HOUSTON -- The Raiders couldn’t finish off the Texans on Sunday, ending up on the wrong end of a game they controlled most of the afternoon. DeShaun Watson squeaked out a 27-24 victory that left the Raiders ruing missed opportunities to complete a five-game road trip with a win.
There was plenty of blame to go around after this one, with better second-half defense and big plays converted on offense required to win an important game as we near the season’s halfway point.
The Raiders were competitive but not quite good enough to claim victory. Let’s see how the Raiders graded out in this week’s report card:
The Raiders were efficient on the ground, as we’ve come to expect from a dominant offensive line and Josh Jacobs’ elusiveness. He had 66 yards on 15 carries, though he seemed to be on a pitch count after dealing with a shoulder injury. The workload spread out a bit more than usual against a solid Texans run defense, but the Raiders still churned out 93 yards on 4.0 yards per carry.
The run game wasn’t completely dominant but it was impactful. Left guard Richie Incognito will certainly not like a fourth quarter holding call that set the Raiders back on a comeback attempt.
The Raiders were taking yards in chunks, with Derek Carr finding Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow on deep touchdown passes. The Texans did a solid job slowing tight end Darren Waller, but that created more chances for Williams down the field. He didn’t capitalize on enough of them, with two long passes on their comeback drive that he wasn’t able to come down with in his return to action following a two-game layoff.
Williams is a No. 1 receiver and simply has to make those plays. He admitted as much after this loss. Carr went a third straight game without being sacked, another gold star effort from the offensive line. But when the Raiders had to have a big play, passes hit the turf. That can’t happen on the road, against good teams.
The Raiders' run defense has been strong all season, but they didn’t handle a running quarterback particularly well. The Texans had 130 yards on 32 carries, including 46 from Watson.
Carlos Hyde did some nice work, with 83 yards on 19 carries. He converted a third down with a 10-yard draw run that kept a Texans touchdown drive alive. That was as key as play as any in this game.
Watson tormented the Raiders defense on this day, escaping sacks and quarterback pressure with his speed and elusiveness, able to make big plays on the move. The Raiders had three sacks but needed a few more they should’ve had down the stretch.
The Silver and Black had no answers for DeAndre Hopkins, who had 11 receptions for 109 yards on 13 targets. Darren Fells had two touchdown catches, as tight ends continue to plague the Raiders defense. They haven’t had a takeaway in two straight losses, and Trayvon Mullen had a golden opportunity for a pick six but couldn’t hang on.
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Punter A.J. Cole had a solid day, with half his punts landing inside the opposing 20. The Raiders were solid in the battle for field position, but the defense allowed too many long drives.
Dwayne Harris is impactful in the return game but continues to battle an ankle injury. Daniel Carlson converted his only field goal attempt but certainly wanted a second one to tie it late in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders should’ve left Houston with a victory. Plain and simple. This isn’t a bad football team but it can’t win while having an off day in a few areas. That happened here, with too many opportunities missed. Jon Gruden’s coaching has been solid and the Raiders can compete with anybody, but have to do better in important moments and stop hindering themselves with penalties.
Winning is hard in the NFL. The Raiders can’t let chances to do so pass them by.