Titans-Raiders: What we learned

Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick came up with the perfect way to celebrate his 31st birthday Sunday.
Fitzpatrick threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kendall Wright with 10 seconds left to play, lifting Tennessee to a 23-19 victory over the Oakland Raiders and saving the Titans' season.
The Titans (5-6) moved into a six-way tie for the AFC's second wild-card berth. The Raiders (4-7) lost for the third time in four games.
Tennessee marched 80 yards in 14 plays for the winning touchdown, with Fitzpatrick picking apart the Raiders' secondary.
"We knew going in this was, in our world, a playoff game," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "We couldn't fall to 4-7. We knew that. Just like they thought the same way. That was a huge drive.
"I thought Fitz did a great job. I thought all day long he made a lot of really good decisions. That drive, a lot of great throws. This guy's making plays, and that's what it's all about in this league."
Facing third-and-goal from the 10 with 15 seconds left, Wright lined up in the left slot and beat cornerback Tracy Porter with a quick move to the outside. He went low to catch Fitzpatrick's pass, then lunged into the end zone before an Oakland defender made contact.
"We knew we needed to go down and score," said Fitzpatrick, who earned his first victory with the Titans in his fourth start. "We wanted a touchdown there. We didn't want to settle for anything else.
"It was a good feeling, the confidence we had in the huddle. We knew we were going to get the job done."
Fitzpatrick completed 30 of 42 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He posted a 109.2 passer rating. Wright caught six passes for 103 yards. Wide receiver Justin Hunter caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Raiders rookie quarterback Matt McGloin, making his second career start, completed 19 of 32 passes for 260 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
In his first NFL start last week in place of injured Terrelle Pryor, McGloin threw three touchdown passes and led the Raiders to a 28-23 victory over the Houston Texans. Pryor suited up against Tennessee as McGloin's backup, and McGloin will start again Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys, Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.
"I thought Matt played well," Allen said. "And for him to lead us back when we needed a touchdown. He got us the touchdown we needed to give us the lead. We just couldn't hold it defensively."

What the Titans said
"Every week is a new week, a new team, but hopefully we'll capture some of the momentum we have today and use that to catapult us through the rest of the season." -- Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

What the Raiders said
"When you get momentum you want to keep it. Tonight we wanted to put a streak together. We still have some learning to do as a team on how to finish games, and that's what we need to focus on." -- Linebacker Nick Roach.

What we learned about the Titans
1. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, as Titans coach Mike Munchak said, "has the keys" to the offense, and he just might drive Tennessee to the playoffs. With Fitzpatrick starting in place of the injured Jake Locker, Tennessee is running more no-huddle and up-temp offense, taking advantage of Fitzpatrick's strengths. In his past three games, including two starts, he's completed 74 of 103 passes for 806 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.
2. The Titans' offense got a lot more dangerous now that rookie wide receiver Justin Hunter had his coming out party against the Raiders. Hunter came into the game with just seven catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He caught six passes for 109 yards and a 54-yard touchdown Sunday. He caught all six passes that came his way. "He made some great third-down catches for us today," Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright said of Hunter. "He's maturing as a player. He's maturing as a rookie."

What we learned about the Raiders
1. Quarterback Matt McGloin is more than a one-hit wonder. After throwing for three touchdowns and leading the Raiders to a victory over Houston in his first NFL start last week, McGloin had a solid game Sunday. He earned another start on Thanksgiving Day against the Dallas Cowboys. McGloin, an undrafted rookie out of Penn State, completed 19 of 32 passes for 260 yards and one touchdown with one interception and a passer rating of 82.8.
2. The Raiders will need a miracle to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. At 4-7, the Raiders are only one game back in the race for the second wild-card berth in the AFC. But six teams are tied at 5-6: Tennessee, Miami, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego and the New York Jets. The Raiders are tied with the Browns.

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