October 1, 2016

Raiders Beat Titans 17-10

The Oakland Raiders headed east again and this time their destination was Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Titans.  The Raiders were coming off a 35-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons and the Titans were coming off a 16-15 win over the Detroit Lions.  The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski sent the opening kickoff deep into the end zone and the Titans would start at their 25-yard line.  Quarterback Marcus Mariota took to the air on first down and completed a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Rishard Matthews.  Two carries by running back DeMarco Murray put the Titans in Raider territory.  On third and six from the 37, Mariota completed a 20-yard pass to tight end Jace Amaro.  It looked like the Titans were going to cruise into the end zone on  their first drive of the game.  But an incomplete pass, a short run by Murray and a false start penalty put them in a third and 14 situation.  Mariota completed a pass to Murray across the middle but he was brought down short of the first down marker.  Kicker Ryan Succop came into the game for a 34-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Titans led 3-0 with 9:50 to go in the first quarter.

Things would start out nicely for the Raiders as the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds.  That put them at their 40 and quarterback Derek Carr completed a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper on first down.  The next two passes were incomplete.  On third and ten, Carr tossed a short pass to running back Jalen Richard that went for a gain of 13 yards and a first down at the 22.  Running back Latavius Murray capped off the drive with a nice 22-yard touchdown run.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-3 with 8:19 to go in the first quarter.

That’s when the punting started.  Each team punted on their next two possessions.  I was pretty impressed by how the Raider defense was playing.  After being gashed by Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, they were actually putting some pressure on Mariota and shutting down the running game.  With 10:52 remaining in the second quarter, the Titans got the ball back at their 16.  On third and 13 from the 13, Mariota scrambled up the middle.  He was hit by linebacker Bruce Irvin and the ball came loose.  Safety Reggie Nelson recovered the fumble and that set the Raiders up at the Tennessee 24-yard line.  Carr took the snap and went deep down the middle for tight end Clive Walford.  He hauled in the pass for a very quick Raider touchdown.  Wait a minute.  There was a flag on the play.  Left tackle Donald Penn was flagged for holding and that wiped out the touchdown.  That moved the Raiders back to the 34 and they looked genuinely demoralized.  The next three plays gained one yard and they wheeled out the Polish Cannon for a 52-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and that made Janikowski the all time leader in field goals made from 50 yards or more.  The Raiders led 10-3 with 8:13 to go in the second quarter.

After the Titans punted again, the Raiders took over at their nine-yard line with 4:17 to go in the first half.  A false start penalty moved the ball back five yards.  But completions to wide receivers Andre Holmes, Seth Roberts and Cooper got them back on the right track.  On second and eight from the 32, running back DeAndre Washington got loose for a gain of 30 and was brought down at the Tennessee 38-yard line.  Two more carries by Washington gained 19 yards.  From the 19, Carr tossed a pass to the left side for Roberts.  He caught it, shook off a couple of defenders and made it to the end zone for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 17-3 with 33 seconds to go in the first half.

With time running out, the Titans took over at their 25.  They still had two timeouts and a couple of passes may have gotten them in field goal range.  Mariota scrambled for eight yards and the Titan fans were screaming for them to call a timeout.  The clock kept running and on second down, a pass intended for Matthews was incomplete.  With eight seconds to go, Mariota looked for Matthews again and the pass was picked off by Nelson.  Instead of going down, Nelson weaved his way up the field and ran up the left sideline.  It appeared he stepped out of bounds with three seconds left.  However, replay showed that the clock operator was asleep at the wheel when the ball was snapped.  The clock didn’t start running until Mariota threw the ball.  Therefore, there would be no last second field goal attempt for the Raiders and the first half ended with the Raiders leading 17-3.

On their first possession of the second half, the Raiders moved into Tennessee territory but ended up punting.  If their receivers knew how to hang on to the ball, that drive may have ended with a touchdown.  Marquette King punted and put the Titans at their seven-yard line.  Four straight carries by Murray and a pass to Amaro quickly put the Titans at the Oakland 19-yard line.  Two plays later, Murray ran up the right side and dove into the corner of the end zone.  Succop made the point after and the Raiders led 17-10 with 5:51 to go in the third quarter.

After that, both teams commenced with more punts.  The Titans got the ball back with 1:25 to go in the third quarter.  From their ten-yard line, running back Derrick Henry got loose for a gain of 13 yards.  Two more carries by Murray netted a first down at the 33.  An offside penalty on the Raiders gave them five more yards.  Despite the fact they were moving the ball well on the ground, the Titans decided to pass on the next play.  Big mistake.  The pass intended for Matthews was intercepted by cornerback Sean Smith at the Oakland 48-yard line.

Before the next drive started, the announcers were singing high praise for Carr and saying how a touchdown here would be huge and that he hadn’t thrown a pick all year.  That is what is known as the kiss of death.  Three plays into the drive, Carr looked for wide receiver Michael Crabtree on the left side and the pass was picked off by linebacker Avery Williamson.  It looked like there was some contact between Crabtree and cornerback Jason McCourty before the ball got there.  But the zebras kept their flags in their pockets.

The Titans would end up punting the ball away and the Raiders started their next drive at their 27-yard line.  An illegal formation penalty moved them back five yards.  A 31-yard pass to Crabtree moved them down to the Tennessee 46-yard line.  Wide receiver Johnny Holton ran up the left side for two yards.  That was followed by a three-yard run by Richard.  On third and five from the 41, the Raiders inserted five receivers into the game.  Carr took the snap and fired a strike to Cooper.  He dropped it.  There was nothing wrong with the pass.  It was right on the money and a first round draft pick should have no problem catching it.  But for whatever reason, Cooper couldn’t hang on.  If he would have made that catch, it would have gone for a huge gain.  With his speed, he may have reached the end zone.  But since he didn’t catch it, the Raiders were forced to punt again.

The Titans still couldn’t get the ball rolling and punted the ball right back to the Raiders.  I kept thinking if they could just score one more time they could put the game away.  They took over at their 26-yard line and some good running by Richard and another catch by Crabtree moved them to the 49.  But three straight running plays didn’t gain enough yardage for a first down.  With two minutes to go, King punted and it went into the end zone.

Then the Raiders changed everything around.  Instead of using an aggressive plan of attack, they went into their prevent defense.  I cannot think of a defensive scheme I despise more than the prevent.  All of a sudden, Mariota had all kinds of time to find receivers and they were wide open.  The drive started with a ten-yard pass to Matthews. Then a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Harry Douglas.  Then a 23-yard pass to wide receiver Tajae Sharpe.  This was killing me.  Every receiver was wide open.  Were there any defensive backs on the field?  On first down from the Oakland 22, Mariota went deep over the middle for Sharpe and unlike Amari Cooper, he caught the pass for a gain of 19.  He was dragged down at the three-yard line.

But for some bizarre reason, left tackle Taylor Lewan jumped on top of the pile after the play was over.  That got the flags flying and the Titans were penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.  That moved them back to the 18.  The next two plays gained five yards and on third and five, Mariota looked for wide receiver Andre Johnson in the end zone.  He was wide open and easily made the catch.  Wait a minute!  There are more zebra droppings on the field!  Johnson was flagged for offensive pass interference and that moved them back to the 23-yard line.  An 11-yard pass to Murray set up a fourth and four with 12 seconds to go.  Mariota took the snap and looked for Douglas in the end zone.  There was some contact and Douglas fell to the ground in hope of seeing a flag.  No flag was thrown and the Raiders left Nashville with a 17-10 victory.  The win gave the Raiders a 2-1 record and the Titans fell to 1-2.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 21 of 35 for 249 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  Michael Crabtree led the team in catches with eight and receiving yards with 102.  DeAndre Washington was the leading rusher with 57 yards on six carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 123 yards on 25 carries.  Defensively, rookie safety Karl Joseph and rookie linebacker Cory James led the team in solo tackles with six apiece.  Reggie Nelson also had a good game with four tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.

For the Titans, Marcus Mariota completed 17 of 33 for 214 yards, two interceptions and one lost fumble.  DeMarco Murray led the team in receptions with five and Jace Amaro had the most receiving yards with 59.  Murray also had a good day carrying the ball and finished the game with 114 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.  As a team, the Titans rushed for 181 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, Avery Williamson and cornerback Perrish Cox tied for the lead in solo tackles with four apiece.  Williamson also had an interception.

It was a case of missed opportunities for the Raiders.  Lots of dropped passes ended promising drives.  They didn’t score a point in the second half and left it up to their defense to get the win.  That’s the complete opposite of what happened in the first two games of the season.  But a win is a win and they improved their record on the road to 2-0.  They go back on the road next week to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.  They came away with a hard fought 19-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and they are 3-0 this year.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Setting All The Wrong Records

Up next for the Oakland Raiders was a visit from the Atlanta Falcons.  The Falcons were coming off a 31-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Raiders were coming off a 35-34 win over the New Orleans Saints.  In that game, they were picked apart by Drew Brees.  I was hoping they could make some adjustments on the defensive side of the ball for this game.  You don’t always get what you hope for.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski sent the opening kickoff deep and the Falcons began at their 25-yard line.  They managed to move the ball to the Oakland 35-yard line and instead of trying a field goal, they opted to punt.  As a matter of fact, there was a lot of punting in the first quarter as both offenses couldn’t find the end zone.

With 1:53 to go in the first quarter, the Falcons found themselves at their nine-yard line.  But some carries by running back Devonta Freeman quickly got them moving.  A 15-yard pass from quarterback Matt Ryan to tight end Jacob Tamme got the Falcons near midfield.  Completions to wide receivers Austin Hooper and Aldrick Robinson put the ball at the Oakland 17-yard line.  The drive would stall at the two and kicker Matt Bryant had no problem making a 21-yard field goal.  With 12 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Falcons led 3-0.

The Raiders would be starting their next drive from their nine-yard line.  A ten-yard pass from quarterback Derek Carr to wide receiver Michael Crabtree and a five-yard scramble by Carr moved the ball to the 24.  Completions to wide receivers Seth Roberts and Amari Cooper put the Raiders in Atlanta territory.  After that deep pass to Cooper, Carr decided to go deep again and he looked for Crabtree in the end zone.  But the pass was picked off.  Not so fast.  Cornerback Robert Alford was flagged for pass interference and the ball was placed at the one-yard line.  Running back Latavius Murray capped the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-3 with 7:51 to go in the first half.

The Falcons took over at their 19 and Ryan started to pick the Raiders apart.  Most of the completions were across the middle and the Raiders simply had no answer for it.  Short passes were going for long gains and the Falcons moved the ball down-field with ease.  Three carries by Freeman netted a first down at the Oakland 21-yard line.  From the 21, wide receiver Julio Jones burned cornerback Sean Smith for a touchdown.  Bryant made the point after and the Falcons led 10-7 with 4:46 to go in the first half.

The Raiders punted on their next possession and Marquette King got off another beauty.  It was fielded at the Atlanta nine yard-line by return man Eric Weems and he took it up the left side.  It looked like he was going to take it all the way back but King literally dragged him down at the 18.  He was flagged for a horse collar tackle and the Falcons had the ball at the Oakland nine-yard line.  But the Raider defense rose up this time and three plays netted seven yards.  Bryant came into the game again and his 20-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 55 seconds to go, the Falcons led 13-7.

With time running out, the Raiders moved the ball down to the Atlanta 40-yard line with hopes that Janikowksi could make a 58-yard field goal before the half ended.  The kick would be from that stupid infield dirt and it ended up being short and wide left.  At halftime, the Falcons maintained their 13-7 lead.

The Raiders took over at their 19-yard line to start the second half.  On first down, Carr connected with Crabtree for a ten-yard gain.  A couple of carries by  Murray gained seven yards and on third down, Carr looked for Roberts and the pass fell incomplete.  King came on to punt.  He blasted the punt 64 yards into the end zone.  But Raider head coach Jack Del Rio threw his red flag and challenged that the Falcons had 12 men on the field.  Replay showed that was the case and that ended up being a five-yard penalty and enough to give the Raiders a first down.  An end around by rookie wide receiver Johnny Holton gained 16 yards.  A false start moved them back five yards, but Carr found tight end Lee Smith for a gain of 16 yards.  Murray ran up the left side and was brought down at the Atlanta 31-yard line.  From there, Carr looked for tight end Clive Walford and found him for an easy touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 14-13 with 11:17 to go in the third quarter.

This is where the Raider defense totally collapsed.  On second and eight from the 27, Ryan went deep for Hooper and he hauled in the pass for a gain of 44.  That was followed by an 18-yard run by Freeman.  From the 11, Ryan threw for Tamme in the end zone and the pass was picked off by cornerback David Amerson.  Out of all 11 players on the Raider defense, Amerson seems to be the only one who knows what he is doing.  The Raiders dodged a bullet there.  But a lot more bullets would be coming their way as the game progressed.

