Greatness On The Road  

Marriott  

Matt McGloin's rapid rise is boon for Oakland Raiders

  • By Jim Reineking NFL.com
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It's tough to win on the road. It's even more difficult to do so with an undrafted rookie free-agent quarterback making his first start going up against a team desperate to put an end to an embarrassingly long losing streak.

Greatest on the road ...

Matt McGloin, Oakland Raiders

McGloin rose from total obscurity to get to his moment of achievement in Week 11. He was the first walk-on to start at quarterback at Penn State since 1949. A stellar senior year in a season of turmoil for the Nittany Lions netted little interest from NFL teams. He went undrafted and wasn't picked up in the initial surge of rookie free-agent signings following the 2013 NFL Draft. The Raiders signed McGloin on May 15, and the rookie's best hope to stick with the team looked to be as a third stringer behind Terrelle Pryor and Matt Flynn.

Flynn eventually was let go, and an injury to Pryor forced the Raiders to go with the untested McGloin on the road against the Houston Texans. The result was one of the best debuts for an undrafted first-year player. McGloin became the first undrafted first-year quarterback with three touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first start. That performance helped the Raiders prevail, 28-23, sending the Texans to an eighth consecutive defeat. Oakland, meanwhile, sits just a game out of a wild-card spot as the AFC playoff picture stands today.

McGloin was the first Raiders quarterback with three or more touchdown passes in a game since Bruce Gradkowski pulled it off in Week 13 of the 2009 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. McGloin's passer rating of 105.9 is the sixth-highest for a quarterback making his first start with the Raiders (the highest came from Jim Plunkett, who posted a 139.3 rating against the San Diego Chargers in 1980).

Also considered:

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts

On a short week, the Colts bounced back from a humbling 38-8 loss at home to the St. Louis Rams to earn a 30-27 win over the Tennessee Titans at Nashville's LP Field on "Thursday Night Football."

It wasn't looking good for the horse on Thursday night, as the Titans built a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. But, as Indianapolis is wont to do, the Colts mounted a second-half comeback. Two touchdowns from Brown helped the Colts surge past the Titans. Browns' two touchdowns matched the season's scoring production of Trent Richardson, who the Colts sent a first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns to acquire.

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals' ground game appeared stuck in the sand at EverBank Field against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was an epic brutal day on the ground for Arizona, which averaged 0.6 yards per rush (the sixth-lowest for a winning team since 1960).

It was a good thing Palmer was on his game. In the 27-14 win, Palmer threw for 419 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second-highest passing yardage of his career (he had 440 yards in a game in 2006). This was also Palmer's first game this season without throwing an interception. A 91-yard touchdown pass to receiver Michael Floyd was the longest of Palmer's 11-year NFL career.

The win put the Cardinals at 6-4. Bruce Arians became the first Cardinals coach to win at least six of his first 10 games since Charley Winner (what an appropriate surname for a coach, or anybody associated with a sporting team, or period) pulled it off in 1966 (7-2-1).

Previous Greatness on the Road winners:

» Week 1: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
» Week 2: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
» Week 3: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
» Week 4: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
» Week 5: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
» Week 6: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
» Week 7: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
» Week 8: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
» Week 9: Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
» Week 10: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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