Fitzpatrick, Foster spoil Raiders Home Opener

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.”








49ers try to make it four straight in Tennessee

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday at 1:05 PM the San Francisco 49ers (4-2) will be taking on the Tennessee Titans (3-3) at LP Field. This game features two squads going in opposite directions. The Titans have lost two in a row, and sit in second place in the AFC South behind the Indianapolis Colts. The 49ers, on the other hand, have won three straight, and are holding on to second place in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks.

Last week Tennessee grabbed a lead early, but fell to the late-charging Seahawks 20-13. They have recently been hampered by the loss of starting quarterback Jake Locker, limiting the passing game. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the backup, and has been unimpressive since taking over the starting gig, completing barely over 50% of his passes, with two touchdowns and four interceptions in just over two games. Chris Johnson, their big-name offensive threat, hasn’t been the same player since rushing for over 2,000 yards four years ago. Their defense has been what keeps them in games, featuring players like Benard Pollard, Alterraun Verner, Ropati Pitoitua, and Zach Brown. They aren’t big names, but they have been extremely productive.

San Francisco is coming off of a 32-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Despite the 12-point victory in the box score, the game was close until late. Going into the fourth quarter it was just a two-point game, before the 49ers slammed the door and put the game away. Up against the potent Cardinals run-defense Frank Gore and company still managed to find some lanes, rushing for 149 yards as a team, with 101 of those coming from Gore. Colin Kaepernick wasn’t great, completing just over half of his attempts, throwing an interception and losing a fumble, but he found more openings through the than in recent weeks, throwing for 252 yards. The vast majority of that production was thanks to Vernon Davis, who hauled in eight receptions for an incredible 180 yards and two scores. As usual their defense took a stand as well, forcing four turnovers.

Especially with the loss of Locker, the Titans have less weapons on offense than the Cardinals presented. They are ranked 25th in the NFL in total yards, and 21st in points per game. As they have been doing, San Francisco should be able to give them fits, and hopefully force a few turnovers. On the bright side their defense is good, but it’s an easier task than a week ago. They are ranked 10th against the pass, which could give Kaepernick and his lack of weapons some problems, but just 19th against the run, playing right into the 49ers biggest strength. Expect to continue seeing Gore featured on offense.

Thankfully there are no new major injury problems this week. Mario Manningham, who continues to rehab from his knee injury at the end of last season, resumed practicing with the team this week. He will eventually be a welcomed addition to a struggling passing game, but is expected to be brought along slowly, and is highly unlikely to make it back onto the field until Week 10, following their bye week.