A nice 28-yard run by rookie running back Jalen Richard was called back due to a holding penalty and that really took the wind out of the Raider’s sails on their next possession.  King punted and the Falcons regained possession at their 15-yard line.  A 24-yard pass to running back Tevin Coleman and a 34-yard pass to Hooper moved the ball to the Oakland 27.  From there, Ryan hooked up with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel for a gain of nine.  Two plays later, Ryan found Tamme in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown.  The Falcons lined up to go for two and Ryan ran it up right up the middle for an easy score.  That put them up 21-14 with 3:42 to go in the third quarter.

Another touch-back meant the Raiders would be starting at their 25-yard line.  Carries by Murray and rookie running back DeAndre Washington had the Raiders looking good.  Two completions to Walford and an 11-yard run by fullback Jamize Olawale moved them to the Atlanta 25-yard line.  Two more carries by Murray set up a first and goal from the two.  Well, it took them four plays but on fourth and goal from the two, Carr had plenty of time to find a receiver and he found Crabtree in the end zone for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the score was tied 21-21 with 12 minutes to go in the game.

It was time for the Raider defense to rise up and give the ball back to the offense.  No. I don’t see that happening.  On second and seven from the 45, Ryan went deep for Jones and he hauled it in for a gain of 48 yards.  Despite the fact that there were two defenders in position, Jones was still able to make the play.  He seemed pretty proud of himself after that play and spiked the ball.  That got him a five-yard penalty for a delay of game.  Three plays later, Ryan fired a pass down the middle.  It was deflected high in the air and I was really hoping for an interception.  Instead, the ball was picked out of the air by wide receiver Justin Hardy for a touchdown.  I couldn’t believe what I just saw.  Bryant made the point after and the Falcons led 28-21 with 9:29 to go in the game.

On third and seven from the 28, the Raiders received some help from the zebras.  A pass intended for Cooper was incomplete.  But a  pass interference penalty on the Falcons gave the Raiders a first down at the 41.  On third and two, Carr ran to the left and launched a ball to Cooper.  He caught it, made some moves and cruised into the end zone for what appeared to be a touchdown.  No.  That is incorrect.  Cooper went out of bounds, came back in and made the catch.  You can’t do that.  Even though Cooper said he was pushed out of bounds, the call stood and that set up a fourth and two at the 49.  Del Rio decided to go for it and Richard ran up the middle.  He was stopped short and the Falcons regained possession at the 50.  Why wasn’t the ball given to Murray or Olawale?  Richard would not have been my choice for that play.  That was an absolute killer for the Raiders.

The Falcons knew what they had to do now.  That was attack the middle.  Every single play they ran on this drive was aimed at the middle of the field.  Freeman ran up the middle, Ryan tossed short passes to his receivers down the middle and the drive was capped off by a 13-yard run by Coleman UP THE DAMN MIDDLE! He wasn’t even touched as he crossed the goal line. Bryant made the point after and the Falcons led 35-21 with 4:35 remaining.

The Falcons went into a zone defense and just like what happened to the Raiders on the previous drive, Carr found all kinds of room in the middle of the field.  Passes to Murray, Roberts and Olawale set up a first and goal at the six-yard line.  From there, Carr found wide receiver Andre Holmes for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Falcons led 35-28 with 2:12 remaining.

The Raiders had all three timeouts and the two minute warning to work with.  But the defense had to stop the Falcons.  On third and three from the 20, Ryan took the snap, laughed at the Raiders and their futile attempt to get to him and calmly tossed a short pass across the middle to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu for a first down.  The Raiders did manage to get the ball back for one final play.  But it went nowhere and the Falcons left Oakland with a 35-28 win.

For the Falcons, Matt Ryan completed 26 of 34 for 396 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.  Julio Jones led all receivers in catches with five and yards with 106 and a touchdown.  On the ground, Devonta Freeman led the way with 93 yards on 17 carries.  As a team, the Falcons rushed for 139 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, safety Kemal Ishmael led the team in solo tackles with 13.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 34 of 45 for 299 yards and three touchdowns.  He spread the ball around to 11 different receivers.  Clive Walford and Latavius Murray tied for the lead in catches with six apiece.  Amari Cooper led the team in receiving yards with 71.  Murray led the team in rushing with 57 yards on eight carries and a touchdown.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 155 yards on 25 carries.  Safety Reggie Nelson led the team in solo tackles with ten.

Well, that game thoroughly disgusted me.  It reminded me of a game several years ago.  The Raiders were playing the Baltimore Ravens and every single time they had big gains, the ball was thrown across the middle.  The Raiders lost that game 55-20.  It wasn’t like the Falcons were doing anything fancy.  They sent their receivers on crossing routes and for whatever reason, the defense couldn’t stop them.  Middle linebacker Ben Heeney was benched and it wouldn’t really bother me if he gets relegated to special teams.  He was TOTALLY lost out there.

The Raiders allowed 528 yards of offense.  They are the first team since the 1967 Falcons to allow at least 500 yards in their first two games of the season.  They have given up 69 points and looked horrible.  Where’s the blitzing?  It looks like a 4-3 vanilla defense that doesn’t give a damn.  Linebacker Bruce Irvin was quoted after the game and he said  “This defense doesn’t communicate.  We’re not on the same page.”  Well, you better get on the same page or this season is going to be another train wreck.

What is really discouraging is that the offense is playing very well.  Carr has had all day to find his receivers, the running backs look good and they are putting up solid numbers.  But the defense continually lets the other team stay in the game because they can’t stop them.  Could it be they miss the leadership of Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck?  Whatever the problem is, it needs to be fixed before they head to Nashville next week to play the Tennessee Titans.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

No Guts, No Glory

The first game on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a trip to Louisiana to take on the New Orleans Saints.  The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski sent the opening kickoff deep into the end zone and the Saints started out at their 25-yard line.  Quarterback Drew Brees led his offense onto the field and took to the air right away. His first two passes were incomplete and on third down, linebacker Bruce Irvin sacked Brees for a loss of four yards. The ball came loose and was recovered by defensive end Jihad Ward at the 21-yard line.  After running back Latavius Murray ran up the middle for a gain of one yard, a yellow flag appeared.  Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was flagged for holding and that moved the Raiders back ten yards.  Instead of going for the jugular and trying to get a touchdown, the next three plays consisted of another run up the middle and two short passes from quarterback Derek Carr to wide receiver Amari Cooper.  On fourth and 18 from the 29, Janikowksi came on and his 47-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 12:23 to go in the first quarter, the Raiders led 3-0.

Return man Marcus Murphy was brought down at the 11-yard line on the ensuing kickoff and the Saints started their next drive with bad field position.  Brees connected with running back Mark Ingram for a gain of nine and fullback John Kuhn ran up the middle for a first down at the at the 22-yard line.  From the 22, Ingram got loose for a gain of 12 and that was followed by a 12-yard completion to wide receiver Willie Snead.  Completions to Snead and Ingram moved the Saints to the Oakland 13-yard line.  An incomplete pass and a short run by Kuhn made it third and 11.  Brees took the snap and was flushed out of the pocket.  He tossed the ball to the right side and there was no one there.  This drew a flag for intentional grounding and that moved them back ten yards.  Rookie kicker Wil Lutz came on and his 42-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 6:31 to go in the first quarter, the score was knotted 3-3.

The Raiders took over at their nine-yard line because return man Taiwan Jones looked more like a dancer than a return man on the kickoff.  Just put your head down and run straight, Jones!  A four-yard run by Murray and passes to Cooper and rookie Jalen Richard moved the ball to the 20.  From the 20, Carr found Cooper across the middle for a gain of 35 and a first down at the New Orleans 45-yard line.  Carr went deep to Cooper again on the next play and he was dragged down at the six-yard line.  Murray finished the drive with a run up the middle for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 10-3 with 1:43 to go in the first quarter.

The Saints took over at their 25 and some good running by Ingram and running back Tim Hightower had them moving in the right direction.  On second and five from the 42, Brees went deep for Snead and he caught if for a gain of 49 yards and a first down at the Oakland nine-yard line.  Two passes to wide receiver Brandon Cooks put the Saints at the one-yard line.  On fourth down, the Saints decided to go for it.  Brees had all the time he needed and he found Snead in the end zone.  Linebacker Malcolm Smith basically let Snead run right by him and he made the catch for an easy touchdown.  Lutz made the extra point and the game was tied 10-10 with 12 minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders punted on their next possession and the Saints started their next drive from the 20.  Ingram got some more carries and Brees had all day to find an open receiver as the Raider pass rush was non-existent.  Two passes to wide receiver Michael Thomas quickly moved the Saints to midfield.  Brees found Cooks again for a gain of 15 yards.  Another pass to Thomas put the ball at the 15-yard line.  From there, Brees fired a pass to the end zone that was hauled in for a touchdown by Cooks.  Lutz made the point after and the Saints led 17-10 with 4:55 to go in the first half.

Neither team did much with the ball for the remainder of the half and the score remained 17-10.  That trend would continue into the second half as both offenses had trouble moving the ball.  The penalties were piling up for the Raiders too.  But that’s nothing new.  Also, right tackle Menelik Watson went down with a groin injury.  He was replaced by Matt McCants.  After a punt by Marquette King pinned the Saints at their two-yard line, I thought if the Raiders could force a three and out here, they would get good field position.  Brees had other ideas.  He launched a deep ball up the left sideline that was caught in stride by Cooks for a 98-yard touchdown.  Cooks simply blew by cornerback Sean Smith and cruised into the end zone.  Lutz made the point after and the Saints led 24-10 with 7:52 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders took over at their 25 and another false start penalty moved them back five yards.  But a 13-yard pass to Murray and some good running by Murray got them moving.  On second and five from the 41, Carr hooked up with Crabtree for a gain of nine and a first down at the 50.  That was followed by a 16-yard pass to Jones and another completion to Crabtree.  Then another injury occurred. McCants went down and did not return.  With Austin Howard inactive, the Raiders  had to do some serious shuffling on their offensive line because they were out of right tackles.  The drive stalled at the 13-yard line and Janikowksi had no problem making his 31-yard field goal attempt.  With 3:11 to go in the third quarter, the Saints led 24-13.

The Saints took over at their 24-yard line and Brees continued to assault the Oakland secondary.  Completions to Cooks, Thomas and Snead put the ball at the Oakland 38-yard line.  On third and five from the 33, Brees went deep for tight end Coby Fleener.  It was incomplete and the Saints would have to settle for a 50-yard field goal attempt.  It was wide left and the Raiders took over at their 40-yard line.  Carr found Cooper for a gain of eight yards on first down.  No he didn’t.  That play didn’t count due to another freaking penalty.  But on first and 20 from the 30, Carr looked for Cooper again and he made the catch for a gain of 43 yards.  From the New Orleans 27 yard line,  Carr went deep across the middle and found Crabtree for a gain of 25 yards.  Fullback Jamize Olawale capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.  They decided to go for two and the attempt was no good.  With 11:53 to go in the game, the Saints led 24-19.

Murphy returned the kickoff to the 29 and Brees went deep again on first down.  The pass was incomplete.  But another yellow flag made an appearance.  This time, Malcolm Smith was flagged for interference.  It ended up being a 23-yard penalty.  A short pass to Fleener gained six yards and the zebras awarded the Saints another gift on the next play as cornerback D.J. Hayden was flagged for pass interference.  That didn’t look like interference to me.  Apparently Hayden shared my opinion because he was going out of his mind.  That put the ball at the Oakland 25 yard-line.  Ingram broke off a 17-yard run to set up a first and goal from the eight.  But the drive would stall at the two-yard line.  Lutz came on for a 20-yard field goal attempt.  It was partially blocked, but the ball sneaked over the crossbar and the kick was good.  That put the Saints up 27-19 with 8:42 to go in the game.

On second and ten from the 25, undrafted rookie running back Jalen Richard took the hand-off and ran straight up the middle.  He didn’t stop until he reached the end zone.  It was truly a beautiful run.  Carr found Cooper in the front corner of the end zone for a successful two-point conversion.  That was the spark the Raiders needed and the score was tied at 27 with 8:26 remaining in the game.

The Saints started out at their 16 and received some more help from their friends in striped shirts.  Hayden was flagged again for pass interference.  That moved the ball to the 27.  A run by Ingram gained four yards.  Then Brees went deep for Snead down the middle.  He made the catch, was hit and the ball came loose.  While the Raider defensive backs were falling all over each other, Thomas alertly recovered the ball at the 12 and was dragged down at the two-yard line.  From the two, Brees tossed a short pass to the left side that was caught by running back Travaris Cadet for a touchdown.  Lutz made the point after and the Saints led 34-27 with six minutes remaining in the game.

