May 28, 2017

They Limped Into Houston And Crawled back To Oakland

Well, the Oakland Raiders finally made it to the playoffs.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that they were without quarterback Derek Carr.  Remember him? He’s the player that led all those comebacks this year.  He’s the one that made up for a defense that couldn’t hang on to a lead.  Another player missing this game was left tackle Donald Penn.  That meant right tackle Menelik Watson would have to go up against defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.  As expected, Watson had a horrible game.

This game got off to a bad start as the play calling was horrible.  I am aware that quarterback Connor Cook is a rookie and was inactive until the final game of the year.  But it was time to take off the training wheels.  This is the playoffs!  His strength is the deep ball and he’s got a strong arm.  But throughout the first quarter, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was calling for screen passes on third and long.  One of those screens was picked off by Clowney and that set the Texans up at the Oakland four-yard line.  Running back Lamar Miller capped off the drive with a run up the left side for a touchdown.

One bright spot for the Raiders was running back/return man Jalen Richard.  His 37-yard punt return set the Raiders up in Houston territory.  Some good running by Latavius Murray got the Raiders moving in the right direction.  As a matter of fact, Murray scored on a two-yard run.  That gave Raider fans a little hope.  But that hope didn’t last very long.  A lot of Cook’s passes were high and uncatchable.  But there were some that were right on the money and dropped by wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.

After the touchdown by Murray, the Raider offense was non-existent.  They gained just 24 yards on their next four possessions and didn’t score again until the game was way out of hand.  I realize the Texans have a solid defense.  But the Raiders were so inept that they made the Texans look like the 1985 Chicago Bears.  The Texans won this game easily by a score of 27-14.  They will be heading up to Foxborough next week to take on the New England Patriots.  I think they might find it a little tougher to get a win on the road against Tom Brady.

For the Raiders, Connor Cook completed 18 of 45 for 161 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.  Off the top of my head, I can count at least five passes that were dropped.  Andre Holmes led the team in receptions and receiving yards with 50 and a touchdown.  He should have started this game.  He made some tough catches and was clearly a mismatch for Houston’s defensive backs.  Latavius Murray was the leading rusher with 39 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for just 64 yards on 21 carries.  Defensively, they didn’t do much.  They had no sacks and forced Osweiler out of the pocket maybe three times.  He finished  the game with a clean uniform.  Khalil Mack led the team in solo tackles with eight and he had two tackles for a loss.

For the Texans, Brock Osweiler completed 14 of 25 for 168 yards.  He threw one touchdown pass and ran for another.  DeAndre Hopkins was the leading receiver with five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.  The Texans didn’t have much room to run as they only gained 123 yards on 44 carries.  That’s an average of 2.8 yards per carry.  Lamar Miller led the team in rushing with 73 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown.  Defensively, cornerback Johnathan Joseph led the team in solo tackles with ten.

That’s that.  Another season is complete for the Raiders and they left the party early.  Would things be different with Carr at quarterback instead of Cook?  You better believe it.  But I can sit here and wonder about that all day and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.  What’s done is done and it is time for the front office to re-sign some free agents and get ready for the draft.  If it were up to me, I’d take a lot of defensive players in the draft.  Mack and Irvin are really the only defenders who make plays consistently.  Other areas of need are offensive tackle and wide receiver.  Preferably a receiver with good hands who doesn’t let the ball bounce off his chest.  But the draft and free agency are far away.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

A Tainted Victory

Next on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a home game against the Indianapolis Colts.  The Colts were coming off a dominant 34-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings and the Raiders were coming off a 19-16 win over the San Diego Chargers.  The Raiders won the coin flip and deferred to the second half.  The Colts punted on their first possession and the Raiders punted the ball right back to them.  The Colts got the ball back at their 20-yard line and quarterback Andrew Luck went deep for tight end Erik Swoope on first down.  The pass was complete and gained 45 yards.  But the drive would stall at the 30.  Kicker Adam Vinatieri came into the game for a 48-yard field goal attempt.  Instead of kicking a field goal, the Colts tried a fake.  Holder Pat McAfee took the snap and attempted to run up the left side.  Linebacker Darren Bates read the play perfectly and stuffed McAfee for no gain.

The Raiders still couldn’t get out of their own way as the offense continued to struggle just like the previous two weeks.  With seven minutes to go in the first quarter, Luck looked for wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and the pass was picked off by safety Nate Allen.  The Raiders took over at their 46-yard line.  A seven-yard run by running back Latavius Murray and passes from quarterback Derek Carr  to running back Jalen Richard and tight end Clive Walford moved the Raiders to the Indianapolis 34-yard line.  Another run by Murray and a pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper netted a first down at the 17.  From there, Carr looked for wide receiver Michael Crabtree up the left sideline.  He hauled in the throw and was pushed out of bounds at the two-yard line.  After a barrage of penalties on the Colts, Carr finally found wide receiver Andre Holmes in the end zone for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and with 14:57 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders led 7-0.

The Colts took over at their 25-yard line and on the strength of running backs Frank Gore and Robert Turbin, they marched down the field.  On first down from the Oakland 24, Luck found wide receiver Donte Moncrief in the end zone for a touchdown.  Vinatieri made the point after and the score was knotted 7-7 with 9:44 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders started their next possession at their 21-yard line.  A long pass to Crabtree and some good running by Richard moved the ball to the Indianapolis 29.  Richard got loose again for gains of 14 and nine yards.  From the six, Carr found Walford in the end zone for a touchdown.  Janikowski missed the point after and the Raiders led 13-7.

The Colts had another nice drive going until Luck was picked off in the end zone by safety Reggie Nelson.  The Raiders took over at their 20 and Richard got the drive off to a good start with a 19-yard run.  Passes to Cooper and Crabtree netted a first down at the Indianapolis 22-yard line.  Rookie running back DeAndre Washington was inserted into the game and he caught a pass for 18 yards.  From the four, Carr found Richard in the end zone for another touchdown.  The extra point was blocked and the Raiders led 19-7 at halftime.

The Raiders continued to move the ball with ease in the second half.  The running game was running on all cylinders and Washington ran for big gains.  A pass to Holmes moved the ball to the Indianapolis 22-yard line.  Washington took it the rest of the way for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 26-7 with 10:43 to go in the third quarter.

Things would only get worse for the Colts.  Gore ran up the middle and the ball was knocked loose by linebacker Malcolm Smith.  Cornerback T.J. Carrie pounced on it and the Raiders took over at the Indianapolis 38.  Carries by Carr and Murray got the Raiders a first down at the 22.  Washington took it the rest of the way for another touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders now had a commanding 33-7 lead with 8:40 to go in the third quarter.

But the Colts weren’t dead yet.  Passes to Moncrief, Gore and tight end Dwayne Allen put the Colts in Oakland territory.  On second and seven from the 44, Luck went deep for Hilton and that was good for 39 yards.  Three plays later, Luck tossed a short pass to Turbin and he took it into the end zone for a touchdown.  Vinatieri made the point after and the Raiders led 33-14 with 5:18 to go in the third quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions and with 12 minutes to go in the game, the Raiders got the ball back at the Indianapolis 44-yard line.  Murray ran for three yards on first down.  Cooper caught a short pass on second down but that was wiped out due to a holding penalty on Holmes.  Then disaster struck.  When I say disaster, I mean DISASTER!  Carr took the snap and was sacked by defensive end Trent Cole.  It didn’t seem like a big deal until Carr didn’t get up.  He was writhing on the ground in pain as he suffered a broken leg.  While the medical crew was tending to him, there was a shot of owner Mark Davis.  It was clear that he said “Why the f*** are they throwing the ball?”  That’s a good question.  They were up by 19 points in the fourth quarter and they were still throwing the ball.  Even though the running game had been working well all day.  It made no sense and that ended up knocking Carr out for the rest of the year.  The rowdy Oakland crowd was suddenly silent.

A familiar trend occurred after Carr left the game.  The defense fell apart and let the Colts back into the game.  The exact same thing happened when Carr was hurt against the Panthers.  That has got to stop!  Even though the Raiders hung on to win 33-25, it felt like a loss.  But it wasn’t a loss and the Raiders improved their record to 12-3.  The loss dropped the Colts to 7-8 and knocked them out of the playoff hunt.

For the Colts, Andrew Luck completed 19 of 29 for 288 yards, two touchdown passes and two interceptions.  He also had an 11-yard touchdown run.  Tight end Jack Doyle led the team in receptions with five and T.Y. Hilton had the most receiving yards with 105.  Frank Gore led the team in rushing with 72 yards on 13 carries.  As a team, the Colts rushed for 102 yards on 24 carries.  Defensively, linebackers Antonio Morrison and Edwin Jackson tied for the lead in solo tackles with six apiece.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 21 of 31 for 232 yards and three touchdown passes.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 90.  On the ground, DeAndre Washington led the way with 99 yards on 12 carries.  All totaled, the Raiders rushed for 210 yards on 37 carries.  So why the hell were they throwing the ball in the fourth quarter?  Defensively, Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with eight and he also forced a fumble.

Now it’s up to backup quarterback Matt McGloin to lead the offense.  Can he do it?  I don’t know.  I suppose it’s possible.  He’s been a Raider since 2013 but hasn’t seen a whole lot of action.  He doesn’t have the arm strength that Carr has.  But he’s a little more mobile than Carr.  Still, I am hoping the Raiders go to a run heavy offense.  They have a huge offensive line and they have Murray, Richard and Washington running the ball.  They also have fullback Jamize Olawale.  I don’t know why he doesn’t see more action.  He can grind out the tough yards and has good hands.

Up next is a trip to Denver.  The Broncos are out of the playoff chase, but I know they would love to beat the Raiders.  If the Raiders win, they get a first round bye.  If they lose and the Chiefs get a win at San Diego, the Chiefs will win the AFC West and the Raiders will be on the road for the playoffs.  Another scenario is that if the Raiders win and the Patriots lose to the Dolphins, the Raiders will have the number one seed and home field advantage.  Still, they just need to concentrate on beating the Broncos.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Playoffs? Are You Kidding Me?

For their 14th game of the year, the Oakland Raiders headed south to San Diego to take on the Chargers.  San Diego is also known as “Oakland South.”  That’s because half the crowd is usually made up of Raider fans.  Well, it was a lot more than half this time.  I’d say it was about 75 percent Raider fans.  The Raiders were coming off a 21-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chargers were coming off a 28-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked the game off and return man Isaiah Burse was brought down at the 18-yard line.  Filling in for injured running back Melvin Gordon was rookie Kenneth Farrow.  He got the call on first down and gained six yards.  That was followed by a 20-yard pass from quarterback Philip Rivers to tight end Hunter Henry.  Another carry by Farrow and two passes to wide receiver Dontrelle Inman gave the Chargers a first down at the Oakland 49.  On third and eight from the 47, Rivers went deep for wide receiver Travis Benjamin and he caught it for an easy touchdown.  It was easy because Benjamin burned cornerback T.J. Carrie badly and he was wide open.  Kicker Josh Lambo made the point after and the Chargers led 7-0 with 10:32 to go in the first quarter.

