By Sam McPherson
The 2013 Oakland Raiders went out with a whimper on Sunday in their Week 17 matchup with the Denver Broncos, falling behind 34-0 before scoring a few garbage-time touchdowns in the final five minutes.
It was a sad statement for the Silver and Black, who had nothing to play for but pride: the score was 31-0, Denver, at halftime, in front of 51,500 fans at the O.co Coliseum. Somewhere, Al Davis was cringing.
Offense Grade: F
Denver’s defense isn’t fantastic and it was missing star linebacker Von Miller who is out for the year with a torn ACL. But the Broncos still held the Raiders to 255 total yards.
Oakland couldn’t run the ball at all: running backs Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden combined for 11 carries and 15 yards on the day. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor ran nine times for 49 yards, but the Raiders were stifled in an area where they’ve been pretty strong with Jennings & Co. all season long.
Pryor had a solid day overall but it’s only because of the two late TD passes thrown when the game was long over. His inability to get the ball downfield against a suspect secondary early in the game contributed to the big deficit at halftime. The Raiders didn’t have a drive over 28 yards until the fourth quarter.
Defense Grade: F
Yes, it was Peyton Manning and the NFL-record Broncos offense, but still.
Denver scored on all five of its first-half possessions: touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown. And that was the game. Manning didn’t even play in the second half, and backup QB Brock Osweiler was 9-for-13 in his half of play.
The Broncos ran for 124 yards on 29 carries, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt.
Oakland did hold Denver to just a field goal in the final 30 minutes of the game, but doing it against the backups doesn’t make it very impressive.
Quarterback Grade: F
Pryor got the start over Matt McGloin and the offense struggled almost all day. He averaged 5.0 yards per attempt and just 9.9 yards per completion, even though he did spread the ball around to eight different receivers – six different Raiders had at least two catches, so Pryor distributed the ball well enough.
He also ran the ball well, as noted above.
But no sustained drives in the first three quarters while the Broncos kept scoring doomed the offense into deeper challenges as the game continued. Pryor managed just five of 13 third down conversions, and again, the only two Oakland scoring drives occurred in the final five minutes of the game when the team was down 34-0.
Case in point: after blocking a Denver punt on the first possession of the second half, the Raiders managed just one yard before missing a 40-yard field goal attempt. That was the epitome, perhaps, of the Oakland 2013 season.
Special Teams Grade: B-
Sebastian Janikowski missed his only field goal attempt, which would have cut the deficit to 31-3 in the third quarter. So it was more of a symbolic moment than an important one. His 72.4 percent success rate this year was pretty bad overall, so this was just par for the course in 2013.
Blocking the punt was a nice moment for the special teams, even if it didn’t lead to a score. It’s something to build on for 2014.
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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on a Examiner.com.