The last time the Raiders played the Houston Texans, (October 4, 2009) it was NFL Breast Cancer Awareness week — except that game was back in Houston. The Raiders again face the Texans wearing pink cleats, but hope that they can fare better than they did last year when they lost 29-6.
I will be updating this section throughout the game, but for play-by-play, you’ll have to go elsewhere. After each score and quarter, I’ll update this page with my take on the events.
As of gametime, the Raiders are three-point underdogs at home, and that may end up being generous. While the Texans aren’t heavily favored in this game, their defensive line could hurt the Raiders’ chances if Mario Henderson/Jared Veldheer and Langston Walker struggle.
Here is the list of inactives and lineup changes for today’s game:
G — 3rd QB
Walter McFadden — CB
Jeremy Ware — CB
Travis Goethel — LB
Ricky Brown — LB
Robert Gallery — OG
John Henderson — DT
Chaz Schilens — WR
Daniel Loper replaces Robert Gallery at left guard
Matt Leinart — 3rd QB
Eugene Wilson — FS
Darryl Sharpton — LB
Kevin Bentley — LB
Kasey Studdard — OG
Ryan Denney — DE
Andre Johnson — WR
Garrett Graham — TE
Jacoby Jones replaces Andre Johnson at wide receiver
Dominique Barber replaces Eugene Wilson at free safety
Houston 7 – Oakland 0
After the Raiders blew a great return by Jacoby Ford that gave them a starting field position at the Texans’ 38, The Houston Texans drove down the field on a series of six plays — with three of them being the exact same play. Schaub rolled out twice to his left and once to his right for passes to his tight end. After missing the first time, he struck two times in a row (once left, once right). Then, Derrick Ward rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown to start the scoring.
The Raiders defense gave little in the way of defense on the Texans’ first drive.
The Raiders had a third and 7 play at the Texans’ 35 on their first possession, but Daniel Loper (who is filling in for Robert Gallery) completely wiffed on the block and Gradkowski was sacked from the shotgun and fumbled. Loper, however, did recover the ball.
Oakland 7 – Houston 7
The Raiders came right back for a score of their own. The big play of the drive was a screen to Darren McFadden that went for 43 yards, and then Tom Cable put the ball in Michael Bush’s hands. Bush ran for 10 yards, fumbled after hitting the ground at the two, and after the play was reviewed, the Raiders had the ball on the goal line. Bush got the call again for the touchdown score — Bush fumbled after the touchdown was signaled.
Chances are, the Raiders will go back to McFadden. Bush clearly isn’t fully healed from the broken thumb.
Houston 14 – Oakland 7
Houston punts to the Raiders and it looks as though the player that downs the ball on the Raiders’ 3 has his foot on the goal line. It’s ruled down at the Raiders’ 3. No challenge. The Raiders aren’t able to make a first down, so Lechler comes out to punt — but he shanks a low 44 yarder that’s returned to the Raiders’ 37. For some reason, we haven’t seen Arian Foster (coaches decision) at running back, but Ward and Steve Slaton have torn up the Raiders’ defense just the same. Slaton zig-zagged through the defense for a 23 yard run and Schaub passed to tight end Joel Dreessen for an 11-yard touchdown score.
Oakland 14 – Houston 14
Bruce Gradkowski practically wills the Raiders to another score. Screen passes to McFadden and a nice quarterback keeper around the left end by Gradkowski were the big plays of the drive. The biggest play came on a fake to McFadden and a pass to the right flat to Marcel Reece who caught it and ran it in for the 13-yard score on third and one.
The fans continue to chant, “Bruuuuuce,” anytime the Raiders’ quarterback does anything.
End of 1st half – Score tied at 14
The Raiders have made mistakes every time it seemed that they would take control of this game. Driving in Texans’ territory with less than a minute to go, Langston Walker lets his man get passed him for a sack of Gradkowski from behind. The fan favorite, in the process of throwing, fumbles and the Texans recover on their own 40 with just 32 seconds left in the half.
Schaub is able to get the Texans to the Raiders’ 27 before Houston’s Neil Rackers attempted a 46-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half. Luckily for the Raiders, the kick was a little short and wide right as it bounced off the right post and in the end zone to end the half.
