the bad news is they only scored on one of six first-half possessions on the way to falling behind 20-3 at the intermission. Those six possessions look like a crazy list of anything-that-can-go-wrong-will adventures: punt, missed field goal, made field goal, interception, blocked punt, punt. It’s hard to establish any momentum with drive results like that.
To the team’s credit, the offense did rebound in the second half, going touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown until the final, meaningless 25 seconds of the game when Oakland was down 10 points. Quarterback Matt McGloin recovered from the first-half challenges to throw for two touchdowns and 245 yards while completing 58 percent of his attempts today (see below). Considering McGloin was once again without top wideout Denarius Moore, that’s still a pretty good day.
Wide receiver Rod Streater had a pretty nice day in Moore’s absence: seven catches, 130 yards, one touchdown. WR Andre Holmes added three catches for 63 yards, but tight end Mychal Rivera totaled only 21 yards on five receptions. So McGloin didn’t really have the ability to spread the ball around against a Jets secondary that really is average, at best.
The big positive was the Raiders’ running attack: if someone had told Head Coach Dennis Allen before the game that his offense, without its top two running backs, would slice through New York’s top-ranked rush defense for 150 yards on 26 carries, he probably would have assumed an Oakland win. Of course, the one big carry — Marcel Reece’s 63-yard touchdown run in the third quarter — distorts those numbers a bit, but the Raiders ran solidly nonetheless.
Defense Grade: D
Oakland’s defense gave up five drives of seven plays or more, resulting in 20 points, and the Jets offense converted more than 50 percent of their third-down attempts. Those failed stops kept the Raiders on the field defensively much longer than necessary. New York quarterback Geno Smith, for all his talent, was benched last week against playoff-contending Miami, but in this one, Oakland made Smith look like a future Pro Bowl QB.
The rookie quarterback completed 64 percent of his attempts for a whopping 8.8 yards per throw, and although the Raiders did intercept him once, Smith also tossed a TD in the first quarter and ran for 50 yards with a score. Considering his struggles this season, either Smith’s benching really did the trick last week or else Oakland just didn’t execute well on defense.
New York running backs ran 27 times for 93 yards, so the run defense did a decent job, but letting Smith loose — either through the air or on the ground — was costly. Four different players had at least three catches for the Jets, and that ability to spread the ball around to the tight end and the wide receivers hurt the Raiders all game.
Quarterback Grade: B
Both Oakland quarterbacks — McGloin and Terrelle Pryor — got some action in this game, but McGloin played much better than Pryor did. The former fourth-string QB posted a 91.2 QB rating for the game, which is good by all means, and his 20 yards on the ground helped out, too. But McGloin has to be better in opponents’ territory overall, as settling for three field-goal attempts in a game where you’ve never had the lead just isn’t good enough in the end.
But compare McGloin’s numbers to someone else’s efforts on Sunday, and you might be surprised to know the other guy is many people’s idea of a “great,” young quarterback:
- McGloin: 18-for-31, 245 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, QBR 91.2
- Mystery QB: 15-for-29, 175 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, QBR 67.5
For the record, Pryor was only 2-for-5 through the air and ineffective on the ground (three carries, four yards) against the Jets on Sunday.
And yes, the Mystery QB is San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, who has a better team around him and notched a home win on Sunday over the best team in the NFL this year, yet it’s very possible McGloin will turn out to be a better professional quarterback than the bicep-kissing S.F. “wunderkind.”
Special Teams Grade: F
The blocked punt that the Jets returned for a huge touchdown with 3:55 left in the first half, on its own, is enough to warrant a failing grade here, but throw in another missed field goal, and it’s not hard to see how the Oakland lost this game. That’s a 10-point swing right there on special teams, and in a game that was lost by ten points? Well, do the math, Raiders fans.
Sebastian Janikowski’s missed 51-yard attempt was a crusher, simply because Kevin Burnett had just intercepted the ball in New York territory, and even though the offense couldn’t move the ball in three downs, that’s a kick you have to make no matter what the conditions. It would have tied the game and salvaged some momentum after the turnover, but instead, it sort of just opened the floodgates to more Jets success.
The blocked punt was worse, obviously: knowing they were going to receive the second-half kickoff, the Raiders needed to keep their deficit at ten points. This special-teams fiasco made it a 17-point hole, and when Reece’s busted off his 63-yard run to score right away in the third period, it still left Oakland down by ten points — instead of just three. That difference? Was huge. It enabled the Jets to just roll with it and keep control of the game, especially at home.
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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on Examiner.com.