The Raiders knew that to have any chance of beating the Saints Sunday, they’d have to limit their mistakes and score early and often.
“We need a win desperately,” Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle this past week. “They can score a lot of points, and we know we have to score a lot of points to keep up with them. It’s going to be an exciting game.”
Well, not so much.
The Saints outscored the Raiders 21-7 in the first half and then cruised to a 38-17 victory at O.co Coliseum, dropping Oakland to 3-7 with its third straight defeat.
Over the past three games, the Raiders have given up 42, 55 and 38 points, an average of 45 points per game.
On their first possession, the Saints set the tone for the day, marching 80 yards to a touchdown with Drew Brees connecting with tight end Jimmy Graham on a 1-yard pass to put the visitors up 7-0.
Minutes later, a short pass by Palmer intended for tight end Brandon Myers was picked off by Malcolm Jenkins and returned 55 yards to put the Saints up 14-0.
Then, early in the second quarter, the Raiders drove to the New Orleans 7 with a chance to cut the Saints’ lead in half, but Palmer’s pass into the end zone intended for Myers bounced off his hands and was intercepted by Ron Harper in the end zone. When the Saints scored later in the half on another Brees TD pass, this one to Lance Moore for 38 yards, New Orleans appeared to be a lock for the victory – and indeed it was,
The Saints now have won five of their past six games after an 0-4 start and are now 5-5.
The Raiders were able to move the ball in the second half, as Palmer – statistically, at least – had another good day throwing the football, completing 22-of-40 passes for 312 yards and two TDs, while Marcel Reece rushed for 103 yards in moving from fullback to tailback in the absence of Darren McFadden.
But Oakland couldn’t stop the Saints, who added a 27-yard TD run by Mark Ingram early in the third quarter, another Brees-to-Moore TD pass and a field goal.
In the third quarter of games this season, Oakland has now been outscored 123-34.
The Raiders’ pass defense once again proved vulnerable, and will be challenged again next week when Oakland travels to play the Bengals and second-year quarterback Andy Dalton.