If the Raiders can keep the Texans from running the ball, protect against the tight end, and continue to move the ball well on offense, there’s no reason they shouldn’t come out with a win…but that’s still a lot of ‘if’s’.
Houston 21 – Oakland 14
It didn’t take the Texans long to take the lead in the second half. Just two plays, 33 seconds, and a 74-yard run by Arian Foster, and the Raiders are looking up once again to the Texans with more than 14 minutes left in the third quarter.
To make matters worse, on the Raiders’ first drive after the touchdown, Gradkowski was injured when trying to run for a first down. It looked as though it was his shoulder that got crushed on the hit, but there are no details as of yet. So far, Hiram Eugene has left the game and Thomas Howard is questionable with a knee injury. The Texans are beginning to pull away without Andre Johnson and his replacement Jacoby Jones, who left with an ankle injury.
Houston 24 – Oakland 14
Another nice drive for Houston nets the Texans another three points. The Raiders are really lucky that it was only three. On third and seven from the Raiders 19, there was an illegal procedure to move the ball back for a third and 12 try. The Texans completed a nine-yard pass play to tight end Kevin Walter and then kicked the field goal on fourth down.
Gradkowski left the field to the locker room, but came back on after the kickoff to continue leading the Raiders. So far, this half, the only good news for Raider Nation.
End of third quarter
Gradkowski’s first pass, post-injury, is a 25 yarder to Louis Murphy — unfortunately, it’s tipped by a Xavier Adibi into the waiting arms of Troy Nolan for the pick. Nolan returns it to the Raiders’ 40 for 22 yards. As the third quarter ends, the Texans are up by 10, 24-14, driving on the Raiders’ 11 with a second and nine play coming up. Doesn’t look good for the Silver and Black.
Houston 31 – Oakland 14
First play of the fourth quarter exposes the Raiders’ first-round draft pick of 2010 for a touchdown. Rolando McClain, the middle linebacker who was supposed to solidify the Raiders rushing defense, is just too slow in open field to cover the likes of Arian Foster. It showed on the play as Schaub faked the handoff to Foster, then threw to him in the right flat. Foster caught the ball at around the seven and then put on the afterburners to pull away from a lagging McClain. There’s 14:54 remaining in the game.
Oakland 21 – Houston 31
McFadden leaves the game after apparently pulling his hammy on a 23-yard run. Bush comes in as his replacement, but it’s clear that the Raiders are missing McFadden’s speed. Even so, Bush isn’t having much trouble running the ball either. Zach Miller has come up big on this drive, with two key catches on the drive (of nine and six yards), Miller helped the Raiders move down the field, then he caught the 14 yarder for the touchdown.
Oakland 24 – Houston 31
The Raiders’ offense hasn’t changed much without McFadden in the lineup. Bush continues to help the Raiders move the ball on the ground, Gradkowski is making timely throws and the Raiders have now gotten within one touchdown with 6:13 remaining. Up until the drive stalled, Gradkowski and the offense looked to be moving the ball easily on the Texans, but a couple of bad throws by the quarterback and the Raiders called on Janikowski for a 39-yard field goal. Unlike last week, Janikowski nailed it straight through the uprights.
With 3:13 left in the game, the Raiders’ defense holds the Texans on their own 38 and forces the punt. They’ll get the ball back with just two timeouts left and the two-minute warning. After the punt, the Raiders will attempt to tie the game starting from their own 25.
Two minute warning
The Raiders have the ball at their own 43, with a second and four play to come. Finally, a Texan was called for holding on defense when Brice McCain held Darrius Heyward-Bey on a five-yard pass. The Raiders still have two timeouts and 57 yards for the tie.
On that second and four play, the Texans rushed nearly everyone. As usual, somebody didn’t pick up one of the blitzers and Gradkowski was forced to throw it to nowhere. The officials rightly flagged him for grounding and it was quickly thrid and 16. An incompletion thrown behind DHB, and then a Murphy missed catch-turned interception ends the game with the Texans running out the clock.
The Raiders will go into the locker room 1-3 and have many hurdles to jump in order to get back into a playoff picture. Check back later for a recap and postgame quotes.