Three and Out: Woodson's message to offense; Pryor's TD set tone
OAKLAND – The Raiders believe Sunday’s 21-18 victory over the Pittsburgh should have been a blowout.
They jumped out to a commanding 21-3 lead, harassed Ben Roethlisberger to no end and were running at will.
Then the second half happened.
The offense stalled out. Jacoby Ford gave the ball away deep in their own territory. Little by little, the Steelers crept back into the game.
The Steelers ended up a field goal short after being down and out of this game, a startling realization considering they missed two field goals in the game.
Starting fast and finishing with a whimper has become a running theme this season for a Raiders team that lacks a closer’s touch.
“When you build the kind of lead, you have to have a killer instinct,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “We’ve got to be able to come out and be more effective in the second half of the football game. It’s really the second consecutive home game where we’ve started fast and haven’t been able to finish an opponent off. But we made enough plays to win the game, and that’s what is most critical.”
It is a troubling trend. The Raiders jumped out to a 17-point lead against San Diego and held one to win a close one. They had a 14-point lead over Washington and ended up losing the game.
The Raiders had 18 points over Pittsburgh and nearly gave it away. It happened because the offense lost all control. They gained just 34 yards in the second half. They had just one first down.
After rushing for 182 yards in the first half, the Raiders had just 15 in the second. They couldn’t do much of anything right. The play calling went ultra-conservative as time went on, as the Raiders unsuccessfully tried to drain the clock.
“Our defense was playing extremely well, and I didn’t want to do anything that was going to give them an opportunity to get back into the game,” Allen said. “We wanted to be able to run the football. We wanted to throw short passes so we could keep the clock running. We have to do a better job of understanding and managing situations.”
This offense hasn’t done a lot of winning as a unit. Just two players have reached the postseason. The skill players have never played on a winning team, and they don’t yet know how to close out winnable games.
That was the case on Sunday, when a great start was nearly wasted.
“We could’ve and should’ve taken control of this thing,” right guard Mike Brisiel said. “We have to finish better, but we had a heck of a first half on our part. We ran the ball well early. Everything didn’t go perfect, but we’re happy. Hopefully we can get a few more guys healthy and keep on winning.”