Beat writer Jerry McDonald graded the Raiders off their 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Here are McDonald’s grades and comments:
Downfield passing was non-existent as Matt Leinart needed 16 completions (in 32 attempts) to gain 115 yards with no gain longer than 20. Terrelle Pryor’s 22-yard reception from Carson Palmer on a trick play screen was the longest pass play of the game. Leinart’s interception to Luke Kuechly near the end of the first half led to Carolina’s second touchdown.
So much for the Raiders’ resurgent run game. A recent run of average to above-average performances gave way to 47 yards on 22 carries. Running back Darren McFadden (33 yards, 17 carries) had one 13-yard gain and the lone rushing first down. Other than that, he was running head-on into tackles, gaining 20 yards on 16 caries.
Even with starters Tyvon Branch (foot) and Phillip Adams (groin) out, the Raiders held Cam Newton reasonably in check. He was 18-for-29 for 170 yards, and grew frustrated by getting hit by a decent pass rush. Linebacker Miles Burris had an interception off a Philip Wheeler deflection. The Raiders offense failed to cash in with points.
The Raiders were diligent at staying disciplined in the read option with regard to the quarterback run or the pitch. Newton had 60 yards on 12 carries (including three kneel downs) but the bulk of his yardage came on one 29-yard scramble. DeAngelo Williams, other than 14 yards on one option pitch, had 5 yards on 10 carries.
Shane Lechler pinned the Panthers inside the 20-yard line four times. Chimdi Chekwa forced a fumble on a punt return, recovered by Richard Gordon, but the offense could not convert into a touchdown. An “A” effort other than doing no damage in the return game. The Raiders’ coverage units didn’t allow Carolina to do any damage with their returns, however.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp had to adjust quickly when Carson Palmer was knocked out of the game. Whatever adjustments were made failed. Coach Dennis Allen opted to go for a first down on fourth-and-4 deep in Carolina territory with 5:09 to go, treating it as a one-score game even though his kicker is Sebastian Janikowski. Leinart threw incomplete. Defensive plan and execution was solid.