Published November 04, 2012
OAKLAND, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders overcame another injury to running back Darren McFadden and a record-setting performance by Doug Martin to put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the brink of an epic collapse.
One mistake by Carson Palmer ended all that.
After throwing three of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Palmer needed to engineer one more scoring drive with Oakland down by three. Instead, he tossed his second of three interceptions to send the Raiders to a deflating 42-32 loss against the Bucs on Sunday that only highlighted his up-and-down tenure under center.
"Mistakes like that you can't overcome," Palmer said.
Palmer finished with 414 yards passing and helped slice an 18-point deficit to 35-32 with 3:51 remaining. Then the Raiders, who allowed Martin to rush for a Bucs franchise-record 251 yards and four touchdowns, finally got a defensive stop.
Oakland took over at its 38 with 2:42 to play. With plenty of time left and not much needed to give Sebastian Janikowski's powerful left leg a chance, Palmer crumbled in the biggest moment.
On second down, he threw off-target looking for Rod Streater down the left sideline. Ahmad Black came up with the interception, and the roaring Oakland Coliseum crowd quieted for good.
"Me being the quarterback, you can't do that," said Palmer, who has 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight games this season. "I can't throw that ball. You just need to take a sack sometimes if things are off of the same page and come back the next play."
The Raiders had to rely on Palmer's arm far more than they would've preferred.
McFadden left in the second quarter with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative but he did not return and his status remains unclear, continuing a troubling trend for Oakland's starting running back, who missed 19 games in his first four seasons with foot, toe, shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries.
With Oakland behind three scores and McFadden in the locker room, Palmer had to throw 61 times, completing 39 while getting sacked only twice.
Stopping the run turned out to big an even bigger problem.
Martin, who was born in Oakland and went to high school in nearby Stockton, had a memorable homecoming for the Bucs (4-4) by scoring on runs of 1, 45, 67 and 70 yards as he gashed what had been an improved run defense for the Raiders (3-5) the past few weeks.
Martin, the 31st pick in April out of Boise State, became the first back since at least 1940 to score on three TD runs of at least 45 yards in one game, according to STATS LLC. He finished 45 yards shy of tying Adrian Peterson's single game record of 296 set in his rookie season in 2007, running three straight times to score his fourth touchdown from 1 yard out to put the game away.
"We didn't tackle well," rookie Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "I thought they did a good job of blocking, I thought the runner did a great job of running, and I think we had an opportunity to make a few plays and missed some tackles. And when you miss tackles on that guy, he takes it for big gains and that's exactly what happened."
The wretched run defense also opened up Tampa Bay's passing game.
Josh Freeman threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns as the Bucs scored at least 28 points for a franchise-record fourth straight game and reached .500 at the midpoint of coach Greg Schiano's first season to match last season's win total.
The Raiders, coming off two straight victories against one-win Jacksonville and Kansas City, had no answers for Martin and the Bucs, allowing the three long runs in the second half when Martin gained 220 of his yards.
But McFadden would have been no help trying to stop Martin, who broke James Wilder's franchise record of 219 yards in 1983 despite the absence of All-Pro guard Carl Nicks, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a left toe injury.
Martin gave the Bucs the lead for good with a 45-yard TD run on the first possession of the second quarter and then added the two other long runs to break the game open.
"You look at a lot of those, they were kind of backbreaking scores there late, long runs after long runs," Raiders linebacker Dave Tollefson said. "We just have to get some stuff cleaned up. I don't think they've burnt down the (practice) facility in Alameda yet. I'm not trying to make light of it. We've got another week, and the crazy thing is we're still in this thing, in the division."
The Raiders scored in the final two minutes of the first half for the eighth straight game this season to take a 10-7 lead at the break on a 25-yard TD pass from Palmer to rookie Streater.
Oakland had scored first after Lamarr Houston blocked a 35-yd field goal attempt by Connor Barth and returned it 34 yards to set up Janikowski's 29-yard field goal.
The Bucs answered when Freeman found Vincent Jackson behind the Oakland defense for a 64-yard pass on third-and-15. That set up a 20-yard TD pass to Jackson, who beat cornerback Michael Huff on the play.
NOTES: Raiders RT Desmond Bryant was taken to the hospital at the start of the second half as a precaution because of a fast heartbeat. The team had no further update on his status. ... Tampa Bay is averaging 477 yards and 36 points per game over the past four contests. ... The most yards rushing against the Raiders is 266 by Seattle's Shaun Alexander in 2001.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP