By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 139 yards on 14-of-19 passes and two touchdowns, while running back Arian Foster galloped for 138 yards rushing on 28 carries and a touchdown as the Houston Texans forced four turnovers and spoiled the Oakland Raiders home opener, 30-14 in front of 54,063 fans.
“Overall, I thought we played well, but we need to play better,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said after the game. We got to protect the ball better.”
Houston (2-0) took their first two drives 80 and 70 yards, the first one culminating in a 1-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to an tight end-eligible defensive end, J.J. Watt; the second on a 6-yard touchdown run by Foster to put Houston up, 14-0 in the first quarter. The Texans controlled the ball for 13:30 in the first quarter, compared to 1:30 for Oakland.
Overall, Houston won the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 38:36, while Oakland only mustering 21:24.
Veteran Raider safety Charles Woodson summed up the loss the best.
“We suck,” Woodson said. “That’s as blunt as I can put it. For whatever reason, defensively we just won’t stop people, especially early in games. Every drive, every first drive, teams are able to go and get points. Today, it happened all day. Offensively, we put the ball on the ground. We had opportunities and didn’t capitalize on it. Collectively, we look bad.”
After cornerback Kareem Jackson returned an interception off quarterback Derek Carr 56 yards, Houston added a Randy Bullock 33-yard field goal to push the lead to 17-0 at halftime.
Andre Johnson led all Texans receivers with six catches and 74 yards, while DeAndre Hopkins had three catches, including a 12-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter to run Houston’s lead, 24-0.
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph recovered a Mychal Rivera fumble and returned it 49 yards to setup a Bullock 39-yard field to push the Texans lead to 27-0.
Derek Carr didn’t have one of his better days as a pro for Oakland.
Carr completed 27-of-42 for 263 yards passing and a late nine-yard touchdown to wide receiver James Jones, but threw two interceptions, the final one coming after Watt hit him as he threw and linebacker Brooks Reed making the play.
Jones was Carr’s favorite target, as the quarterback targeted Jones 14 times, with Jones finishing with 112 receiving yards.
But it was Jone’s double fumble that really did the Raiders in on this day.
Jones caught a pass from Carr and lost the ball away twice on the same play, gained 14 yards, but he lost the ball on a hit by Joseph, picked it back up and raced for more yardage until Joseph recovered, forced another fumble and safety D.J. Swearinger recovered at the 3-yard line.
Oakland, showed again the inability to run the ball. Carr led all rushers with 58 yards on four carries, but 41 yards came off on one rush.
Running back Darren McFadden (starting for the injured Maurice Jones-Drew), gained only 37 yards on the ground on 12 carries, but did record his first rushing touchdown of the season with a six-yard score in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Oakland had some bright spots, but didn’t have the same competitiveness today as it showed in last week’s 19-14 loss to the Jets in New York.
Sure safety Tyvon Branch led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo), and Woodson chipped in with eight tackles (7 solo), but the team couldn’t rush the quarterback. Oakland only recorded one quarterback hit on the day.
In two games, the Silver and Black only have two sacks. Branch has one of them.
Now staring down the gun barrel of an 0-2 start, Oakland is hitting the road for 11 days with games in New England and “home” against the Miami Dolphins in London, may be in danger of falling to 0-4 before the bye week in Week 5 if they don’t get their acts together.
“It’s disappointing,” Woodson later added.
“I don’t know what else to say about it. Coming into the season we felt a lot better about where we were at that point. For whatever reason we haven’t put it together on the field.”