The Raiders went to work from their 25 and Murray ran up the left side for a gain of ten yards.  From the 35, Carr hooked up with tight end Clive Walford for a gain of 18 yards and a first down at the New Orleans 47.  Richard ran up the left side for a gain of eight on first down.  But Murray was thrown for a loss of two on second down.  On third down, Carr looked for Cooper and the pass was incomplete.  But the zebras decided to make things interesting and they flagged the Saints for defensive holding.  That gave the Raiders a first down at the 36.  Richard gained one yard on first down.  On second down, Carr was forced out of the pocket and threw up a prayer for Crabtree.  He caught the ball, made a few nifty moves and got a first down at the 23.  On second and ten from the 23, Carr fired a pass that hit wide receiver Seth Roberts right in the hands.  He seemed more concerned about the two Saints that were converging on him and he dropped the ball.  Carr scrambled for five yards on third down and that set up a highly crucial fourth and five with 1:41 remaining.

Carr threw to the right side for Richard and the pass was incomplete.  But a flag was thrown and linebacker Craig Robertson was penalized for pass interference.  That was the break the Raiders needed and on second and seven from the ten, Carr looked for Roberts across the middle.  This time he caught the ball, shook off two defenders and made it to the end zone.  I expected to see Janikowski trot onto the field for an extra point attempt.  That didn’t happen.  The offense remained on the field as head coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for two and take the lead.  That’s a gutsy call and I was going out of my mind!  Carr took the snap and threw a jump ball for Crabtree.  He caught it for a successful two-point conversion.  After he made the catch, he threw the ball and appeared to make some kind of gesture with his hand.  That drew another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Despite kicking off from the 20, Janikowski still managed a good kickoff.  Murphy fielded the ball at his five-yard line and returned it to the 23.

With 40 seconds to go, Brees completed a pass to Snead across the middle for a gain of 21 yards.  Brees spiked the ball to stop the clock.  With 23 seconds to go, Snead was the target again and caught another pass across the middle for a gain of 13 yards and a first down at the Oakland 43-yard line.  Brees spiked the ball with nine seconds remaining.  From the 43, he tried to hook up with Fleener but the pass was incomplete.  With five seconds to go, Lutz took the field for a 61-yard field goal attempt.  I thought there was no way he could make it.  No chance.  No way.  He can’t make it.  Still, I held my breath as the play started.  The snap was good, the hold was good and Lutz hit a high kick that sailed wide left.  It was no good and the Raiders came away with a 35-34 win.  It was the first time they won an opening game on the road since 2011.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 24 of 38 for 319 yards and one touchdown.  Amari Cooper led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 137.  Jalen Richard was the leading rusher with 84 yards on three carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 167 yards on 26 carries.  Defensively, there really isn’t much to say.  There was hardly any pass rush and Brees had all day to find his receivers.  They really need to work on getting to the quarterback and cut down on the penalties.  They were flagged 14 times for 141 yards.  Safety Reggie Nelson led the team in solo tackles with seven.

For the Saints, Drew Brees completed 28 of 42 for 423 yards and four touchdowns.  Willie Snead and Brandon Cooks combined for 15 receptions for 315 yards and three touchdowns.  Mark Ingram was the leading rusher with  58 yards on 12 carries.  All totaled, the Saints rushed for 88 yards on 22 carries.  Defensively, Craig Robertson led the team in solo tackles with eight.  He also had two tackles for a loss.

Well, it wasn’t pretty.  With the injuries to Watson and McCants, the Raiders really had to do some shuffling on their offensive line.  But it all worked out in the end and all that matters is the final score.  Up next for the Raiders is the home opener against the Atlanta Falcons.  The Falcons had a rough opening game and lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Super Bowl 50

On February 7, 2016, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos met in Santa Clara, California for Super Bowl 50.  After an uneventful two weeks of hype, Carolina kicker Graham Gano kicked the game off and the Super Bowl was finally underway.  Return man Andre Caldwell ran it back to the 20-yard line.  Quarterback Peyton Manning led his offense on to the field and took to the air immediately.  On first down, Manning connected with tight end Owen Daniels for a gain of 18 yards.   That was followed by a six-yard pass to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and a 22-yard pass to Caldwell.  That put the ball at the Carolina 34-yard line.  Two carries by running back C.J. Anderson gained 20 yards and the Broncos were knocking on the door.  But the Panthers finally realized they were supposed to stop the Broncos and they did just that.  The next three plays gained minus two yards.  Kicker Brandon McManus made his 34-yard field goal attempt.  With 10:43 to go in the first quarter, the Broncos led 3-0.

The Panthers took over at their 19-yard line and they didn’t get off to a good start.  On third and eight, quarterback Cam Newton completed a pass to tight end Greg Olsen and he was dragged down just short of the first down marker.  That forced the Panthers to punt.  Three plays later, the Broncos punted the ball right back to the Panthers.  They took over at their 15-yard line and on first down, Newton fired a pass down the middle for wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.  He did quite a juggling act and it looked like a catch.  But the zebras said it was incomplete.  Carolina head coach Ron Rivera challenged the play and that didn’t do any good.  The replay official ruled it was incomplete.  Yeah.  Whatever.  Two plays later, linebacker Von Miller got loose and sacked Newton.  He fumbled and the ball was recovered in the end zone by defensive end Malik Jackson for a touchdown.  McManus made the point after and the Broncos led 10-0 with 6:27 to go in the first quarter.

The Panthers moved the ball a little better on their next possession but Nortman ended up punting again.  It was fair caught at the 13-yard line by return man Jordan Norwood.  On third and three from the 20, linebacker Luke Kuechly blitzed straight up the middle and sacked Manning for a loss of 12 yards.  Colquitt punted and it looked like the Panthers would get decent field position.  But an illegal block above the waist penalty moved them back to their 27-yard line.  On first down they tried to run Stewart up the middle again and he went nowhere.  Maybe try running him off tackle?  Every time he ran up the middle it was like he was running into a brick wall.  On second down, Newton hooked up with wide receiver Corey Brown for a gain of 20 yards.  A couple of scrambles by Newton and a completion to Olsen moved the Panthers to the Denver 15.  From there, Newton completed another pass to Brown.  As he headed for the end zone, he was caught by cornerback Aqib Talib.  Talib got a hold of Brown’s facemask and threw him out of bounds at the one-yard line.  Stewart dove over the pile on the next play for a touchdown.  Gano made the point after and the Broncos led 10-7 with 11:25 to go in the second quarter.

The Broncos quickly punted on their next possession.  That gave the Panthers the ball with good field position at their 49-yard line.  But they couldn’t take advantage of it.  The play calling was horrible and they went three and out again.  Nortman got off a short punt that went only 28 yards.  Norwood fielded it at the 25 and returned it 61 yards to the Carolina 14-yard line.  That was the longest punt return in Super Bowl history.  Three carries by Anderson gained nine yards and Denver head coach Gary Kubiak decided to go for it.  Anderson attained the first down, but the Broncos were flagged for holding.  That moved them back ten yards and McManus came on again for another field goal attempt.  The 33-yard attempt was good and the Broncos led 13-7 with seven minutes to go in the first half.

Carolina took over at their 20 and on second and ten, Newton scrambled up the left side for 14 yards.  Tack on an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Broncos and the Panthers were at midfield.  That’s when fullback Mike Tolbert really screwed things up.  Tolbert ran up the right side for a gain of 11, but he fumbled and the Broncos recovered it at the 39-yard line.  On second and nine from the 40, Anderson got loose for a gain of 34 yards.  He was pushed out of bounds at the Carolina 26-yard line.  Three plays later, Manning looked for Sanders and the pass was picked off by defensive end Kony Ealy at the 20.  He returned it to the 39 and the Panthers had another shot to put some points on the board before halftime.  That didn’t happen.  Three plays netted zero yards and they punted again.  As a matter of fact, neither offense did much in the remaining three minutes and at halftime the Broncos led 13-7.

The Panthers started their first drive of the second half from their 20-yard line.  After the obligatory run up the middle for no gain by Stewart, Newton connected with wide receiver Ted Ginn for a gain of 45 yards.  That was followed by a ten-yard run by running back Fozzy Whittaker.  However, the Panthers were flagged for a personal foul after the play and that moved them back to the 40.  Newton and Ginn hooked up again and the play was good for a gain of 15 and a first down at the 25.  After that, they went nowhere.  Top that off with a missed field by Gano and you have the Panthers coming up empty once again.  The fun-loving Panthers were having no fun at all.

With 10:48 to go in the third quarter, the Broncos took over at their 34-yard line.  Manning went deep for Sanders on first down and the play went for 25 yards.  Another completion to Sanders put the ball at the Carolina 17.  But the drive would come to an end at the 12-yard line.  McManus came on again and his 30-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 8:18 to go in the third quarter, the Broncos led 16-7.

The Panthers started at their 20 again and instead of running Stewart up the middle on first down, Newton went deep down the middle for Brown.  He hauled in the pass for a gain of 42 yards and a first down at the Denver 38-yard line.  A short pass to Ginn and a carry by Stewart netted another first down at the 28.  From the 28, Newton looked for Ginn down the middle and the pass was picked off by safety T.J. Ward.  As he was running it back, the ball came loose.  But linebacker Danny Trevathan recovered it and the Broncos retained possession at their seven-yard line.  Aside from a 13-yard run by Anderson, the Broncos didn’t do much with the ball and quickly punted.

The Bronco defense continued to hound Newton.  He had no time to find a receiver and when he tried to scramble he rarely got very far.  To say he was frustrated is a large understatement.  Nortman punted again and the Broncos took over at their 32-yard line.  From the 32, Manning completed another pass to Sanders that was good for a 16-yard gain.  An unsportsmanlike penalty was called on the Panthers and that moved the ball to the Carolina 37.  On first down, Manning was sacked for a loss of five by defensive end Charles Johnson.  Two plays later, Ealy got to Manning for another sack.  The ball came loose and Ealy recovered it at the 50-yard line.

So the Panther defense gave their offense yet another chance to capitalize.  Could they do it this time?  This possession got off to a good start as Newton found rookie wide receiver Devin Funchess for a gain of 16 yards.  Then stupidity found its way into the Carolina huddle again.  Despite having very little success running the ball, they tried to run Stewart and Tolbert up the middle again.  Add a false start on left tackle Michael Oher and what you have is an offense going nowhere.  But they were in field goal range and Gano was able to make a 39-yard field goal attempt.  With 10:16 to go in the game, the Broncos led 16-10.

The Panther defense continued to play well and forced the Broncos to punt again.  But the Bronco defense was playing just as well.  With 4:51 to go, the Panthers had one more chance to put a drive together and take the lead.  Think they might throw here?  How about a read option play?  Nope.  They handed the ball to Tolbert and he gained one yard.  That was followed by an incomplete pass intended for Funchess.  On third and nine, the Broncos brought the pressure again and Miller sacked Newton.  The ball came loose and Newton had an opportunity to recover it, but he didn’t even try.  The ball was recovered by Ward at the nine-yard line and returned to the four.

This was just what the Broncos needed.  A touchdown here would seal the deal and the Broncos would be champions.  Anderson was thrown for a loss of two yards on first down.  He managed to get two yards on second down and that set up a third and goal from the four.  Manning looked for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in the end zone, but the pass was incomplete.  That’s when another flag was thrown.  Cornerback Josh Norman was flagged for defensive holding and that gave the Broncos a first down at the two.  Anderson took the ball in from there for a touchdown.  That was followed by a successful two-point conversion and the Broncos led 24-10 with three minutes to go in the game.

The Broncos kept bringing pressure and Newton was basically running for his life.  There was nothing he could do.  There was nothing anyone could do for the Panthers.  Finally the game came to an end and the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 by a score of 24-10.  Naturally, the question posed to Peyton Manning was “Peyton, is this it for you?”  He said he had to think about it.  But first he was going to celebrate with some Budweiser.   Sam Adams would be my choice.  But if Peyton wants Budweiser, give him Budweiser.  I am sure he partied well into the night.  He became the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl for two different teams and this was also his 200th win.  He also has the same amount of Super Bowl wins as his brother Eli.  I don’t think it is possible for him to accomplish anything more.  We’ll be seeing him in Canton, Ohio.

We MAY be seeing Newton in Canton one day.  But he has a whole lot of growing up to do.  After the game, he was giving one-word answers and got up and walked out of the room in the middle of a question.  Anyone can understand the fact that he was upset.  But show a little class, Newton.  It looked very similar to how he was acting earlier in his career.

For the Panthers, Newton completed 18 of 41 for 265 yards and one interception.  His numbers would look a lot better if his receivers didn’t have so many drops.  Corey Brown, Tedd Ginn and Greg Olsen tied for the lead in receptions with four apiece and Brown had the most receiving yards with 80.  He left the game early with a concussion.  On the ground, Newton led the team in rushing with 45 yards on six carries.  All totaled, the Panthers rushed for 118 yards on 27 carries.  Defensively, Luke Kuechly led the team in solo tackles with seven.  They did a great of job of applying pressure to Manning and sacked him five times.  Kony Ealy was the star of the defense as he had three sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 13 of 23 for 141 yards and one interception.  Emmanuel Sanders led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 83.  C.J. Anderson grinded out 90 tough yards on 23 carries and had the only touchdown for the Denver offense.  Defensively, the Broncos sacked Newton seven times and Von Miller, Malik Jackson, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib all tied for the lead in solo tackles with five apiece.  Miller earned the Super Bowl MVP award as he was credited with two and a half sacks and two forced fumbles.

