By Sam McPherson
The Oakland Raiders dropped a 24-20 decision to the New York Giants on the road Sunday in a game marred by missed opportunities (for both teams, really). On offense and defense, time after time, the Silver and Black just couldn't get done what needed to be accomplished, and in the end, it cost them the game.
Considering each team, via special teams and defense, handed each other 14 points, this game was really a slugfest. The Raiders just came out on the wrong end. The Raiders offense could only manage field goals when they needed to score touchdowns.
Oakland definitely has the talent to win, and eventually, they'll need to figure out how to win games like this if they want to be a successful team.
Offense Grade: F
Oakland couldn't produce much of anything on offense, totaling just 213 yards against a wounded New York Giants defense that was averaging 344 yards allowed in its eight games this season. Running back Rashad Jennings was the only bright spot, gaining 88 yards on just 20 carries for a 4.4 yards-per-carry average. But otherwise, the offense just didn't have anything going today and was held out of the end zone as a result.
When you go 2-for-12 on third downs, it's going to be a long day. Averaging just 3.9 yards per play overall, the Raiders couldn't get much going. Their longest drive was an 8:04 drive to start the third quarter that took 14 plays and 74 yards, resulting in a field goal by Sebastian Janikowski that gave Oakland a 20-14 lead.
They would never score again.
No other Raiders possession lasted more than seven plays in this game, and it's hard to win on the road when you can't generate sustained drives for touchdowns.
Defense Grade: B
It's hard to give a bad mark to a defense that holds a potent offense to just 251 yards on the day. Oakland has been giving up 357.3 yards per game, so this was a good overall effort by the Silver and Black against the Giants and Eli Manning (themselves averaging 327.8 yards per game this season).
New York ran the ball a whopping 38 times in this game, but they didn't gain a lot of yards – only 115 total. That kind of grinding forces a quarterback to throw, and Manning didn't have a great game. He completed only 12 of 22 throws, and cornerback Tracy Porter's interception return for a touchdown gave the Raiders the 17-14 halftime lead they would add to in the third quarter.
The biggest negative on the defensive effort was giving up the 13-play, 70-yard drive in the fourth quarter which ended in a field goal for the Giants, the final score in the game. The defense needed a stop there, and they couldn't get it when they needed it most to give the offense a chance to win the game in the end.
Quarterback Grade: F
Terrelle Pryor was relatively dreadful in this game, in every way: he didn't complete enough passes, he didn't run for enough yards, and he took too many sacks. Overall, it was just a bad day for the young quarterback as he continues to learn how to play the position in the National Football League.
Pryor was just 11-for-26 in the air, for a mere 122 yards. Completing less than 50 percent of your passes in the modern game is just unacceptable, and the average-yards-per-attempt mark (4.7) just isn't going to get you a lot of first downs. It's hard to give the banged-up Giants secondary credit for this, but overall, Pryor just looked confused and incompetent as the Raiders lost another close game on the road.
He didn't even get his legs going. Running just five times for 19 yards and getting sacked four times hinders any offensive momentum a team is trying to establish. He also lost a fumble, giving him two turnovers total on the day when the team could have won perhaps with one less mistake.
Both turnovers came after the Raiders had taken that 20-14 lead: there's nothing worse than gifting opportunity to your opponents on the road.
Special Teams Grade: B
On the game's opening kickoff, the Raiders forced a fumble that led to a one-yard Pryor TD run, giving Oakland an early 7-0 lead. That was good. But soon thereafter, the Raiders had a punt blocked that the Giants returned for a touchdown to tie the game. That was bad. Overall, of course, this is a wash as the two big plays had a net-zero impact on the game, but with the gift early, Oakland really never should have allowed that blocked punt.
Janikowski overcame his rib injury to kick well all day, but you could tell he was in pain from the opening kickoff. Punter Marquette King averaged 50.8 yards per attempt in this game, which helped the defense out tremendously time and time again. And Taiwan Jones had two long kickoff returns that should have set the offense up for good things, but Pryor couldn't take advantage either time.
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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A's. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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