The box score from Sunday’s 23-19 Raiders’ loss to the Titans will show that Tennessee won on a late 10-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Kendall Wright.
And, technically, that would be true.
The Raiders, in search of their second straight victory, were ahead 19-16 and desperately trying to hang on to the win – or at least force overtime – when Fitzpatrick and Wright converted a third-down play from the Raiders 10 with just 15 seconds left in the game.
Just when it seemed the Raiders had won the game on rookie quarterback Matt McGloin’s 27-yard TD pass to Marcel Reece with just over six minutes remaining, the Titans ate up most of the clock with a methodical 80-yard scoring drive. In the duel of 4-6 teams at O.co Coliseum, the Raiders fell to 4-7 and now face a short prep period for Thursday’s Thanksgiving matchup with the Cowboys in Texas.
But Sunday’s loss also could be attributed to an unlikely culprit: kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
The Raiders’ longtime field-goal phenom – who made 62 of 69 attempts over the past two seasons and was 49-for-50 over that span on kicks under 50 yards – missed two relatively short kicks Sunday that would have seemed automatic in recent seasons.
Janikowski made four field goals – of 52, 48, 24 and 42 yards – but he also missed a 48-yarder and a 32-yarder. The 32-yarder came right at the end of the first half, after McGloin had connected with Rod Streater for 23 yards to the Titans’ 14-yard line with four seconds left. Janikowski’s kick was wide left. He hadn’t missed a kick between the 30- and 39-yard lines since 2010, and has only missed 10 such kicks in his 14-year pro career.
This season, he already has seven misses. If Janikowski had converted both kicks Sunday, of course, it would be the Raiders celebrating the fact they’re still in the wild-card chase, not the Titans.
Of course, this year Janikowski is working with a new holder, punter Marquette King, after losing his longtime holder, Shane Lechler, who departed in free agency. The King holds had been an issue in the exhibition season, but once the season began, it supposedly was resolved. Apparently, it hasn’t been.
Paul Gutierrez, a reporter for ESPN.com who covers the Raiders, sent a tweet Sunday that indicated King’s holds are still an issue: “Wow, apparently Janikowski told sideline reporter Lincoln Kennedy on sidelines he was not pleased with King’s hold … #UnderTheBus?”
Meanwhile, McGloin earned another start against the Cowboys. After leading the Raiders to a victory over the Texans last week, head coach Dennis Allen gave him a second start, based on merit and Terrelle Pryor’s knee injury. After the loss to Tennessee Sunday, Allen confirmed McGloin will start vs. Dallas.
Against the Titans, McGloin threw the first interception of his career, but was 19-of-32 for 260 yards and a touchdown. Running back Rashad Jennings also continued his solid play, rushing 16 times for 73 yards and catching four passes for 49 yards.