By Sam McPherson
The Oakland Raiders had a good opportunity today to win their 2014 home opener, but they were just terrible on almost every front—they were behind 14-0 in the first quarter, and it just got worse from there. The score was 27-0 in favor of the Houston Texans before the Silver & Black even scored, in the early fourth quarter.
This was a winnable game for the Raiders, at least before the opening whistle blew, but once again, Oakland really didn’t play well despite having some distinct advantages—the least of which, in this case, was home-field advantage.
Derek Carr’s final numbers look like those of a rookie making just his second NFL start, so what more could we expect? He has the tools, but Carr still has a lot to learn, obviously.
He completed 27 of his 42 tosses, for 263 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Those were the first INTs of his NFL career. His QB rating for the game was an ugly 69.8 mark.
Carr did have four runs for 58 yards, which made him the team leader for the day—and maybe that’s all you need to know about how tough it was for him today against the Texans defense. GRADE: C
The Raiders actually averaged 6.2 yards per play and out-gained Houston in this one, but four turnovers killed their chances. In addition to Carr’s two interceptions, both James Jones and Mychal Rivera had lost fumbles after receptions. You’re not going to win a lot of games when you turn the ball over that many times.
Oakland also went 2-for-9 on third-down chances, and those misses ended up killing a lot of drives.
Once again, the Raiders had no running game, really; take away Carr’s 58 yards, and the two running backs—Darren McFadden and Latavius Murray—totaled 43 yards on 13 carries. But because the team fell behind by so much so soon, the Oakland offense never really had a chance to establish the run.
James Jones had a nice day, outside the fumble: nine catches, 112 yards and a touchdown. Overall, Carr connected with eight different receivers on the day. GRADE: C-
What can be said about the Oakland defense that hasn’t already been said? It’s bad.
Houston ran for 188 yards on 46 carries, as the visiting team controlled the clock for 38:36 in this one. That’s just scary. The Raiders defenders had no time to rest, basically. Arian Foster alone had 138 yards on 28 rushes, including a short TD run at the end of the first quarter.
Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t throw a lot—just 19 attempts—but he completed 14 throws, including two touchdown tosses. One of those was to defensive end J.J. Watt, which was somewhat embarrassing for the Raiders defense.
Overall, Houston was 9-for-15 on third downs, which explains a lot about how they held the ball for almost two thirds of the game today. GRADE: F
Murray was very good on his kickoff returns today, averaging 25.8 yards on his returns. His one carry on offense went for six yards, so clearly the Raiders would be wise to get him the ball more often.
Sebastian Janikowski made his two extra-point attempts, and Marquette King averaged a pedestrian 40 yards per punt. GRADE: B
This One Hurts
In the preseason, this was one of the few games on the Oakland schedule that looked very winnable.
Now, the Raiders must travel to New England next week, and that promises to be another thrashing. The Patriots were 30-7 victors today over the Minnesota Vikings on the road. Chances are they will beat Oakland by a similar score at home next week.
The defense has problems, and so does the offense. The potential to be good, however, only exists on one side of the ball right now for the Silver & Black: until the defense learns to play the run effectively, it’s going to be a long season for the Oakland Raiders—yet again.
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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.