By Curt Macysyn
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If there were ever a trap game for a 2-6 team, this Sunday’s contest between the Oakland Raiders and New York Giants would qualify as one. New York is coming off its bye week, with its confidence buoyed by two straight victories before the break. Meanwhile, the Raiders were shellacked by the visiting Philadelphia Eagles by a 49-20 score. In that game, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes against the feeble Raiders secondary. Foles, who had missed the previous week’s game against the Giants with a concussion, threw for 406 yards, before giving way to rookie Matt Barkley in mop up time.
Overall Foles connected on touchdowns with five receivers, including three to controversial wideout Riley Cooper. On opening night in September, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning also threw for seven touchdowns, albeit against the World Champion Baltimore Ravens.
Tarnished Silver and Black
The more things change around the NFL, the more things stay the same for the Oakland Raiders. The team’s motto is Commitment to Excellence, but based upon the last decade of futility, that moniker should be officially taken away. Psychologically it has not been in existence for many years, since the team is heading toward its 11th consecutive non-winning season. In fact, the Raiders last winning campaign was in 2002, when the team was defeated in Super Bowl XXXVII to the Tampa Buccaneers 48-21.
During that same period of time, the team has gone through seven head coaches and eight different starting quarterbacks. This season, the Raiders made a commitment to Terrelle Pryor after trading Carson Palmer in the pre-season and releasing Matt Flynn in early October. The third-year man from Ohio State has completed 61 percent of his passes this year, but has a putrid quarterback rating of 42.8 for the season. Pryor left Sunday’s contest against the Philadelphia Eagles with a knee injury, but early reports indicate that he’ll be available against the Giants.
Pryor remains more of a threat on the ground, with 485 yards rushing this season and a gaudy 7.7 yards per carry average. Pryor leads the team in rushing yards, as running back Darren McFadden has 352 yards on the ground. McFadden was injured against the Eagles, and backup Rashad Jennings had 102 yards and one touchdown on the ground. But the Giants have been stingy on the ground lately, stifling the NFL’s leading rushers, Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy, in back-to-back weeks.
The receiving corps is inexperienced with Rod Streater and Denarius Moore being the primary threats. Streater has 28 catches for 417 yards and one touchdown, while Moore has caught 32 passes for 513 yards for four touchdowns this year. Since the team released Matt Flynn, Pryor’s backup is untested Matt McGloin, a rookie from Penn State, who saw his first regular season action against the Eagles this week.
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If you are looking for a relic of the past, go no further than the Raiders secondary, where 16-year veteran Charles Woodson presides at free safety. Woodson had some epic battles with the New York Giants when he was a member of the Green Bay Packers, and he remains productive with 45 tackles, one sack and an interception to his credit this year. Another veteran, cornerback Tracy Porter, came over from the Denver Broncos this season after starting his career with the New Orleans Saints. Porter has 43 tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks and an interception this season.
The Raiders signed linebacker Nick Roach in the off season to take the place of troubled Rolando McClain at middle linebacker. Roach played for the Chicago Bears last season, but was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers in 2007. He leads the team with 57 tackles and has two sacks on the year. Only two of the Raiders 11 starters on defense played for Oakland last year (Lamarr Houston, Tyvon Branch).
Rookie first round draft pick D.J. Hayden backs up former Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins at the right corner spot. The Raiders are tied for 12th in the league with 23 quarterback sacks, meanwhile the Giants have only gotten to the quarterback 10 times this season.
The Raiders lead the all-time series 7-4, but the Giants trounced Oakland 44-7 the last time these teams met on October 11, 2009. Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball 11 times for 110 yards and two first quarter touchdowns, as New York jumped out to a 28-0 lead and never looked back.
Former Giants draft pick Matt McCants starts at right tackle for the Raiders, McCants was the sixth-round selection of the Giants in the 2012 NFL draft. He was one of the final cuts by New York when rosters were trimmed to 53 players and signed to Oakland’s practice squad on September 2.
Giants tight end Brandon Myers had 79 receptions and four touchdowns last year as a member of the Oakland Raiders. Raiders rookie linebacker Sio Moore was born in the African nation of Liberia.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.