September 26, 2017

Raiders Run Over Broncos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

Welcome To Yellow Hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy

 

 

An Ugly Day In The Sunshine State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy

 

 

Chiefs Defeat Sloppy Raiders, 26-10

Week six of the 2016 season had the Kansas City Chiefs paying a visit to the Oakland Raiders.  The Chiefs were coming off a bye week and the Raiders were coming off a 34-31 win over the San Diego Chargers.  The Chiefs won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Cairo Santos kicked the game off and return man Jalen Richard fielded the kick at the four-yard line.  He returned it to the Kansas City 46 and the Raiders started the game out with good field position.  Despite the rainy conditions, quarterback Derek Carr took to the air and three completions to wide receiver Amari Cooper moved the ball to the four-yard line.  On second and goal from the three, Carr found wide receiver Andre Holmes in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders went up 7-0 with 12 minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Chiefs would punt on their first possession of the game.  But they would get the ball back very quickly because Carr was picked off by cornerback Marcus Peters at the Kansas City 43-yard line.  That truly was a horrible pass by Carr.  Quarterback Alex Smith and the Kansas City offense took the field again.  A 21-yard completion to tight end Travis Kelce and three carries by running back Spencer Ware put the Chiefs at the Oakland 25-yard line.  On third and eight from the 23, Smith looked for wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas and he made the catch for a gain of eight and a first down at the 15.  Carries by running backs Charcandrick West and Jamaal Charles had the Chiefs knocking at the door and on first and goal from the two, Ware took it into the end zone.  Santos made the point after and the game was tied 7-7 with 2:16 to go in the first quarter.

On their next possession, the Raiders started at their 22 and decided to give their running game a look.  Two carries from running back DeAndre Washington gained eight yards.  On third and two from the 30, Carr hooked up with wide receiver Seth Roberts for a gain of 19 yards.  Passes to Cooper and wide receiver Michael Crabtree netted another first down at the Kansas City 38.  But a holding penalty moved them back ten yards.  That was followed by a fumble by Carr that was recovered by Washington.  A completion to Cooper put the Raiders back into field goal range.  But the 52-yard attempt sailed wide left and the score remained tied at 7-7.

The Chiefs took over at their 42 and quickly marched down the field with ease.  The rain certainly wasn’t bothering them.  Screen passes to Charles and a deep pass to wide receiver Albert Wilson set the Chiefs up with a first and goal from the four-yard line.  Charles capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.  Santos missed the extra point and the Chiefs led 13-7 with 7:11 to go in the first half.

The Raiders took over at their 24 and Carr and Cooper continued to hook up for big gains.  A 24-yard pass to Cooper moved the Raiders to the Kansas City 37.  That was followed by an eight-yard pass to Holmes.  But Richard was thrown for a loss of three on second down and Roberts dropped a pass that hit him right in the hands on third down.  Instead of trying another field goal, head coach Jack Del Rio decided to go for it.  What followed was one of the worst passes I have ever seen.  Carr looked for Roberts on the left side and he put up a balloon that was so poorly thrown that nobody could catch it.

The Chiefs took over at their 32 with 3:10 remaining.  Passes to wide receivers Chris Conley and Jeremy Maclin had the Chiefs in Oakland territory again.  On third and one from the 18, Ware was stuffed for a loss of two by defensive end Stacy McGee.  Santos came into the game for a 38-yard field goal attempt and it sailed wide left.  With time running short, Carr went to work and passes to Cooper and tight end Clive Walford put the ball at the Kansas City 28-yard line with one second to go.  This time, Janikowski would make his 46-yard attempt and at halftime, the Chiefs led 13-10.

The good news for the Raiders is that they only allowed the Chiefs to score 13 points in the second half.  The bad news for the Raiders is that they put up exactly zero points in the second half.  Poor execution on the offensive side of the ball was a big factor.  Also, the defense couldn’t get to Smith, force a turnover or stop their running game.  Add all that up and you have a 26-10 victory for the Chiefs.  That win improved their record to 3-2 and the loss dropped the Raiders to 4-2.  Another record that improved was Chief head coach Andy Reid.  His teams are now 15-2 after bye weeks.

For the Chiefs, Alex Smith had a very efficient game and completed 19 of 22 for 224 yards.  Jeremy Maclin, Chris Conley and Travis Kelce tied for the lead in receptions with three apiece.  Maclin had the most receiving yards with 49.  The running game was working on all cylinders as the Chiefs racked up 183 yards on 40 carries.  Spencer Ware was the leading rusher with 131 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.  Defensively, linebacker Derrick Johnson led the team in solo tackles with seven.  He also had two tackles for a loss.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 22 of 34 for 225 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  He also fumbled twice and lost one of them in Kansas City territory.  Amari Cooper led the team in receptions with 10 and receiving yards with 129.  Nine of those catches were made in the first half.  When DeAndre Washington was given the chance, he ran the ball very well and ended up leading the team in rushing with 49 yards on 10 carries.  Unfortunately when you’re down all game, the running game gets abandoned.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 65 yards on 17 carries. Defensively, rookie safety Karl Joseph led the team in solo tackles with seven.

This truly was a sloppy game for the Raiders.  While they were slipping and sliding and basically stinking up the joint, the Chiefs were executing their game plan perfectly.  It’s time to right the ship.  The next two games for the Raiders are at Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.  Maybe they’ll do better on the road.  After all, their record in road games is 3-0.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Raiders Defeat Chargers, 34-31

Week five matched the Oakland Raiders up with the visiting San Diego Chargers.  The Chargers were coming off a 35-34 loss to the New Orleans Saints and the Raiders were coming off a 28-27 win over the Baltimore Ravens.  The Chargers won the coin flip and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Josh Lambo sent the opening kickoff through the end zone and the Raiders started at their 25-yard line.  On second and ten from the 39, quarterback Derek Carr attempted to throw a screen pass to running back DeAndre Washington and the ball was picked off by defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.  He was brought down at the 30-yard line.

With very good field position, quarterback Philip Rivers and his offense looked to capitalize on the turnover.  On third and two from the 22, Rivers completed a pass across the middle to tight end Antonio Gates.  He was hit by linebacker Perry Riley and the ball fell to the ground.  Safety Reggie Nelson recovered it and the Raiders got the ball back at their 11-yard line.

On third and ten, Carr completed an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper.  Three plays later, Carr looked for Cooper again and he caught the pass for a gain of 26 yards and a first down at the San Diego 45-yard line.  Then, Carr was sacked for a loss of one yard and right guard Gabe Jackson was flagged for holding.  That moved the Raiders back to their 44.  From the 44, Carr tossed a short pass to running back Jalen Richard and he took it down to the San Diego 34 for a first down.  A couple of carries by Richard and completions to Washington and wide receiver Michael Crabtree put the Raiders at the three-yard line.  On third down from the two, Carr floated a pass for Cooper in the end zone.  He caught it, but failed to get both feet in bounds.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came into the game and his 20-yard field goal attempt was good.  With four minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Raiders led 3-0.

On the first play of their next possession, Rivers went deep down the middle for wide receiver Travis Benjamin and the ball was picked off by cornerback Sean Smith.  He returned the ball to the San Diego 32-yard line and the Raiders looked to capitalize.  But two false starts and some pretty conservative play calling got them nowhere.  To top it off, Janikowski missed a 50-yard field goal attempt.  In other words, opportunity knocked and the Raiders failed to answer.

The Chargers took over at their 40-yard line.  Completions to Benjamin and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman moved them to midfield.  A neutral zone infraction on the Raiders gave them five more yards.  Three carries by running back Melvin Gordon and a completion to Gates put the ball at the 29.  From there, Rivers went deep for wide receiver Tyrell Williams and he hauled it in for a touchdown.  Lambo made the point after and the Chargers led 7-3 with 13:07 to go in the first half.

The Raiders took over at their 25.  Completions to Cooper, Washington and a 17-yard run by fullback Jamize Olawale quickly put them at the 50.  Another pass to Cooper and some more running by Richard gave the Raiders a first down at the eight-yard line.  But once again, they couldn’t get the ball into the end zone.  Janikowski came on and his 26-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 7:13 remaining in the first half, the Chargers led 7-6.

Another deep kickoff meant the Chargers would start at their 25 again.  A false start moved them back five yards.  From the 20, Rivers looked for Benjamin and he made the catch and ran up the right sideline for a gain of 54 yards and a first down at the Oakland 26-yard line.  But the drive would stall at the 18 and Lambo had no problem making his 36-yard field goal attempt.  With 4:24 remaining, the Chargers led 10-6.

The Raiders punted on their next possession and the Chargers would try to put one more scoring drive together before the half ended.  On third and 16 from the 18, Rivers launched a deep bomb for no one in particular and the pass was picked off by rookie safety Karl Joseph.  He returned the ball to the San Diego 44-yard line and now the Raiders had a shot to score before halftime.  But Carr was sacked by rookie defensive end Joey Bosa for a loss of 12 yards on first down.  But two passes to Richard gained 18 yards and with two seconds to go, the Polish Cannon was brought into the game for a 56-yard attempt.  He blasted the ball through the uprights and at halftime, the Chargers led 10-9.

The Chargers started the second half from their 25 and on first down, Rivers was sacked by defensive end Stacy McGee.  The ball came loose and rolled to the left side of the field.  The Chargers were able to recover it and they would make the Raiders pay for not recovering that fumble.  From the 20, Rivers completed a pass to tight end Hunter Henry.  As he was running down the field, I was wondering where the Raiders were.  There wasn’t a black jersey in sight!  Smith finally pushed him out of bounds at the Oakland 21-yard line.  Two plays later, the Chargers executed a perfect screen pass to Gordon and he took it into the end zone untouched.  Lambo made the point after and the Chargers led 17-9 with 12:31 remaining in the third quarter.

The Raiders took over at the 25 and on third and ten, Carr completed an 11-yard pass to Crabtree.  Two plays later, he went deep for Cooper up the left side.  Cooper caught the ball in stride and took it all the way for a 64-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Chargers led 17-16 with 11:25 to go in the third quarter.

Return man Dexter McCluster returned the ensuing kickoff to the 25 and Rivers decided to go deep down the middle again.  Despite there being two defenders in the area, Williams made the catch at the Oakland 25-yard line.  From there, Gordon ran up the right side and was brought down at the one-yard line.  From the one, Rivers found Henry in the end zone for an easy touchdown.  Lambo made the point after and the Chargers led 24-16 with 5:29 to go in the third quarter.  All those deep passes made this game resemble a shootout from the good old days.

Another kickoff through the end zone put the Raiders at their 25-yard line again.  A completion to wide receiver Seth Roberts and some solid running by Washington moved the Raiders into San Diego territory again.  But on third and eight from the 32, Carr opted to throw a short pass to Olawale and it was good for only two yards.  That meant they had to call on the kicker again.  Janikowski had no trouble making his 48-yard attempt and the Chargers led 24-19 with 4:41 to go in the third quarter.

On first down from the 25, Gordon ran up the middle.  If Nelson hadn’t been there to trip him up, he most likely would have scored on a 75-yard touchdown run.  Instead, he only picked up nine yards.  Gordon got the call again on second down and he was hit by McGee.  The ball came loose and Joseph pounced on it at the 38-yard line.  That was the break the Raiders needed and on second and six from the 34, Carr scrambled for six yards and a first down at the 28.  Three plays gained seven yards and head coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for it on fourth and three instead of kicking another field goal.  As the play clock went down to single digits, it looked like Carr was going to try and draw the Chargers offside.  But he took the snap and floated a pass up the right side that was hauled in by Crabtree for a touchdown.  Now THAT was a gutsy call! I was very impressed.  They decided to go for two and Carr found Cooper in the end zone for a successful two-point conversion.  With 1:09 to go, the Raiders led 27-24.

With six seconds to go in the third quarter, the Raiders finally forced the Chargers to punt.  I was wondering if that was ever going to happen.  Fortune smiled on the Raiders as rookie punter Drew Kaser shanked the punt out of bounds.  It only went 16 yards and the Raiders got the ball back at the San Diego 32-yard line.  Richard got the drive off to a good start with an 11-yard run.  Washington ran up the right side for six yards and wide receiver Andre Holmes made a nice catch on the left sideline for a gain of eight and a first down at the seven-yard line.  From the seven, Carr fired a strike that was caught by Cooper for an apparent touchdown.  After a lengthy zebra convention, the Chargers were flagged for pass interference and the ball was moved to the one-yard line.  Olawale capped the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run.  Janikowksi made the point after and with 12:46 to go in the game, the Raiders led 34-24.

Now that they had a ten-point lead, I was really hoping the Raiders could forced another turnover and put this game away.  That didn’t happen.  From the 25, the Chargers went to work.  Passes to Benjamin and Henry moved the ball to the 49.  A pass to Gates and a short run by Watt netted a first down at the Oakland 40-yard line.  Another catch by Benjamin and some more running by Gordon set up a first and goal at the seven.  Two plays later, Rivers tossed a short pass to the left and Gates hauled it in for a touchdown.  Lambo made the point after and the Raiders led 34-31 with 6:21 to go in the game.

All the Raiders needed to do was get some first downs and eat some time off the clock.  But the Chargers had other ideas and they forced the Raiders to punt after just three plays.  Marquette King punted and the Chargers would take over at their 33-yard line.  Passes to Benjamin and Williams moved the Chargers to the Oakland 27-yard line.  From the 27, Rivers found Benjamin for a gain of eight yards.  On third and two, Gordon got the call again and despite what the blind announcers said, he was brought down short of the first down marker.  Lambo came into the game for what looked to be a pretty easy field goal attempt to tie the game.  The snap looked good, but Kaser couldn’t hang on to it and the ball slipped through his hands.  It was recovered at the 35 and with two minutes to go, all the Raiders had to do was get one first down and the game would be over.

But that didn’t happen.  Three plays gained two yards.  With 20 seconds to go, King got off a high 51-yard punt and McCluster returned it to the 21.  With 11 seconds to go, the Chargers needed a miracle.  Rivers completed a pass across the middle to Benjamin and he tried to lateral it back to another receiver.  But the ball rolled out of bounds and just like that, the game was over and the Raiders came away with a 34-31 victory.  That win gave them a 4-1 record and they are tied for first place in the AFC West with the Denver Broncos.  It was another heart-breaker for the Chargers and they fell to 1-4.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 21 of 30 for 359 yards, four touchdown passes and two interceptions.  Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin combined for 12 receptions and 234 yards.  Williams also had a touchdown.  On the ground, Melvin Gordon gained 69 yards on 16 carries and caught one touchdown pass.  As a team, the Chargers rushed for 72 yards on 19 carries. Defensively, cornerback Casey Hayward led the team in solo tackles with eight.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 25 of 40 for 317 yards, two touchdown passes and one interception.  Amari Cooper and Jalen Richard led the team in receptions with six apiece.  Cooper had the most receiving yards with 138 and a touchdown.  Richard was the leading rusher with 31 yards on eight carries.  All totaled, the Raiders rushed for 89 yards on 25 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Perry Riley led the team in solo tackles with six and also forced a fumble.  Not bad for a guy they just picked up off of waivers on Tuesday.  Stacy McGee also had a good game with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

Well, it certainly wasn’t pretty.  The Raider defense gave up lots of big plays and didn’t put much pressure on Rivers.  But they did force four turnovers.  Also, there was a lot of holding by the Chargers.  But the zebras didn’t seem to notice and they were never flagged for holding.  Speaking of flags, the Raiders were flagged only six times for 36 yards.  That’s a nice improvement from last week.  Up next is a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.  They are coming off a bye week and they’ll be ready for the Raiders.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Road Warriors

The fourth game of the 2016 season had the Oakland Raiders heading east once again.  This time their destination was Baltimore, Maryland to take on the Ravens.  The Raiders were coming off a 17-10 win over the Tennessee Titans and the Ravens were coming off a 19-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Ravens won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Justin Tucker kicked off the game with a relatively short kick and return man Jalen Richard returned it to the 29.  Know what happened next?  Absolutely nothing.  Instead of stretching the field, the Raiders opted to run the ball up the middle and throw short passes against the stout Baltimore defense.  The Ravens were having some success running the ball and quarterback Joe Flacco completed some passes that went for big gains.  The problem for the Ravens was that every time they did something right, the zebras would throw a flag and a nice play would be wiped out by a penalty.

With 2:37 to go in the first quarter, punter Sam Koch got off a 47-yard punt that was fielded by Richard at the Oakland 47-yard line.  He started up the right side, made a quick move across the middle and saw nothing but daylight.  He was pushed out of bounds at the Baltimore six-yard line by Koch.  Quarterback Derek Carr and the Raider offense took the field with hope that they could capitalize on that great field position.  Carr took to the air on first down and found wide receiver Seth Roberts open for a touchdown.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with 1:25 to go in the first quarter.

Janikowski sent the ensuing kickoff seven yards deep into the end zone and return man Devin Hester ran it out.  He turned on the speed and ran up the right sideline.  He was finally pushed out of bounds at the Oakland 47 by Janikowski.  On third and three from the 40, Flacco connected with wide receiver Steve Smith across the middle for a gain of 17 and a first down at the 23-yard line.  A five-yard pass to tight end Dennis Pitta and a seven-yard pass to running back Javorius Allen moved the ball to the 11.  They would get as far as the five-yard line and the drive would stop there.  Tucker came into the game and his 24-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 12:51 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders led 7-3.

Both teams punted on their next possessions and with eight minutes remaining, the Raiders took over at their 20.  A four-yard run by running back Latavius Murray and a completion to wide receiver Michael Crabtree moved the Raiders to the 41-yard line.  Two more carries by Murray and completions to wide receiver Amari Cooper and Roberts put the Raiders at the Baltimore 33-yard line.  From the 33, running back DeAndre Washington got loose and was pushed out of bounds at the five-yard line.  From the five, Carr found Crabtree in the end zone for another Raider touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 14-3 with 4:09 to go in the second quarter.

With 1:43 remaining in the first half, the Raiders punted and the Ravens started their next drive at their 12-yard line.  Raider punter Marquette King was having himself a very good game and continuously put the Ravens deep in their own territory.  On third and seven from the 15, Flacco hooked up with wide receiver Breshad Perriman for a gain of 15 and a first down at the 30.  Another catch by Perriman and a 17-yard reception by fullback Kyle Juszczyk gave the Ravens a first down at the Oakland 45-yard line.  Flacco found Smith again for a gain of 20 yards.  But the drive stalled at the 25-yard line.  Tucker came into the game and his 43-yard field goal attempt was good.  At halftime, the Raiders led 14-6.

Neither team could move the ball on their first possessions of the third quarter.  At the 9:40 mark, the Ravens started out at their 28.  Running back Terrance West got a couple of carries and quickly moved the Ravens into Oakland territory.  West got another carry and the ball was knocked loose.  Despite there being several Raiders in the area, the Ravens were able to recover the fumble.  A few more carries by West and completions to tight end Crockett Gillmore put the ball at the 16.  The Ravens continued to give the ball to West and two more carries set the Ravens up with a first and goal from the two.  Three plays gained one yard and on fourth and goal from the one, Flacco dove into the pile and came away with a touchdown.  They decided to go for two and tie the game up.  But cornerback Sean Smith picked off the pass and the attempt was unsuccessful.  With 2:41 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders led 14-12.

After the Raiders went three and out again, the Ravens got the ball back at their 23.  They wouldn’t have it for very long.  On third and six from the 38, linebacker Bruce Irvin finally got to Flacco for a sack and the ball came loose.  It was recovered by defensive end Denico Autry at the 29.  This gave the Raiders good field position and a chance to increase their lead.  Two carries by Washington netted nine yards and on third and one, they tried a pitch to Murray and that didn’t work.  He was thrown for a five-yard loss.  To top that off, guard Gabe Jackson was flagged for unnecessary roughness.   That made it third and 17 from the 36.  Carr hooked up with Cooper and he was brought down just short of the first down marker.  That’s when I said “You better go for it!  No field goal attempt!”  Head coach Jack Del Rio listened to me and the Raiders lined up to go for it.  Carr was calling all kinds of signals and the Ravens jumped offside.  That was a nice gift of five yards and the Raiders kept their drive alive.  On third and eight from the 13, Carr looked for Crabtree again and found him open in the end zone for a touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 21-12 with 11:11 to go in the game.

The Ravens went nowhere on their next possession and Raider linebacker/defensive end Khalil Mack finally got his first sack of the year.  Koch punted and the Raiders took over with eight minutes to go.  I thought one more score would definitely put the Ravens away.  What followed was three plays that aren’t even worth writing about.  King punted again and the Ravens had an opportunity to close the gap with 6:50 to go.  Flacco took the snap from his 48-yard line and threw over the middle for Smith.  He caught it and proceeded to run untouched into the end zone.  That was one hell of a play and it sent the Baltimore faithful into a frenzy.  Tucker made the point after and the Raiders led 21-19 with 6:27 remaining.

Things would get worse for the Raiders.  On second and 18 from their 17-yard line, Washington ran up the middle and fumbled.  The ball was recovered at the 17 by cornerback Tavon Young.  That was exactly what the Ravens needed to take the lead.  Two carries by West and a pass to Juszczyk put the Ravens at the three-yard line.  West would take it in on the next play and wide receiver Mike Wallace caught a pass for a successful two-point conversion.  Wallace would be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and Tucker would be kicking off from the 20-yard line.  With 3:36 to go, the Ravens led 27-21.

Richard returned the kickoff to the 34 and Carr and the Raiders quickly went to work.  Two passes to Crabtree and one to tight end Clive Walford put the Raiders at the Baltimore 23.  This actually had me concerned.  There is such a thing as scoring too fast and I thought the Raiders were going to do that and give the Ravens plenty of time to drive down the field and kick a field goal to win the game.  On second and ten from the 23, Carr floated a pass to the end zone and Crabtree got control of the ball and had both feet in bounds for a touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders went up 28-27 with 2:21 to go in the game.

Hester returned the kickoff to the 21.  West ran up the left side for a gain of 18 and two passes to Smith moved the ball to the 50.  With 1:02 to go, it looked like the Ravens had plenty of time to go in for the kill.  A pass on first down was incomplete.  The Raiders stepped up their pressure on Flacco and his next two passes were incomplete.  On fourth and ten from the 50, I thought they would try to get the ball to Smith across the middle again.  The ball was thrown across the middle intended for wide receiver Kamar Aiken.  Safety Reggie Nelson broke it up and that sealed the deal.  Carr took a knee and the Raiders left Baltimore with a 28-27 victory.  That win improved the Raiders to 3-1 and the loss dropped the Ravens to 3-1.  What’s really amazing is the Raiders are 3-0 on the road.  The last time they started out with a perfect road record was 2002.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 25 of 35 for 199 yards and four touchdown passes.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 88 and three touchdowns.  There wasn’t much room to run and as a team, the Raiders rushed for only 62 yards on 19 carries.  DeAndre Washington was the leading rusher with 30 yards on five carries.  Defensively, rookie linebacker Cory James had himself a great day with 12 solo tackles, a tackle for a loss and a forced fumble.  One thing that still needs to be cleaned up is the penalties.  The Raiders were flagged 12 times for 93 yards.  The Ravens weren’t much better as they racked up ten penalties for 105 yards.

For the Ravens, Joe Flacco completed 32 of 52 for 298 yards and one touchdown pass.  Steve Smith led the team in receptions with eight and receiving yards with 111 and a touchdown.  Unlike the Raiders, the Ravens had lots of room to run and racked up 130 yards on 26 carries.  Terrance West was the leading rusher with 113 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown.  Defensively, linebacker C.J. Mosley led the team in solo tackles with seven.

Up next for the Raiders is a home game against the San Diego Chargers.  The Chargers are coming off a horrible loss in which they blew a 13-point lead and lost 35-34 to the New Orleans Saints.  Seeing as the Oakland Athletics didn’t qualify for the post season, the dirt infield will be gone.  That’s great news because I hate that damn infield.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

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.