For about three weeks, the holes in the Raiders defense appeared to be patched.
Then the Tampa Bay Bucs came to Oakland Sunday and blew those holes wide open again.
Now, the Raiders (3-5) will head to Baltimore Sunday for a game against the Ravens wondering if their defense took a giant step back, or if the second-half breakdown against the Bucs was just a one-game malfunction.
In Oakland’s 42-32 loss to Tampa Bay, the Raiders were shredded by rookie running back Doug Martin, who rushed for 251 yards and four TDs – including 231 yards and three long scoring runs over the final two quarters.
Amazingly, Martin picked up 197 of those yards before he was even touched by a Raiders defender. It was the most yardage before contact by any NFL back since 2009, reported Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Bucs offensive line in the second half dominated Oakland, linebackers Rolando McClain and rookie Miles Burris weren’t making stops and the secondary missed open-field tackles.
After reviewing film, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said Monday that he didn’t believe his defensive line was getting knocked back in the second half, telling Tafur that “we didn’t get off blocks” and “we had some opportunities to make some tackles and didn’t do it.”
Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will work to correct the problems this week in preparation for the Ravens and running back Ray Rice, who is coming off a 98-yard rushing game against the Browns and has 622 yards and six touchdowns on the ground this season.
Allen, whose team was outscored in the third quarter Sunday 21-0 – the Raiders have now been outscored 88-24 in the third quarter this season – hasn’t been able to pinpoint why his defense has collapsed in the second half.
But Monday he said the Raiders have to quickly find an answer.
“It hurts,” he said of Oakland’s defensive breakdown. “It hurts. There are things we have to get corrected.”
It wasn’t just the run defense that was poor against the Bucs, either. Quarterback Josh Freeman completed some big throws on the Oakland secondary and cornerback Michael Huff – after taking several big steps forward in recent weeks since moving from safety – had a bad day against former Chargers wideout Vincent Jackson.
As far as safety Matt Giordano is concerned, the Raiders just have to regroup and shake off their bad day and work on fixing their problems before taking on the Ravens.
He acknowledged his two missed tackles on a pair of long Martin touchdown runs, and the failure of the defense in general.
“You got to just tip your hat to the running back,” Giordano told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “He made a lot of great runs. There was some (missed) tackling going on. I missed two tackles. We all missed tackles out there. Our technique wasn’t good.”