Oakland, CA (Sports Network) – Bruce Gradkowski replaced Jason Campbell after halftime and led Oakland to the go-ahead touchdown, as the Raiders held off the St. Louis Rams, 16-14, in their home opener.
Gradkowski completed 11-of-22 throws for 162 yards and was picked off once, while Campbell threw for 87 yards on 8-of-15 passing, with one interception.
Darren McFadden ran for 145 yards on 30 carries for Oakland (1-1), which was blown out by Tennessee, 38-13, in its opener.
“It’s a good win in that it’s the first of the year. Not a very pretty win, obviously, but we’ll take it,” said Raiders head coach Tom Cable. “I made the switch at halftime at quarterback…just to give the team a lift. I felt like we needed to change it up a little bit. My job is to win games and do whatever it takes to do that.”
Rookie Sam Bradford completed 14-of-25 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns to Mark Clayton, and was intercepted once as the Rams (0-2) dropped another close game. They had lost their opener to Arizona by a 17-13 score.
With Campbell pulled, Gradkowski took over to begin the second half and drove the Raiders to the St. Louis 23 before Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 41-yarder to make it a 7-6 game. After a Rams punt, Gradkowski led Oakland to the end zone.
On the first two plays of the drive, Gradkowski connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey for 16 yards and Zach Miller for 24. McFadden ran for nine yards before busting out for a 30-yard gain to the Rams’ four.
Then, on third down, Gradkowski found Louis Murphy open on the right side of the end zone for a touchdown and 13-7 lead. Oakland tacked on a 22-yarder from Janikowski five minutes into the fourth.
Bradford was intercepted by Stanford Routt on the second play of the ensuing series, but got St. Louis to the end zone later in the quarter. After Gradkowski was intercepted by Jerome Murphy, the Rams took over at their own 41-yard line with 4:05 to play and advanced thanks to two Oakland penalties.
The second, an unnecessary roughness call on linebacker Rolando McClain — who slammed receiver Danny Amendola to the ground after a catch — put the Rams at the Oakland 33.
Two plays later, Bradford found Clayton at the goal line for a catch. It was initially ruled incomplete, but replays showed Clayton got his right foot in the corner of the end zone as he was being pushed out of bounds, and the call was overturned.
The score had St. Louis within 16-14 with 3:18 to play, but the Rams didn’t get another touch. With just under three minutes left, Gradkowski converted a 3rd-and-7 with a 13-yard pass to Murphy, and the Raiders held on from there.
“You can’t win in the NFL when you beat yourself. I preface that by saying I do think Oakland did a nice job in the second half, they win the football game and we lose,” said Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
There was no scoring in the first quarter, as each team missed a field goal. After Janikowski’s 46-yard try went wide left late in the frame, the Rams took over at their own 36.
Steven Jackson rushed for 23 yards on the final play of the quarter, and St. Louis continued to drive in the second. Bradford’s 24-yard pass to Jackson had the Rams in a 1st-and-goal from the eight, and after Jackson ran for a yard, Bradford connected with Clayton for a touchdown.
The Raiders got on the board thanks to Janikowski’s 38-yarder with 3:22 left, then forced the Rams to punt. Oakland took over with 1:22 to play, but Campbell made two mistakes. He fumbled before recovering the ball, then was picked off by James Butler.
Jackson had 75 yards on 19 carries for the Rams, while adding four catches for 50 yards…Murphy finished with six receptions for 91 yards. Heyward-Bey had six grabs for 80 yards…The interception was the first for Jerome Murphy, a rookie defensive back for the Rams…McFadden, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, recorded his second career 100-yard rushing game…The Raiders held the ball for 36:49.