Things didn’t start out well for the Texans, and before late-arriving fans got totally settled in their seats, the found their team down 14-0 with 3:45 left in the opening quarter.
Oakland won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half, and the Texans received to begin the game. Keeshawn Martin took the kick 5 yards deep in the end zone and returned it out to the 21. On the first series of the drive on a third-and-three, Case Keenum hit Garrett Graham for a 10-yard gain, but Charles Woodson striped the ball from Graham and Phillip Adams recovered at the Houston 42 and returned the fumble down to the Houston 16. Just 6 plays and 3:54 later, backup quarterback Matt McGloin, subbing for the injured Terrelle Pryor hit Denarius Moore from 5 yards out to get the visiting Raiders on the scoreboard first. Sebastian Janikowski hit the extra point and Oakland led 7-0.
The teams exchanged punts, and then disaster struck again. On the first play of their next possession, Keenum was intercepted at his 16 by Nick Roach. It took just one play for the visitors to find the end zone again, as McGloin hit Rod Streater from the 16 for the TD. After Janikowsi hit the PAT, Oakland led 14-0 with 3:45 left in the first quarter.
The Texans finally got on the scoreboard with a 4-play, 85-yard drive that consumed 2:07, when Keenum hit Graham from 42 yards out for a touchdown. Randy Bullock added the extra point and Houston trailed 14-7.
The teams continued to exchange punts for much of the second quarter until Martin returned a Marquette King 87 yards for a TD. Bullock hit the extra point and the score was tied 14-14 late in the half.
The defense of the Texans held on the next possession and Houston got the ball back at their 25 with 2:26 left in the half. Keenum led the offense down to the Oakland 33 with 40 seconds left in the half, but the drive stalled and Bullock came in and hit a 51-yd field goal to give the home team the lead 17-14. The drive was 9 plays, 53 yards, and took 1:46.
The Raiders got the ball back at their 20 after the ensuing kickoff, and after running two offensive plays, the half ended.
The second half began with the teams exchanging punts and vying for field position until the Raiders managed a 73-yard TD drive that took 2:21and 5 plays. The score came on a 26-yard pass from McGoin to Mychal Rivera. After the extra point, Oakland retook the lead, 21-17.
Houston was forced to punt away again on their next possession, and Oakland began another impressive drive. Houston’s defense came alive and forced a 54-yard field goal attempt by Janikowski. The kick hit the left upright and bounced harmlessly to the ground with 3:41 left in the third quarter.
The Texans offense failed to sustain a drive on the next possession, and after another Shane Lechler punt Oakland took back over on their 20. It took only one play and 13 seconds for the visitors to get into the end zone and extend the lead. The score came on an 80-yard run on a direct snap to Rashad Jennings out of the Wildcat formation. After the PAT, the Raider lead extended to 28-17.
In a questionable move that was booed by the 71,726 fans in attendance, Coach Gary Kubiak rolled the dice and brought Matt Schaub off the bench at quarterback on the Houston possession. The drive resulted in a 26-yard field goal by Bullock, and Houston moved the score to 28-20 with 12:13 left in the game.
The Houston defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Raider possession, and after a 39-yard punt, the Texans returned to the field with good possession at their 39. Schaub led the offense down the field. The drive ended with a 30-yard Bullock field goal with 8:02 left in the game. The drive was 10 plays, 49 yards and took 3:18 off the clock, and closed the gap to 28-23.
Houston got one final chance late in the game to get a touchdown and retake the lead, but it wasn’t to be. After moving the ball down inside the Oakland 2, and facing a fourth-and-one, Houston was called for a false start and the ball was moved back to the 7. Schaub threw into heavy coverage in the end zone, attempting to hit Andre Johnson, but the pass fell incomplete and the ball went over on downs to Oakland. Two “victory formation” plays was all it took for the Raiders to run out the clock and preserve the 28-23 win.
Coach Gary Kubiak, who was upstairs in the coach’s box rather than down on the field at his doctor’s request, was mentally and physically exhausted when he faced the media after the team’s eighth consecutive loss.
“I’m as frustrated as everybody else is. I totally understand, from a fans standpoint, from a player’s standpoint. We’re trying to work through some things with some really young guys playing football in some situations. We have to stay positive with them. And I know it’s very
hard on people like (WR) Andre (Johnson) and people like that who have played a lot of football here right now. But it’s frustrating for me too. I want everybody to understand I’m right there with them. It’s very difficult and something I have to try and work us through.”
Houston will be back in Reliant Stadium this coming Sunday to take on the 1-0 Jacksonville Jaguars. IF they are to win another game this season, this looks like their best chance to do so. But then again, that is what everyone said before Sunday’s game against the struggling Raiders.
One thing is almost certain: the game will very possibly come down to the last possession before the outcome is known. MAYBE Houston can find a way to get a win.