Return man DeAndre Washington returned the kickoff to the 29.  Quarterback Derek Carr led the offense onto the field and due to an injured pinky, Carr still had to work exclusively from the shotgun and pistol formations.  This drive got off to a good start as Carr connected with wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a gain of eight yards on first down.  Carries by Washington and running back Latavius Murray moved the Raiders into San Diego territory.  On third and eight from the 44, Carr went deep for tight end Mychal Rivera and he made the catch for a gain of 29 yards.  But the drive would stall at the 27.  Janikowski came on and his 45-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 4:53 to go in the first quarter, the Chargers led 7-3.

The Chargers went three and out on their next possession and the Raiders took over at the San Diego 48-yard line.  That was due in large part to a facemask penalty on the punt return by former Raider Kamari Toomer.  A neutral zone infraction on defensive end Joey Bosa and two carries by running back Jalen Richard moved the Raiders to the 14.  Then disaster struck.  Murray ran up the middle and while he was trying to push the pile for some extra yardage, he fumbled and the Chargers recovered the ball at the nine-yard line.

But the Raider defense forced another punt.  Drew Kaser punted and the Raiders looked to take the lead on this possession.  From the 37, Murray ran up the middle for four yards.  Washington got another carry and that was good for 11 yards.  Wide receiver Amari Cooper finally had a ball thrown his way and he caught it for a gain of 28 yards and a first down at the San Diego 20-yard line.  Three plays later, Carr looked for wide receiver Seth Roberts and the ball was picked off at the three by cornerback Trovon Reed.   That was truly a horrible pass by Carr.

But the Raider defense forced the Chargers to punt again.  The Raiders had good field position, but they still couldn’t yank their heads out of their asses and Marquette King punted again.  The ball landed in the end zone and the Chargers took over at their 20-yard line.  An 11-yard pass to tight end Antonio Gates and carries by Farrow and running back Ronnie Hillman had the Chargers moving into Oakland territory.  On third and seven from the Oakland 31, Rivers found Benjamin near the right sideline wide open for a gain of nine yards.  But this drive would stall at the 17 and Lambo came into the game for a 35-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Chargers went up 10-3 with 1:29 to go in the second quarter.

With little time to go in the half, the Chargers expected the Raiders to pass on every down.  To tell you the truth, I thought they would definitely be passing.  Instead, Richard got a carry on first down that was good for nine yards.  Then Murray ran up the middle for a gain of 33 yards.  That was followed by a 12-yard run by Washington.  Three running plays moved the Raiders to the San Diego 21-yard line.  On third and seven from the 18, Carr threw for tight end Clive Walford and the pass was incomplete.  But there was a flag on the play.  Safety Dwight Lowery was flagged for defensive holding.  That gave the Raiders a first down at the 13.  From there, Carr lofted a high pass for Crabtree.  It was originally ruled to be incomplete, but replay showed Crabtree caught the ball and had both feet in bounds.  Janikowski made the point after and at halftime, the score was tied 10-10.

Things got off to a nice start for the Raiders as Lambo kicked the ball out of bounds.  Starting at the 40, Carr took to the air.  Catches by Crabtree and Walford netted a first down at the San Diego 41-yard line.  A false start penalty moved them back five yards.  Carr looked for wide receiver Andre Holmes and found him for a gain of 23 yards and a first down at the 23.  On third and two from the 15, Carr tossed a short pass to Crabtree and he dropped it.  The Chargers weren’t keeping the Raiders out of the end zone.  The Raiders were keeping themselves out of the end zone.  Janikowski came into the game and his 33-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 10:48 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders led 13-10.

Burse returned the kick to the 23-yard line.  On first down, Rivers connected with Inman for a gain of 21 yards.  A short gain by Farrow and another pass to Inman put the ball at the Oakland 44-yard line.  An 11-yard pass to wide receiver Tyrell Williams and another deep ball to Inman moved the Chargers to the seven.  From there, Rivers fired a strike into the end zone that was caught by Henry for a touchdown.  But the extra point was no good.  With 6:14 to go in the third quarter, the Chargers led 16-13.

The teams traded punts for a while and with 13:54 to go in the game, the Chargers got the ball back at their five-yard line.  Three runs by Farrow moved the ball to the 16.  From there, Farrow ran up the middle and he was hit by linebacker Perry Riley.  The ball was jarred loose and recovered by linebacker Malcolm Smith at the 14.  Now this was a great chance for the Raiders to take the lead.  On first down, Carr tossed a screen pass to fullback Jamize Olawale and he took it down to the one.  Two carries by Murray and a pass for Walford went nowhere.  Three plays gained zero yards and Janikowski had no trouble making a 19-yard field goal attempt.  That tied the game at 16-16.  But I was not happy.  The defense gave the offense a golden opportunity to take the lead and they failed miserably.  All they needed was one freaking yard!!!!  It was very similar to what happened in the game at Kansas City.

The defense forced the Chargers to punt once again.  That was due in large part to cornerback David Amerson.  On third and two from the 33, Rivers completed a pass to Williams.  Before he could turn to head up-field, Amerson hit him with a beautiful flying tackle to hold him to a gain of one yard.  The punt went through the end zone and the Raiders took over at their 20-yard line.  From the 20, Murray got loose again.  This time it was for a gain of 27 yards.  From the 47, Carr connected with Roberts for a gain of 22 yards.  On third and eight from the 29, the Chargers brought a heavy blitz and forced Carr out of the pocket.  He ran up the right sideline and appeared to get a first down.  However, the zebras didn’t see it that way and marked the ball short of the marker.  Head coach Jack Del Rio challenged the spot and the play was reversed.  That gave the Raiders a first down at the 21.  On third and eight from the 19, Carr was sacked for a loss of seven yards by linebacker Melvin Ingram.  That meant it was up to Janikowski.  He snuck the ball inside the left upright and the Raiders led 19-16 with 2:40 to go in the game.

Janikowski didn’t blast the ball through the end zone on the ensuing kickoff.  Instead, the kick was fielded at the five by return man Geremy Davis and he was brought down at the 14-yard line.  Rivers looked for Benjamin on first down and the pass was incomplete. The Raiders brought some pressure on second down and Rivers was sacked by linebacker Bruce Irvin for a loss of five yards.  It was more of the same on the next play.  The pressure from the defense forced another incomplete pass.  That brought up fourth and 15.  The crowd was loud and going crazy and I felt like I was watching a game at Oakland Coliseum.  Rivers took the snap, felt immediate pressure and threw a deep pass intended for Inman.  The pass was picked off by safety Reggie Nelson.  That sealed the deal and the Raiders came away with a hard fought 19-16 win.  The win improved their record to 11-3 and the Chargers fell to 5-9.  This win also got the Raiders into the playoffs.  For the first time since 2002, the Raiders would be in the playoffs!  Playoffs?  Are you kidding me?  Nope.  I’m not kidding.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 19 of 30 for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 60 and a touchdown.  The ground game was running on all cylinders and Latavius Murray led the way with 81 yards on 13 carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 145 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, David Amerson led the team in solo tackles with six.  He made the play of the game when he stopped Williams short of a first down in the fourth quarter.  Bruce Irvin also had a solid game with five solo tackles, two sacks and two tackles for a loss.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 17 of 30 for 206 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Dontrelle Inman led the team in receptions with with five and receiving yards with 68.  There wasn’t a whole lot of room for the Chargers to run in this game.  All totaled, they rushed for just 73 yards on 22 carries.  Kenneth Farrow had the most yards with 39 on 15 carries.  He also lost a fumble deep in San Diego territory.  Defensively, safety Jahleel Addae led the team in solo tackles with eight.

After the game, the Chargers looked in disbelief.  I don’t think it was because they lost another close game.  I think it was because the crowd was full of Raider fans.  Rivers had to use a silent count due to the crowd noise.  How many teams have to do that at home?  This may be the last time the Raiders play the Chargers in San Diego.  It really looks like they’ll be moving to Los Angeles.

Am I happy that the Raiders made it to the playoffs?  You bet I am.  But they have a lot of work to do.  They can’t be turning the ball over in the red zone.  They also need to find a way to get the ball into the end zone.  Getting stuffed from one yard out is totally unacceptable.  Also, where is Amari Cooper?  He has been practically invisible the last two games.  Hopefully Carr can start taking snaps from under center in the next game.  Speaking of that, the Colts will be coming to Oakland next week.  They are coming off a  big win over the Vikings and are still in the playoff hunt.  They’ll be ready for the Raiders.  Until then, take it easy.

Merry Christmas from The Raider Guy

 

Dropped Frozen Balloons

Next on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a Thursday night game in frigid Kansas City, Missouri to play the Chiefs.  The Raiders were coming off a 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills and the Chiefs were coming off a 29-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons.  The Chiefs won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Cairo Santos kicked the game off and return man Jalen Richard was brought down at the 23.  The Raiders had a quick three and out and punter Marquette King punted the ball away to speedy return man Tyreek Hill.  The ball went right through his arms and was recovered by defensive end James Cowser at the Kansas City 38-yard line.  Quarterback Derek Carr and the offense still couldn’t get out of their own way as the receivers were dropping passes all over the field.  On third and eight from the 26, Carr threw a perfect pass to Seth Roberts and he dropped it.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came into the game and his 44-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 11:34 to go in the first quarter, the Raiders led 3-0.

Neither offense could do much with the ball in the frozen conditions until the 1:29 mark of the first quarter.  Quarterback Alex Smith completed passes to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce.  That moved them from the 30 to the Oakland 36.  From the 36, Smith threw a perfect pass to Hill and he caught it for a touchdown.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs led 7-3 with 14:51 to go in the second quarter.

Despite some good running by running back Latavius Murray, the Raiders ended up punting again.  The Chiefs took over at their 22 and once again, Kelce was open for a gain of 28 yards.  A holding penalty moved them back ten yards.  But Smith went to the air on the next play and wide receiver Chris Conley hauled the pass in for a gain of 31 yards and a first down at the Oakland 25-yard line.  An offside penalty on the Raiders and a 16-yard pass to Hill put the ball at the four.  Two plays later, running back Charcandrick West took it into the end zone.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs led 14-3 with 8:34 to go in the second quarter.

