Defense makes Raiders victory stand

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Defense makes Raiders victory stand
November 17, 2013, 5:15 pm
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The Raiders defense forced a vital turnover on downs and secured a 28-23 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. (USATSI)


HOUSTON – The Raiders had two double-digit leads and nearly blew them both. The first was erased early. The second held strong thanks to a dramatic defensive stand.

The Raiders forced a vital turnover on downs and secured a 28-23 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon. Without it, quarterback Matt McGloin’s feel-good story doesn’t have a happy ending. Without it, running back Rashad Jennings’ resurgence is forgotten following a third-straight loss.

[RELATED: McGloin creates quarterback controversy in Raiders win]

Without it, we’d be singing the same old song about the Raiders who just can’t finish.

“The offense gave us plenty to work with,” middle linebacker Nick Roach said. “We knew that, at some point, we as a defense were going to have to finish it off. It was our day to contribute. I’m glad we did.”

The Texans were just two yards from pay dirt and three feet from a first down. Cross the plane and Houston sends the Raiders home with a ninth straight road loss. It would’ve marked a third straight this season and an unbearable reality after losing several winnable games.

The defense would not let history repeat. Houston, however, would not go quietly.

[Instant Replay: McGloin shines in Raiders 28-23 win over Texans]

The Texans worked their way to the Raiders’ 9-yard line, with momentum on their side. Then quarterback Matt Schaub passed to running back Ben Tate, who worked out seven yards before Charles Woodson popped the ball out. Texans recover.

Tate was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on third down. The Raiders forced an incompletion on fourth down, but a false start penalty negated the effort and gave Houston another chance. Schaub threw wide, safety Usama Young nearly intercepted it and the pass fell incomplete.

Raiders win. Raiders win. Raiders win.

“The last three plays say a lot about our football team,” weakside linebacker Kevin Burnett said. “We’re going to fight until the end.”

A defensive stand shouldn’t have been required. The Raiders know that. They backed themselves into a corner yet again, but finally didn’t fold.

It completed a perfect game from the red zone, which the Texans entered thrice and never left with a touchdown.

“They moved the ball up and down the field but, at crucial moments, we were able to make a stand,” cornerback Tracy Porter said. “That last one really meant something to the defense and the team as a whole. It shows that we’re growing and we’re learning to face adversity head on. We’re becoming a smarter, more experienced unit.”

It was exciting to be sure, but it was a relief over everything else. The Raiders finally stood tall when faced with adversity. It won’t make up for other wins let slip away, but it provided a shot in the arm and hope for better results to come.

“We really needed this one,” Roach said. “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.”