Well, I’ve seen betters Super Bowls.  There were 15 punts, 18 penalties (12 on Carolina) and a whole lot of dropped passes.  I think part of that is the two-week layoff.  Why does there have to be two weeks in between the conference title games and the Super Bowl?  Why not just one week?  I’ll probably be getting a fine in the mail for questioning the almighty NFL and their way of doing things.  Oh well.  That’s just my opinion.  Anyway, that concludes the 2015-16 season.  Up next is the combine.  Then free agency, then the draft, then training camp, then preseason and then the 2016-17 season will begin on September 8th.  Until then, take it easy.

 

 

 

Chiefs Defeat Raiders 23-17

For their final game of the year, the Oakland Raiders headed east to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.  The Raiders were coming off a 23-20 win over the San Diego Chargers and the Chiefs were coming off a 17-13 win over the Cleveland Browns.  After starting the year 1-5, the Chiefs had won nine straight games and earned a spot in the playoffs.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowksi sent the opening kickoff deep into the cold Kansas City air and it went through the end zone.  The Chiefs started at their 20-yard line and I would really love to know what kind of scheme the Raiders were playing.  Everything the Chiefs tried went for big gains and they cruised down the field with ease.  Quarterback Alex Smith completed passes to tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.  The ground game was working nicely too.  Charcandrick West had no problem finding holes to run through.  On first down from the Oakland 25, Smith tossed a pass to Maclin and he ran untouched into the end zone.  Kicker Cairo Santos made the point after and the Chiefs went up 7-0 with 10:52 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders managed to get a few first downs on their first drive.  But on third and eight from the Kansas City 48, quarterback Derek Carr was sacked for a loss of one yard by safety Ron Parker.  The ball came loose but it was recovered by the Raiders.  Marquette King punted and the Chiefs regained possession at their 13-yard line.  We would be seeing a lot of King today.  On third and four from the 19, Smith couldn’t find anyone open and he scrambled up the right side for nine yards and a first down at the 28.  Two runs by running back Spencer Ware and a completion to wide receiver Albert Wilson had the Chiefs in Oakland territory again.  From the 37, Smith found wide receiver Chris Conley wide open for a gain of 16 yards.  That was followed by another pass to Maclin.  He was brought down at the three-yard line.  Ware capped the drive off with a three-yard touchdown run.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs led 14-0 with 51 seconds to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders got a spark on the ensuing kickoff.  Return man Taiwan Jones fielded the kick eight yards deep in the end zone and returned it 71 yards to the Kansas City 38-yard line.  Carr completed a 19-yard pass to tight end Clive Walford and running back Latavius Murray ran up the middle for a gain of four.   Then they went backwards five yards due to a false start penalty.  Murray caught a pass for a gain of ten and that set up a third and one situation.  Murray ran up the left side and he was engulfed by red jerseys.  He was thrown for a loss of one yard and Janikowksi came on for a 29-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Chiefs led 14-3 with 13:40 to go in the second quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions.  With 6:27 remaining, Smith looked for Wilson and the pass was picked off by cornerback T.J. Carrie at the 48-yard line.  He was brought down at the 46 and the Raiders looked to capitalize on the turnover.  A scramble by Carr was followed by a nine-yard run from Murray and a six-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree.  Running back Roy Helu ran up the middle for a gain of two and that made it third and two from the 24.  Carr had all the time in the world on the next play.  He could have easily run for the first down, but he opted to throw deep to wide receiver Amari Cooper.  There’s only one problem with that.  There was a guy in a red suit standing in front of Cooper and it wasn’t Santa Claus.  It was Parker and he picked the pass off in the end zone.  The Chiefs took over at the 20 and Smith looked for Wilson again.  This time, the pass was picked off by cornerback David Amerson and returned for a touchdown.  On his way into the end zone, he started high-stepping and pointing at Smith.  That drew a flag for taunting.  Janikowski made the point after and the Chiefs led 14-10 with 3:27 to go in the second quarter.  Neither offense did anything worth writing about for the rest of the second quarter and the Chiefs took a four point lead into the locker room.

It was the same old story for the Raiders to start the second half.  Three plays gained one yard and King punted.  The Chiefs didn’t do much better and Dustin Colquitt punted the ball back to the Raiders.  That’s when the Chiefs really brought the pressure.  Carr was sacked twice and they were forced to punt again.  I have no idea what rookie linebacker Ben Heeney was thinking on this play.  Instead of staying in to block, he took off downfield.  That left linebacker D.J. Alexander unblocked and he blocked the punt with ease.  The ball went through the end zone for a safety.  On the replay, Heeney was looking back at King as he was running up-field.  Maybe he thought they were going to try a fake punt.  Really?  A fake punt from the five-yard line?  I think not.  The Chiefs now led 16-10 with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.

King punted and the Chiefs took over at their 47-yard line.  On third and four from the Oakland 47, Smith hooked up with Maclin for a gain of 17 yards.  Tack on a cheap roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Khalil Mack and the Chiefs were sitting pretty at the 15-yard line.  From the 15, Smith fired a pass into the end zone that was caught by tight end Demetrius Harris for a touchdown.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs went up 23-10 with 7:03 to go in the third quarter.

That’s when more punting occurred.  The Raiders couldn’t get anything going on offense and their star quarterback was running for his life and getting pretty roughed up in the process.  It was truly hard to watch how badly the offensive line was playing.  For Christmas, Carr bought each of his linemen a 55-inch television.  Some of those players should give their televisions back to Carr.  They were doing a horrible job of protecting him.

With 12 minutes to go in this nightmare of a game, the Chiefs took over at their 20.  They proceeded to take nearly nine minutes off the clock as Ware and West ran right through the Raiders.  On third and nine from the Oakland 19, Smith tossed a short pass to West and he was thrown for a loss of two yards by Heeney.  Santos came on and his 39-yard field goal attempt was good.  No it wasn’t.  The Chiefs were flagged for holding and Santos would now have to try a 49-yard attempt.  The snap was good, the hold was good and Santos just stood there.  What the hell was he thinking?  The Raiders came after the ball and Colquitt tossed the ball to Santos.  He threw a short pass to Alexander and he was brought down after a gain of three yards.  The Raiders took over at their 28-yard line.

A scramble by Carr, a short completion to wide receiver Seth Roberts and a taunting penalty on the Chiefs moved the Raiders to the Kansas City 45-yard line.  A pass interference penalty on the Chiefs gave the Raiders another first down at the 31.  From there, Carr went deep for Crabtree and he caught it for a touchdown.  Despite some contact and what looked like offensive pass interference, the play stood.  I know the Raiders were losing, but I still love to hear the crowd cry at Arrowhead Stadium.  It sounded like 70,000 babies crying at once as they protested the touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Chiefs led 23-17 with 2:01 to go in the game.

Janikowski tried an onside kick and it was recovered by the Chiefs at the Oakland 47-yard line.  The Raiders had all three of their timeouts and after three plays, the Chiefs punted.  With 1:34 to go and no timeouts, the Raiders had to go 89 yards.  They didn’t make it.  They didn’t even come close.  Instead of stretching the field, Carr was dumping off short passes and they looked totally out of sync.  The game came to an end as the Raiders were scrambling to get off one more play.  Time ran out and that was it.  The Chiefs won 23-17.  That was their tenth win in a row and that improved their record to 11-5.  The Raiders finished the year with a 7-9 record.  That’s a hell of a lot better than 4-12 or 3-13.  Still, there is a whole lot of work to do and they will be doing it without Charles Woodson.  This was his last game and I thought he did pretty damn good.  He was all over the field and finished the game with six solo tackles.  You will be sorely missed, Charles!  Maybe he can come back as a coach.  I’d love for that to happen.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 21 of 33 for 194 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  That’s not bad considering how much pressure he faced.  Clive Walford led the team in receptions with four and receiving yards with 46.  The running game performed horribly in this game.  All totaled, the Raiders rushed for 48 yards on 16 carries.  Latavius Murray was the leading rusher with 31 yards on 11 carries.  Nine of those yards came on one carry.  Defensively, Khalil Mack led the team in solo tackles with seven.

For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 14 of 24 for 156 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  Jeremy Maclin and Albert Wilson tied for the lead in receptions with three apiece.  Maclin had the most receiving yards with 54 and a touchdown.  On the ground is where the Chiefs did the most damage.  They rushed for 189 yards on 39 carries.  Spencer Ware was the leading rusher with 76 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.  Defensively, linebacker Derrick Johnson led the team in solo tackles with eight.  They terrorized Carr throughout the game and registered six sacks.

And that’s that.  The 2015 season is over for the Raiders and it’s the best season they’ve had in quite a long time.  With the exception of the opening game against the Bengals, they were in every game and lost some close ones.  It’s also nice to go into the off season without having to worry about who will be the head coach next year.  Jack Del Rio has done a fine job.  There isn’t a tyrant looming over him watching his every move.  Another good thing is there is no doubt as to who the starting quarterback is.  Carr finished the year with 32 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 3,987 yards.  He had some mental lapses and made some bad decisions, but he’s only in his second year.  He always wants to get better and I am confident that he will.  What will really be different is when draft day comes around, the Raiders won’t be drafting in the top five.  They will be drafting at the #14 spot.  Lots of areas need improvement and GM Reggie McKenzie needs to nail the pick.

Until the start of the 2016 season, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Raiders Defeat Chargers 23-20

For their 15th game of the year, the Oakland Raiders took on the San Diego Chargers.  The Chargers were coming off a 30-14 win over the Miami Dolphins and the Raiders were coming off a 30-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers.  Rumors were swirling that this may be the last game the Raiders play in Oakland.  I have no idea if that’s true or not.  But I do know this was the last game for Charles Woodson in Oakland.  After 18 years in the league, he was calling it quits.  Things did not get off to a good start for the Raiders.  They started at their 20 and on second and five from the 36, quarterback Derek Carr threw a pass intended for fullback Marcel Reece.  It was picked out of the air by defensive end Kendall Reyes.  I like to give credit where it is due and that was a great play.  He was brought down at the Oakland 32-yard line.

With very good field position, quarterback Philip Rivers led his offense on to the field in hopes of taking an early lead.  A holding call moved them back ten yards, but they rebounded nicely with a five-yard run by running back Donald Brown and a 23-yard pass to Brown.  On third and nine from the 13, Rivers located wide receiver Dontrelle Inman across the middle and he was dragged down at the one-yard line.  Two plays later, Brown took it up the middle for a touchdown.  Kicker Josh Lambo made the point after and the Chargers led 7-0 with 9:09 to go in the first quarter.

Return man Taiwan Jones returned the ensuing kickoff to the 23.  On first down, Carr connected with tight end Lee Smith for a gain of 17 yards and a first down at the 40.  Two runs by running back Latavius Murray and a short completion to wide receiver Michael Crabtree put the Raiders in San Diego territory.  A false start penalty was followed by a seven-yard pass to wide receiver Andre Holmes.  On second and eight from the 35, Carr was sacked by rookie linebacker Denzel Perryman for a loss of nine yards.  That moved them out of field goal range.  But on third and 17 from the 44, Carr connected with rookie tight end Clive Walford across the middle for a gain of 22 yards.  That was followed by a 22-yard touchdown run by Murray.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the score was 7-7 with 3:27 to go in the first quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions.  With 14:48 to go in the second quarter, the Chargers got the ball back at the Oakland  33-yard line.  That’s because defensive back Keith McGill was flagged for a facemask penalty on the punt return.  Rivers tried to get his tight ends involved and he completed an eight-yard pass to Antonio Gates and a 14-yard pass to Ladarius Green.  A short run by Brown and a seven-yard pass to wide receiver Javontee Herndon moved the ball to the seven-yard line.  From there, Rivers found Inman in the end zone for a touchdown.  Lambo made the point after and the Chargers led 14-7 with 11:05 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders started their next drive at their 25-yard line.  A short run by Murray and a completion to Holmes netted a first down at the 39.  From there, Carr scrambled for a gain of nine.  No he didn’t.  A flag was thrown and tight end Mychal Rivera was flagged for holding.  But three straight runs by Murray and an offside penalty on the Chargers got the Raiders a first down at the San Diego 39.  On third and two from the 31, I was expecting a run by Murray or a short pass.  Instead, Carr went deep for Holmes in the end zone.  He got his hands on it, but couldn’t haul it in.  Enter the Polish Cannon for a 50-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Chargers led 14-10 with six minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Chargers punted again and the Raiders took over at their 22 with 4:30 remaining.  Three plays gained seven yards and they lined up to punt.  What followed was a beautifully executed fake punt.  Safety Larry Asante ran up the right sideline and was pushed out of bounds at the 50.  Wait a minute.  Another flag was thrown.  Normally I refer to the officials as “zebras.”  With it being Christmas Eve, they will be referred to as “grinches.”  The penalty moved them back to the 24 and Marquette King got off a nice 54-yard punt.