Guess what the Raiders did on their next possession?  Yup.  They punted again.  Tyreek Hill was dropped for a loss of four and the Chiefs had the ball at their 29.  But Raider running back Taiwan Jones was flagged for running out of bounds during the return.  That’s a five-yard penalty and the Chiefs opted to have King punt again.  Before the punt, announcer Cris Collinsworth made the comment that the Raiders already ran all the way down the field once and that they were probably tired.  It pains me to say that he was right.  But, he was right.  Hill fielded the punt at the 22 and ran untouched 78 yards for a touchdown.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs led 21-3 with 6:25 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders really needed to get some points on the board and they would be starting at their eight-yard line.  Seeing as Carr has an injured pinky, they were forced to operate out of the shotgun and pistol formations.  This drive started out with a ten-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper.  A couple of carries by Murray and a pass to tight end Clive Walford gave the Raiders a first down at the 41-yard line.  Three more carries by Murray and a pass to tight end Mychal Rivera put the ball at the Kansas City 28-yard line.  Wow! The Raiders finally made it into Kansas City territory with two minutes remaining!  Isn’t that amazing?

From the 28, Carr went deep for Richard in the end zone.  But the pass was overthrown.  Richard was open, but the ball floated over his head like a balloon.  Another pass to Cooper and a five-yard carry by Murray netted a first down at the 14-yard line.  Three plays later, Murray took it into the end zone from one yard out.  The play was reviewed and Collinsworth chimed in again.  He said “Huh…Well…I don’t think he got in.  Uh…Huff…Ahem…It looks like his…uhhh….knee was down before he got the ball across the plane.”  What game are you watching, Collinsworth?  Murray CLEARLY got the ball across for a touchdown.  Just because you and your buddy Al Michaels were obviously rooting for the Chiefs doesn’t mean you’re always going to get your way.  The call stood and Janikowski made the point after.  At halftime, the Chiefs led 21-10.

What’s the most consistent thing the Raiders have done all year?  The offense has scored a lot of points and the defense has surrendered a lot of points.  Well, in the second half, the defense didn’t allow the Chiefs to score a single point.  If you count the fumble recovery in the first half,  the defense forced three turnovers in Kansas City territory.  Early in the third quarter, cornerback T.J. Carrie picked off Smith and set the offense up at the 18.  But they couldn’t capitalize and had to settle for a field goal.  That made the score 21-13.

Then, defensive end Khalil Mack knocked the ball out of Smith’s hand and defensive end Denico Autry recovered it at the 18.  Now the Raiders really had a great chance to tie the game.  An 11-yard carry by Murray netted a first down at the seven.  But a holding penalty destroyed any chances of the Raiders finding the end zone.  That’s due to some horrible play calling from offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.  On third and goal from the 17, Carr threw a short pass to Roberts and he dropped it.  Why the hell are you throwing a short pass?  The situation was THIRD AND GOAL!!!!  That means you have to get the ball into the end zone!  Did the cold weather freeze your brains?  Do you need a cat scan?  Maybe a nice cup of hot chocolate and a portable fireplace?  What the hell is wrong with you?  The defense set the offense up TWICE in the red zone!  They did their job and the offense failed miserably.  To top all this madness off, the snap was bad on the field goal attempt.  King couldn’t control it and the Raiders got zero points out of that “drive.”

One bizarre play that happened in the fourth quarter was a deep pass to Cooper.  Carr stepped up in the pocket and saw that Cooper had gotten behind the secondary.  He lobbed a pass and it fell incomplete.  It looked like a frozen balloon floating through the air.   Rumor has it that the ball hit a camera wire and that caused it to fall to the ground.  Whatever.  If he had put some zip on the ball, it would have gone for a touchdown.  With 7:25 to go in the game, the Raiders got the ball back at their 15-yard line.  An eight-yard carry by Richard and a short pass to Crabtree got them moving in the right direction.

Two more carries by Richard and one by Murray put them at the 39.  From there, Carr looked for Crabtree.  The pass was incomplete, but the Chiefs were flagged for pass interference.  That gave them a first down at the Kansas City 42-yard line.  On fourth and four from the 36, Roberts finally caught a pass for a gain of 13 yards.  Richard ran up the middle for nine more yards on first down.  On third and one from the 14, the idiot struck again.  Instead of running the ball with Murray or Richard, Musgrave called for a pass play.  It was incomplete and that made it fourth down.  Why would you pass the ball?  Murray had over 100 yards on the ground.  That was without starting guard Kelechi Osemele in the lineup!  Then, it got worse.  Right tackle Austin Howard was flagged for a false start and that moved them back five yards.  On fourth and six from the 19, Carr threw a pass up the left sideline intended for Roberts.  That pass had a very low percentage of being caught.  It was incomplete and that was it.  The Chiefs came away with a 21-13 win.  The loss dropped the Raiders to 10-3 and the win gave the Chiefs a 10-3 record.  That put them in first place in the division  because they won both games against the Raiders this year.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 17 of 41 for 117 yards.  I cannot count how many passes were dropped by his receivers and how many passes were tipped at the line of scrimmage.  He said his pinky wasn’t bothering him.  I beg to differ.  Amari Cooper led the team in receptions with five and receiving yards with just 29.  Running the ball was where the Raiders had some success.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 135 yards on 31 carries.  Latavius Murray led the way with 103 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown.  Defensively, safety Nate Allen led the team in solo tackles with nine.

For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 17 of 26 for 264 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  Travis Kelce led the team in receptions with five and receiving yards with 101.  The Chiefs couldn’t find much daylight on the ground and finished the game with just 65 yards on 27 carries.  Spencer Ware led the team in rushing with 56 yards on 20 carries.  Defensively, defensive back Daniel Sorensen and linebacker Ramil Wilson led the team in solo tackles with six apiece.  The Chiefs got some bad news after the game as they learned that linebacker Derrick Johnson would miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Well, the Raiders certainly had their opportunities in this game.  But they came up short and dropped from the number one seed in the playoffs to the number five seed.  Still, there is time to right the ship.  Up next is a road game at San Diego.  The Chargers are out of the playoff hunt and rumors are flying that they are headed to Los Angeles.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the crowd at that game is 75 percent Raider fans.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

29 Unanswered Points

Up next on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a visit from the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills were coming off a 28-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Raiders were coming off a 35-32 win over the Carolina Panthers.  I had some concerns about this game.  The Bills had a great running game and their 10th ranked defense really knew how to get to the quarterback.  Buffalo kicker Dan Carpenter sent the opening kickoff through the end zone and the Raiders started at their 25-yard line.  A five-yard run by running back Latavius Murray and a neutral zone infraction on the Bills gave the Raiders a first down at the 35.  Three plays later, quarterback Derek Carr connected with wide receiver Amari Cooper across the middle.  Cooper turned on the speed and was pushed out of bounds at the Buffalo 14-yard line.  But that play would be brought back by an illegal formation penalty on right tackled Austin Howard.  Austin, how many freaking times have you lined up at your position?  50,000?  Maybe more than that.  There’s no excuse for a penalty like that.  That was a killer for the Raiders and Marquette King punted the ball away.

The Bills took over at their 16 and quarterback Tyrod Taylor took to the air on first down.  He found wide receiver Sammie Watkins standing all by himself and that play went for 16 yards.  Two passes to running back LeSean McCoy and another one to Watkins gave the Bills a first down at the Oakland 31-yard line.  From the 31, Taylor completed a pass to wide receiver Justin Hunter and the Bills were knocking on the door as the lethargic Raider defense didn’t know what was going on.  But on third and goal from three, linebacker Bruce Irvin finally woke up and sacked Taylor for a loss of six yards.  Carpenter came into the game and his 27-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 8:02 to go in the first quarter, the Bills led 3-0.

From the 25, Latavius Murray got things off to a good start with a 22-yard run.  That was followed by a 22-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera.  At least the offense looked like they knew what they were doing.  At least they did for those two plays.  But a holding penalty and a dropped pass by Cooper stalled the drive at the Buffalo 29.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski blasted the ball through the uprights and the score was tied 3-3 with 6:07 to go in the first quarter.

Return man Brandon Tate fielded the kickoff at the two and he was brought down hard at the 20 by wide receiver Andre Holmes.  The Bills picked up right where they left off and Taylor had all day to find a receiver.  Completions to tight end Gerald Christian and Tate easily moved the Bills to midfield.  Then the running game started to work for the Bills.  McCoy ran off right tackle for a gain of eight yards.  Then Michael Gillislee got in on the act and he got loose for a gain of 29 yards.  Two more runs by Gillislee and McCoy put the ball at the one-yard line.  Two plays later, Gillislee walked into the end zone for a touchdown.  Carpenter made the point after and the Bills led 10-3 with 13:23 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders punted on their next possession and then a shocking thing happened.  The Raiders actually forced the Bills to punt.  With 7:08 remaining, the Raiders took over at their 39.  An 11-yard run by Murray netted a first down at the 50.  On third and four from the Buffalo 46, Carr went deep for Cooper.  He couldn’t make the catch.  That’s because cornerback Stephon Gilmore was all over him.  Gilmore was flagged for pass interference and that gave the Raiders a first down at the 21.  That’s when two more drops happened.  First, Carr found wide receiver Seth Roberts across the middle.  He got his hands around the ball, but couldn’t hold on.  Then, Carr fired a perfect strike to Michael Crabtree in the end zone.   The ball hit him right in the chest and he dropped it.  As he was walking back to the huddle, he looked like he wanted to kill someone.  On third and seven from the eight, Carr threw for Crabtree in the end zone again.  It was incomplete and Crabtree started jawing back and forth with some of the Bills.  That got him a 15-yard penalty and moved the ball back to the 23.  But that was no problem for Janikowski as his 41-yard attempt was good.  With 2:50 to go in the second quarter, the Bills led 10-6.

The Bills ended up punting on their next possession and the Raiders found themselves at their 15 with 30 seconds to go.  Passes to Cooper, Crabtree and Murray got the Raiders into field goal range with five seconds left.  Janikowski trotted onto the field and his 47-yard field attempt was good.  At halftime, the Bills led 10-9.

I was really hoping the Raiders would make some adjustments at halftime.  Taylor had all day to find his receivers and McCoy and Gillislee had gaping holes to run though.  The Bills started the second half at their 34 and on first down, McCoy ran through another gaping hole for 54 yards.  On the next play, Taylor ran untouched up the right side for a touchdown.  Wow!  That was quite a “drive!” Two plays, 66 yards and one touchdown.  Carpenter made the point after and the Bills led 17-9 with 14:03 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders ran three plays on their next possession.  Unlike the Bills, they didn’t gain 66 yards.  They gained one yard and punted again.  King shanked the punt and it only went 28 yards.  The Bills set up shop at their 46 and a defensive holding penalty on cornerback David Amerson got them a free trip into Raider territory.  An 11-yard pass to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and some more good running by McCoy had the Bills at the 24-yard line.  An eight-yard run by McCoy and passes to Watkins and Goodwin moved them to the two-yard line.  From the two, Gillislee took it the rest of the way for a touchdown.  Carpenter made the point after and the Bills had what I thought was a commanding 24-9 lead.

I was extremely unhappy with the way the Raider defense was playing.  They looked horrible and I didn’t see much hope for a win.  I wondered about switching channels and watching some of the other games that were going on.  But something told me to stick with the Raider game.  From the 25, Carr and the offense went to work.  Passes to tight end Clive Walford and Roberts got the ball rolling into Buffalo territory.  Another pass to Roberts, a 14-yard run by Murray and a pass to Crabtree gave the Raiders a first down at the five-yard line.  On third and goal from the three, Carr looked for Crabtree in the end zone.  This time, he caught the pass for a touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Bills led 24-16 with 5:17 to go in the third quarter.

I was happy that the offense had finally found the end zone.  But my concern was the defense.  Could they stop the Bills?  To my amazement, they did.  The Bills gained just six yards and punted.  To add insult to injury, the punt was a line drive and it was fielded by return man Jalen Richard at the Oakland 45.  He returned it to the Buffalo 38 and the Raiders had good field position for their next drive.  A short pass to Crabtree and a 21-yard run by Richard put the Raiders at the 13-yard line.  Richard ran up the right side for a gain of three yards.  That was followed by a pass to Rivera and he was dragged down at the one.  Murray capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.  Janikowski made the point after and the Bills led 24-23 with 57 seconds to go in the third quarter.

Surely the Bills could get something going on this drive, right?  Wrong.  Three plays gained minus five yards and they punted again.  The Raiders took over at their 41 and looked to take the lead.  On third and ten, Carr went deep for Rivera and he hauled it in for a gain of 22 yards.  On second and ten from the Buffalo 37, Carr hooked up with Cooper for another touchdown.  Cooper made a great move to get open, caught the ball and dove into the end zone to give the Raiders the lead.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 30-24 with 14:08 to go in the game.

Once again, the Bills failed to get a first down on their next possession and punted.  Richard had a really nice return, but what usually happens on long punt returns?  That’s right.  A flag was thrown for an illegal block in the back.  Instead of starting their drive at the 50, the Raiders were pushed back to their 15.  They managed to get a few first downs, but ended up punting.  The punt was a good one and running back Taiwan Jones got to it before it reached the end zone.  He knocked it back and the ball was downed at the four-yard line by Holmes.  On first down, the Bills looked to pass.  Standing in the end zone, Taylor looked for Goodwin.  The problem was that defensive end Khalil Mack got a piece of the ball while Taylor was throwing it.  The ball floated into the waiting hands of safety Nate Allen at the 16-yard line.  If the Raiders could find the end zone again, they’d have a great chance to put this game away.

Richard ran up the middle for a gain of eight yards.  That was followed by a five-yard run by Murray and the Raiders had a first down at the three.  Murray got the call again and he cruised into the end zone.  Head coach Jack Del Rio decided to go for two to get up by 14 points.  Carr tossed a short pass to Roberts and he ran untouched into the end zone for a successful two-point conversion.  That put the Raiders up 38-24 with 8:34 to go in the game.  After trailing 24-9, the Raiders scored 29 unanswered points.  Earlier in the game, Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan and his brother Rob Ryan were laughing it up pretty good.  After the Raiders went up by 14 points, those smiles were gone.

The Bills were now in desperation mode and took over at their 25.  An offside penalty on the Raiders and passes to McCoy and Goodwin moved them to the 48.  A 12-yard pass to Goodwin and a scramble by Taylor netted a first down at the Oakland 40-yard line.  Another scramble by Taylor and a three-yard run by the overrated Reggie Bush moved them to the 28.  On third and 15 from the 33, Taylor tossed a short pass to McCoy and he took it up the left side for a gain of 16 and a first down at the 17-yard line.  Then, Mr. Mack made another appearance.  He sacked Taylor for a loss of five yards.  The ball came loose and Mack recovered it at the 23.

With three minutes to go, all the Raiders had to do was get a first down and the game would be over.  They came up one yard short and King punted.  But the Bills were flagged for roughing the punter and that gave the Raiders a first down.  But there was another penalty on the play.  King was flagged for picking up the flag and dancing with it.  That drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  I have been watching football since 1971 and I don’t think I have ever seen a player pick up a flag and dance with it.  Whatever.  King is a very unusual person.  All that mattered was the Raiders had won another game.  With that 38-24 win, they improved their record to 10-2.  The loss dropped the Bills to 6-6.

For the Bills, Tyrod Taylor completed 18 of 35 for 191 yards and one interception.  He also rushed for 30 yards on three carries and one touchdown.  LeSean McCoy led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 61.  The ground game was running on all cylinders and the Bills racked up 212 yards on 30 carries.  McCoy led the way with 130 yards on 17 carries.  Defensively, defensive tackle Kyle Williams led the team in solo tackles with seven.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 19 of 35 for 260 yards and two touchdowns.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 74 and a touchdown.  Unlike the previous two weeks, the Raiders actually had some good gains on the ground.  They finished the game with 139 yards on 32 carries.  Latavius Murray was the leading rusher with 82 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns.  Props to the offensive line too.  They did a great job of protecting Carr and they didn’t allow a sack.  Defensively, linebacker Perry Riley led the team in solo tackles with eight.  Khalil Mack also made his presence felt again with four solo tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.  He also deflected a pass that resulted in an interception.

Well, that was a hard fought win and I for one was completely shocked at how the defense turned things around in the second half.  I just wish they could play a complete game instead of falling behind early.  But, the bottom line is they won the game.  The road to the playoffs doesn’t get any easier.  Up next is a Thursday night game at Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Chiefs handed the Raiders their worst loss of the year in week six.  If the Raiders hope to remain in first place, they’ll have to get a win in front of the rowdy Arrowhead crowd.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

 

Raiders Defeat Panthers, 35-32

Up next for the Oakland Raiders was a home game against the Carolina Panthers.  The Panthers were coming off a 23-20 win over the New Orleans Saints and the Raiders were coming off a 27-20 win over the Houston Texans.  The Raiders won the coin flip and deferred to the second half.  There wasn’t a lot to talk about early in this game as both defenses were playing well.  But at the 7:11 mark of the first quarter, the Raiders got the ball back at their 38-yard line.  Quarterback Derek Carr got the drive off to a nice start with a pass to running back Latavius Murray that was good for 42 yards and a first down at the Carolina 30-yard line.  That was followed by a 24-yard pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts.  Three plays later, Carr lobbed a pass into the end zone where it was caught for a touchdown by Roberts.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with 4:48 to go in the first quarter.

The Panthers started their next drive at their 25-yard line and immediately received a break as defensive tackle Stacy McGee was flagged for roughing the passer.  After that, running back Jonathan Stewart got loose for a gain of 47 yards and a first down at the Oakland 13-yard line.  On second and nine from the 12, quarterback Cam Newton looked for tight end Greg Olsen across the middle. The pass was incomplete, but rookie safety Karl Joseph was flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Panthers a first down at the three.  From there, Newton finished the drive with a three-yard run up the left side.  Kicker Graham Gano made the point after and the score was tied 7-7 with 5:22 to go in the first quarter.

Return man Jalen Richard returned the kickoff to the 29 and Carr and his offense went to work.  A few carries by Murray and completions to tight end Mychal Rivera and running back Taiwan Jones moved the Raiders to the Carolina 44-yard line.  A seven-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper and a six-yard run by Murray netted another first down at the 31.  On second and 13 from the 34, Carr went deep for speedy rookie receiver Johnny Holton.  He hauled it in for a gain of 30 yards and a first down at the four-yard line.  Murray finished the drive on the next play with a four-yard touchdown run.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 14-7 with 12:42 to go in the second quarter.

The Panthers punted on their next possession and the Raiders had good field position at the Carolina 46-yard line.  Carr looked for Roberts on first down.  The pass fell incomplete, but a flag was thrown and the Panthers were penalized for pass interference.  That gave the Raiders a first down at the 35.  That was followed by an eight-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree and an eight-yard run by Richard.  A short pass to Cooper and another one to Crabtree had the Raiders knocking at the door.  But they couldn’t get in the end zone as the drive stalled on the five.  Janikowski came on and his 23-yard field goal was good.  With 6:49 to go, the Raiders led 17-7.

On their next two possessions, the Panthers gained a total of -15 yards.  The Raiders didn’t fare much better as they gained only six yards.  With 1:39 remaining, the Panthers tried to get something going before halftime.  From their nine-yard line, running back Fozzy Whittaker ran up the middle for a gain of four yards.  On the next play, Newton tried to throw a screen pass to Whittaker and defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack picked off the pass and ran it into the end zone for an easy Raider touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 24-7 at halftime.  As the teams left the field, the Raiders had a lot of bounce in their step and the Panthers looked demoralized.  It was if they had been run over by a truck.  I’m pretty sure it was a Mack truck.

But there are two halves to a football game and things have been known to change as the game progresses.  That certainly was the case in this game.  The Raiders started their next drive at their 22-yard line.  Things got off to a good start with a nine-yard pass to Crabtree.  Then there was disaster in Raiderland.  As Carr took the snap for the next play he fumbled the ball and it was recovered by linebacker Thomas Davis.  But it was worse than just a fumble.  Carr jammed the pinky finger on his throwing hand and left the field in considerable pain.  As a matter of fact, the sideline reporter said he was screaming in pain.  The entire stadium got quiet and the Raiders were the ones who looked demoralized now.

The next four drives looked like this for the Panthers:

Stewart 1-yard touchdown run (Extra point blocked)

Ginn 88-yard touchdown pass from Newton (Two-point conversion failed)

Stewart 3-yard touchdown run (Two-point conversion failed)

Kelvin Benjamin 44-yard touchdown pass from Newton (Gano Extra point is good)

That was one of the worst quarters I have ever seen the Raiders play.  On those four possessions, the Panthers out-gained the Raiders 226-36.  Carr got hurt and I can understand the fact that the offense wouldn’t perform as well with Matt McGloin at quarterback.  But Carr doesn’t play defense.  What the hell happened to them?  All of a sudden Newton had all day to throw and the receivers were wide open.  I will say that on the long pass to Ginn, linebacker Bruce Irvin was being held very badly.  It looked like he and the left tackle were dancing.  Yet, head zebra Jerome “Booger” Boger and the rest of the zebras didn’t throw a flag.  Carr was able to come back but was picked off by Davis.  That helped set up the drive where Stewart scored from three yards out.

With the Panthers leading 32-24, Carr knew he had to get his act together.  He was wearing a black glove to protect his pinky and he and the offense went to work from their 25-yard line.  The drive started out nicely with a nine-yard pass to Crabtree and a three-yard run by Murray that netted a first down at the 37.  Richard ran up the right side for a gain of nine and a facemask penalty on the Panthers gave the Raiders 15 more yards and a first down at the Carolina 39-yard line.  Two runs by Murray and a seven-yard pass to Crabtree moved the ball to the 25.  On third and 11 from the 26, Carr connected with tight end Clive Walford for a gain of 14 yards and a first down at the 12.  From the 12, Carr looked for Walford again and found him in the end zone for a touchdown.  That pass was a dart.  I think that was proof that Carr was feeling better.  Up next was a two-point conversion attempt.  Carr rolled to the right and found Roberts in the end zone.  That tied the score at 32-32 with 8:31 to go in the game.

