Programming note: Watch Monday’s Raiders press conference with head coach Dennis Allen live on CSN California and streaming live online right here at 1pm
What you need to know: Quarterback Matt McGloin was the last Raider in the locker room following Sunday’s 28-23 victory over the Houston Texans.
Media commitments kept him outside – such is life for conquering heroes – after head coach Dennis Allen started his postgame speech. Allen already had his players amped up following a weight-lifting win. Then McGloin walked in.
“Everybody cheered and mobbed him,” center Stefen Wisniewski said. “Coach gave him a game ball, which he earned. It was a pretty cool moment.”
The Raiders were bursting with pride after the unheralded quarterback that could led a charge to victory. The undrafted rookie from Penn State had 197 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.9 quarterback rating in his first NFL start.
Positive energy and genuine excitement coursed through that locker room, where the conversation kept going back to McGloin.
His story is an inspiring one you’ve probably heard before. McGloin went to Penn State as a preferred walk-on after garnering no Division I scholarship offers. Still earned a starting job. He wasn’t signed by the Raiders until after most college free agents found a home, and Allen admits McGloin was brought in to be a “camp arm.”
His teammates know all that. They know how hard he worked to move up the depth chart. They love how he plays with passion and grit and confidence. The group couldn’t have been more proud that he was part of this result.
Charles Woodson considered McGloin’s performance “flawless.” Tracy Porter said it was “all you could ask for.” Allen termed it “outstanding.”
“I’m so proud of our young quarterback,” running back Rashad Jennings said. “He took control and didn’t miss a beat. He managed the clock and he got us in a good play every time. He gives people a chance to make plays. Those are things that excite you as a player.”
There were times when things didn’t go right, but they never went terribly wrong. McGloin didn’t make every throw, but he didn’t make any stupid ones. When pressures changed, he adjusted. There were a few instances where the play call wasn’t in on time, yet McGloin put them in a play that would work.
Those little things inspire confidence. Those things should earn another start.
Allen shied away from awarding one Sunday night. But, just for a moment, let’s take Terrelle Pryor’s sprained MCL out of the equation. Let’s ignore the fact that teammates and coaches were upset when Pryor didn’t tell others his injury impacted performance in last week’s loss to the New York Giants, then used it as an excuse while talking to the press.
Healthy starter in good graces or no, McGloin deserves another start because of how his teammates played around him. And because the Raiders aren’t sold on either as a starting quarterback of the future.
You know what Pryor brings. Why not see what you have in McGloin?
We know the Raiders responded to his playing style and the offense as he runs it. They responded to his passion and confidence and ability to orchestrate a drive. The Raiders should see if they’ll respond the same way again. At 4-6, the team needs wins however they come. As a franchise in transition, the Raiders need to find players they can count on.
Maybe McGloin will take off and run with the opportunity. Maybe he’s a one-hit wonder and Pryor’s back posthaste, more motivated than ever.
Either way, the kid deserves another shot.
Another fast start: McGloin admitted to having nerves before his first NFL start. The Raiders defense ensured they didn’t last long.
The unit forced a pair of first-quarter turnovers that gave McGloin possession on the Texans’ 16-yard line. McGloin threw a touchdown pass both times, which added confidence and helped establish an early rhythm.
“It takes the butterflies out,” outside linebacker Kevin Burnett said. “The coaches did a great job of letting him get some early completions to get his confidence up. I think he prepared himself well. He’s been preparing for this moment since training camp.”
Play of the game: There were several to choose from, so we’ll go with McGloin’s favorite. The rookie showed patience and tremendous touch on a 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mychael Rivera in the third quarter that reclaimed the lead.
Rivera ran a seam route and McGloin floated the ball over linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, right into his arms. The play typified McGloin’s passing day, showcasing the touch, decisiveness and faith in his playmakers that carried him through a successful first start.
“I was itching to throw it out there, but sometimes you have to wait a half-second (to avoid trouble),” McGloin said. “The line did a tremendous job holding those guys off me. I knew protection wouldn’t be a problem, and we were able to go out and make a great play.”
Player of the Game: McGloin is clearly the game’s MVP. That’s tough to argue. But oh, so much was written about him Sunday night and Monday morning (I’m guilty. See above, and links below), that it’s high time someone else got some run.
Outside linebacker Kevin Burnett certainly deserves recognition after another outstanding effort. He had seven tackles including one for a loss, a sack, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble. His best play came on 3rd-and-1 from the Raiders’ 2, which stuck Ben Tate with a 1-yards loss and allowed visitors to emerge victorious.
[RELATED: Defense makes victory stand]
Red-zone success story: The Raiders capitalized on every red-zone opportunity they had. The travelled inside the opposing 20 thrice and scored a touchdown each time.
That’s big deal made huge by the defense, which never let Houston out of the red-zone with a touchdown. Where the Raiders scored 21 points, the Texans took six.
“That’s the difference in the game. We only won by five,” middle linebacker Nick Roach said. “Keeping them out was important, especially after they connected on some big plays.”
That’s a massive improvement defensively, where the Raiders were allowing touchdowns on 62 percent of opposing red-zone trips entering Sunday’s play.
Getting a road win: The Raiders hadn’t won a road game in over a calendar year. They beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 28, 2012, and lost eight straight after that.
A victory over Houston snapped the streak, but milestone wasn’t major cause for celebration. The Raiders actually de-emphasized their road troubles this week, trying to strip psychological barriers from the visitor’s experience.
“It wasn’t a big topic of conversation this week,” Allen said. “It really wasn’t. We focused on preparing and putting ourselves in position to win a football game. We are all well of our road woes. I believed that, if we kept putting ourselves in position to win, we were going to pull through and start finishing.”
It didn’t hurt that Reliant Stadium was uninterested in anything besides booing their own. The crowd was impatient and tuned out quickly, which made the road atmosphere a bit easier to handle.
Injury update: Defensive tackle Daniel Muir and right guard Mike Brisiel suffered knee injuries in the game and did not return.
Allen said that both players will have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.
Allen should update the status of several players during Monday’s press conference, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Darren McFadden, who missed Sunday’s game with injury.
Quote of the day: “We really needed this one. When you work so hard for so long, you want to see it pay off. It was big for our team to get this win.” -- Raiders middle linebacker Nick Roach on finally finishing strong.
Looking ahead: The Raiders suddenly feel good about themselves heading into a winnable game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon. The Raiders fresh off a win and will play at home for the first time since Nov. 3, where they typically play their best.
The Titans are also 4-6 and will be fighting to keep ever-so-faint postseason hopes alive. The Raiders are in a similar position, and must win to build positive momentum heading into another two-game road slate.