Usually teams prefer to win in a blowout. It eases the stress levels and makes for a good night's sleep and a real confidence booster. According to Dennis Allen, that's not what he wanted to see from these Raiders. He wanted to see them battled back and stare defeat in the face and overcome it. That's just what he got with the win over the Texans on Sunday.
"I thought it was a great team win for our football team," said Allen. "Really to be honest with you, I thought it was the perfect ending for us as a football team. We talk a lot as a team about overcoming adversity, facing adversity. For that game to play out the way it did on the road, to jump out to a lead, to give the lead up, to get the lead back again and have it go down to a fourth-down stop at the end of the game - you're either going to stop them and win the game, or you're not and lose the game.
"We talked a lot about guys stepping up and putting a bulls-eye on their chest and being the guy who wants to make the play at the end of the game. We were able to do that, so again it's a great team win for us."
With any game that has an ebb and flow the way this game did, you are going to have a fair share of positives to build off, and negatives to learn from. This game had plenty of both. Here there are as Dennis Allen saw them:
Offensive line play
"Obviously I think when you're able to run the ball the way we were able to run the ball and to only have two sacks in the game your offensive line has to be doing something pretty well. Again, we overcame some adversity there. We had some guys go down with injuries, and some other guys had to step in and fill in. I thought we did a good job of doing that."
The play of the offensive line had a lot to do with the play of the quarterback. This was, after all, the same line as had been maligned all season for giving up pressures and sacks. They weren't even healthy with every single active offensive lineman having played in the game by the end. And yet suddenly with a quarterback who steps into the pocket and forces opposing defenses to respect his arm, the offensive line suddenly looks pretty good. Funny how that works.
Run game with Rashad Jennings
"We've talked about Rashad Jennings with his 150 yards running and 80-yard touchdown run. Again he was stepping in and filling in for Darren McFadden for the third week in a row really, and he's played exceptionally well for us."
Jennings has had over 100 yards from scrimmage four times this season in three starts. This was his best game on the ground and his second with over 100 yards rushing. The 80-yard touchdown helped to boost his overall numbers and about 75 of those yards came after first contact when he mowed over a prospective tackler.
Passing game with Matt McGloin
"Matt McGloin coming in, stepping in and playing the way that he did, all this being done against the number one ranked defense in the National Football League I thought was very impressive."
"I thought he had great command of the huddle. I thought his presence on the field was outstanding. I thought he had great communication with the sideline. When you watch him in the passing game, there wasn't a lot of unsettledness. He was calm in the pocket. He was going through his progressions. He threw the ball with timing and accuracy. I thought in particular for a first game starting, I thought he handled things very well."
McGloin had three touchdown passes to no interceptions including leading a touchdown drive in the third quarter to re-take the lead. He finished with a passer rating of 105.9.
Play in the red zone
"I thought the difference in the game was the red zone. When we got down there in the red zone - that was something that we made a big emphasis on Friday - when we got down there in the red zone we were 3-for-3, three touchdowns. We were able to keep Houston out of the end zone. They were 0-for-3 down there in the red zone."
The Raiders efficiency in the red zone gave them the early lead and their defense in the red zone won the game when they held the Texans out of the end zone despite having a first down at the 11 yard line in the waning seconds. The final pass on fourth down was batted down for an incompletion and a turnover on downs.
Marquette King punting
"Marquette King has punted very well for us. He had four punts inside the 20 again. Last week that was another point of emphasis we had with him."
King did this with the pressure of facing Raiders former All-Pro punter, Shane Lechler, on the opposite sideline - and he outperformed his mentor. He matched him in punt yard average (49.1) but had more punts inside the 20-yard line (4-2) and his longest was 64 compared to Lechler at 60. If not for the punt return touchdown, King would have had better net yardage as well.
"Our defense starting off the way that we did - to get the two takeaways, to set our offense up in positive field position, our offense to be able to convert on that."
While taking the ball away twice (fumble, interception) and converting touchdowns on both, the Raiders didn't give the ball away in the game.
"Penalties are something that we've got to continue to work on to get cleaned up. We had eight in the game."
Those penalties totaled 77 yards while the Texans had nine penalties for 50 yards.
Big plays in the passing game
"Explosive passes, we gave up too many explosive passes. Luckily we had the one that was for a touchdown where we had a little bit of dropped coverage there, but other than that we gave up some explosive passes but were generally able to keep them in front of us and not let them convert into touchdowns."
All told, the Raiders' defense gave up seven passes over 20 yards. Those plays went for 23, 23, 23, 33, 34, 35, and 42T. The pass play he is talking about was early in the second quarter in which Case Keenum ran out right to buy time and his tight end, Garrett Graham, got behind Charles Woodson and broke free for the touchdown from 42 yards out. Plenty to be concerned about there.
"We had some critical drops in the game that we've got to work to continue to improve on. We'll do some extra work this week to work on drops."
There were four on-target drops in this game by Marcel Reece, Rod Streater, Denarius Moore (2x). Five if you count Charles Woodson dropping an interception right in his hands.
Punt return touchdown
"Obviously the biggest negative in the game was the long punt return. In the situation where it came in the game we had the momentum, and they were able to get all the momentum back on that."
To be fair, that return was only made possible by a hold on Taiwan Jones that wasn't called. He was in position to make the play as soon as the return man got to the ball but his assignment pulled on the back of his jersey as plain as day. Can't throw the flags for them.