Raiders defense answered wake-up call, offense didn't pick up

Al Bello

One week after an embarrassing performance on defense, the Raiders offense gave a pitiful performance of their own. Oakland scored just 20 points against the 26th ranked scoring defense, 17 of which were the direct result of defensive and special teams plays.

With veterans like Charles Woodson on defense, one could bet that the Oakland Raiders defense was going to rebound from the embarrassment that was Nick Foles' coming out party.

What few expected, however, was a similarly embarrassing performance by the Oakland offense just seven days later.

Matched up against the 26th best scoring defense in football, it wasn't the Oakland offense that many were concerned about heading into the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants.

While one would have assumed that Sunday would have been freeing for quarterback Terrelle Pryor, with the spotlight finally off of him and on to the team's defense, you couldn't have guessed by watching him play. Unfortunately for Pryor, his play on Sunday placed himself right back in the center of attention, but part of the blame for this one definitely belongs on the play-calling as well.

For the game, Pryor finished just 11/26 for 122 yards. It's especially concerning when you consider that Pryor completed his first two passes, meaning from about the 11 minute mark of the first quarter on, he completed just nine passes. Of course, two of his incompletions were early drops from Denarius Moore, but that still left him 9/22 in the last 56 minutes of a close game.

The natural question in a 24-20 loss is how it all could be pinned on the offense, but the answer is simple: of Oakland's 20 points, 17 were the direct result of an fumble recovered at the New York 5, an interception returned for a touchdown and a fumble recovered at the New York 21 yard line.

On the flip side, of the 24 points allowed by the Raiders, 14 were the direct result of a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and an interception returned to the Oakland 5.

To recap: The offense was responsible for just three points of their own, while setting New York up for 14 of their own.

On the 10 possessions the Oakland offense had, the Raiders had just one drive longer than 21 yards. In fact, sixty-percent of their drives resulted in less than 10 yards. Put another way, the Oakland offense ran more than seven plays on a drive just once, and ran four or less five times.

A big reason for the stagnant Oakland offense, in my opinion, was questionable play-calling — especially on third down.

In the game, the Oakland offense faced 12 third downs and converted just two of them. Despite an impressive game from Rashad Jennings (the long bright spot for Oakland offensively), the Raiders ran passing plays on 11 of the 12 third down attempts! As you'd expect looking at Pryor's final line, he completed just two attempts, throwing six incompletions and an interception while being sacked twice (one of which resulted in a fumble).

Now, the obvious answer is that of course Oakland was throwing on third and long.

What if I told you that the Raiders had 3rd and less than 6 seven times throughout the game and ran the ball just once (successfully)?

Not many teams should be running the ball on 3rd and 5, but when your passing game is broken and your running back is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, why not?

The most glaring example of this took place at the beginning of the second quarter, with Oakland facing a 3rd and 1 from their own 30. Instead of running up the middle, they scrambled a hobbled Pryor out right and he threw the ball away, resulting in a punt.

Later in the game, with 1st and Goal from the one, the Raiders ran once unsuccessfully before calling two straight unsuccessful passing plays and settling for a field goal. That failure to score a touchdown resulted in a six-point (and not a 10-point) lead. Had they scored a touchdown, they would have had 24 points — the exact total New York finished the game with.

On the surface, this game appeared to be a close-fought game between two mediocre teams in which the home team won by the narrowest of margins. Beneath the surface, however, that couldn't have been more misleading. Oakland's defense was embarrassed seven days earlier and wasn't going to let it happen again.

Unfortunately, the offense didn't get the memo.

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