The Panthers had plenty of time to drive down the field and take the lead again.  From the 25, Newton found Ginn for a gain of 11 yards.  Stewart ran up the middle for three yards on first down and Olsen caught a pass for eight more yards.  But that play was brought back because of a holding penalty.  On third and ten from the 31, Newton looked for Benjamin on the right side of the field.  He caught the pass, but was pushed out of bounds a yard short of the first down marker.  On fourth and one from the 40, the Panthers decided to punt.

Punter Michael Palardy got off a nice punt and the Raiders set up shop at their 13-yard line.  On first down, Carr was pushed out of bounds for a loss of four yards.  Roberts caught a short pass on the next play and that set up a third and nine situation from the 14.  Carr went deep down the middle for Crabtree and he made the catch for a gain of 49 yards and a first down at the Carolina 37-yard line.  That was one hell of a catch and Crabtree lost his helmet as he came down with the ball.  A five-yard run by Murray and another pass to Crabtree netted another first down at the 17.  Three more runs by Murray moved the ball to the six-yard line.  That’s when the play calling got weird.  Murray ran up the middle for a gain of one on first down.  Then the Raiders called pass plays on second and third down.  Both passes were incomplete and that stopped the clock.  Janikowski came into the game and easily made his 23-yard field goal attempt.  That put the Raiders up 35-32 with 1:45 to go in the game.

Judging by how poorly the Raider defense played in the second half, I was pretty sure the Panthers could tie the game up.  They might even be able to take the lead.  On first down from the 25, Newton found Olsen wide open for a gain of 20 yards.  Isn’t there someone who can cover Olsen better than Malcolm Smith?  From the 45, Newton connected with wide receiver Devin Funchess for a gain of 11.  It took two plays and the Panthers were already past midfield.  But the next three plays were all incomplete passes.  On third down, Olsen got open across the middle.  But he couldn’t hang on to the ball.  If he would have caught that pass, the Panthers would have been in field goal range.  Instead, it was fourth and ten from the Oakland 44-yard line.  Newton took the snap and the pocket collapsed around him.  Mack sacked Newton, the ball came loose and Mack recovered it.  That sealed the deal and the Raiders came away with a 35-32 win.  The win improved their record to 9-2 and the Panthers fell to 4-7.  For for the first time since 2002, the Raiders are guaranteed to finish a season with a winning record.  It’s a miracle!

For the Panthers, Cam Newton completed 14 of 29 for 246 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Ted Ginn and Greg Olsen tied for the lead in receptions with four apiece and Ginn had the most receiving yards with 115.  On the ground, Jonathan Stewart led the way with 96 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.  As a team, the Panthers rushed for 129 yards on 25 carries.  Defensively, cornerback Daryl Worley led the team in solo tackles with ten.  Their star linebacker Luke Kuechly did not play in this game with a concussion and he was sorely missed.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 26 of 38 for 315 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with eight and receiving yards with 110.  Much like the game in Mexico, the Raiders had a hard time running the ball.  All totaled, they rushed for just 55 yards on 30 carries.  Latavius Murray led the way with 45 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown.  Defensively, Khalil Mack had a monster game with six solo tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception returned for a touchdown.  He’s the first player to do that since Charles Woodson did it in 2009.

I was really hoping this game would be a blowout.  It looked like it might be until the defense totally collapsed in the third quarter.  But, the bottom line is the Raiders won the game and maintained first place in the AFC West.  Up next is another home game against the Buffalo Bills.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

Monday Night Madness In Mexico City

The tenth game on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a trip to Mexico City, Mexico to take on the Houston Texans.  The Texans were coming off a 24-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Raiders were coming off a bye week.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski sent the opening kickoff deep and the Texans started at their 25-yard line.  On third and eight from the 27, quarterback Brock Osweiler connected with tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz for a gain of ten and a first down at the 37.  On third and seven from the 40, Osweiler threw to the left side and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins made the catch and headed up the left sideline.  It looked like he might take it all the way, but he was ruled out of bounds at the Oakland 36-yard line.  A couple of runs by running back Lamar Miller and another conversion on third and long put the Texans at the 17.  But the Raider defense finally woke up and the drive stalled at the 14.  Kicker Nick Novak came on for a 32-yard field goal attempt and the kick was good.  With 8:34 to go in the first quarter, the Texans led 3-0.

Both teams punted on their next possessions.  At the 4:35 mark of the first quarter, the Raiders got the ball back at their 21-yard line.  Quarterback Derek Carr came out throwing.  Completions to tight end Clive Walford and fullback Jamize Olawale moved the Raiders to the 49.  On second and 12 from the 47, Carr went deep for wide receiver Michael Crabtree.  He couldn’t haul it in.  That’s probably because cornerback Johnathan Joseph was pulling on his arm and wasn’t even looking for the ball.  That drew a flag for pass interference and put the ball at the Houston 20-yard line.  Two plays later, Carr tossed a short pass to running back Jalen Richard across the middle.  He made some nifty moves and dove into the end zone.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-3 with 14:47 to go in the second quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, return man Tyler Irvin fumbled and the ball was recovered by Taiwan Jones of the Raiders at the Houston 19-yard line.  This gave the Raiders a golden opportunity to go up 14-3.  A 15-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper set up a first and goal from the four.  Running back Latavius Murray ran up the middle for a gain of three yards.  From the one, Olawale dove into the pile and came up short of the goal line.  Instead of trying to run it again, the Raiders opted for a pass play.  It didn’t work as Carr couldn’t find anyone open and he basically just threw the ball away.  Janikowski came on and his 19-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 12:48 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders led 10-3.

Another kickoff in the thin Mexican air meant another touch-back.  On third and eight from the 28, Osweiler threw a pass across the middle for Hopkins.  It was incomplete, but cornerback D.J. Hayden was penalized for holding and that gave the Texans a first down at the 33.  Two carries by Miller and another completion to Fiedorowicz moved the Texans into Oakland territory.  From the 34, Miller got loose again and headed for the end zone.  It was originally ruled a touchdown, but replay showed he was pushed out of bounds at the one-yard line.  On first down, Osweiler had a pass knocked right back to him by defensive end Denico Autry.  Osweiler tried to run, but he was brought down for a loss of seven yards.  A false start moved them back five yards.  Suddenly, it looked like the Texans were in danger of not finding the end zone.  Not so fast.  On second and goal from the 12, rookie wide receiver Braxton Miller  put a move on cornerback David Amerson and was wide open in the end zone.  Osweiler saw him and Miller hauled it in for a touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the score was tied 10-10 with eight minutes to go in the second quarter.

With the exception of an interception by Raider linebacker Malcolm Smith, neither team would score again in the first half.  The interception gave the Raiders good field position, but they couldn’t capitalize.  Every time they tried to run the ball, they went nowhere.  Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the Texan defense were playing very well and making things miserable for the Raider running game.  At halftime, the score was 10-10.

On the very first play of the second half, Carr threw the ball deep down the middle of the field for Cooper.  The throw was way off target and picked off by cornerback A.J. Bouye.  That gave the Texans the ball at their 35-yard line.  A scramble by Osweiler and a pass to tight end Ryan Griffin quickly put the Texans into Oakland territory.  A short completion to L. Miller and another catch by Griffin gave the Texans a first down at the 20.  Another catch by Griffin and another run by L. Miller put them at the eight-yard line.  Two plays later, Osweiler went deep for B. Miller and the pass was incomplete.  As a matter of fact, it was way over-thrown.  But that didn’t stop the zebras from throwing another flag.  Once again, the victim was Hayden and that gave the Texans a first down at the one-yard line.  L. Miller finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.  Novak made the point after and the Texans led 17-10 with 8:32 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders took over at their 25 and they pretty much abandoned the running game.  Completions to Crabtree and Olawale had them on the move again.  Add a personal foul on Joseph and the Raiders were in Houston territory.  On third and eight from the 32, Carr went deep for Crabtree again.  It was incomplete, but another flag was thrown.  The Texans were flagged for pass interference again.  That put the ball at the eight.  Three plays gained six yards and that meant it was time for another field goal attempt.  It was only a 20-yard attempt and Janikowski had no problem making it.  With 2:39 to go in the third quarter, the Texans led 17-13.

From the 25, Osweiler took to the air again.  Passes to wide receiver Will Fuller and Fiedorowicz went for good gains and a ten-yard scramble by Osweiler moved the ball to midfield.  Some more good running by L. Miller netted more first downs and put the Texans at the Oakland 20-yard line.  But the next three plays would gain only nine yards and on fourth and one from the 11, the Texans decided to try another field goal.  It was good and the Texans led 20-13 with 10:57 to go in the game.

The lethargic Raiders took over at their 25 and I was wondering how they could get into the end zone and tie the game up.  Carr had a quick solution.  He took the snap, had plenty of time to find a receiver and fired a dart to Olawale.  What I thought would be a gain of 20 would end up being a 75-yard touchdown as Olawale cruised into the end zone untouched.  Janikowksi made the point after and the game was tied 20-20 with 10:35 to go in the game.

Return man Akeem Hunt returned the kickoff to the Houston 44-yard line.  A five-yard run by L. Miller and a 14-yard completion to Fiedorowicz put the Texans at the Oakland 37-yard line.  On third and six from the 33, Osweiler connected with Hopkins for a gain of nine yards.  Two more carries by L. Miller gained eight yards.  On third and two, Miller ran off left tackle and was pushed out of bounds just short of the first down marker.  Instead of trying a field goal, the Texans decided to go for it.  This time, Miller didn’t get the call.  Hunt ran off left guard and was quickly brought down for no gain.  The Texans challenged the spot and the play stood as called.  That was a huge break for the Raiders and they took over at their 15-yard line.

An eight-yard pass to Cooper and a three-yard run by Murray gave the Raiders a first down at their 26.  On second down, Carr threw a short pass to Murray and he took it up the left sideline for a gain of 39 yards and a first down at the Houston 35-yard line.  From the 35, Carr looked for Cooper again.  He caught the pass and out-ran the defense for a 35-yard touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 27-20 with 4:43 to go in the game.

The Texans started at their 25 and two more completions to Fiedorowicz moved them to the 39.  Miller ran up the left side for five yards on first down.  But Osweiler was sacked by linebacker Bruce Irvin on second down for a loss of four yards.  On third and nine, Osweiler completed a short pass to wide receiver Keith Mumphery and he was dragged down by Hayden for a gain of four yards.  On fourth and five from the 44, the Texans decided to punt.  Shane Lechler got off a nice 51-yard punt and that pinned the Raiders at their five-yard line with 2:50 to go in the game.

