OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — After Matt McGloin delivered another big play to give Oakland a late lead, the Raiders turned the game over to their most consistent unit.
Instead of getting that one stop to get the team back in the thick of the playoff hunt, the defense wilted against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tennessee Titans.
Fitzpatrick threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright with 10 seconds remaining to cap a mistake-free performance that led Tennessee to a 23-19 victory over the Raiders on Sunday.
“To let a team drive down late in the game today and then get a touchdown to get the go-ahead score, it’s pretty disappointing,” safety Charles Woodson said. “So we didn’t expect to have that happen today. We expect to do much better than that.”
Fitzpatrick also threw a 54-yard TD pass to Justin Hunter and Rob Bironas added three field goals to give Tennessee (5-6) its second win in seven games. But despite the recent slump, the Titans find themselves in a six-way tie for the final playoff spot in the AFC after the 80-yard drive to win the game.
The Raiders (4-7) missed a chance to get into that group as the defense failed to hold onto a late lead and Sebastian Janikowski missed two field goals.
After Bironas put Tennessee up 16-12 with his third field goal, McGloin led the Raiders on a 75-yard scoring drive. He completed all four attempts and accounted for all but 1 yard on the drive, capping it with a 27-yard pass to Marcel Reece with 6:10 to play.
Fitzpatrick calmly moved Tennessee downfield, completing eight of 10 passes. Then facing third-and-goal from the 10, Fitzpatrick found Wright, who beat Tracy Porter on an out-pattern from the slot and fell into the end zone for the winning score.
“They just out-executed us, plain and simple,” Porter said. “Whether it was game plan, guys out of position on certain things, coverages, landmarks, we’re supposed to get on the quarterback. We were just out-executed.”
The play flittingly came on third down, when Fitzpatrick was at his best on his 31st birthday. He converted 10 of 18 third downs in the game, often in long-yardage situations in his best game yet in place of the injured Jake Locker. He completed 30 of 42 passes for 320 yards –none bigger than the throw to Wright.
“That would have been a big, big loss for us in terms of what the rest of the season was going to look like,” Fitzpatrick said. “We knew this was a `gotta-have-it’ drive at the end of the game and the guys really stepped up.”
Hunter and Wright were his favorite targets, gaining 109 and 103 yards, respectively.
Fitzpatrick and the Titans capitalized on a blown assignment for the first touchdown of the game on the opening drive of the third quarter. Hunter was left wide open and caught a pass 17 yards downfield before juking Phillip Adams and Brandian Ross and racing to the end zone for the score that put Tennessee up 13-9.
The Raiders answered with a good drive before stalling at the 30. Janikowski missed his second field goal as his season-long struggles continue as he adjusts to new holder Marquette King after the departure of longtime mate Shane Lechler in the offseason.
McGloin, an undrafted rookie out of Penn State, put the Raiders in position for a second straight win after his three-touchdown, no-interception performance last week in Houston. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 260 yards to earn a third start Thursday in Dallas, but also threw an interception that set up Tennessee’s second field goal.
“Up and down day,” McGloin said. “You’re going to have days like that. I thought we missed on a couple of opportunities offensively, but we’ll go back to the drawing board.”
It was an ugly first half that featured five field goals, a blocked punt, a missed chip shot, a number of dropped passes, a poorly thrown interception and 12 penalties for 135 yards.
The Raiders led 9-6 at the break, but could have had an even bigger advantage after Jeremy Stewart blocked Brett Kern’s punt with 11 seconds left. McGloin threw a 23-yard pass to Rod Streater on the next play, but Janikowski pushed a 32-yard field goal wide left. That was his second miss from inside 40 yards this season after making 85 of 86 the previous five seasons.
“We’re not making them, not consistently enough,” Allen said. “We have to continue to work to get better there.”
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