The Oakland Raiders traveled to Houston with one thing on their mind–getting their record to 2-2. After losing to the undefeated Broncos in front of a booing home crowd, playing on the road would have seemed to be a welcomed opportunity for a win. The Houston Texans had something else in mind as they beat the Raiders 29-6.
JaMarcus Russell, the main focus of boos in front of his home crowd, continued to struggle getting completions. Russell finished with 12 completions on 33 attempts for a meager 128 yards, but his lack of completions couldn’t necessarily be blamed on him. His receivers dropped nine passes and at least one pass was poorly ruled out of bounds–meaning that he could’ve finished 22-33 on the day.
Offensively we counted nine dropped balls. We could not run the football and that really disrupted our offense. We are really killing ourselves–we’re shooting ourselves in the foot all over the place. And then special teams was a really poor effort and then coverage returns a couple of bad decisions obviously, so two-thirds of our football team really played poorly today. – Tom Cable on the team’s performance
The play in which the officials ruled a catch an incompletion came in the second quarter with the Raiders on their own 18 yard line on third and 13. Russell, taking the snap from shotgun formation, threw a dart to the left sideline to rookie Louis Murphy. Murphy made the snag, dragging his right foot along the turf as he got out of bounds for the apparent first down.
The play was first ruled a catch by the closest official, but an official ran up and called the play an incompletion. Murphy immediately argued with officials and then ran to the sidelines and pleaded with head coach Tom Cable to throw the red flag–which he finally did. Anyone watching the game on television could see it was a catch, anyone except for the official reviewing the play.
“I caught that ball. Got my feet in and it is what it is. They called it a catch, then they ruled it an incomplete catch and then they come back…,” exclaimed Murphy to reporters after the game. “Oh, man, I was lobbying the whole time. It was a complete catch, I didn’t bobble, I didn’t do anything and I felt I had two feet in. That’s two of them; that’s two robs.“
It was the third straight game in which the Raiders failed to gain at least 200 yards on offense–the first time in the history of the franchise. While Russell didn’t blame anyone for the Raiders’ offensive woes, he did admit that the drops had a big affect on his performance. “When we are trying to stay on course, do some of the things that we wrote down through the course of the week because it makes sure everyone do their job,” he said. “I don’t pay too much mind while it’s happening but as it goes on it’s a lot back down deep inside. But I know that you have to keep guys with confidence. Keep coming at them; keep throwing the ball to them. That’s the only way they will get better.“
Once again, fumbles were an issue for the Raiders. Russell had one fumble on a strip sack, Johnnie Lee Higgins muffed a punt, and running back Michael Bush coughed up the ball on a rush off tackle. Another issue the Raiders had was on special teams. The biggest gaffe came on a free kick from Shane Lechler, who boomed the ball 75 yards to the Texans five yard line. Jacoby Jones made a couple of moves and ran through a wide open seam, outrunning Lechler as he returned the ball for the touchdown.
I could see a gap. I saw a hole. We are just going to have to get better at that. Jacoby (Jones) is great. We thought he was a little suspect with his ball handling. He came in and caught every ball except for the one that he dropped on the punt. He had a great night. Ha ts off to him, he is a good player. – Shane Lechler on the free kick gone awry
After starting off slow, the Raiders’ defense tightened up in the second half–effectively shutting down the Texans’ offense. On the day, the Raiders had four sacks, an interception, and a fumble forced that was recovered.
That gives veteran Greg Ellis reason for hope. Asked if it was accurate to say that the defense played well, he said, “Yeah, just like coach said, when the score is that different, it’s easy to just assume that, ‘Hey, these guys they’re far away from winning this year.’ But, when you go back and break it down, it’s like, hey, we could have caught that pass, and it would have kept that drive going. If we would have stopped them here, it would have ended that drive.” He then went on to say, “So, a lot of those things are true, like the coach said. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t change the win-loss column for you. You have to go out there and take care of the problem.“
The Raiders will now move on to the toughest stretch of their schedule, starting with a trip to New York to take on Eli Manning and the 4-0 Giants. After that, they’ll come home to play the 2-1 Philadelphia Eagles and the 3-1 New York Jets.
Next Game: Raiders – 10/11 vs. NYG | Texans – 10/11 vs. Ari