With three minutes to go, Rivers broke out the no huddle offense.  Passes to Inman and running back Danny Woodhead quickly moved the Chargers to the Oakland 44-yard line.  Completions to Herndon and Inman set up a third and five from the 32.  Rivers threw to his left and the pass was caught by Gates.  Before he could get to the first down marker, he was dragged down by safety Taylor Mays.  Lambo came on and his 47-yard attempt was good.  At halftime, the Chargers led 17-10.

For almost the entire third quarter, neither team could get anything going.  When a nice gain occurred, a grinch was quickly there to nullify it with his little yellow flag.  With 3:32 remaining, the Chargers were back at at their nine-yard line.  On first down, Brown ran up the middle for two yards.  A false start penalty moved them back to the six.  Rivers looked for Green and the pass was incomplete.  That set up a third and 13 from the six.  Rivers took the snap and immediately felt pressure coming his way.  Defensive end Denico Autry got a hand on Rivers and dragged him to the ground for a safety.  You have got to be one hell of a strong man to drag Rivers down with one arm.  That made the score 17-12 with 2:05 to go in the third quarter.

The Raider offense still couldn’t get moving and King punted again.  The Chargers took over at their 16 and with the way the Raiders were playing on the offensive side of the ball, a touchdown here may put the game away.  A pass to Inman gained eight yards.  Then it was time for the Woodhead show.  He ran with the ball.  He caught passes.  The Chargers moved into Oakland territory again.  A completion to Green and another one to Woodhead put the ball at the 20-yard line.  On third and ten from the 20, Rivers looked for Woodhead again and the pass was incomplete.  A grinch threw a flag and the Chargers were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.  That moved them back to the 35 and Lambo came on for a 53-yard attempt.  It was good, but the grinches weren’t impressed.  They decided to penalize the Raiders for holding.

The Chargers took points off the board and continued their drive from the 30-yard line.  From the 30, Rivers went deep for the corner of the end zone and the pass was caught for a touchdown by Green.  Wait a minute.  The ball appeared to come loose as Green fell to the ground and the call was reversed.  That was a nice present from the grinch up in the replay booth.  A holding penalty moved the Chargers back to the 40 and and on third and 20 from the 40, Rivers completed a pass to Woodhead for a gain of ten.  Enter Lambo again.  This time his kick sailed wide left.  After possessing the ball for seven minutes and 38 seconds, the Chargers came away with no points.  I found that to be quite humorous.

It was the same old story for the Raiders.  They punted after three plays and with 6:24 to go in the game, the Chargers looked to control the ball again and run out the clock.  They started at their ten and got things off to a nice start with a 27-yard pass to Woodhead.  On second and nine from the 38, Rivers dumped off a short pass to tight end David Johnson.  As he was trying to gain some extra yardage, linebacker Malcolm Smith knocked the ball loose and it bounced into the hands of defensive end Benson Mayowa.  He was the recipient of some very nice blocking and he took it up the right sideline.  It looked like he was going to score, but he was pushed out of bounds at the three-yard line.  All the Raiders needed was three yards.  Three freaking yards and they would take the lead.  I was expecting Murray to get the call.  With Amari Cooper sidelined with a bad foot, I thought a running play would work nicely.  Wrong.  Carr threw a pass intended for Crabtree.  It was perfectly placed and Crabtree caught it for a touchdown.  That put the Raiders up 18-17.  A two-point conversion was the right call and Carr tossed a short pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts.  He caught it short of the goal line and ran it in for two points.

The Chargers started at their 20 and Woodhead and Inman got the Chargers rolling once again.  A 23-yard pass to wide receiver Malcolm Floyd moved the ball to the Oakland 45-yard line.  On third and ten from the 45, Rivers looked for Inman.  It was incomplete, but a grinch threw a flag.  The call was pass interference on cornerback D.J. Hayden.  It was the right call.  From the time the ball was snapped to the time it fell incomplete, Hayden was all over Inman.  That gave the Chargers a first down at the 30.  They would get as far as the 27.  With one minute to go, Lambo made a 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 20-20.  With little time remaining, the Raiders tried to get into field goal range.  That didn’t work and they were headed for overtime.

The Raiders won the coin toss and unlike the Patriots, they elected to receive.  From the 20, Reece caught a short pass and Holmes caught one on the left sideline for a gain of 16 yards.  That play was reviewed and the call stood as a completed pass.  That grinch up in the replay booth sure is a nice guy.  That’s when the grinches on the field went went to work.  Left tackle Donald Penn was flagged for holding.  A nice pass to Rivera was brought back due to a holding penalty on right tackle J’Marcus Webb.  THAT was holding?  Wow! Just….WOW!  Guard Jon Feliciano got in on the act and he was flagged for a false start.  On second and 29 from the 20, Carr hit Crabtree on the right side for a short gain.  Right after he caught the pass, he was nailed by Perryman.  Another flag flew and Perryman was penalized for unnecessary roughness.  That gave the Raiders a huge break and a first down at their 43-yard line.

Murray ran up the middle for four yards and Crabtree caught a pass for an eight-yard gain.  That put the ball at the San Diego 45-yard line.  Carr decided to go for it all on first down.  He threw a deep pass for Holmes in the end zone and it fell incomplete.  A false start on Walford moved them back to the 50.  From the 50, Crabtree caught a seven-yard pass.  Up next was the play the Raiders needed.  Carr fired a pass to Roberts.  It bounced off his hands and he regained possession of it.  He was bound and determined to get to the end zone.  It took about three defenders to finally drag him down at the ten-yard line.  From the ten, Woodson was brought into the game.  They tried some kind of crazy reverse with Woodson attempting to throw a pass.  He couldn’t find anyone open and was thrown for a loss of three yards.  Linebacker Manti Te’o started talking trash to Woodson at the end of the play.  Really?  Talking trash to a future Hall of Famer?  Idiocy knows no boundaries and we still haven’t been able to locate your girlfriend, Te’o.  The Raiders couldn’t locate the end zone and Janikowksi came on for a 31-yard attempt.  It was good and the Raiders led 23-20 with 8:05 remaining in overtime.

The Chargers started at their 20 and on second down, Rivers completed a five-yard pass to Woodhead.  Rivers looked for Woodhead again on third down and he was brought down by rookie linebacker Ben Heeney for a short gain.  That brought up fourth and three from the 27.  Rivers looked for Inman and the pass fell to the ground.  That was it.  Game over.  The Raiders came away with a 23-20 win.  That win improved their record to 7-8.  The Chargers fell to 4-11.  That’s the first time the Raiders have swept the Chargers since 2010.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 31 of 49 for 277 yards and one touchdown.  Dontrelle Inman and Danny Woodhead tied for the lead in receptions with eight apiece.  Inman had the most receiving yards with 82 and a touchdown.  On the ground, Woodhead led the way with 55 yards on 11 carries.  All totaled, the Chargers ran for a total of 72 yards on 25 carries.  Defensively, Denzel Perryman led the team in solo tackles with ten.  He also had a sack.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 23 of 38 for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 39 and a touchdown.  Latavius Murray led the way on the ground with 79 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.  He’s the first Raider running back to gain 1,000 yards in a season since Darren McFadden did it in 2010.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 106 yards on 24 carries.  Defensively, Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with 11.  He also forced a fumble that set up the go ahead touchdown for the Raiders.

This game was U-G-L-Y!!!!  The grinches were very busy and threw their flags every chance they got.  This game had 25 combined penalties for a whopping 196 yards.  16 of those penalties were on the Raiders for 121 yards.  Despite their efforts, the grinches couldn’t prevent the Raiders from getting a win.  The Raiders sent Woodson out in style.  He was given a microphone and demanded the Oakland crowd cheer “RAIDERS” over and over again.  Man, that sounded good!  He thanked them for all the support he received through the years and he looked genuinely humbled by the whole experience.  What I liked best was when he joined the NFL Network crew after the game.  He brought his two sons with him and one of them kept the “RAIDERS” chant going.  Then he said “My dad is the best player in the NFL!”  Charles looked at him and said “That’s my boy!”  Up next is a trip to Arrowhead Stadium for the season finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.  Until then, take it easy.

Happy New Year!

The Raider Guy

They Gave It Away!

The Green Bay Packers headed out to Oakland to take on the Raiders.  The Packers were coming off a 28-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys and the Raiders were coming off a 15-12 win over the Denver Broncos.  It was another dreary day in Oakland and kicker Sebastian Janikowski sent the opening kickoff six yards deep into the end zone.  Return man Jeff Janis ran it out and was brought down at the 16-yard line.  The Raider defense picked up where they left off against Denver and forced a quick three and out.  However, defensive end Mario Edwards left with a neck injury and would not return.  That was a big loss for the Raiders.

The punting continued as both teams were having a hard time moving the ball on the wet field.  The only one who was having any success was running back Latavius Murray.  With just under eight minutes to go in the first quarter, the Raiders were facing a third and long from their 17-yard line.  Quarterback Derek Carr looked for tight end Clive Walford across the middle and it was picked off by cornerback Micah Hyde.  He returned it to the two-yard line.  But the Packers were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the ball was placed at the Oakland 17-yard line.  Carr, that was truly a horrible throw.  What the hell were you thinking?  Three plays later, fullback John Kuhn ran it in from five yards out for a touchdown.  Kicker Mason Crosby made the point after and the Packers led 7-0 with 5:08 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders got the ball back at their 34 and Carr was picked off again.  This time it was rookie cornerback Damarious Randall.  He returned the ball untouched into the end zone.  Crosby made the point after and the Packers led 14-0.  This was about as bad a start the Raiders could have.  What’s up with you, Carr?  Don’t you know how to throw a football in the rain?  He was looking quite pissed off on the sideline and I was hoping he would get his act together and stop doing his best impression of Jay Schroeder.  He could start by throwing the ball to the guys in the BLACK jerseys!

The Raiders took over at their 20 with a whole lot of work to do.  On second down, Carr put a deep pass up the right sideline for wide receiver Amari Cooper.  The pass was incomplete, but Randall was flagged for pass interference.  That moved the ball to the 45-yard line.  Passes to Cooper, Crabtree and Holmes moved the Raiders to the Green Bay 11-yard line.  From the 11, Carr tossed a pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts.  He was wide open and he dropped the freaking ball.  I honestly couldn’t believe that he dropped such an easy pass to catch.  We wouldn’t be seeing Roberts anymore after that play as he left the game with an injury to his abdomen.  The drive would stall at the five and Janikowski came on for a 23-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and with 14:53 to go in the second quarter, the Packers led 14-3.

The Packers still couldn’t get much out of their offense and Tim Masthay punted again.  The Raiders started at their 22 and some great running by Murray and two completions to Crabtree moved the ball deep into Green Bay territory again.  But they couldn’t locate the end zone again and they would have to settle for another field goal attempt.  The 30-yard attempt was good and the Packers led 14-6 with 8:36 to go in the second quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions and with 4:58 remaining, the Packers got the ball back at their two-yard line.  On third and ten, the Raiders were flagged for having 12 men on the field.  That was highly stupid of them.  But they did something more stupid on the next play.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw deep for wide receiver Randall Cobb up the right sideline.  The pass was incomplete because cornerback T.J. Carrie was flagged for blatant pass interference.  Look for the ball, idiot!  The Packers moved quickly into Oakland territory.  On second and two from the 32, running back James Starks ran up the left side for a good gain.  But defensive end Benson Mayowa knocked the ball loose and recovered it at the Oakland 21-yard line.

That was the break the Raiders needed and on first down, Carr tossed a short pass to fullback Marcel Reece.  He turned it into a gain of 29 yards and the Raiders had a first down at the 50-yard line.  A 14-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera and a 17-yard run by Carr moved the Raiders to the 19.  From there, Carr threw to the end zone for Cooper and he caught it for a Raider touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Packers led 14-13 at halftime.

The Raiders did absolutely nothing on their first possession of the second half and Marquette King punted the ball away.  The Packers started at the 50 and three runs by Lacy set up a fourth and two from the Oakland 42-yard line.  Rodgers looked for Cobb and our old friend T.J. Carrie reared his ugly head again.  He was flagged for pass interference.  This time it was a 28-yard penalty and that put the Packers at the 14-yard line.  However, they couldn’t get the ball into the end zone and Crosby came on for a 24-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Packers led 17-13 with 10:18 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders started out at their 19 and on second and ten, Carr went deep for Cooper and he caught it for a gain of 41 yards and a first down at the Green Bay 40.  A nine-yard pass to Reece and a three-yard run by Murray got another first down at the 28.  From the 28, Carr looked for Cooper again and he caught it for his second touchdown of the game.  See what happens when you complete passes to guys in the black shirts, Carr?  Good things happen!  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 20-17 with 6:48 to go in the third quarter.

