The Raiders ended their five consecutive road games with a 27-24 loss to the Houston Texans. It was a closely contested game, but unfortunately for the Raiders after having a lead for most of the day, they came up short in the end.
There was excitement going into the game. For the first time all year, the offensive line would be at full strength. That lasted all of eight plays. Rodney Hudson left the field on a cart with an apparent ankle injury and did not return.
After the game, Gruden did not have a precise update on the health of Hudson but did say he was concerned about it.
Except for the Hudson injury, the game got off to a good start for the Raiders. After both teams traded punts on their first two possessions, the Raiders got on the scoreboard first when rookie Hunter Renfrow took a slant pass from Derek Carr to the house for a 65-yard touchdown. It was Renfrow’s first touchdown of the season.
The Texans got the ball back and immediately answered with a six-play, 75-yard drive of their own. The score came on a 12-yard hook up from Deshaun Watson to third-down back, Duke Johnson.
After trading punts once again, on the Raider’s fifth possession, they once again found the endzone. This time it was a ten-play, 70-yard drive, capped by a Darren Waller eight-yard touchdown. The big play on the drive was a 23-yard run by Josh Jacobs. The Raiders had there second lead of the game, 14-7.
On the ensuing possession, the defense forced a three and out. On 3rd and long, Benson Mayowa got home for a sack. With a chance to take a commanding lead before the half, the Raiders instead went three plays and out. The drive got off to a horrible start when a 30-yard pick up on a Darren Waller reception was nullified by an offensive pass interference call on Hunter Renfrow. Gruden challenged the ruling, but it was not overturned.
To add to the mistakes, on first and 20, Josh Jacobs took a six-yard loss. A delay a game on 2nd and 26 made it 2nd and 31 from their seven-yard line. Despite picking up 26-yards on the next two plays, the punt unit was sent on the field.
The Texans marched 64-yards in 3:38, but they stalled on the Oakland 22 yard line and had to settle for a field, making the score 14-10 heading into the half.
The Texans received the ball to start the second half, and once again, the defense bent but did not break. On 3rd and 11, with good coverage on the back end, Arden Key was able to break through for a sack and a loss of 10 yards.
Sensing this could be the Raider’s opportunity to take advantage of a beat-up secondary and a defense that lost star pass rusher JJ Watt in the first half, Derek Carr found Tyrell Williams deep along the right side for a 46-yard touchdown. Gareon Conley was the man in coverage; the touchdown pass was Carr’s third of the game.
This is where things started to take a turn in favor of the Texans.
Trailing 21-13, the Texans took the ball and put together a methodical 15 play, 77-yard drive that ate up nearly eight mins in the third quarter. Maxx Crosby, who had himself a standout game, nearly made the play of the game when he punched the ball out of the hands of Carlos Hyde. Luckily for the Texans, the ball was recovered by one of their linemen.
Two plays later, it was 21-20, Watson connected with tight end Darren Fells on an eight-yard touchdown, and the Raiders lead was down to one.
The long drive took a toll on the defense. They were visibly worn down.
Needing a big-time response, Derek Carr led the offense down the field 50-yards but were not able to convert a 3rd and 7 from the Houston 25 and had to settle for a field goal. In a game that was decided by three points, not getting seven on the drive proved to be costly.
Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense got the ball back down 24-20 with 10:48 remaining in the game. And just like on their previous drive, the Texans would not be stopped. Maxx Crosby was flagged for a questionable roughing the passer that got the drive started; eight plays later in was Nicholas Morrow, who was flagged for illegal contact. The Raiders were penalized 11 times for 110 yards throughout the game.
The scoring play was again a Watson to Fells touchdown pass.
After leading the entire game, the Raiders were playing from behind for the first time with 6:26 left in the game. An eight-yard run by Josh Jacobs on 1st down, a 22-yard pick up by Tyrell Williams on 2nd down, and the Raiders looked to be in business. The drive killer came on the fourth play. A 10-yard holding penalty negated a 12-yard Jacobs gain on Richie Incognito. Now the offense was faced with a 2nd and 20 from their 45-yard line.
After a short gain of four yards, it was 3rd and 16. Derek Carr zeroed in on Tyrell Williams, who was tightly guarded by Gareon Conley. The ball was a go route to Williams. Carr tried to hit Williams with a back-shoulder throw. Conley was a bit handsy on the play, but no flag was thrown. Williams was able to get his hands on it, but Conley fought hard to wrestle the ball away. For a moment, it looked as if Gruden would challenge the play, but he decided against it. The Raiders punted the ball away for the final time with 4:09 left in the game.
Three first downs, two timeouts, and a two-minute warning later in was victory formation time for the Texans. At the end of the day, the blame goes to both sides of the ball. The Raiders offense was not able to take advantage of an undermanned Texans defense, and the Raiders defense could not get stops when they needed it in the second half.
The Raiders fall to 3-4 on the season.