Redskins-Raiders: What we learned

Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Washington Redskins entered their game Sunday against the Oakland Raiders with an 0-3 record, and by late in the first quarter, they trailed 14-0.
"I don't think anybody was down," Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said. "I think the leaders on the team, it was our job to make sure guys know we've got to fight. We can't turn over.
"I think we got a lot of brothers on this team and everybody sticks together, and that's what we did when we were down 14-0, and that's what we've got to do the rest of the season."
Instead of folding, the Redskins roared back to score 24 unanswered points and beat the Raiders 24-14 for their first victory of the season.
Griffin passed for 227 yards and a touchdown, completing 18 of 31 passes. Alfred Morris rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a rib contusion, and backup Roy Helu Jr. carried 11 times for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Washington's defense came into the game ranked last in the league, giving up 488 yards per game. The Redskins held the Raiders to 298 yards, forced three turnovers and sacked quarterback Matt Flynn seven times.
"No disrespect to Oakland -- I think Oakland's one of the most underrated teams in the league -- but we refused to go home and get on a plane with a loss," said Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo, who recorded two sacks and four tackles and broke up two passes. "That's something we emphasized. We're still in the race, it's still early and guys came out here and played with a lot of passion and a lot of intensity. Regardless of all the adversity we faced in the first half, we came back and just stuck in there, hung in there. I can only speak for the defense, but defensively we really did a phenomenal job."
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter Monday night against Denver, was inactive Sunday. Pryor was cleared to play Friday, and, according to multiple reports Saturday night, was expected to start. However, the Raiders apparently switched gears Sunday.
Flynn made his first start of the season and first overall since Jan. 1, 2012, against Detroit when he was Aaron Rodgers' backup with the Green Bay Packers. Flynn completed 31 of 44 passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns with one interception that day, a performance that helped him secure a huge contract with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012.
This time, Flynn wasn't nearly so sharp. He completed 21 of 32 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. But he threw an interception that rookie cornerback David Amerson returned 45 yards for a touchdown. Flynn also lost two fumbles and was repeatedly booed by Raiders fans in the second half.
"I felt fine," Flynn said. "We just didn't do the things we needed to do, and it started with me."
The Raiders had a chance to pull to .500 but fell to 1-3 after blowing their big early lead.
"I look at it as we played well, I guess, in spurts," Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. "We played some dominant football at times, but you've got to be dominant all the time, so we allowed a couple of touchdowns and a couple of times they came out in a hurry-up offense and we weren't able to get off the field, and we've got to be able to do that. We played well at times, but it wasn't a full game where we did what we needed to do."

What the Raiders said:
"Obviously, I don't think he saw the field very good today. I think he was obviously part of some of the sacks that we gave up in the game. It was a tough situation for him to go into, and obviously with the loss of (Darren) McFadden and (Marcel) Reece, that didn't help him out any." -- Coach Dennis Allen, on quarterback Matt Flynn.
What the Redskins said:
"That's how you've got to be. You've got to believe. We came in here knowing that we had to come out of here 1-3, and we had to make the best of our situation. " -- Quarterback Robert Griffin III, on the team's outlook after falling behind 14-0.

What we learned about the Raiders:
1. Not that this is groundbreaking news, but the Raiders simply can't count on running back Darren McFadden. He suffered yet another injury Sunday, this time pulling a hamstring and missing part of the first half and all of the second half. McFadden is in his contract year, but he will need heal quickly and stay healthy to cash in after this season.
2. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn made his first start as a Raider on Sunday, but the fans treated him as if he were responsible for 100 of the team's previous losses, booing him soundly. Flynn faces an impossible situation in Oakland, even as a backup. "l mean, it's hard not to hear it," Flynn said of the boos. "You try to focus on your job and do what you can, but it's definitely hard not to hear."
What we learned about the Redskins:
1. After giving up 1,464 yards in their first three games, the Redskins' defense showed it has more talent and more pride than that number suggests. Washington held the Raiders' offense to 298 total yards, sacked quarterback Matt Flynn seven times and forced three turnovers, including an interception that rookie cornerback David Amerson returned 45 yards for a touchdown. "It was great, man," Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen said. "We played excellent."
2. The Redskins can beat a bad team even if quarterback Robert Griffin III doesn't put up huge numbers. Considering that the NFC East is a combined 4-12, beating bad teams might be all it takes for the Redskins to win the division. At 1-3, Washington is tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for second place, just a game behind the Dallas Cowboys (2-2). Griffin threw for a season-low 227 yards, but the Redskins won by 10 points. "Nobody wants to be 1-3 four weeks into the season, don't get me wrong, but we have to make the best of our situation, and it's a good situation for us right now, seeing the way our division's played out," Griffin said. "If we come back after the bye and get a win, we're right back in first place, second place in the division. It's a great scenario."

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