But that good feeling wouldn’t last long.  Janis returned the ensuing kickoff to the 47-yard line.  From there, Rodgers completed a 15-yard pass to wide receiver Jared Abbrederis.  That was followed by an eight-yard completion to former Raider wide receiver James Jones.  On second and two from the 30, I would really like to know what the Raider secondary was doing.  Rodgers took the snap and he had a choice of three receivers to throw to.  There were three receivers running down the field wide open and there wasn’t a Raider in sight.  Rodgers threw for Jones and he caught it for an easy touchdown.  It literally looked like the Raiders gave the Packers a touchdown.  Crosby made the point after and the Packers led 24-20 with 5:46 to go in the third quarter.

That’s when the Raider offense started to struggle.  The Packers were bringing lots of pressure and Carr was making many hurried throws.  After another punt by King, the Packers started their next drive from their five-yard line.  Passes to Cobb and Jones had them rolling into Oakland territory again.  On third and six from the 11, Rodgers threw to the end zone for Cobb.  It was incomplete and that was because cornerback D.J. Hayden didn’t look for the ball and was flagged for pass interference.  I am at a loss for words when it comes to how poorly the secondary played in this game.  That put the ball at the one.  But the defense kept the Packers out of the end zone and they would have to settle for another field goal attempt.  It was good and the Packers led 27-20 with ten minutes to go in the game.

The Packers continued to put pressure on Carr and on third and eight from the 28, he was sacked for a loss of 14 yards by linebacker Julius Peppers.  That forced another punt and the Packers got the ball back with great field position at the Oakland 36-yard line.  Three runs by Starks set up a first and goal at the five.  On third down, Rodgers looked for Jones in the end zone and he caught it for a touchdown.  Not so fast.  A flag was thrown and Jones was flagged for offensive pass interference.  That moved them back to the 15 and Crosby was called on again for another field goal attempt.  It was good and the Packers led 30-20 with 4:25 to go in the game.

The Raiders still couldn’t get anything going and decided to go for it on fourth and 14 from the 16.  Carr looked for Crabtree and the pass was incomplete.  The Packers took over deep in Oakland territory.  They decided that a ten-point lead with little time remaining wasn’t good enough.  From the 15, Rodgers looked for Janis in the end zone and the pass was picked off at the one-yard line by cornerback David Amerson.  He was the only Raider cornerback who knew what he was doing in this game.

The Raiders started at their one-yard line and managed to move the ball to the 36.  But on fourth and four, Carr’s pass to Reece was incomplete and the Packers got the ball back with 1:31 to go.  Three plays gained four yards and Crosby came into the game again.  This time, his field goal attempt was blocked by defensive end Denico Autry.  With little time remaining, the Raiders tried to mount a comeback and had no success.  Rodgers took a knee with three seconds remaining and the Packers won 30-20.  The win improved the Packers to 10-4 and the loss dropped the Raiders to 6-8.

For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers completed 22 of 39 for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  James Jones led the Packers in receptions with six and receiving yards with 82 and a touchdown.  The Packers gained 103 yards on the ground on 28 carries.  James Starks was the leading rusher with 51 yards on nine carries.  Defensively, linebacker Jake Ryan led the team in solo tackles with seven.  Julius Peppers also played well and had 2.5 sacks.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 23 of 47 for 276 yards, two touchdowns and two horribly thrown interceptions.  Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree tied for the lead in receptions with six apiece and Cooper had the most receiving yards with 120 and a touchdown.  He is the first Raider receiver to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season since Randy Moss did it in 2005.  He is also the first rookie receiver to have 1,000 yards in Raider history.  On the ground, Latavius Murray grinded out 78 yards on 21 carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 120 yards on 25 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with seven.  Khalil Mack was nowhere near as disruptive as he was against the Broncos.  He finished the game with one sack and one solo tackle.

The outcome of this game could have been a whole lot different if it weren’t for those two interceptions early in the game.  Carr basically gave the Packers 14 points.  Still, the Raiders had opportunities in the fourth quarter and the offense couldn’t get anything going.  I hate to lose.  I always have and I always will.  But all I need to do is think about 2014.  This time last year, the Raiders were 2-12.  They are very much improved and need some help in the secondary.  They will also need to replace Charles Woodson.  Earlier this week he announced that this will be his last year and is retiring.  His last game in Oakland will be this Thursday night against the Chargers.  Charles will be sorely missed.  We’ll be seeing him in Canton as he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Merry Christmas!

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

 

Look Out For That Mack Truck!

For their 13th game of the year, the Oakland Raiders traveled to Denver to face the Broncos.  The Raiders were coming off a very bad 34-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Broncos were coming off a 17-3 win over the San Diego Chargers.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowksi sent the opening kickoff through the end zone and the Broncos started at their 20-yard line.  Starting at quarterback for the injured Peyton Manning was Brock Osweiler.  The Broncos got moving early with two passes to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and an 11-yard run by running back Ronnie Hillman.  That was followed by a defensive holding penalty on the Raiders.  Just like that, the Broncos were already in Oakland territory.  On third and eight from the 40, Osweiler noticed that cornerback D.J. Hayden was lined up against wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.  Sure enough, Sanders cut the across the middle and Hayden was a day late and a dollar short.  Osweiler completed the pass for a gain of 11 yards and a first down at the 29-yard line.  But the drive would stall at the 25.  Kicker Brandon McManus came on for a 43-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Broncos led 3-0 with 9:42 to go in the first quarter.

Now, when it comes to the Raider offense, there really isn’t anything to talk about.  They looked like the Bad News Bears and Marquette King punted the ball away.  This would be a recurring theme as King had himself quite a workout.  The Broncos got the ball back at their 22 and Hillman ran for a gain of 11 yards.  Add a facemask penalty to the end of the run and the Broncos were already at the Oakland 48-yard line.  Another run by Hillman and a completion to wide receiver Jordan Norwood gave the Broncos another first down.  A short run by Hillman and two completions to tight end Vernon Davis inched the Broncos closer to the end zone.  However, the drive would come to an end at the 17 as Osweiler’s pass across the middle intended for tight end Owen Daniels was almost picked off by safety Charles Woodson.  McManus came on for a 35-yard field goal attempt and it was good.  With 2:05 to go in the first quarter, the Broncos led 6-0.

The Raiders really opened up the playbook on their next possession.  Quarterback Derek Carr attempted three passes and he completed one of them for four yards.  The other two were incomplete and King punted.  The Broncos took over at their 26-yard line and I was thinking if they scored a touchdown on this drive, this game might already be over.  Another catch by Thomas and another defensive holding penalty got the Broncos a first down at the 39.  Osweiler spread the ball around to four different receivers and the Broncos cruised into Oakland territory yet again.  From the 32, Osweiler dumped a short pass across the middle that was tipped in the air by defensive tackle Dan Williams.  It looked like a perfect opportunity for an interception, but Thomas dove for it and hauled it in for a gain of 16 yards.  From the 16, Osweiler found wide receiver Bennie Fowler for a gain of 12 and a first down at the four-yard line.  I thought “This is it.  If they score here, it’s all over.  With how bad the offense looks today, a 13-0 lead will be insurmountable.”  That’s when the Raider defense stepped it up.  Hillman was thrown for a loss of one on first down and he was thrown for a loss of five on second down.  On third and goal from the 11, Osweiler looked for Sanders and the pass was incomplete.  McManus had no trouble making a 29-yard field goal and the Broncos led 9-0 with 4:29 to go in the second quarter.

On second and ten from the 20, Carr completed a three-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree.  That was truly an awesome sight to see!  They actually gained some yards against the amazing Denver defense!  Somebody may want to inform offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave that you need ten yards to get a first down!  To top that off, the Broncos were really bringing the heat on Carr.  He had the deer in headlights look in his eyes and I was having flashbacks to the days when Jeff George was with the Raiders.  Another punt gave the Broncos the ball at their 37-yard line.

A couple of runs by Hillman and completions to Davis and Thomas once again put the Broncos in Oakland territory.  From the 37, Osweiler found Davis across the middle for a gain of 23 yards and a first down at the 14.  From the 14, Hillman took a pitch and was hit by defensive end Mario Edwards.  The ball came loose, but Hillman recovered it at the 19.  On third and 15 from the 19, Osweiler hooked up with Thomas across the middle and he was dragged down at the two-yard line.  With time running out in the half, Osweiler looked for tight end Virgil Green.  The pass was incomplete.  On second down the pass intended for Thomas in the end zone was dropped.  On third down, Osweiler looked for Thomas again and the ball was knocked away by cornerback T.J. Carrie.  With ten second to go, McManus came into the game again and his 20-yard attempt was good.  At halftime, the Broncos led 12-0.

The Raiders got the ball at their 20 to start the second half.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from them.  They had a grand total of -12 yards offense in the first half and the only first down they had was by a defensive holding penalty.  They didn’t even come anywhere near the 50-yard line.  Two runs by running back Latavius Murray gained six yards and on third and three from the 27, Carr rolled to his right and completed a short pass to Crabtree for a gain of four and a first down at the 31.  Look! They got a first down!  Sound the trumpets!  Let the pigeons loose!  Then things got really exciting as Carr hit tight end Mychal Rivera across the middle for a gain of 29 and a first down at the Denver 40-yard line.  That’s right.  I said the DENVER 40-yard line!  Wow!  This is getting good!  Murray was stuffed on first down, but tight end Clive Walford hauled in a pass for a gain of 25 and the Raiders were now in a place known as the “red zone.”  Personally, I have never been there.  But I hear it’s a pretty cool place.  From the 15, Carr found Crabtree again for a gain of eight yards.  Murray ran up the middle for a gain of one and that brought up third and one from the six.  A false start on Walford moved them back to the 11.  From the 11, Carr threw to the back left corner of the end zone and the pass was hauled in by wide receiver Seth Roberts for a touchdown.  See?  There really is an end zone!  All the stories about it being a fictional place were proven to be false!  Janikowski made the point after and the Broncos led 12-7 with 9:47 to go in the third quarter.

The Raider defense which had bent but never broke in the first half really stepped up their game in the second half.  On third and five from the 25, Osweiler was sacked by linebacker Khalil Mack for a loss of ten yards.  Britton Colquitt punted and the Raiders hoped to take the lead.  That didn’t happen.  King punted and the Broncos took over at their 24-yard line.  On third and three from the 31, Osweiler found Thomas on the right side for a gain of seven yards.  As Thomas fought for more yardage, rookie linebacker Ben Heeney knocked the ball loose and it was recovered at the 41 by Woodson.

That was the break the Raiders needed.  Two carries by Murray gained nine yards and on third and about a foot, I thought Carr would take it up the middle for a first down.  That would be incorrect.  Instead of trying a simple quarterback sneak, Carr dropped back to pass and was sacked for a loss of 12 yards by linebacker Shaquil Barrett.  Not only did that put the Raiders out of field goal range, it set me off like a firecracker.  I was screaming obscenities at the television and didn’t stop my tirade for a good five minutes.  If anybody was outside my house during that tirade, they probably would have called the police to report a domestic disturbance.  It was a golden opportunity and they failed miserably.  King punted and the Broncos took over at the 11.  The Raider defense continued to play well and forced another punt.

They were winning the field position battle in the second half, but the Raider offense still couldn’t get anything going.  King punted again and the ball rolled out of bounds at the Denver two-yard line.  On third and nine from the three, Mr. Mack made another appearance.  He sacked Osweiler in the end zone and the ball came loose.  There was a mad scramble and it was recovered by center Max Garcia.  I was really hoping a Raider would come out of the pile with the ball, but a safety is better than nothing.  I think Mack felt the same way I did.  When they showed him on the sideline, he looked very unhappy.  I like that.  He made a great play and the result was only a safety.  He wanted a touchdown.  With 1:50 to go in the third quarter, the Broncos led 12-9.

Colquitt punted from the Denver 20 and return man Jeremy Ross returned it to the 33.  But a flag was thrown and the Raiders were penalized for holding on the return.  They would get one first down before having to punt again.  King got off a high punt and Sanders muffed it.  While he was trying to recover it, he kicked it and the ball was recovered by long snapper Jon Condo at the Denver 11-yard line.  Surely the Raiders could go 11 yards and and take the lead, right?  On first down, Carr looked for Rivera and the pass was incomplete.  That was followed by a false start.  On second and 15, Carr looked for wide receiver Amari Cooper in the end zone and it was incomplete.  The reason it was incomplete was cornerback Aqib Talib pulled on Cooper’s jersey and grabbed his facemask while the ball was in the air.  Cooper pleaded his case to the zebra who did his best impression of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes.  He said “I know nothing.”  This caused me to jump from my couch to the ceiling fan.  As I was spinning around, I was screaming “That was pass interference!”  So, that made it third and 15 from the 16.  Carr took the snap and put one up to Rivera in the end zone.  He caught it, bobbled it and regained possession for a touchdown.  Instead of trying the extra point to go up by four points, head coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for two.  The pass intended for Walford fell incomplete and I was once again baffled.  Why the hell did they go for two?  It turns out Condo was hurt when he recovered that muffed punt and wasn’t available to snap the ball for an extra point attempt.  With 14:26 to go in the game, the Raiders led 15-12.

