The Raiders let one get away in New Jersey Sunday. A game they had well within reach that fell apart in the end. The story seems to be all too familiar this season. In four of the Raiders' six losses this season have either been tied or had the lead in the third quarter. And usually it's offensive mistakes that kill their chances.
This game was no different. The Raiders had a 20-14 lead midway through the third quarter only to blow it and lose 24-20. As usual, there were some spots where they played well but those areas could not be overcome by the mistakes. So, inhale as we head into the list. As per usual, we start with the good news.
The Raiders are in good hands with Jennings. And good legs too. He keeps those legs churning and finds creases and running room where there doesn't seem like there would be. Imagine that, a running back who finds yards between the tackles. With the Raiders starting their first drive at the Giants' five yard line after a fumble on the opening kickoff, Jennings immediately put them in second and goal at the one-yard line with his first run. Pryor then snuck it in on the next play. On his next three carries, he had 25 yards including ten yards to put the Raiders in field goal range off another takeaway. At half time, he had carried nine times for 55 yards which is 6.1 yards per carry.
To open the second half, he was almost the entire Raiders offense. He touched the ball five times for 35 yards on a drive that ended in another field goal and a 20-14 lead. The Giants couldn't stop him in this game but the Raiders mysteriously went away from him. Riding this horse would have been the smartest move they could have made. He was one of the few parts of the offense that was really working. He finished with 20 carries for 88 yards (4.4 ypc) and two catches for 19 yards.
A big reason Jennings was picking up yards in such sizable chunks in this game was the play of Wisniewski. Three particular blocks in the third quarter stood out. He laid a huge block to spring Jennings for an 18-yard run on third and two and then on the same drive blocked for Jennings again to go five yards to the Giants' one-yard line. Now if only the Raiders could have remembered how they got there and finish off the drive that way. Later in the third quarter, he was downfield to block for Marcel Reece who gained 16-yards on a screen. Now if only the Raiders would have stayed with the short game instead of turning the ball over on an interception. Those blocks should have led to at very least 10 points.
It may seem odd for some that the run clogger in the middle of the Raiders' line is a Baller when the opposing team's running back had a pretty big day, running for 115 yards. But believe it or not, it wasn't Sims who was being victimized on those runs. Sims actually held his own quite well in the middle. Giants' running back Andre Brown looked for alternate routes to get his yards on most occasions. Only four times did he try going through Sims' position and the result was six total yards (1, 1, 0, 4) on those carries. He finished with five tackles.
He made one big play in this game and it should have been the play that essentially won it for the Raiders. He stepped in front of an Eli Manning pass near the end of the second quarter and returned it for a touchdown. It put the Raiders up 17-14 heading into half time. He also only gave up two catches for 19 yards.
Porter may have gotten the big interception for the touchdown but it was Muir who got the pressure to cause the poor throw by Manning. Muir came right up the middle and was on top of Manning in no time. He threw the ball quickly to avoid the sack and Porter was waiting. With time running out in the second quarter on the Giants next possession, Muir had the final tackle on a short run to send the two teams to the locker room. In the fourth quarter, Muir had a tackle for a loss of three to force the Giants to settle for a field goal and therefore keep the game within reach. He did this while playing a small percentage of the snaps.
Young made a couple of nice plays in this game. The first play ended the Giants first possession with a three and out. He came in on the blitz on third and three and sacked Eli Manning to force a punt. Then in the third quarter, he ended another drive with a three and out. He was about five yards off the line of scrimmage while Manning was going through his calls. Then suddenly he sprinted back and right as if he knew where he would be going with the ball. That is exactly where Manning ended up throwing it and Young swooped over the knock the ball down. He was also tied for second on the team in tackles and didn't give up a catch all day. He will earn a lot more playing time if he keeps this up.
Following the worst game of his young Raiders career last week against the Eagles, King responded with perhaps his most impressive performance. His one major shortcoming this season has been his lack of accuracy and he was on point in this one while not losing the strong leg for which he is known.
Things started terribly for King, but it was through no fault of his own. A block was missed and a free rusher came right up the middle to block his punt where it was returned for a touchdown. It was a bad start that would get much better for King. His next punt went 61 yards in the air and the returner was tackled at the 15-yard line. The next punt was more impressive because it went 50 yards and came down at the ten-yard line, where it was fair caught. It was one of the first real showings of a well-placed punt King has had this season. But it would get better with the next punt. That one traveled 59 yards in the air and was downed at the Giants' 3-yard line. His last couple punts were nothing special but after three straight punts of 50 plus, all stopped inside the 20-yard line, anything more would have been asking far too much.
He got the Raiders started off on the right foot. The Raiders kicked off first and on the return, he beat his man and chopped down on the return man's arms to knock the ball in the air and right into the arms of Andre Holmes who took it to the Giants' 5-yard line. The Raiders would score a touchdown on two plays and go up 7-0 less than a minute into the game.
Then early in the second quarter, following the Giants' second score, he was back to receive the kick off. He fielded it at the goal line and returned it 41 yards to put the Raiders in great field position. The Raiders would have likely scored but penalties did them in. But Jones wasn't done. He had one more return in the game and he took it from six yards in the end zone for a 36-yards return. Once again, it was a penalty that squandered that great field position.
Sio Moore -- Moore led the team with 9 combined tackles (8 solo) though most were about 5 or more yards off the line of scrimmage. His big play was a sack and forced fumble. He came flying in on a blitz to nail Eli Manning for an 11-yard loss and force a fumble. Manning recovered his own fumble on the play. The next Giants' drive, Sio had a tackle on a 4-yard run and then helped end the drive when he kept his position to allow for a tackle for run stuff for one yard. He now has 3.5 sacks in the last four games.
Andre Holmes - Was in the right place at the right time to haul in the forced fumble by Taiwan Jones and take it to the 5-yard line to begin the game. Later in the game, he sprinted downfield following the Pryor interception and stop the Giants' defender at the five-yard line and keep him from scoring.
Houston got things started by forcing a fumble in the first quarter that put the Raiders immediately in field goal range where they took a 10-7 lead. On the next Giants possession, he put a swim move on his man and hit Eli Manning as he threw to force and incompletion.
The next drive was not his best. He was blocked on a nine-yard run and then later in the drive gave up an automatic first down when he jumped off-sides on third and four. Tracy Porter had good coverage on the play so it would have been a field goal. Instead it ended up being a touchdown a few plays later.
The next drive, it was the good Lamarr. He had a run stuff for no gain and a tackle for loss on consecutive plays.