By Ryan Leong
The Oakland Raiders had a big test Sunday, going for their third consecutive victory after wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs.
But the Jaguars and Chiefs are bottom feeders in the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came in with a record of 3-4 yet represented quite an upside with quarterback Josh Freeman and first round draft pick Doug Martin. Given the struggles of the San Diego Chargers, competing for the AFC West championship was a realistic goal for Oakland, and a win for the Silver and Black would improve their record to 4-4 and give them a tie for second place in the division.
Ah, if it were only that simple…
They couldn’t stop Martin, who in his homecoming to Oakland had a career day. That should give you an idea of how the game went for the Raiders.
Final score: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42, Oakland Raiders 32
The Raiders lost both running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson to ankle injuries during the game. The running game was already lacking with everyone healthy. Without DMac, the running game was non-existent. That forced head coach Dennis Allen to have Carson Palmer throw the football on every single down. Allen tried a few wrinkles. But a fake punt on 4th-and-13 was simply foolish. Maybe if it’s 4th-and-5, it’s doable, but that so-called trick play didn’t fool anyone. Luckily, the ensuing Bucs drive was a three-and-out. The fact that the game was as close as it was speaks volumes to the kind of season Palmer is having at quarterback. Grade: D
Passing-wise, it was a fantastic day for the offense: 424 total net yards, but only 22 rushing yards. McFadden left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury on a screen pass that went for -2 yards. Although his x-rays came back negative, McFadden was out for the rest of the game. At the time, McFadden had seven carries for 17 yards, an average of only 2.4 yards a carry. Taiwan Jones had one carry for two yards and Mike Goodson ran twice for no yardage. Carson Palmer ran once on a sneak play for three yards and a first down, but the Raiders ground game was like the black hole — it just vanished.
Palmer had a fantastic game, 39-of-61 for 414 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Two of those picks came late in the fourth quarter as Palmer tried to score a fourth touchdown on the fourth consecutive drive. His first INT resulted in Martin’s fourth TD of the day, a back-breaker giving Tampa Bay a 10-point lead with 1:52 left. Still, the Raiders had an outside chance, but 14 seconds later Palmer was picked off again on a long pass attempt to Rod Streater. Another positive was tight end Brandon Myers scoring his first two career touchdowns. Rush offense grade: INC (in limited action), Pass offense grade: A, Overall Grade: B
The Raiders run defense was swiss cheese against Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin, who ran for 251 yards on 25 carries. He had the ball a few times late for little yardage, affecting his overall yards per carry average, but nobody cared. Martin had career runs of 45 yards, 67, and 70, all for scores. Oakland gave up 515 yards of total offense, 278 rushing and 237 passing yards. When your defense gives up 515 yards, you didn’t do the job. Grade: F
Kick returners Philip Adams and Mike Goodson were neutralized. Shane Lechler had four punts averaging 54.5 yards totaling 218 yards, but again when your punter is one of the stars of the game, it just proves the team couldn’t keep drives alive and the team was too far away to kick field goals. Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 29-yard field goal and had three extra points. Grade C+
This was just a disappointing loss. Unlike the loss against the Falcons, in which momentum was being built, you could say this game was a defeat where the team is regressing. Not only was the star running back injured, but his return is in question. Next week, the Raiders go on the road to take on the Baltimore Ravens, who are always a tough opponent. Two of the next three games are on the road and the team is now two games under .500. They are currently 3-5, but the Raiders could soon be 3-8 if they don’t start another winning streak.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.