The Raiders finally found a formula for winning on the road.
Rookie Matt McGloin threw three touchdown passes in his NFL starting debut, Rashad Jennings had an 80-yard touchdown run and the defense set up two scores with takeaways and kept the Houston Texans out of the end zone in the fourth quarter for a 28-23 win Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
The Raiders, 4-6, were 0-4 on the road coming in and had lost eight straight under coach Dennis Allen dating back to last season.
“Obviously we were all aware of what our road woes have been,’’ Allen said. “But I’ve said this all along, we’ve kept putting ourselves in position in the fourth quarter to win games. Today was one of those times we were able to pull through and finish it.’’
The Raiders needed a stand inside of two minutes to hold on and send the reeling Texans to 2-8, and did so in the same end zone where Michael Huff intercepted a pass on the game’s final play to beat Houston 25-20 on Oct. 9, 2011 the day after owner Al Davis passed away.
This time, quarterback Matt Schaub, who replaced starter Case Keenum in the second half, threw incomplete in the middle of the end zone with Usama Young defending on fourth-and-7 from the 8-yard line.
Houston had gotten as close as third-and-1 from the 2-yard line only to be stuffed for a 1-yard loss by Kevin Burnett and then commit a false start.
It sent a crowd of 71,726 home disappointed as Houston lost its eighth straight game.
McGloin, undrafted out of Penn State, was 18 of 32 for 197 yards and touchdown passes of 5 yards to Denarius Moore, 16 yards to Rod Streater and 26 yards to rookie tight end Mychal Rivera.
The Raiders’ 15th starting quarterback since Rich Gannon was injured in 2005, McGloin, who played in place of the injured and ill Terrelle Pryor, came as advertised in terms of controlling the game and making decisions.
He had at least four passes dropped and did not throw an interception.
“I’m happy with the way they’ve embraced me and accepted me coming into the starting role,’’ McGloin said. “I don’t think I had to win them over or anything like that . . . it really wasn’t a `win me over’ situation.’ ‘’
Jennings, whose 80-yard scoring run after taking a direct snap from center put the Raiders up 28-17 with 2:26 left in the third quarter and stood up as the winning points, had 22 carries for 150 yards.
Allen said he hadn’t talked a lot about the road issues, but free safety Charles Woodson said it was something everyone was aware of.
“We haven’t talked about it much, but guys realize we haven’t won away from home,’’ Woodson said. “If we’re going to be a good team and talk about getting better, we’ve got to be able to go on the road and get a win, so that was big for us today.’’
The hang-on-for-dear-life finish came after another fast start, with the Raiders’ defense presenting McGloin with the gift of two possessions at the 16-yard line. The first came when Woodson stripped tight end Garrett Graham following a completion, with Phillip Adams returning the fumble to the 16.
On third-and-5, McGloin’s first pass as an NFL starter went for a 5-yard touchdown to Moore.
Later in the quarter, rookie defensive tackle Stacy McGee hit Keenum as he threw with the resulting floater picked off by Nick Roach and returned to the 16. On the next play, McGloin hit Streater for a touchdown.
Houston countered in the second quarter with a 42-yard Keenum to a wide open Griffin on a broken play, an 87-yard punt return by Keshawn Martin and a 51-yard Randy Bullock field goal to take a 17-14 lead.
The Raiders took control again in the third quarter. McGloin’s 26-yard strike to Mychal Rivera on first-and-20 put Oakland up 21-17, with Jennings stream-rolling safety D.J. Swearinger and getting blocks from Marcel Reece and Mike Brisiel on his career-long 80-yard touchdown run.
Houston got into the red zone three times in the fourth quarter three times in the fourth quarter and came away with only two field goals.
Houston coach Gary Kubiak, coaching from the press box in his first game back after suffering a mini-stroke, cited two problem areas which have plagued the Texans all season.
“You look at the turnovers and them being good in the red zone and us being bad in the red zone,’’ Kubiak said. “Still, if we can line up and get a yard at the end of the game, we win. But we didn’t do it.’’