The Broncos started at their 20 and on second down, Daniels caught a pass over the middle for a gain of 32 yards.  Another catch by Thomas and a scramble by Osweiler got them a first down at the Oakland 37-yard line.  On second and seven from the 34, Mack got loose again and sacked Osweiler for a loss of two yards.  From the 36, Osweiler found Davis on the left side, but he was quickly brought down by linebacker Malcolm Smith.  McManus came on for a 49-yard field goal that would tie the game up.  The snap was good, the hold was good and the kick was high enough, it was long enough and…..BOINK!  It hit the left upright and it was no good.  The Raiders dodged another bullet and the score remained 15-12 with 10:22 to go in the game.

Both teams punted on their next possessions.  With 6:49 to go, the Raiders got a good punt return from Ross and took over at the Denver 47-yard line.  On first down, Carr went deep for Walford and he caught it for a gain of 21 yards.  Two runs by Murray and an incomplete pass to Cooper meant it was time for Janikowski to try a 43-yard field goal.  Condo was back, but his snap was high.  King got it down, but the kick sailed wide left.  This was not surprising to me.  Janikowski is a creature of habit.  For him, the snap and hold have to be perfect.  Any distraction usually results in a missed attempt.  The score remained 15-12 with 5:07 remaining.

The Broncos started their next drive at their 33-yard line.  Mack got to Osweiler again for his fourth sack of the game and on fourth and five from the 38, the Broncos decided to go for it.  Davis was wide open, Osweiler fired a strike right to him and Davis dropped the ball.  The sound of all those groaning Bronco fans was quite pleasant.  Starting at the Denver 38, I knew if the Raiders could put a drive together, they could put the game away.  It’s nice to think such positive thoughts, but to actually have them score a touchdown would be a miracle.  On second and nine from the 36, Murray ran up the left side, saw no daylight and tried to reverse his field.  He was making some progress, but Cooper was flagged for a blatant block in the back.  That moved them back to the 45.  Instead of trying to get back into field goal range, Musgrave called three straight running plays that lost five yards.  All I could think of was a quote from Forrest Gump.  “Stupid is as stupid does.”  King punted and with 2:35 to go, the Broncos had the ball at their eight-yard line.

Completions to Hillman and Daniels quickly moved the ball to the 23.  Another pass to Hillman got them to the 29.  That’s when Mack made his presence known again.  He sacked Osweiler for a loss of eight yards.  From the 21, Osweiler looked for Sanders and the pass was incomplete.  Sanders was blasted by Carrie as he tried to catch the ball and I was waiting for a flag to be thrown.  But there was no flag.  That brought up fourth and 12 from the 21.  Osweiler took the snap and was immediately pressured by defensive end Denico Autry.  As Autry was taking him down, Osweiler made a feeble attempt to complete a pass to Thomas.  It was incomplete and the Raiders came away with one of the ugliest freaking wins I have ever seen!  That 15-12 win improved their record to 6-7.  The loss dropped the Broncos to 10-3.  In both of their games against the Raiders this year, the Broncos failed to score an offensive touchdown.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 12 of 29 for 135 yards and two touchdowns.  Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford tied for the lead in receptions with three apiece.  Rivera led the team in receiving yards with 49 and a touchdown.  Amari Cooper was targeted eight times and had zero catches.  I like the fact that Carr realized his receivers were having no success getting open and he turned to his tight ends to move the ball.  They also had very little success on the ground.  Latavius Murray led the team in rushing with 27 yards on 16 carries.  All totaled, the Raiders rushed for 27 yards on 23 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Curtis Lofton led the team in solo tackles with eight.  But the star of the show was Khalil Mack.  The Broncos had no answer for him as he sacked Osweiler five times.  No Raider has sacked a quarterback five times since Howie Long did it against the Redskins in 1983.  Mack now leads the league in sacks with 14.

For the Broncos, Brock Osweiler completed 35 of 51 for 308 yards.  Demaryius Thomas had the most receptions with 10 and receiving yards with 95.  Just like the Raiders, the Broncos found it hard to run the ball.  They gained just 34 yards on 21 carries.  Ronnie Hillman was the leading rusher with 20 yards on 12 carries.  11 of those yards came on one carry.  Defensively, linebacker Todd Davis and cornerback Chris Harris tied for the lead in solo tackles with four apiece.

You could argue that the game would have been completely different if Peyton Manning was playing.  He has a much quicker release than Osweiler and those four field goals in the first half may have been touchdowns.  The outcome may have been different if Davis had caught that pass in the fourth quarter.  There was nobody within ten yards of him and he couldn’t make the catch.  That’s what could have happened if you live in the world of “what if?”  In reality, the Raiders got out of Denver with a hard fought win.  It doesn’t get any easier next Sunday as the Green Bay Packers will be coming to Oakland.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

Chiefs Defeat Raiders 34-20

So here I sit on a Monday morning after another Raider loss.  I am really sick and tired of this crap.  Sometimes I think I take the losses worse than the players.  That’s probably true in some degree.  After all, they get paid no matter how well or badly they perform.  I need something to get me going.  They say drinking a lot of coffee can get you going.  Well, I never developed a taste for coffee.  I think I’ll tune into the Full Metal Jacket channel on Sirius Radio.  That’s a little better.  Some heavy guitar rhythms, high speed guitar solos, growling vocals and insanely quick drum beats are a good way to get me going.  Here we go.

For their 12th game of the year, the Oakland Raiders faced the Kansas City Chiefs in damp conditions at the crumbling Oakland Coliseum.  Kicker Cairo Santos sent the opening kickoff deep into the end zone and the Raiders would start their first drive of the day from their 20-yard line.  Two runs by running back Latavius Murray and a short pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree moved the ball to the 33.  From there, Murray got loose.  He was pushed out of bounds at the Kansas City 29-yard line.  On first down from the 29, quarterback Derek Carr found rookie tight end Clive Walford for ten yards.  An unnecessary roughness penalty on the Chiefs put the ball at the nine-yard line.  Three plays later, Murray ran up the middle, stretched out his arm and put the ball in the end zone for a Raider touchdown.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with 10:25 to go in the first quarter.  That was a nice drive.  I was feeling full of sunshine and happiness.

Return man Knile Davis returned the ensuing kickoff to the 34.  Add a ten-yard penalty on cornerback Neiko Thorpe for illegal use of hands and the Chiefs started from their 44.  A defensive holding penalty on the Raiders gave the Chiefs five more yards.  From the 49, quarterback Alex Smith found wide receiver Jeremy Maclin across the middle and the Chiefs were in Oakland territory.  A couple of carries by running back Charcandrick (That’s an original name) West and yet another defensive holding penalty on the Raiders moved the Chiefs closer to the end zone.  On third and nine from the 25, Smith tossed a short pass to Maclin for a gain of 16 yards.  The Raiders really need to work on how to defend bubble screens.  Two plays later, Smith took it in for a touchdown.  Santos made the point after and the score was knotted 7-7 with 4:58 to go in the first quarter.  So much for being full of sunshine and happiness.

The Raiders took over way back at their 14-yard line because they haven’t been able to find a decent kick returner all year.  On first down, Carr went deep for Cooper.  The pass was incomplete, but the Chiefs were flagged for pass interference.  A short run by Murray, another catch by Walford and a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts put the Raiders at the Kansas City 43.  Two carries by Murray and one by fullback Marcel Reece came up short of the first down marker.  On fourth and short from the 35, the Raiders came out with an empty backfield and five receivers.  Carr took the snap and fired a bullet to Cooper.  It hit him in the hands and he dropped it.  Just like that, the Chiefs got the ball back at their 35-yard line.

On second down from the 41, Smith found Maclin for another big gain.  As he was fighting for more yards, the ball came loose and it  was recovered by safety Charles Woodson.  That gave the Raiders good field position, but they couldn’t capitalize.  Marquette King punted and pinned the Chiefs at their five-yard line.  They went three and out and the Raiders got the ball back at midfield.  Again, they couldn’t capitalize.  What’s with the short passes on third and long?  STRETCH THE FIELD!!!!!!!!!!!

A little while later, the Raiders were again given good field position and again they couldn’t put a drive together.  Hell, they couldn’t even get a first down!  Both King and Dustin Colquitt were really getting a good workout as the score remained 7-7 with time ticking away in the second quarter.  With 1:15 to go at the Oakland 42-yard line, Smith completed a pass to tight end Travis Kelce.  As Kelce tried to get a few more yards, the ball came loose and once again, Woodson was there to pick it up.  He returned it to the Kansas City 36 and with 53 seconds to go, the Raiders tried once more to find the end zone.  Short passes to tight end Mychal Rivera and Roberts put the ball at the 25.  From there, Carr threw a frozen rope for Crabtree in between two defenders.  Crabtree hauled it in for a beautiful touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 14-7 at halftime.  That warm and fuzzy feeling I had earlier had returned as I hoped the Raiders could build on their lead at get a win.  It’s nice to have hope.  But reality is what really matters.  Read on for the details of a truly disgusting fourth quarter.

The Chiefs started at their 20 and West got things off to a good start for the Chiefs with an 18-yard run up the middle.  Smith was sacked for a loss of three yards by Khalil Mack, but he made up for that with a pass to wide receiver Albert Wilson.  The pass was a short one and the Raiders had several defenders in the area to take him down.  But nobody could wrap him up and he ran up the right sideline for a gain of 17 and a first down at the Oakland 48-yard line.  The Chiefs slowly inched toward the end zone and a long pass to Kelce moved them to the 18.  On third and two from the ten, running back Spencer Ware ran up the left side for a touchdown.  Santos made the point after and the score was tied 14-14 with 9:16 to go in the third quarter.

Another horrible kickoff return by Ross had the Raiders starting out at their 17-yard line.  Passes to Walford and Crabtree got them moving again.  Cooper finally got in on the action and caught a pass for 13 yards.  A 15-yard pass to running back Roy Helu and a roughing the passer penalty put the ball at the six-yard line.  Two plays later, Carr looked for tight end Lee Smith and found him on the right side for his first touchdown of the year.  That was followed by another first as Janikowski missed the extra point.  That’s the first one he’s missed in a very long time.  With 2:12 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders led 20-14.

The Raider defense did a great job and forced another three and out.  Colquitt punted and the Raiders looked to build on their lead.  From their 36, Carr and the offense went to work.  They put together a nice drive with passes to Crabtree and Cooper.  Add in some more tough running by Murray and things were looking good.  But things were about to get very bad for the boys in the black uniforms.  On first down from the Kansas City 33, Crabtree broke free and was wide open.  Carr saw him, but the pass was high and Crabtree couldn’t catch it.  On second down, the Chiefs brought the pressure and instead of taking a sack, Carr tried to throw a pass.  Big mistake.  It landed in the hands of linebacker Josh Mauga.  He saw nothing but green grass in front of him and headed for the end zone.  He was dragged down at the Oakland two-yard line.  From there, Smith tossed a pass to Maclin for a touchdown.  The extra point was no good and the score was tied 20-20 with 11:17 to go in the game.

The Raiders took over at their 20 and once again started to quickly move the ball into Kansas City territory.  But on second and ten from the Kansas City 49, Carr was picked off by rookie cornerback Marcus Peters.  It looked like there was some major miscommunication between Carr and Crabtree on that play.  Carr threw it right to Peters and he returned it to the Oakland 13-yard line.  From the 13, the Chiefs decided to try another screen to Maclin.  Surely the Raiders would be ready for it.  WRONG!  Maclin caught the pass, sidestepped a few defenders and cruised into the end zone.  Santos missed the extra point badly.  That made it 26-20 with 7:52 to go in the game.

The Raiders started at their 24 and it only took three plays to move down to the Kansas City 24.  Two passes to Roberts and one to Cooper had me thinking they could take a 27-26 lead.  Wrong again!  From the 24, Murray was stuffed for no gain.  Then Carr was sacked for a loss of seven yards.  That was followed by an incomplete pass.  Janikowski came on for a 48-yard field goal attempt and it was no good.  The defense forced another three and out and Carr had another opportunity to lead his team to victory.