Murray ran up the middle for a gain of three on first down.  Then Carr put a deep ball up the right side that was caught by Richard for a gain of 29 yards and a first down at the Houston 48-yard line.  With two minutes to go, Murray got the call again and ran for a gain of four yards.  The Texans called their final timeout.  All the Raiders needed was six yards and that would give them the win.  On second down, Murray ran up the middle for a gain of two.  On third down, Murray ran up the right side, stumbled and was brought down one yard short of the first down marker.  So, now what do you do?  There’s only 58 seconds to go.  Do you go for it?  Do you have King punt and put the Texans deep in their own territory?  Head coach Jack Del Rio decided to go for it.  Murray ran up the left side and gained four yards.  That was enough for a first down and it gave the Raiders a 27-20 win.  The win improved the Raiders to 8 and 2.  The loss dropped the Texans to 6 and 4.

For the Texans, Brock Osweiler completed 26 of 39 for 243 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  C.J. Fiedorowicz led all receivers in receptions with six and receiving yards with 82.  On the ground, Lamar Miller racked up 104 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown.  All totaled, the Texans ran for 124 yards on 33 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Bernardick McKinney led the team in solo tackles with eight.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 21 of 31 for 295 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.  Latavius Murray had the most receptions with five and Jamize Olawale led the team in receiving yards with 90.  75 of those yards came on one play.  The Raiders had a hard time running the ball and ended up with only 30 yards rushing on 20 carries.  Murray led the team in rushing with 33 yards on 12 carries.  Defensively, linebackers Malcolm Smith, Bruce Irvin and safety Karl Joseph tied for the lead in solo tackles with nine apiece.  Irvin also had a sack and three tackles for a loss.

Well, the Mexican experiment is over and I liked what I saw from the crowd down there.  They were loud, passionate and I’d say it was about 85 percent Raider fans.  Somebody even brought a laser to the game and shined it on Osweiler to distract him.  I haven’t seen anyone do that in a long time.  Also, the field wasn’t in the greatest shape as lots of players were slipping all over the place.  Up next for the Raiders is a home game against the Carolina Panthers.  I am sure the Raiders will be glad to be back in Oakland.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Raiders Run Over Broncos

Up next for the Oakland Raiders was a home game under the lights against the Denver Broncos.  The Broncos were coming off a 27-19 win over the San Diego Chargers and the Raiders were coming off a 30-24 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked the game off and return man Kepri Bibbs returned the kick to the 14.  Quarterback Trevor Siemian attempted three passes in a row and all of them fell incomplete.  Punter Riley Dixon punted and return man Jalen Richard returned it ten yards to Oakland 48-yard line.

Quarterback Derek Carr and the Raider offense took the field and got things off to a good start with a five-yard run by running back Latavius Murray.  That was followed by an 11-yard pass to Richard.  On second and nine, Carr found wide receiver Amari Cooper on the right side for a gain of 21 and the Raiders were marching toward the end zone.  From the 14, Carr looked for tight end Clive Walford in the end zone.  But the pass was knocked away by linebacker Brandon Marshall.  Murray ran up the middle for eight yards on second down.  On third and two, Carr tossed a short pass to Seth Roberts.  He caught it, but slipped and fell short of the first down marker.  Carr wanted to go for it, but head coach Jack Del Rio decided it was better to try a field goal.  From 24 yards out, Janikowski split the uprights and the Raiders led 3-0 with 10:21 to go in the first quarter.

The Broncos ran three plays and lost three yards in the process.  Dixon punted again and the Raiders took over at their 42.  A couple of carries by Murray and a pass to Roberts put the Raiders at the Denver 36.  Two plays later, Carr found Andre Holmes on the left side and he made a nice one-handed catch for a gain of 16 yards.  But they would have to settle for a field goal attempt once again as Von Miller sacked Carr on third and four from the six-yard line.  The 29-yard attempt was good and the Raiders led 6-0 with 4:52 to go in the first quarter.  I was glad they were winning.  But it would have been better if they would have scored touchdowns on those drives.  14-0 is much better than 6-0.

On their next possession, the Broncos gained seven yards.  That is a significant improvement, but you need ten yards to obtain a first down.  Dixon punted again and the Raiders took over at their 43-yard line.  Completions to Holmes and Cooper put them in Denver territory.  Carries by running back DeAndre Washington and Murray put them in the red zone.  A ten-yard pass to Roberts and two carries by Murray moved the ball to the one-yard line.  From the one, Murray capped off the drive as he ran up the left side and stretched the ball over the goal line.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 13-0 with 1:19 to go in the first quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions.  With 11:45 remaining in the first half, the Broncos got the ball back at their 16-yard line.  Siemian got the drive off to a good start with an eight-yard pass to running back Devontae Booker.  Two plays later, Demaryius Thomas caught a pass over the middle for a gain of 23 yards and the Broncos finally had a first down.  Sound the trumpets!  Carries by Booker and Bibbs kept the Broncos moving toward the end zone.  On first down from the 36, Siemian went deep for the end zone and Jordan Norwood hauled in the pass for a touchdown.  McManus made the point after and the Raiders led 13-7 with 8:16 to go in the first half.

The Raiders would move the ball well on their next possession but Janikowski missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.  That gave the Broncos decent field position with a chance to take the lead.  But the Raider defense forced another three and out.  From the 25, the Raiders continued to move the ball on the ground.  A seven-yard gain by Richard and a 42-yard run up the right side by Murray put the Raiders at the Denver 24.  On third and ten, Carr went deep for Cooper.  The pass was incomplete, but the Broncos were flagged for pass interference.  On first and goal from the one, Carr tossed a short pass to Murray and he took it in for a touchdown.  But that score would be nullified as left tackle Donald Penn was flagged for being an illegal man down-field.  They were at the one!  How the hell can that be?  Whatever.  That bizarre penalty moved them back five yards and Carr looked for Roberts in the end zone.  That pass was incomplete.  But there was some more laundry on the field.  Once again, the Broncos were flagged for pass interference.  That moved the ball to the one-yard line again.  From there, Murray took it into the end zone.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 20-7 with 1:20 remaining in the first half.

The Broncos quickly went to work and passes to Bibbs and Thomas got them into Oakland territory.  On third and three from the 49, Siemian looked for Jordan Taylor.  It was incomplete but cornerback T.J. Carrie was flagged for defensive holding.  That put the ball at the 44.  From there, Siemian found Thomas again for a gain of seven yards.  That meant McManus would have a chance to make a long field goal before halftime.  His 55-yard attempt was good and at halftime, the Raiders led 20-10.  I kept thinking back to the two drives early in the game where the Raiders couldn’t get the ball into the end zone.  The missed field goal also crossed my mind.  In theory, the score could have been 31-10.

Neither team did much with the ball in the third quarter until the Broncos got the ball back at their one-yard line with 4:34 to go in the third quarter.  Two plays gained two yards and on third and eight from the three, Siemian launched a bomb up the left sideline for Thomas.  He was unable to catch the pass, but another flag was thrown.  This time it was pass interference on cornerback D.J. Hayden.  He’s usually good for at least one of those penalties a game.  But this was huge.  The Broncos would have been punting from their end zone.  Instead, they had a first down at their 30.  But Khalil Mack knocked them back nine yards as he sacked Siemian on first down.  The Broncos bounced back with passes to tight end Virgil Green and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.  The pass to Green moved the ball to the Oakland 30-yard line.  But their running game still couldn’t get going and an intentional grounding penalty didn’t help either.  The drive stalled at the 26 and McManus came on for a 44-yard attempt.  It was good and the Raiders led 20-13 with 14:56 to go in the game.

I was starting to feel very uneasy as the fourth quarter began.  The lead was only seven and I knew the Broncos were very capable of tying this game up if the Raiders couldn’t put some more points on the board.  From the 25, Carr found wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a gain of 13 yards.  Carries by Murray and Washington gained 12 yards and they were at midfield.  From the 50, Carr fired a bullet to Walford for a gain of 15 yards.  He threw that pass so hard that the ball literally stuck to Walford.  From the 35, Washington ran for four yards and Cooper caught another pass for seven yards.  But a holding penalty on Penn moved them back ten yards.  On third and 17 from the 31, Carr hooked up with Crabtree over the middle for a gain of 14.  That meant it was up to Janikowski to give his team a ten-point lead.  His 35-yard attempt was good and the Raiders were up 23-13 with 8:19 remaining.

The Broncos took over at their 25 and on second and eight from the 27, Siemian found Norwood across the middle for a gain of 20 yards.  Two plays later, our old friend Mack got to Siemian again for another sack.  The ball was jarred loose and Mack recovered it at the 39-yard line.  That gave the Raiders the ball at the Denver 39 and they had a great chance to increase their lead.  From the 39, Carr threw to the right side for no one in particular and the pass was picked off by safety T.J. Ward.  Or was it?  Replay showed the ball hit the ground and the Raiders got another chance.  On third and seven from the 36, Carr went deep for wide receiver Johnny Holton.  The pass was incomplete.  But guess what happened?  Another flag was thrown and the Broncos were flagged for pass interference again.  That penalty put the ball at the five-yard line.  From the five, Carr looked for Crabtree and the Broncos were flagged again.  This time it was defensive holding.  I bet the Bronco fans were going out of their minds with all those penalties being called on their team.  Welcome to my world.  Another pass interference penalty was called on the next play.  Finally, Murray dove over the top for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 30-13 with 6:09 remaining.

The Broncos started their next drive at the 25 and I knew the Raiders were going to start playing soft.  Enter the dreaded prevent defense.  Sanders caught a pass for 11 yards on first down.  A false start penalty moved them back five yards.  On first and 15 from the 31, Siemian tossed a short pass to Bibbs.  What I saw after he caught that pass was some of the worst tackling ever.  As Bibbs weaved his way up-field, defender after defender dove and missed him.  He cut across the middle and headed up the right sideline.  Still on his feet, he turned on the speed and dove into the end zone.  To me, that looked more like a drill you would see in training camp.  It looked like the Raider defense had been replaced by 11 tackling dummies.  That’s a fitting description because they were tackling like dummies on that play.  Overall, the defense played very well in this game  But that was painful to watch.  McManus made the point after and the Raiders led 30-20 with 5:13 remaining.

It was time for the Raiders to use the ground game and eat up the remaining minutes.  They started at the 19 and Murray got things off to a nice start with a 13-yard run.  The next two plays gained two yards and the Broncos called a timeout.  On third and eight from the 34, Carr found Cooper all alone on the left sideline for a gain of nine yards and a first down at the 43.  A holding call moved them back ten yards.  That was followed by a couple of carries by Richard that went nowhere.  King punted and the Broncos got the ball back at their 28-yard line with 2:15 to go and no timeouts.  On fourth and ten from the 28, Siemian looked for Norwood across the middle and the pass was intercepted by safety Reggie Nelson.  That sealed the deal and the Raiders came away with a 30-20 win.  That win improved them to 7-2 and they were back in first place in the AFC West.  The loss dropped the Broncos to 6-3.

For the Broncos Trevor Siemian completed 18 of 37 for 283 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders tied for the lead in receptions with five apiece.  Kapri Bibbs led the team in receiving yards with 69.  To put it simply, the Broncos had nowhere to run.  Devontae Booker led the team in rushing with 22 yards on ten carries.  As a team, the Broncos rushed for just 33 yards on 12 carries.  Defensively, defensive backs T.J. Ward, Bradley Roby and Darian Stewart tied for the lead in solo tackles with eight apiece.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 20 of 31 for 184 yards.  Amari Cooper led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 56.  The ground game was running on all cylinders.  Latavius Murray led the way with 114 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 218 yards on 43 carries.  The Raiders also won the time of possession battle as they held on to the ball for 41:28.  Also, they had “only” eight penalties for 72 yards.  The Broncos were flagged 12 times for 104 yards.  Defensively, linebacker Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with eight.  Khalil Mack also had a solid game with two sacks, two tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Up next for the Raiders is a much needed bye week.  That will give them time to heal up and get healthy.  After that, it’s a trip down to Mexico to take on the Houston Texans.  Defensive end Mario Edwards should be back and hopefully linebacker Aldon Smith will be reinstated.  They would really be welcome additions to the defense.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

Welcome To Yellow Hell

Up next on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a visit to Tampa Bay, Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Raiders were coming off a 33-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buccaneers were coming off a 34-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers.  The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked the game off and the Buccaneers started out at their 25.  Although they had some success through the air, they ended up punting.  But there was some bad news for the Raiders.  Cornerback Sean Smith left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return. The Raiders would get the ball at their 16 and quarterback Derek Carr got the possession off to a good start with an eight-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper.  On second down, wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught a pass for one yard and was promptly flagged for taunting.  You catch a pass for one yard and then taunt someone?  Crab, I like you.  But you need to chill out with the taunting.  That penalty basically destroyed any chances of getting a first down and punter Marquette King got off a nice 67-yard punt.

The Buccaneers took over at their 20-yard line.  Two carries by running back Jacquizz Rodgers and an 18-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Evans got the Buccaneers moving in the right direction.  Three more carries by Rodgers and a completion to wide receiver Adam Humphries netted a first down at the Oakland 16-yard line.  The Raider defense started to tighten up.  Rodgers was stuffed for a short gain on first down and defensive end Khalil Mack sacked Winston for a loss of seven yards.  That set up a third and long and the pass was complete to tight end Luke Stocker.  But he was brought down for a loss of two yards.  Rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo came into the game and his 41-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 2:38 to go in the first quarter, the Buccaneers led 3-0.

The Raiders managed to move the ball from their 25-yard line to their 45.  But on third and seven, defensive end Noah Spence blew past right tackle Austin Howard and sacked Carr.  The ball came loose and the Buccaneers recovered the ball at the Oakland 34-yard line.  Three plays later, Winston threw a high pass to the end zone that was hauled in by wide receiver Russell Shepard for a touchdown.  Aguayo made the point after and the Buccaneers led 10-0 with 14:54 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders still couldn’t get out of their own way and lots of holding and illegal shift penalties weren’t helping.  However, the defense forced another punt and they got the ball back at their 29-yard line.  Carr threw a short pass to his right intended for fullback Jamize Olawale.  He caught the ball in stride and rumbled up the right sideline.  He was pushed out of bounds at the Tampa Bay three-yard line.  That’s when the flags started flying.  First, there was a delay of game penalty.  Then offensive pass interference on Crabtree.  Those penalties moved them back to the 19.  They would get as far as the 13 and be forced to try a field goal.  The kick was good and the Buccaneers led 10-3 with 8:15 to go in the first half.  For the remainder of the half, nobody scored.  But the Raiders were flagged four more times.  That brought the total up to ten.  I was feeling rather disgusted to say the least.

I was really hoping the Raiders could get their offense moving as the second half began.  On third and ten from the 25, Carr fired a strike across the middle that was caught by Cooper for a gain of 28 and a first down at the Tampa Bay 47-yard line.  On third and six from the 43, Carr connected with wide receiver Seth Roberts for a gain of 13 yards.  Two plays later, Carr went deep for Cooper again.  The pass was incomplete, but cornerback Brent Grimes was flagged for pass interference.  That put the ball at the one and I was expecting to see Murray or Olawale run up the middle for a touchdown.  Instead, Carr took the snap, rolled to his right and threw a perfect pass that was caught by left tackle Donald Penn.  The former Buccaneer crossed his arms and stood in the end zone and gazed upon his former supporters.  Then he walked toward them and talked a little trash.  Surprisingly, there was no flag thrown.  Janikowski made the point after and the score was knotted at 10-10 with 10:24 to go in the third quarter.

Another sack by Mack and two incomplete deep passes quickly ended Tampa’s next possession.  The Raiders took over at their 33 and looked to take the lead.  Two carries by running back Latavius Murray and a 16-yard pass to Cooper quickly moved the ball to the Tampa Bay 38-yard line.  Two plays later, Carr threw a deep pass to Cooper and he caught it for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 17-10 with 5:30 to go in the third quarter.

Neither offense did anything worth mentioning on their next possessions.  Unless you want to talk about penalties.  In that case, there’s lots to talk about.  There was a personal foul, illegal formation, ineligible man downfield and all kinds of annoying things that made my blood boil.  It was truly sickening to see the offense run a play for big yardage and have it called back.  This was happening over and over again.

With a little over a minute to go in the third quarter, the Buccaneers got the ball at the Oakland 47-yard line.  On second and ten, Humphries got behind cornerback D.J. Hayden and caught a pass for a gain of 42 yards.  From the five, Winston found tight end Cameron Brate in the end zone for a touchdown.  But it wasn’t all bad for the Raiders as Aguayo missed the point after.  Did they really trade up for this guy in the draft?  After that miss, the Tampa Bay fans voiced their displeasure with him.

The Raiders punted on their next possession.  That gave the Buccaneers the ball at their 18-yard line.  On third and seven, Winston looked for Shepard across the middle.  The pass was incomplete, but there was another flag thrown.  Rookie safety Karl Joseph was flagged for a personal foul.  I don’t know what he was thinking.  That penalty kept the drive alive and moved the ball to the 36.  A nine-yard pass to Rodgers and a penalty on the Raiders for having 12 men on the field netted a first down at the 50.  A ten-yard pass to Stocker and a pass interference penalty on Hayden put the ball at the Oakland 21.  Another penalty for 12 men on the field, a carry by Rodgers and a pass to Shepard netted a first down at the seven-yard line.  Winston scrambled for six yards on first down.  Rodgers ran up the middle on second down and found the end zone.  They decided to go for two and Winston found Evans in the end zone for a successful two-point conversion.  He was probably open because the Raiders only had ten players on the field.  That put the Buccaneers up 24-17 with 3:48 to go in the game.

From the 25 with time running short, Carr took to the air.  Passes to Roberts, Cooper and tight end Clive Walford quickly got them into Tampa Bay territory.  From the 43, Carr went deep for Cooper again and it was caught for a gain of 31 yards and a first down at the 12.  Two incomplete passes set up a third and ten.  Cooper caught another pass, but it was short of the first down marker.  That brought up a fourth and three.  Carr took the snap and threw for Crabtree in the end zone.  It was overthrown and I thought the game was over.  But a miracle happened.  A flag was thrown and the Buccaneers were penalized for defensive holding.  Cornerback Jude Adje-Barimah basically hugged Roberts before he could run his route.  Great call, zebras!  I knew you could do it!  That put the ball at the two-yard line.  Then, center Rodney Hudson was flagged for a false start.  That moved the Raiders back to the seven.  From the seven, Carr found tight end Mychal Rivera standing all by himself in the end zone for a touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the score was 24-24 with 1:38 to go in the game.

The Buccaneers punted after three plays.  Return man Jalen Richard fielded the ball at the 25 and returned it to the 45.  I thought this was going to be easy.  Get a couple of first downs, bring in the Polish Cannon and leave Florida with a 27-24 win.  That’s not exactly how it happened.  On first down, Carr completed a ten-yard pass to Crabtree.  Then he went deep for Cooper up the left sideline.  The pass hit him in the hands and he dropped it.  That was a killer.  Cooper was having a great day.  But it would have been greater if he caught that one.  Carr scrambled for 12 yards and with four seconds to go, Janikowksi had a chance to end the game with a 50-yard field goal.  The announcers hyped up Janikowski as if he was the Lord and Master of all kickers.  That is what is known as the announcer jinx.  The snap was good, the hold was good too.  But the kick sailed wide left.  That meant the game was headed for overtime.

The Raiders won the coin flip and went to work from their 25-yard line.  Two carries by Murray and a 45-yard pass to Crabtree had the Raiders at the Tampa Bay 23.  If Crabtree was able to keep his balance, he most likely would have scored.  But he slipped and fell at the 23.  Still, that play put them in field goal range.  That was until Cooper was flagged for a personal foul penalty after making a catch for a short gain.  As he was heading out of bounds, he stuck his arm out and hit cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.  I guess the zebras interpreted that as a blow to the head.  It’s called a stiff-arm, you morons!  That moved them back 15 yards.  Tack on a false start penalty and some unsuccessful plays and the Raiders found themselves in a third and 21 situation from the 34-yard line.  Instead of trying to go deep for Cooper or Crabtree, Carr opted for a short pass to wide receiver Andre Holmes that went for no gain.  Enter Janikowksi again.  His 52-yard attempt was no good and overtime continued.

The Buccaneers started at their 42 and on first down, Winston went deep for Evans and Hayden did a great job of knocking the ball away.  If Evans caught that pass, the game would have been over.  Two more plays gained five yards and the Buccaneers punted again.  The Raiders would follow suit and punted the ball back to the Buccaneers.  I was beginning to think the game would end in a tie just like the Redskins and Bengals had earlier in the day.  King had another great punt and the Buccaneers were pinned back at their 11-yard line.  On second down from the 13, running back Antone Smith was hit by Mack and the ball came loose.  But the Buccaneers came away with the ball.  On third down, a pass to Smith fell incomplete and the Buccaneers were forced to punt again.

