The Oakland Raiders headed east to Detroit to take on the Lions. They were coming off a 30-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and the Lions were coming off a big 18-16 win over the Green Bay Packers. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski sent the opening kickoff deep and rookie return man Ameer Abdullah returned it to the 22-yard line. Quarterback Matt Stafford got things off to a good start with a pass to wide receiver Golden Tate. Like usual, cornerback DJ Hayden was several steps behind and finally dragged him down after a 19-yard gain. That was followed by a pass to running back Theo Riddick that moved the Lions into Oakland territory. Completions to Abdullah, Tate and a run by running back Joique Bell put the ball at the two-yard line. Bell was stuffed on first down and a holding penalty moved them back ten yards. Two shots at the end zone ended up incomplete and the Lions would have to settle for a field goal attempt from kicker Matt Prater. His 29-yard attempt was good and the Lions led 3-0 with 7:54 to go in the first quarter.
The Raiders looked like they did in the second half against the Vikings. They went nowhere on their first possession and Marquette King punted the ball away. The Lions took over at their 25 and Stafford completed a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Calvin Johnson on first down. On third and one, Stafford tossed a short pass to Bell and he took it 18 yards to the Oakland 48-yard line. Another pass to Johnson and some runs by Abdullah moved the ball to the 19. But they would go no further as Stafford was sacked for a loss of three yards by defensive end Benson Mayowa. That meant it was time for another field goal attempt. Prater had no problem with his 41-yard attempt and the Lions led 6-0 with 31 seconds to go in the first quarter.
The Raiders managed to get a couple of first downs on their next possession and punted again. Then the Lions punted it right back to the Raiders. The punting went on for quite a while with neither offense doing anything worth writing about. With 2:40 to go in the half, the Lions got the ball back at their 10-yard line. Passes to Tate and Johnson moved them to the 44. On third and 15 from the 39, Stafford went deep for Johnson and it was good for a gain of 36 yards and a first down at the Oakland 25-yard line. An intentional grounding penalty moved them back ten yards and the drive stalled at the 33. With seven seconds on the clock, Prater came on again and nailed a 51-yard field goal. At the end of the first half, the Lions led the Raiders 9-0. I was very unhappy with the offense. But that’s nothing new. The words “Raiders” and “happy” are rarely used in the same sentence.
Things got off to a good start for the Raiders in the second half. Quarterback Derek Carr hooked up with wide receiver Seth Roberts for a gain of 43 yards and a first down at the Detroit 37-yard line. Two carries by running back Latavius Murray and a defensive holding call on the Lions gave them another first down at the 30. A 15-yard catch by wide receiver Michael Crabtree and a scramble by Carr moved the Raiders to the three-yard line. Fullback Marcel Reece was stopped on first down and got the call again on second down. Once again he was stopped short of the end zone. Center Rodney Hudson was injured on this play and he did not return. On third down, Murray took it in from one yard out. Janikowksi made the point after and the Lions led 9-7 with 10:24 to go in the third quarter.
The Raider defense started to play better and on third down from the 35, Stafford was sacked again for a loss of eight by defensive end Denico Autry. The Lions punted and the Raiders took over at their 48-yard-line. It looked like Crabtree was the only receiver who knew what he was doing in this game. He caught two more passes on this drive and the Raiders moved down to the Detroit 30-yard line. The drive would come to an end there and Janikowksi came on for a 48-yard attempt. He nailed it and the Raiders led 10-9 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Lions went three and out and the Raiders started their next drive from their 27-yard line. A 15-yard pass interference penalty on the Lions and a 21-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera quickly moved the Raiders into Detroit territory. But they wouldn’t get much further. The drive stalled at the 38 and they brought the Polish Cannon in again. This time it was a 56-yard attempt. He blasted it through the uprights and the Raiders led 13-9 with 15 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Stafford went to the no huddle and the Raiders simply couldn’t stop him. Completions to Riddick, Tate and Johnson moved them to the Oakland 23. From the 23, Stafford couldn’t find an open receiver. But he found the entire right side of the field was wide open and he took off for an 18-yard gain. He enjoyed running the ball so much that he did it again on the next play for a five-yard touchdown. Prater made the point after and the Lions led 16-13 with 11 minutes to go in the game.
The Raiders started their next “drive” from the 21-yard line. On first down, Carr was sacked by defensive end Ziggy Ansah. On second down, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave called for a run up the middle. Even though your backup center is in the game and it’s second and 15, you call a run up the middle? Wow! That was brilliant! Murray was stuffed for a loss of five yards. They ended up punting again and King got off a nice 66-yard punt that was fielded by Tate at the Detroit 12 and returned to the 26-yard line. They went three and out and pinned the Raiders at their eight-yard line.
That high-flying offense that we saw earlier in the year was a distant memory and it only got worse. The Raiders were flagged for holding on first down and that moved them back to the four. That was followed by another drop by wide receiver Amari Cooper. If he had caught that pass it may have gone for a long gain. In order to gain lots of yards, you have to catch the ball first. Lord, just shoot me now! Things got a lot worse from there. Left tackle Donald Penn was flagged for holding in the end zone and that gave the Lions a safety and an insurmountable 18-13 lead with 7:22 to go in the game.
The Lions took over at their 30 and proceeded to hold on to the ball for the remainder of the game. Riddick, Bell and Abdullah all contributed and they moved the ball to the Oakland three-yard line. Stafford took a knee and the Lions came away with a 18-13 win. The loss dropped to the Raiders to 4-6 and the Lions improved to 3-7.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 13 of 25 for 169 yards. Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with six and Seth Roberts had the most receiving yards with 54. As for the ground game? There’s not much to speak about. As a team, they rushed for 50 yards on 21 carries. 16 of those yards came on one play. Wow! Talk about a garbage running game! Defensively, Khalil Mack had himself a solid day with eight solo tackles and two tackles for a loss. He was all over the place and put lots of pressure on Stafford.
For the Lions, Matt Stafford completed 22 of 35 for 282 yards. He also rushed for 31 yards and scored the only touchdown. Golden Tate led the team in receptions with eight and Calvin Johnson led the team in receiving yards with 88. On the ground, the leading rusher was Ameer Abdullah with 44 yards on 12 carries. As a team, the Lions rushed for 109 yards on 31 carries. Defensively, cornerback Quandre Diggs led the team in solo tackles with six.
Something stinks in Oakland and it’s mostly on the offense. Is it the horrible play calling? Is it Carr throwing passes off his back foot? Is it the dropped passes? It doesn’t matter if it’s at home or on the road and it’s a combination of everything. It needs to be corrected quickly! On defense, things weren’t as bad as they have been. They sacked Stafford four times and forced the Lions to punt five times. Still, they couldn’t come up with a stop when they needed one in the fourth quarter.
Things also got much better when middle linebacker Curtis Lofton wasn’t on the field. He looks totally lost out there and rookie linebacker Ben Heeney had a good day. Neiron Ball should be coming back next week and that might keep Lofton off the field permanently. Up next is a trip to Nashville for a game against the Tennessee Titans. They lost last Thursday night to the Jaguars and are having a rough time. One thing I noticed is they are able to get to the quarterback. Carr better pray that Hudson and Lee Smith are back to protect him. Until then take it easy.
Happy Thanksgiving from The Raider Guy!