That didn’t happen.  On first down from the 15, Murray ran up the middle for no gain.  On second down, Carr threw a short pass to Murray for a gain of one yard.  What’s with this horrible play calling?  A run up the middle?  A screen?  How about some no huddle with passes that actually go past the line of scrimmage?  What are they going to try on third down?  Why not have Carr take a knee?  I was going out of my mind!  That’s when the final shot was fired.  Carr looked for Cooper and the pass was picked off by a former Raider.  Safety Tyvon Branch returned it all the way for a touchdown.  The Chiefs successfully made a two-point conversion and went up 34-20 with 3:14 to go.  Don’t you just love it when a player that used be on your favorite team scores the touchdown that puts the game away?  No, I didn’t think you did.  34-20 was the final score and the Chiefs improved their record to 7-5.  The loss dropped the Raiders to 5-7.  That basically ends their hopes for the playoffs.  That truly sucks.  But one thing I need to remember is that this time last year, the Raiders were 1-11.  So, they are improved, but there is still a lot of work to do.

For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 16 of 22 for 162 yards and two touchdowns.  He also scored on a three-yard touchdown run.  Jeremy Maclin led all receivers in receptions with nine and receiving yards with 94 and two touchdowns.  On the ground, Charcandrick West was the leading rusher with 35 yards on nine carries.  As a team, the Chiefs rushed for 89 yards on 22 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Derrick Johnson led the team in solo tackles with 13.  He also had a sack and a forced fumble.  The Chiefs did a good job of applying pressure on Carr and sacked him four times.  Not having Rodney Hudson at center really hurt the Raiders.  Of course, the Chiefs didn’t have linebacker Justin Houston.  If he played, I am sure the Chiefs would have had more than four sacks.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 31 of 48 for 283 yards, two touchdowns and three brutal interceptions.  Michael Crabtree and Clive Walford tied for the lead in receptions with five apiece.  Amari Cooper led the team in receiving yards with 69.  Latavius Murray finally got moving and racked up 86 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.  Defensively, Khalil Mack led the team in solo tackles with five.  He also sacked Smith twice.  Just like the Chiefs, the Raider defense had four sacks.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Raiders next week.  They will be heading to Denver to play the Broncos.  After that, the Packers will be coming to Oakland.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

 

Music City Madness

For their 11th game of the year, the Oakland Raiders traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Titans.  The Raiders were coming a filthy 18-13 loss to the Detroit Lions and the Titans were coming off a 19-13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Titans had been having trouble moving the ball in recent weeks and this game was no exception.  The Raiders were also having trouble moving the ball and all I saw early in this game was punt after punt.  But with 8:23 to go in the first quarter, the Titans got the ball back at their 12-yard line.

On first down, rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with tight end Delanie Walker across the middle for a gain of 36 yards.  Another pass to Walker and an 11-yard completion to wide receiver Harry Douglas moved the ball to the Oakland 35.  A personal foul on defensive tackle Dan Williams gave them 15 more yards and the Titans were knocking on the door.  From the 20, Mariota threw for the end zone and the pass was caught by tight end Chris Stevens for a touchdown.  The extra point was blocked and there was a mad scramble for the ball.  Cornerback T.J. Carrie recovered it and flipped it to defensive end Denico Autry.  Autry proceeded to run it all the way back for what looked like a safety.  WRONG!  There was a flag on the play.  Carrie was flagged for an illegal forward pass and all that running by Autry was for nothing.  With 5:53 to go in the first quarter, the Titans led 6-0.

The Raiders started their next drive at their 23-yard line.  Quarterback Derek Carr completed a short pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper and that was followed by a 38-yard pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts.  He was dragged down at the Tennessee 34-yard line.  Carr was sacked for a loss of seven yards on the next play, but followed that up with a pass to running back Latavius Murray that was good for 23 yards.  From the 17, fullback Jamize Olawale ran up the middle for ten yards and a first down at the seven-yard line.  From the seven, Carr took the snap, rolled to the right and found wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 7-6 with 1:34 to go in the first quarter.

After another punt by the Titans, the Raiders took over at their four-yard line with 9:11 to go in the second quarter.  Completions to Crabtree and Cooper moved the ball to the 40.  A short run by Murray and a scramble by Carr set up a third and two from the 48.  Murray ran up the left side for six yards and a first down at the Tennessee 46-yard line.  On second down, Carr floated a pass up the right side that was caught by rookie tight end Clive Walford for a gain of 14 yards.  An 11-yard pass to Cooper was good for another first down.  On third and six from the 18, Carr was flagged for a false start.  Really?  Give me a break, zebras!  Carr seemed undeterred from such a stupid penalty and found Roberts across the middle for a gain of 17 yards and a first down at the five-yard line.  But they would go no further and Janikowski came on for a 24-yard field goal.  The kick was good and the Raiders led 10-6 with 55 seconds to go in the second quarter.

The Titans took over at their 26 and Mariota completed a 22-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.  Next was a nine-yard pass to Walker.  That was followed by two incomplete passes and the Raiders got the ball back at their 44 with ten seconds to go.  Carr completed a nine-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera.  With two seconds left and the ball sitting at the Tennessee 47, I thought we would see Janikowksi try a long field goal.  Why not?  He’s made long kicks throughout his entire career and there was absolutely nothing to lose with only two seconds to go.  Instead, head coach Jack Del Rio opted for the offense to run another play.  Carr completed a pass to Roberts and he headed up-field with no resistance from the Titans.  All of a sudden, Roberts saw a couple of defenders and started to run in the opposite direction as he looked for someone to lateral the ball to.  As he continued to do his impression of Jim Marshall, he flipped the ball to Carr and Carr took a knee.  I must admit I have never seen a half end like that before.

The second half started and the sky opened up with heavy rain.  Raiders return man Jeremy Ross returned the kickoff to the Oakland 31-yard line and the Raiders went to work.  Four straight carries by Murray moved them to the 47-yard line.  From the 47, Carr went deep for Cooper and he hauled it in for a gain of 41 yards and a first down at the Tennessee 12-yard line.  Three plays later, Carr tossed a short pass to the left that was caught by Roberts.  He faked a defender out of his shoes and dove into the end zone.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 17-6 with 10:45 to go in the third quarter.

The Titans took over at their 20 and on second down, Carrie was flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Titans a first down at the 34-yard line.  Three plays later, Carrie was flagged again.  This time it was for defensive holding.  It was the right call.  He literally had Walker in a bear hug.  Running back Antonio Andrews ran up the left side and was pushed out of bounds at the Oakland 45-yard line.  A scramble by Mariota and another run by Andrews put the ball at the 33.  From there, Mariota found tight end Anthony Fasano for a gain of 17 yards and a first down at the 16.  Two plays later, Mariota lofted a pass up the left side for Douglas.  Cornerback Neiko Thorpe got there way too early and hit Douglass while the ball was still in the air.  But Douglas still made the catch for a touchdown.  The Titans decided to go for two and Mariota found Green-Beckham in the end zone for a successful two-point conversion.  With 6:22 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders led 17-14.

It’s been a while since the Raiders have had a decent kick returner.  I don’t think Ross is the answer either.  He fielded the ensuing kickoff at the one-yard line, started to head up-field and promptly fumbled.   The Titans pounced on it and took over at the Oakland 18-yard line.  This was a golden opportunity for them to take the lead.  On first down, defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack sacked Mariota for a loss of seven yards.  That was followed by an eight-yard pass to Walker.  On third and nine from the 17, Mariota completed another pass to Walker and he was brought down at the five-yard line.  Not so fast my friend.  Walker was flagged for offensive pass interference and that moved the Titans back to the 27.  From there, Mariota threw to the right side for wide receiver Kendall Wright.  Cornerback David Amerson stepped in front of it for a very timely interception.  The Raiders took over at their 19 and dodged a huge bullet.  But they weren’t able to capitalize on the turnover and punted.

As the rain continued to fall, both offenses were having a very hard time.  With 11:43 to go in the game, the Raiders got the ball back at their 23-yard line.  Two carries by Murray and an offside penalty on the Titans moved the ball to the 39.  Olawale ran up the middle for seven yards and the Raiders were doing a good job of moving the ball on the ground and taking time off the clock.  That was until Carr fumbled the snap and the Titans recovered the ball at the Oakland 42-yard line.  To say I was livid after that fumble would be an understatement.  “We can’t lose to the Titans!  They’re 2-8!  They have a rookie quarterback!  Why the hell can’t we win on the road?  Take me back to 1976!”  Those were some of the things I said after that fumble.  I said some other things that I can’t repeat here.

From the Oakland 42,  Andrews ran up the middle and he was stuffed for a loss of one yard.  That was followed by an incomplete pass.  It was now third and 11.  A stop here would most likely force the Titans to punt.  They would have none of that.  Mariota completed a pass to Andrews that was good for 14 yards and a first down at the 29.  A short run by Andrews and a seven-yard pass to Wright set up a third and one from the 20.  Running back Jalston Fowler got the call and he ran up the middle for a yard.  But another flag appeared and Mack was flagged for unnecessary roughness.  That put the Titans at the nine-yard line.  Three plays later, Mariota looked for Douglas in the end zone and the pass was incomplete.  I sat there and counted to three.  Once I reached three, a flag appeared.  Thorpe was flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Titans a first down at the one.  From there, Mariota completed a pass to Fowler for a touchdown.  Kicker Ryan Succop made the point after and the Titans led 21-17 with 4:41 to go in the game.

Ross returned the kickoff to the 31-yard line.  At least it looked like he did.  That’s when the zebras attacked with their little yellow flags once more.  The Raiders were flagged for an illegal block above the waist and would start their next drive at the ten-yard line.  Completions to Crabtree, Roberts and Cooper got the Raiders moving in the right direction.  The pass to Roberts was good for 31 yards and the Raiders were at the Tennessee 38-yard line.  But the next three plays netted only two yards.  On fourth and eight from  the 36, Carr launched a deep pass for Andre Holmes in the end zone.  It was incomplete and it looked like the Titans would come away with a win.  Wait!  Stop!  Hang on a minute!  Put the gun down!  There was a flag on the play.  Judging from the reaction by Carr, it was on the Titans.  Cornerback B.W. Webb was flagged for defensive holding.  I literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  That gave the Raiders new life at the 31-yard line.  From the 31, Carr found Rivera for a gain of 19.  From the 12-yard line, Carr threw for Roberts in the end zone and he made the catch for a Raider touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 24-21 with 1:21 to go in the game.

It was just about then that my pessimistic inner voice chimed in.  He said “Did the Raiders score too quickly?  1:21 is an eternity in the world of football.”  The Titans took over at their 20 and Mariota threw incomplete passes on first and second down.  On third down, I had my eyes on Delanie Walker.  I KNEW Mariota would look for him across the middle.  Now if I knew that, why didn’t the Raiders?  Sure enough, Walker caught a pass across the middle for a gain of 27 yards.  All 50 of the soaked Titan fans stood up and cheered as it looked like their team may have a shot at tying the game up.  From the 47, Mariota threw to the left for Green-Beckham and the pass was picked off by safety Nate Allen.  That sealed the win for the Raiders.  That 24-21 win improved the Raiders to 5-6 while the Titans fell to 2-9.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 24 of 37 for 330 yards and three touchdowns.  Amari Cooper led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 115.  But the star of the show was Seth Roberts.  He caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.  They still had a tough time moving the ball on the ground.  Latavius Murray was the leading rusher with 59 yards on 22 carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 84 yards on 30 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with eight.  Khalil Mack had two sacks and now has seven for the season.  Another defender that had a great game was cornerback David Amerson.  He was thrown at nine times and allowed one catch for five yards.  He defended six passes, one pass was incomplete and he also had a huge interception.  Get this kid a contract right now!

For the Titans, Marcus Mariota completed 17 of 37 for 218 yards, three touchdowns and two very costly interceptions.  Delanie Walker led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 91.  The Titans went nowhere on the ground as they totaled 44 yards on 18 carries.  Antonio Andrews led the team with 32 yards on 11 carries.  11 of those yards came on one carry.  Defensively, linebacker Avery Williamson led the team in solo tackles with seven.

Well, this was far from a perfect win for the Raiders.  But I don’t care if the score is 49-45 or 6-3.  Just as long as they win.  I’d like to give a huge shout-out to the Raider Nation.  It looked like there were more Raider fans in attendance than Titan fans.  They were loud and proud and soaked from the torrential rain.  Nashville is 2,291 miles from Oakland and the Raider fans still came out in droves.  They truly are everywhere!

The Raiders won this game without center Rodney Hudson and linebacker Neiron Ball.  Another player was dressed but saw very little action.  That was cornerback D.J. Hayden.  The only time I heard his name called was for holding on a punt return.  I don’t know what the future holds for him.  At times he looks like he knows what he’s doing, but for the most part, he looks lost out there.  I really do think the Raiders will be addressing the secondary in the draft next year.  I would prefer them to draft defensive end Shaq Lawson out of Clemson, but that’s down the road.  Up next is a home game against the Chiefs.  After a 1-5 start, they have won five in a row.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy