Once again, as postseason hopes began to resurrect in Oakland, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tennessee Titans engineered an 80-yard game-winning drive in 14 plays, leaving the clock with just 10 seconds remaining. The masterful drive culminated with Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Kendall Wright connecting for a 10-yard touchdown. Postseason hopes in the Black Hole vanished in an instant.
“To play the way we played last week, and then come out and do what we did (Sunday), especially defensively, we let a team go down late in the game and score a touchdown,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “In order to be one of those (playoff-caliber) teams, you can’t do that. And we did.”
The game winning score led to a 23-19 Titans victory, keeping them tied for the final playoff spot in the AFC and kept the Raiders a game behind. It was a game of paramount importance for both teams in order to remain relevant in the playoff picture. It is indeed noteworthy falling a game behind at this point of the season (4-7 rather than 5-6), for the Raiders have now dug themselves a gargantuan hole.
Despite a heartbreaking loss for the Silver and Black, perhaps there’s something to be sanguine about. In his second consecutive NFL start, the inexperienced Matt McGloin threw the ball tremendously well, particularly in the second half after giving Oakland a 19-16 lead with about six minutes remaining in the final quarter. A stunning 75-yard drive was capped off by a beautiful 27-yard touchdown pass to Marcel Reece in the corner of the end-zone for the go-ahead score. McGloin recorded 260 yards on 19-for-32 passing on the day, with one touchdown and an interception.
The undrafted rookie patently earned himself another start, meaning he’ll be under center with the entire country eyeballing the television on Thanksgiving Day against the Dallas Cowboys at Jerry’s Palace. Here’s a spectacular chance for the man whose defied all odds to continue to showcase his skill on as big of a venue as it can possibly be. The Cowboys are struggling in all aspects defensively, ranking dead last in total defense, giving up a whopping 432 yards per game. McGloin cannot ask for more of an advantageous circumstance in front of America on national television.
Moreover, there was undeniably the bad that came out of the loss on Sunday. Sebastian Janikowski, who is well-regarded as an outstanding kicker for the Raiders, missed two costly field goals which could have been game-changers. One of Janikowski’s misses was from 32-yards out, a chip shot for any professional kicker, and the other was from 48-yards away. Janikowski, referred to as Sea Bass amongst Raider Nation, kicked a season-high six field goals and connected on four of them, which isn’t awful, though the two shanks came back to haunt Oakland.
It wasn’t too long ago when the Raiders signed Janikowski to a four-year contract extension, paying him almost $19 million total, with $8 million guaranteed over the first two years. Bearing in mind what type of season Sea Bass has had, he’s done nothing to merit that type of cash. In the beginning of the season, the struggles of Janikowski were partially being blamed on Marquette King, the place holder, due to lack of continuity between the two. After the departure of Shane Lechler, the great punter and long-time place holder in Oakland, rookie punter King took over Lechler’s central role. Possibly, Sea Bass and King have yet to establish chemistry and are throwing each other off, though that is an issue that should have unquestionably been rectified by now.
There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. The ugly was the inability of Oakland’s chaotic defense to stop Fitzpatrick from scoring the game-winning touchdown.
After McGloin’s late surge for the go-ahead score to give the Raiders a 19-16 lead, the defense merely needed a stop in front of the raucous crowd at the O.Co to hold on to a victory. This is when the Titans wisely pieced together an 80-yard game-winning drive in 14 plays.
You can argue that Janikowski lost the game for the Raiders, because adding six points to the final score would have resulted in a triumph at the Coliseum. Nevertheless, regardless of the heart-rending kicks by Sea Bass, the Raiders were still in position to win the game – the defense simply needed a stop. At worst, they should have been able to force a field goal and send the game to overtime, but the defense couldn’t hold and allowed Fitzpatrick to drive down field for the game-winning score.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Raiders, for they had this one sealed in the bag. The defense has been the Raiders strong suit throughout the season, therefore I believe they’ll bounce back Thanksgiving Day with a solid display of defense. Fortunately, Oakland has a number of veterans in their locker room to keep players from hanging their heads, and instead keeping them on their feet.