With 3:29 remaining, the Raiders took over at their 40.  A 12-yard pass to Murray moved them to the Tampa Bay 48-yard line.  That was followed by a seven-yard pass to Crabtree.  Two incomplete passes set up a fourth and three from the 41.  Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t hesitate with his decision and they decided to go for it.  Carr took the snap, fired a strike across the middle and the ball was caught by Roberts.  The defenders collided and that opened up a clear path to the end zone.  Roberts cruised into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown to give the Raiders a 30-24 win.  That win improved the Raider’s record to 6-2.  It also improved their road record to 5-0.  The loss dropped the Buccaneers to 3-4.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 40 of 59 for a team record 513 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.  Amari Cooper led the team in receptions with 12 and had a career high in receiving yards with 173 and a touchdown.  On the ground, Latavius Murray led the team with 48 yards on 11 carries.  All totaled, the Raiders rushed for 128 yards on 24 carries.  Defensively, Karl Joseph led the team in solo tackles with seven.  Khalil Mack had his best game of the year with six solo tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and two tackles for a loss.

For the Buccaneers, Jameis Winston completed 16 of 32 for 180 yards and two touchdowns.  Mike Evans led the team in receptions with four and Adam Humphries had the most receiving yards with 58.  Before leaving the game with a foot injury, Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 69 yards on 19 carries and had one touchdown.  As a team, the Buccaneers rushed for 102 yards on 27 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Kwon Alexander was all over the place and he racked up 14 solo tackles.

Well, I must say the 2016 Oakland Raiders are quite a resilient bunch.  Despite being penalized for 200 yards and a league record 23 times, they came away with a win.  Don’t forget they were wearing black jerseys in hot and humid Tampa Bay, Florida as well.  I still cannot get over all the penalties.  It truly was yellow hell.  It was so bad that every time some positive yardage was gained, I looked for a flag.  Even on the winning play, I thought they might throw a flag at Roberts for making two defenders collide.  I know that wouldn’t happen, but the thought did cross my mind.  The zebras are making everyone paranoid and if I weren’t a diehard Raider fan, I would have turned the game off in the third quarter.  Still, I am thrilled with the win and up next is a home game on Sunday night against the Denver Broncos.  Despite not having Peyton Manning at quarterback anymore, they are playing well and they are tied with the Raiders for first place in the AFC West  with a 6-2 record.  It should be a good game.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

An Ugly Day In The Sunshine State

The Oakland Raiders hit the road again for week seven.  This time, they had to go across the country to Jacksonville, Florida to face the Jaguars.  The Raiders were coming off a 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jaguars were coming off a 17-16 win over the Chicago Bears.  The Jaguars won the coin flip and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Jason Myers kicked the game off and it sailed through the end zone.  Neither team did anything worth mentioning on their first possessions.  With 12:21 to go in the first quarter, the Raiders got the ball back at their 30-yard line.  Quarterback Derek Carr got the drive off to a good start with a 13-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera.  On third and seven from the 46, Carr connected with wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a gain of 11 yards and a first down at the Jacksonville 43.  A 26-yard pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts put the Raiders in the red zone.  But the drive would stall at the seven because tight end Clive Walford couldn’t hold onto a pass on third down.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came on for a 25-yard field goal.  It was good and the Raiders led 3-0 with 9:06 to go in the first quarter.

A good kickoff return by wide receiver Marqise Lee set the Jaguars up at their 33-yard line.  A couple of carries from running back Chris Ivory and a holding call on the Raiders got the ball moving in the right direction for the Jaguars.  On third and three from the 46, Quarterback Blake Bortles scrambled for a gain of 17 and a first down at the Oakland 37.  Cornerback D.J. Hayden was also flagged for holding and the zebras tacked five more yards onto the play.  From the 32, Bortles got loose again.  This time it was for a gain of 11 yards.  Two plays later, Bortles looked for Lee in the corner of the end zone and the pass was picked off by cornerback David Amerson.

The Raiders moved from their 20 to the 47 but ended up punting again.  Return man Rashad Greene decided to get a running start before fielding the punt and it hit him in the hands.  I guess that’s a bad spot to hit him because he fumbled and wide receiver Andre Holmes of the Raiders came out of the pile with the ball.  This gave the Raiders excellent field position and a great chance to increase their lead.  But three plays gained only three yards as Carr overthrew Roberts in the end zone on third down.  Janikowksi trotted onto the field and his 32-yard field goal attempt was good.  The Raiders now led 6-0 with 14:46 to go in the second quarter.

The Jaguars started at their 25 and Bortles looked for wide receiver Allen Robinson on first down.  The pass was incomplete, but Amerson was flagged for pass interference.  That moved the Jaguars to the 50.  From there, Ivory got loose up the right side and was pushed out of bounds at the Oakland eight-yard line.  But they still couldn’t find the end zone and Myers came on for a 23-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Raiders led 6-3 with 12:38 to go in the second quarter.

Another deep kickoff meant the Raiders would be starting at their 25 again.  Wide receiver Johnny Holton got things off to a great start with an end around that was good for 29 yards.  After just one play, the Raiders were already in Jacksonville territory.  The ground game started working and running backs Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington kept the ball moving.  On first down from the 18, Murray got another carry and gained six yards.  Two plays later, Carr found Crabtree for a gain of five and a first down at the five-yard line.  Two plays later, Murray found the end zone.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 13-3 with 5:32 to go in the second quarter.

For their next drive, the Jaguars broke out their no huddle offense.  Bortles completed passes to Lee, tight end Julius Thomas and running back T.J. Yeldon.  All those completions put the Jaguars at the Oakland 15-yard line.  But a holding penalty and some good play by the Raider defense forced the Jaguars to settle for another field goal attempt.  Myers easily made his 37-yard attempt and the Raiders led 13-6 with 1:49 to go in the second quarter.

Just like the Jaguars, the Raiders broke out the no huddle offense.  Passes to Crabtree, Walford  and Murray gained some decent yardage.  On third and five from the 42, Carr went deep for Crabtree and he made a spectacular diving catch at the Jacksonville two-yard line.  Two plays later, Carr threw for Crabtree in the end zone and he hauled it in for a touchdown.  Crabtree was flagged after the play for unsportsmanlike conduct as it appeared that he did a throat slash.  Yeah.  Whatever.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 20-6 at halftime.

Lee returned the kickoff to the 35 and the Jaguars took to the air.  Passes to wide receiver Allen Hurns and Lee had the Jaguars at the Oakland 32-yard line.  But the Raider defense once again kept the Jaguars out of the end zone and the Jaguars had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Raiders led 20-9 with 12:11 to go in the third quarter.

Now, we are heading into familiar territory for the Raider offense.  Last week, I couldn’t write much about their offense because they didn’t do much.  The same could be said for this game.  There was a lot of punting going on for both teams until the 4:45 mark of the third quarter.  That’s when the Raiders got the ball back at the Jacksonville 37.  An offside penalty on the Jaguars moved the ball to the 32.  This “drive” would abruptly end at the 25 yard line.  That’s because Carr completed a five-yard pass to Holmes on third and 14.  You need 14 yards and you throw a short pass?  I sincerely don’t get that.  At least throw the ball to the first down marker.  Anyway, Janikowski was brought into the game again and his 43-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 2:28 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders led 23-9.

The Jaguars were forced to punt on their next possession.  Return man Jalen Richard had a really nice return but it was brought back because of holding.  That put the Raiders back at their 28-yard line.  On second down, Carr looked for Roberts and the pass was complete for a gain of ten.  There were more yellow flags on the ground.  Defensive tackle Malik Jackson was flagged 15 yards for roughing the passer.  After that, he had some unkind words for the zebras.  That got him 15 more yards.  I really enjoyed seeing the Raiders gain 30 yards without running a play.  But they still couldn’t get the ball moving and they had to settle for yet another field goal attempt.  The 52-yard attempt by Janikowski was good and the Raiders increased their lead to 26-9.  After that play, Jackson was at it again and he was flagged 15 more yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.  That got him ejected.  Jackson was one angry man.  When he was in Denver, he was a big part of a very good championship defense.  But he left the Broncos because the Jaguars threw a large sum of money at him.  Now he plays on a bad team with bad uniforms.  It just goes to show you that money can’t buy you happiness.  Some of that money will probably be sent to the league office this week as getting three personal fouls in one game will definitely get him fined.

As this game wore on, things got more and more chippy between the teams.  It seemed like there was a flag after every play and head zebra Jeff Triplette and his crew were having a very difficult time keeping things under control.  Triplette may want to look into retirement soon.  He was constantly getting numbers mixed up on his penalty announcements and looked to be out of breath.  With 7:15 to go in the game, the Jaguars put together a good 11 play, 83-yard drive that was capped off with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Thomas.  Linebacker Malcolm Smith looked like he had an interception, but Thomas wrestled the ball away for him.  Myers made the point after and the Raiders led 26-16 with 4:12 remaining.

The Jaguars tried an onside kick and it went out of bounds.  That gave the Raiders the ball at the Jacksonville 48.  Two carries by Murray gained minimal yardage.  Then the flags started flying again.  A false start penalty moved them back five yards.  Then left tackle Donald Penn was flagged for a personal foul penalty.  The Raiders set up to punt again.  Marquette King had trouble with a bad snap.  He regained control of the ball and ran up the right sideline for a gain of 27 yards and a first down at the Jacksonville 35-yard line.  After that, more flags were thrown.  This time, Johnny Holton of the Raiders and Jalen Ramsey of the Jaguars were ejected for fighting

Two carries by Murray and an 18-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper put the Raiders at the nine-yard line.  From there, Murray capped the drive off with a nine-yard touchdown run.  That was the nail in the coffin.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders would leave Jacksonville with a 33-16 win.  That win improved them to 5-2 and the Jaguars fell to 2-4.  The Raiders also improved their record on the road to 4-0.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 23 of 37 for 200 yards and one touchdown.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with eight and receiving yards with 96 and a touchdown.  90 of those yards came in the first half.  On the ground, Latavius Murray led the team in rushing with 59 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns.  All totaled, the Raiders rushed for 144 yards on 34 carries.  The longest rush was 27 yards and that was by punter Marquette King.  The punter had the longest run for his team.  You are reading that correctly.  Defensively, linebacker Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with six.  Khalil Mack also had a good game with a sack and two tackles for a loss.

For the Jaguars, Blake Bortles completed 23 of 43 for 246 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  Marqise Lee led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 107.  Chris Ivory was the leading rusher with 48 yards on five carries.  42 of those yards were gained on one carry.  As a team, the Jaguars rushed for 105 yards on 16 carries.  Defensively, safety Johnathan Cyprien led the team in solo tackles with 11.

This game was as ugly as it gets.  The flags were flying, tempers were flaring and Jaguar fans were heading for the exits in the third quarter.  The Raiders were flagged 11 times for 117 yards and the Jaguars were flagged 13 times for 112 yards.  But all I wanted to see was the Raiders get a win.  That’s precisely what they did.  Up next for the Raiders is another road game at Tampa Bay.  The Buccaneers easily defeated the 49ers last week and they’ll be looking to get a win against the Raiders.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy