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Raiders-Texans: What we learned

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- There was a game ball presentation awaiting Oakland Raiders undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin when he entered the visiting locker room Sunday, a reward for a job remarkably well done.

McGloin tossed three touchdown passes in his first career start and the Raiders withstood a late Houston Texans rally keyed by an unexpected quarterback change during their 28-23 victory at Reliant Stadium.

Demoted Texans quarterback Matt Schaub replaced starter Case Keenum in the second half and led a pair of scoring drives. But his fourth-down pass to wide receiver Andre Johnson fell incomplete in the end zone with 1:10 remaining as the Texans (2-8) dropped their eighth consecutive game.

Oakland (4-6) earned its first road win.

McGloin completed 18 of 32 for 197 yards and matched the single-game record for scoring passes by an undrafted free agent. He was a three-year starter at Penn State after walking on with the Nittany Lions, and was filling in for injured starter Terrelle Pryor.

"I have been in that situation before, and you have to perform," McGloin said. "You have to make the most of the reps you get and make the most of your opportunity."

Raiders coach Dennis Allen was non-committal on whether McGloin would replace Pryor.

"I'm going to enjoy this win, all right?" Allen said. "We're going to go back and evaluate."

McGloin opted out of the discussion.

"That's really not my decision," McGloin said. "That's something you're going to have to ask coach Allen, but we'll see."

Fans booed when Keenum was pulled in favor of Schaub late in the third quarter. Schaub, the source of constant ridicule from Texans fans, lost his job via injury but did not reclaim it once he was healthy.

Keenum performed exceptionally in the first half of all four of his starts, but his inability to lead the offense to second-half success was playing out yet again. After completing just two passes for 16 yards in the third quarter, Keenum was yanked and, on the second possession of his disenchanted return, Schaub led the Texans on a scoring drive.

"I was disappointed in the reaction of the crowd, but it is what it is," Texans left guard Wade Smith said. "We are here to play and (Schaub) came in and gave us a chance to win."

What the Raiders said

"I put a lot on my shoulders, and I always want to come out and perform. Wherever they place me, running back, special teams, lining up at receiver is cool with me. If I need to protect every down, I will protect." -- Running back Rashad Jennings, whose tough running help provide the offensive balance needed to protect Matt McGloin in the rookie quarterback's first career start.

What the Texans said

"It was just words exchanged. You can see the frustration on his face, frustration on my face. I'm not worried about that. We talked about it, it's over with. Me and Matt are fine. I have no problems with Matt. We played a lot of football together. Me and Matt have a good relationship." -- Wide receiver Andre Johnson, after cameras caught a sideline confrontation that included quarterback Matt Schaub following an unsuccessful fourth-down pass late in the game.

What we learned about the Raiders

1. Running back Rashad Jennings is capable of providing a lift in the absence of Darren McFadden. Subtract Jennings' 80-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter from his 150-yard performance, and he averaged just 3.3 yards over 21 additional carries. However, his relentless pounding set the table for his breakaway carry, one that included his running over Texans safety D.J. Swearinger before running away from the rest of the secondary. "He's a guy that as he continues to run the ball like he's doing, he's going to continue to get opportunities to run the ball," coach Dennis Allen said.

2. The Raiders know how to rattle a quarterback. They did an excellent job in that regard against Texans quarterback Case Keenum, whose issues with reading blitz packages are undermining his progress. Oakland sacked Keenum twice and registered seven quarterback hits, effectively preventing the Texans from establishing rhythm in the passing game. "I think one of the big things we did a good job on was just mixing it up," Raiders linebacker Nick Roach said. "We would bring some pressure, then we would be in coverage. It was really a mix of both."

What we learned about the Texans

1. With their playoff hopes already extinguished, the Texans appeared set to allow second-year quarterback Case Keenum learn on the job as the starter. And while coach Gary Kubiak did not fully commit to Keenum with veteran Matt Schaub healthy and available, it still came as a surprise when Kubiak yanked Keenum in favor of Schaub late in the third quarter. "I was surprised; obviously came into today expecting to play well," Keenum said. "I felt like I prepared extremely well. I had a good feeling coming into this week. I didn't make the right plays at the right time, and I couldn't keep the offense on the field in those critical third downs."

2. While the Houston fan base is clearly behind Keenum, the players remain open to whichever quarterback provides the best opportunity at a victory. What also remains clear from the players' perspective: They've grown tired of the cascade of boos raining down on Schaub. "These fans here in Houston are so up and down and so wishy-washy," Texans running back Ben Tate said. "I'm just shocked at that because this organization has come a long way. I just feel like if you're a true fan, you stick with the team through the tough times, and we're going through a tough time right now."
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