Matt McGloin became the first Raider rookie in more than 25 years to win in his first NFL start, throwing three touchdowns Sunday at Reliant Stadium to lead the Oakland Raiders to a 28-23 win over the Houston Texans.
McGloin, an undrafted free agent, started in place of injured Terrelle Pryor and was 18-for-32 for 197 yards as the Raiders spoiled the return of Gary Kubiak, Houston’s head coach who suffered a mini-stroke two weeks ago in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Kubiak coached from the press box on doctor’s orders, but his return wasn’t enough to prevent the Texans (2-8) from absorbing their franchise-record eighth consecutive loss following a 2-0 start.
The Raiders (4-6) also got 150 rushing yards, including an 80-yard touchdown, from backup running back Rashad Jennings, who was starting his second straight game in place of injured Darren McFadden.
Oakland burst out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a pair of McGloin touchdowns, a five-yarder to Denarius Moore midway through the period and a 16-yard strike to Rod Streater with 3:45 left in the quarter.
But Houston roared back. The other undrafted rookie starter, Case Keenum, threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Graham early in the period to get the Texans on the board and with 2:54 remaining, Keshawn Martin returned a Marquette King punt 87 yards for a score—the second straight week the Raiders allowed a special teams score.
After Martin’s score, the Raiders went three-and-out and punted the ball back to the Texans. Keenum directed them 43 yards in nine plays to set up Randy Bullock’s 51-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in the half, giving the Texans their first lead at 17-14.
Midway through the third quarter, McGloin put the Raiders on top to stay, connecting with Mychal Rivera for a 26-yard score to give Oakland a 21-17 edge. Jennings made it 28-17 with his 80-yard burst with 2:26 left in the third.
Houston got a pair of Bullock field goals from 26 and 30 yards, respectively, to cut Oakland’s lead to 28-23 and the Texans had possession in the red zone inside of the two-minute warning.
On third-and-1 from the Oakland 2, the Raiders stopped Ben Tate for a one-yard loss and, forced to go for it, right guard Brandon Brooks committed a false start penalty, moving the ball back to the Raider 8. Matt Schaub, who replaced Keenum late in the third quarter, looked for Andre Johnson over the middle, but Usama Young broke up the pass and the Texans turned it over on downs.
The Texans appear to be a team on the verge of unraveling; Schaub and Johnson were heatedly arguing on the sidelines after the failed pass on fourth down.
The last Raider rookie quarterback to win his first start was Steve Beuerlein on Sept. 4, 1988. Beuerlein quarterbacked the then-Los Angeles Raiders to a 24-13 win over the San Diego Chargers.
McGloin is the fourth Raider rookie quarterback to win his first start; the others were Mike Rae on Sept. 26, 1976, over the Houston Oilers and Larry Lawrence on Dec. 8, 1974, over the Kansas City Chiefs.
There was speculation swirling before the game that the Raiders might install McGloin as the permanent starter if he played well Sunday.
Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday morning that there was a sense in the locker room and front office that Pryor might remain on the bench based on McGloin’s performance in Houston.
Pryor has struggled over his last four starts, completing 61-of-120 passes (50.8 percent) for 714 yards with one touchdown and eight interceptions while the Raiders went 1-3 in those four games. That’s an NFL-worst 44.2 quarterback rating over that span, even though he set an NFL record with a 93-yard touchdown run—the longest ever by a quarterback—in the lone win, a 21-18 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 27.
Keenum was 13-for-24 for 170 yards with a touchdown and an interception before being yanked in favor of Schaub, the former Pro Bowler who was benched last month. Schaub was 12-for-25 for 155 yards in his first game action since Oct. 13. Graham had seven catches for 136 yards and a touchdown and Johnson caught 10 balls for 116 yards.
Streater led the Oakland receivers with 84 yards on six catches with a touchdown. Defensively, Mike Jenkins had 12 tackles and Kevin Burnett and Lamarr Houston each had a quarterback sack.
The Oakland offense gained 341 yards, but managed just 12 first downs and punted on 11 of their 18 drives. However, the unit didn’t turn the ball over and converted all three red-zone opportunities into touchdowns.
The Raiders host the Tennessee Titans (4-6) next Sunday at O.co Coliseum for a 1:05 kickoff in a game that has playoff implications—the Raiders are one of seven teams within one game of the New York Jets for the final playoff spot in the AFC.