Originally published on SBReport.net on Oct. 21, 2012
The Oakland Raiders defense came through when it was needed most as the Raiders snuck away with a 26-23 overtime win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After surrendering 17 points to the Jaguars in the first half, the defense gave up just two field goals in the second half and, more importantly, forced a turnover in overtime that put the Raiders in field goal range for the game-winning field goal against an injured Jaguars team.
Linebacker Philip Wheeler attributes the turnaround at halftime to the difference in execution from the players on the field.
"Halftime we came out swinging. We took their best punch then we countered with our own punch and we swung hard," Wheeler said of the defensive turnaround. "We didn't have to make adjustments, all we had to do was do what the coaches prepared us to do all week. They did a great job this week in preparing us and it was one of those games where we had to come out hard. We had to come out and do it, just the players."
Jacksonville lost both their starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert and star running back Maurice Jones-Drew in the first half for the remainder of the game. Jones-Drew went down with a foot injury on the Jaguars' first drive of the game, while Gabbert injured his shoulder in the second quarter.
Just one week after losing to the Atlanta Falcons due to a game-winning field goal, it was the Raiders turn to win at the foot of their kicker.
Already facing a third-and-21 from their own nine-yard line, backup quarterback Chad Henne hit wide receiver Cecil Shorts underneath but Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston was there to knock the ball loose. Cornerback Joselio Hanson recovered the fumble on the Jaguars 21-yard line and Janikowski knocked in the field goal after quarterback Carson Palmer took a knee to center the kick attempt.
The Raiders struggled for much of the game offensively while running back Darren McFadden was unable to get going once again. McFadden finished with just 53 yards on 19 attempts.
Oakland got on the scoreboard first after quarterback Carson Palmer was able to find Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 59-yard pass to get the Raiders down to the nine-yard line. But with first and goal, the offense stalled and the Raiders were forced to settle for a field goal to give them the early 3-0 lead.
The Jaguars answered right back as the Raiders defense blew a coverage assignment and gave up a 42-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to Shorts on the ensuing drive. Raiders safety Tyvon Branch bit on the double move by Shorts and the wide receiver ran right by Branch for the wide-open touchdown.
"We didn't play that exactly like we needed to," Allen said about the play following the game. "We really should had that guy doubled up. I think Ty [Tyvon Branch] kind of bit up a little on the double-move part of it. We didn't execute."
Meanwhile, the Raiders offense continued to struggle to move the ball and Palmer made a poor decision to give the Jaguars the ball back with a short field. On 2nd and one Palmer scrambled out to his left and attempted a shovel pass but the ball was tipped and intercepted to give the Raiders defense tough field position.
But like last week, Palmer was able to shake it off and execute well during the remainder of the game and when the game was on the line.
The Raiders turned to their no-huddle offense coming out of halftime and found success against the Jaguars defense. Allen believes going to the no-huddle offense ignited the Raiders comeback.
"That's been something that we've had in our offense for a while now," Allen said. "We're not going to be just a no-huddle offense and use it exclusively, but it will be something that we're going to use form time to time to maybe help us get in a little more rhythm or give us a little spark. I felt like it did that today."
Down 20-6 early in the second half, Palmer found wide receiver Denarius Moore for an eight-yard touchdown pass that cut the Jaguars lead to just one touchdown.
Palmer was once again able to get the Raiders into the endzone to tie the game up late in the game after both teams traded a couple of field goals.
Down 23-16 with a little over six minutes remaining, Palmer orchestrated a 10-play, 58-yard drive to tie the game.
Palmer drove to the Jacksonville 25-yard line before encountering problems. Palmer threw a ball up to the corner to rookie wide receiver Rod Streater on 3rd and 10 that was almost picked off, forcing a crucial 4th and 10 for the Raiders while down by seven with a little over three minutes remaining.
Allen initially sent out the field goal unit but then burned a timeout to send the offense back on the field.
"With it being 4th and 10, my thought process was initially to kick the field goal, knowing that we'd played pretty good defense there in second half," Allen said. "Felt like we were going to get another opportunity to get the ball back."
As it turns out Allen made the right decision to go for it as offensive coordinator Greg Knapp called the same play on 4th down and Darrius Heyward-Bey was able to draw a pass interference penalty on Jaguars defensive back Aaron Ross.
Palmer punched the ball into the endzone on a quarterback keeper two plays later to tie the game up at 23 with a 3:34 remaining.
Even with no timeouts due to poor game management, Palmer was able to give the Raiders a chance to win the game in regulation on a last-second field goal.
Palmer found Streater on a 23-yard pass that gave Janikowski a chance at what would have been an NFL-record 64-yard field goal. Janikowski's kick came up well short and sent the game to overtime.
Jacksonville never got anything going in the first drive of overtime as middle linebacker Rolando McClain stopped a rush for no gain and veteran defensive tackle Richard Seymour sacked Henne for an 11-yard loss, forcing a 3rd and 21. Houston then forced the fumble by Shorts that gave the Raiders the ball well in range for the game-winning field goal.
Though it wasn't the prettiest of wins, the Raiders will take it after playing a solid game last week against Atlanta but still coming away with the loss.
"We understand that we have to play better but we'll take the win," Seymour said of the hard-fought win. "We'll take any win in this league. In my book there's no such thing as an ugly win. Anytime you get a win in this league it's a big deal so we're very fortunate."
Palmer, who finished 26-46 for 298 yards, one touchdown and one rushing touchdown, appreciated the play of the defense and the resiliency he saw from the team.
"An ugly win is better than a pretty loss, I know that," Palmer said in the locker room. "[I'm] just proud of the game we fought because it wasn't pretty but we did not play up to our standard or play the way that we were coached at times but guys hung in there. Defense played great. They kept getting us the ball back and it was to get out of here with a win."