Raiders QB Matt McGloin threw for three TDs in his first NFL start Sunday vs. the Texans. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
The Raiders didn’t have their starting quarterback and their top running back, have been without a play-making tight end all season, had looked terrible in losing consecutive games and were a seven-point underdog on the road – where they had lost eight straight -- to a team that was on a seven-game losing streak.
So of course, the Raiders on Sunday played one of their best games this season in Houston, getting huge contributions from first-year players in silver and black while also making a late defensive stand to preserve a victory.
The victory improved Oakland’s record to 4-6 and equaled the Raiders’ victory total from 2012. The Texans dropped to 2-8.
McGloin completed 18-of-32 passes for 197 yards and three TDs, with no interceptions, and gave the Raiders a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter with a 5-yard scoring pass to Denarius Moore and a 16-yard TD strike to Rod Streater. Both touchdowns were set up by Raiders’ takeways, the first a fumble recovery by Phillip Adams and the second an interception by Nick Roach.
After the Texans regained the lead in the second quarter on a 42-yard TD pass from Case Keenum to Garrett Graham, an 87-yard punt return by Keshawn Martin and a Randy Bullock field goal, the Raiders came back strong after halftime.
First, McGloin connected with rookie tight end Mychal Rivera on a 26-yard strike down the middle of the field for a touchdown to put Oakland back on top 21-17.
Then, from the Wildcat formation from the Raiders’ own 20, Rashad Jennings took a direct snap, faked a handoff then sprinted through a big hole in the Texans’ defense. When safety D.J. Swearinger tried to bring him down, Jennings ran over him and jetted away for an 80-yard TD run to put Oakland up 28-17.
Jennings was just one of several first-year Raiders to have big days. The running back, filling in for the injured Darren McFadden, carried 22 times for 150 yards, his second 100-plus-yard day in the past three games.
In addition, Rivera, at tight end, had five catches for 54 yards, and Roach, the middle linebacker signed away from the Bears this past offseason, had the first interception of his seven-year NFL career.
After the Raiders’ big third quarter, it was up to the Raiders’ defense to hold the Texans.
Houston in the fourth quarter drove for two field goals to climb within 28-23, then looked as if it would steal the victory with less than two minutes remaining.
Taking over on their own 36 with 2:33 left, the Texans drove all the way to the Raiders’ 2 with 1:28 remaining. But, on third-and-1, running back Ben Tate was stopped for a 1-yard loss by linebacker Kevin Burnett, setting up fourth-and-2 from the 3. A false start penalty then pushed the Texans back to their 7, and Matt Schaub’s fourth-down pass to Andre Johnson fell incomplete.
Oakland then ran out the clock to secure the victory.
The Raiders return home next Sunday to host the 4-6 Tennessee Titans at 1:05 p.m.