September 25, 2017

You Like That? No, I Don’t Like That

For their third game of the year, the Raiders headed east to face the Washington Redskins.  The Raiders were favored to win this game and after what I saw on the second play, I wondered why they were favored.  Carr had been playing very well in the first two games of the year.  But on the second play, he lofted a deep pass for Cooper.  Cooper was double covered and the pass was picked off very easily.  That was only the beginning of a horrible night for the Raiders.  The “elite” offensive line got pushed around and Carr was sacked four times.  Cooper and Crabtree dropped balls that hit them right in the numbers.  There was nowhere to run for any of the running backs either.  The Redskin defense looked unbeatable.

Things were bad for the Raiders on defense too.  Although they did manage to put quite a bit of pressure on Cousins, he was still able to get rid of the ball.  After he got rid of it, his intended receiver was usually wide open.  The only bright note for the defense is they held the Redskin running game to 3.4 yards per carry.  But their passing game was thriving.  Cousins completed 25 of 30 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns.  Running back Chris Thompson had an awesome game.  He led the team with six catches for 150 yards and one touchdown.

Despite getting their asses kicked up and down the field, the Raiders did have a couple of opportunities.  They recovered a fumbled punt deep in Washington territory and capitalized with a touchdown pass from Carr to Cook.  Cook was the only guy who could get open and he led the team in catches with four and yards with 43.  Later in the game, the Raiders recovered another fumble deep in Washington territory.  The ball was recovered at the 12.  A pass interference penalty on the Redskins moved the ball to the four.  That sounds like Marshawn Lynch time, right?  Wrong.  Instead of running the ball, they called three pass plays.  Every pass was incomplete and two of them were almost intercepted.  They had to settle for a field goal.  This has been going on since the season started.  They get inside the five-yard line and throw on every down.  Why the hell don’t they give the ball to Lynch?

Well, would you like to hear some statistics?  Do I really have to write this?  I guess I do.  Much to the delight of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, the Redskins won 27-10.  They out-gained the Raiders in total yardage 472-128.  The Raiders went 0 for 11 on third down conversions while the Redskins were 7 for 15.  The Redskins held on to the ball for 38:06 while the Raiders only had the ball for 21:54.  The Redskins ran 65 plays and the Raiders ran only 48 plays.  The Redskins had 18 first downs and the Raiders had only seven.  Two of those first downs were by penalty.  The Raiders sacked Cousins once and the Redskins sacked Carr four times.  The Redskins turned the ball over twice and the Raiders turned it over three times.  Amazingly, the Raiders were penalized only four times for 35 yards.  The Redskins were penalized ten times for 77 yards.

What gets me is the schedule makers gave the Raiders a break.  Instead of having this game start at 1:00 Eastern time, they made it a night game.  The Raiders were riding the momentum of two good wins and they came out flat.  One thing I have noticed about Carr is that if he gets pressured early, he doesn’t play nearly as well.  He was playing scared throughout the the game and a lot of his passes were over-thrown.  Also, the weakest link on the offensive line was exposed.  Right tackle Marshall Newhouse was pushed around like a rag doll.  He needs to be replaced.  Put Vadal Alexander in there or maybe give rookie David Sharpe a shot at right tackle.

Well, things don’t get any easier for the Raiders.  Up next is yet another road game.  In week four, they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos.  They are coming off a loss to the Buffalo Bills and I am sure they’ll be ready for the Raiders.  Raider fans can only hope that the loss to the Redskins was a bump in the road.  If it wasn’t, it’s going to be a long season.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Raiders Defeat Jets 45-20

Up next for the Oakland Raiders was a visit from the New York Jets.  The Jets were coming off a 21-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills and the Raiders were coming off a 26-16 win over the Tennessee Titans.  The Raiders won the coin flip and elected to receive.  An unnecessary roughness penalty on tight end Lee Smith doomed this drive from the start.  All he did was push an opposing player after a play was over.  Players push each other all the time.  But Jeff (Overprotective father) Triplette and his crew of zebras didn’t see it that way and threw the flag.  On third and 11 from the 15, the Raiders called a simple running play and punter Marquette King punted them out of trouble.

The Jets gained two yards on their first possession and punted the ball right back to the Raiders.  From the Oakland 19-yard line, quarterback Derek Carr went to work.  A four-yard carry by running back Marshawn Lynch got things off to a nice start.  From the 23, Lynch got the call again.  But this time he tossed the ball back to Carr.  Carr found wide receiver Michael Crabtree wide open for a gain of 26 yards and a successful flea-flicker.  More carries by Lynch, a short pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper and a carry by wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson put the Raiders at the New York 17-yard line.  On third and four from the 11, Carr tossed a short pass to running back DeAndre Washington.  Washington ran up the right side and was pushed out of bounds at the two.  Everyone was certain that Lynch was going to get the call from there.  The Jets put nine men in the box and were ready for Lynch.  Carr noticed this and called an audible.  He took the snap and tossed a high pass to the corner of the end zone.  Crabtree made the catch for a touchdown.  Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with 2:21 to go in the first quarter.

The Jets did manage to get a first down on their next possession, but ended up punting as quarterback Josh McCown was sacked by defensive end Mario Edwards on third and long.  The Raiders took over at their 15-yard line.  A nice run by running back Jalen Richard was brought back by a clipping penalty on left tackle Donald Penn.  That penalty moved them back to the eight.  But they quickly overcame that bad field possession with completions to Cooper and tight end Jared Cook.  On second and 11 from the 31, Richard caught a pass across the middle and took it all the way to the New York 30-yard line.  Three plays later, Carr floated a pass up the right side.  It was a little under-thrown, but Crabtree adjusted and hauled the pass in for his second touchdown of the day.  Tavecchio made the point after and the Raiders led 14-0 with 12:55 to go in the second quarter.

The Jets took over at their 25.  A carry by running back Elijah McGuire and a pass to wide receiver Neal Sterling had the Jets moving in the right direction.  On second and six from the 43, McCown completed a short pass to running back Matt Forte.  Linebacker Bruce Irvin hit Forte and he was stopped for no gain.  However, more flags were thrown after the play.  For the second consecutive week, Irvin was flagged for unnecessary roughness.  Granted, it was a hard tackle, but Forte wasn’t injured.  The zebras saw it differently.  Head coach Jack Del Rio was going out of his mind and I was surprised he didn’t get flagged.  Maybe they should play two hand touch from now on.  That will assure the almighty commissioner that none of his players ever get hurt again.  That penalty put the Jets in Oakland territory.  On third and two from the 34, McCown went deep up the right side and the pass was caught by wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.  Cornerback David Amerson was there with good coverage, but the pass was perfectly thrown and Kearse caught it for a touchdown.  Kicker Chandler Catanzaro made the point after and the Raiders led 14-7 with 9:08 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders were able to move from their 15 to the 44.  But on third and two from the 44, Carr felt some pressure from the right side and he had to hurry his throw intended for Cook.  The pass was incomplete and King punted again.  The Jets looked to even the score.  A carry and a reception by Forte got them moving again.  On first down from the 33, running back Bilal Powell got a carry and was pushed out of bounds after a short gain.  Then the flags went flying again.  Rookie linebacker Marquel Lee was flagged for taunting.  It looked like Triplette was smiling as he announced the third 15-yard penalty on the Raiders.  If you rolled up his sleeve, I’ll bet you’d find a Jets tattoo on his arm.  Two carries by Forte straight up the middle gained 23 yards.  The Jets looked like they were going to tie the game up.  But on third and one from the Oakland 28, they opted to try a pass.  It was incomplete and Catanzaro came on for a 46-yard attempt.  It was good and with 3:06 to go in the half, the Raiders led 14-10.

The Jets forced a three and out and were looking for more points before the half ended.  There would be more points scored.  But they would be scored by the Raiders.  That’s because return man Kalif Raymond dropped the punt and it was recovered at the four by wide receiver Johnny Holton of the Raiders.  It took him three tries, but Marshawn Lynch finally did it.  The crowd went absolutely ballistic as he dove into the end zone.  Tavecchio added the extra point and the Raiders led 21-10 at halftime.

The Jets took almost eight minutes off the clock on their first possession of the second half.  They made it all the way down to the Oakland 17-yard line.  But on fourth and one, they were flagged for a delay of game.  Catanzaro kicked a 40-yard field goal and the Raiders led 21-13 with 7:05 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders took over at their 16 and a couple of carries by Washington moved them to the 32.  An unnecessary roughness penalty on the Jets put the ball near midfield.  On third and one from the New York 43, Patterson got the call and ran up the middle for a touchdown.  Tavecchio made the point after and the Raiders led 28-13 with 3:31 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders now had a relatively comfortable lead and it would stay that way as McCown was sacked two more times on their next drive.  At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Raiders started their next drive at their 21-yard line.  A pass to Cooper and a couple of carries by Lynch put them at the 48.  That’s when Richard got another carry.  He took it up the right side, cut back to the middle and outran the Jets for a 52-yard touchdown.  That was the dagger and it put the game out of reach for the Jets.  Tavecchio made the point after and the Raiders led 35-13 with 12:49 to go in the game.

It would get worse for the Jets on their next possession.  McCown was sacked by safety Karl Joseph and the ball came loose.  Joseph recovered it and the Raiders took over at the New York 18-yard line.  Carr looked for Cooper in the end zone on first down.  The pass was incomplete, but the Jets were flagged for pass interference.  That put the ball at the one.  From there, Carr threw for the end zone and the pass was caught by Crabtree for his third touchdown of the game.  Tavecchio made the point after and the Raiders led 42-13 with 12:27 to go in the game.

The Jets would put together another long drive and McCown would connect with Kearse for another touchdown.  That made the score 42-20 with 8:42 to go.  The Raiders would recover the onside kick and turned the running game over to Richard.  This made Mr. Lynch very happy and he proceeded to dance up and down the sidelines.  That really put the Oakland crowd into a frenzy.  Tavecchio made a 29-yard field goal with 25 seconds to go and the Raiders came away with a 45-20 victory.  That’s the first time they won their first two games of the season since 2002.

For the Jets, Josh McCown completed 17 of 25 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.  Jermaine Kearse and Matt Forte tied for the lead in receptions with four apiece.  Kearse had the most receiving yards with 64 and two touchdowns.  Forte led the team on the ground with 53 yards on nine carries.  As a team, the Jets rushed for 126 yards on 25 carries.  Defensively, rookie safety Marcus Maye led the team in solo tackles with six.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 23 of 28 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with six and yards with 80 and three touchdowns.  Jalen Richard led the way in rushing with 58 yards on six carries and one touchdown.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 180 yards on 27 carries.  The offensive line did a great job and Carr left the field with a clean uniform.  Defensively, linebacker Cory James and cornerback T.J. Carrie tied the team in solo tackles with five each.  The defense had a pretty good day as they sacked McCown four times and forced two fumbles.

Up next for the Raiders is another trip across the country.  This time it will be to face the Washington Redskins.  They are coming off a win over the Rams and they will be looking to give the Raiders a hard time.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Off To A Good Start

For week one of the 2017 NFL season, the Raiders found themselves in Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Titans.  The Raiders won the coin flip and elected to receive.  Ryan Succop teed the ball up and instead of kicking it through the end zone, he tried an onside kick.  Rookie Shalom Luani wasn’t fooled and recovered the ball at the 50-yard line.  That gave the high powered Raider offense excellent field position.  Quarterback Derek Carr took to the air on first down and completed a six-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper.  Running back Marshawn Lynch ran up the middle for 14 yards and that moved the ball to the Tennessee 30-yard line.  From the 30, Carr tossed a short pass to tight end Jared Cook and he took it up the right side for 22 yards.  Carr connected with Cooper again on the next play.  He shook off a defender, fell on top of another, got up and was pushed into the end zone for a touchdown.  Filling in for the injured Sebastian Janikowski was Giorgio Tavecchio.  He had no problem with the extra point and the Raiders led 7-0 with 12:49 to go in the first quarter.

The Titans started at their 25 and on third and ten, quarterback Marcus Mariota threw across the middle for wide receiver Rishard Matthews.  He was wide open and easily made the catch for a gain of 19 yards.  Three straight carries by running back DeMarco Murray moved the ball to the Oakland 44-yard line.  Once again, the Titans found themselves in a third and long situation and once again, they had no problem getting a first down.  Mariota connected with Matthews again and that gave them a first down at the 35.  The next two plays gained two yards and you know what that brought up?  ANOTHER third and long situation!  Do you think the Raiders stopped them?  If you said no, you would be correct.  Mariota threw deep up the right side and rookie wide receiver Cory Davis made a nice catch at the ten-yard line.  From the ten, Mariota took the snap and ran up the left side untouched for a touchdown.  Succop made the point after and the game was tied 7-7 with 6:58 to go in the first quarter.

I was kind of hoping the Titans would try another onside kick.  But they didn’t and the Raiders started at their 25-yard line.  On third and six from the 29, Carr completed a 12-yard pass to Cook.  An offensive pass interference penalty on wide receiver Michael Crabtree moved the Raiders back ten yards.  On third and 15 from the 36, Carr looked for Crabtree again.  The pass was incomplete, but rookie cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Raiders a first down at the Tennessee 40.  Two carries by Lynch and another pass to Crabtree put the ball at the 12.  Three plays gained nine yards and on fourth and one, head coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for it.  Lynch got the call.  He was hit in the backfield, but managed to fall forward and get the first down.  So, it is now first and goal from the two.  What do you do?  How about giving it to Lynch again?  Nope.  That didn’t happen.  Instead, the Raiders called three straight pass plays.  Each pass was intended for Cooper and each one was dropped by Cooper.  I don’t think I have ever seen that happen before.  On fourth down, Tavecchio made a 20-yard field goal.  I wonder if Lynch was having flashbacks to Super Bowl 49 when the Seahawks threw from the one-yard line.  I bet he was.  With 14:55 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders led 10-7.

Both teams punted on their next possessions.  Punter Marquette King pinned the Titans at their two-yard line.  Two carries by running back Derrick Henry and a completion to Matthews moved them to the 31.  Another carry by Henry and a 15-yard scramble by Mariota netted a first down at the 48.  On third and six from the Oakland 48, tight end Delanie Walker caught a pass across the middle for a gain of ten yards.  Two passes to Davis and an eight-yard run by Henry had the Titans knocking at the door.  But on third and goal from the six, Mariota was stuffed for a gain of one yard.  Succop came into the game and his 23-yard attempt was good.  With 43 seconds to go in the first half, the score was tied 10-10.

From the 25, Carr and the Raider offense went to work.  Completions to Crabtree and running back DeAndre Washington quickly moved the ball to the Tennessee 39-yard line.  With 20 seconds to go, Carr completed a short pass to Cook.  Del Rio let the clock run down and with two seconds to go, Tavecchio was called on for a 52-yard attempt.  The kick was good and the Raiders led 13-10 at halftime.

The second half didn’t exactly start off with a bang.  The Raiders punted once and the Titans punted twice.  With 8:42 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders got the ball back at their 37.  On third and eight from the 39, Carr found Cooper across the middle for a gain of ten yards.  Lynch got loose up the right side and was dragged down at the Tennessee 34-yard line.  But an illegal use of hands penalty on center Rodney Hudson slowed the Raiders down and the drive stalled at the 39.  King came on to punt and the Titans were flagged for running into the kicker.  Two guys hit King while he was in the act of kicking the ball.  That looked like roughing to me.  But that got the Raiders five yards and put them in field goal range.  Once again, Tavecchio blasted a 52-yard attempt through the uprights.  That gave the Raiders a 16-10 lead with 4:31 to go in the third quarter.

The Titans took over at their 25.  A six-yard carry by Murray and completions to Matthews and Walker had them on the move again.  On second and six from the Oakland 36, Murray had his longest gain of the day as he ran up the middle for a gain of 21 yards.  On third and two from the seven, Murray ran up the right side and was knocked backwards by rookie linebacker Nicholas Morrow.  Succop made his 26-yard field goal attempt and the Raiders led 16-13 with 3:02 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders started at their 30 and Carr found Cook across the middle for 11 yards.  Two carries by Lynch and a six-yard completion to running back Jalen Richard gave the Raiders a first down at the Tennessee 37.  Carr looked for Crabtree again found him for a gain of 18 yards.  Carr looked like he was having fun throwing the ball all over the place and on the next play, he threw to the end zone.  Wide receiver Seth Roberts hauled in the pass for a touchdown.  Tavecchio made the point after and the Raiders led 23-13 with 1:26 to go in the third quarter.

Both teams ended up punting on their next possessions.  With 6:44 remaining in the game, the Titans took over at their 20-yard line.  Murray got the drive off to a nice start with a seven-yard run.  That was followed by another pass to Walker for a gain of 13 yards.  That’s when linebacker Bruce Irvin came down with a very severe case of stupidity.  On second and ten from the 40, Mariota was sacked by defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack.  The ball came loose, but the Titans recovered it at the 23.  That was a nice play.  But it didn’t count because Irvin was flagged for being offside.  Next, Mariota completed a short pass to Walker.  Irvin stopped his forward progress and then proceeded to slam Walker to the ground.  That was completely unnecessary and Irvin was flagged again.  This time it was of the 15-yard variety for unnecessary roughness.  What the hell was he thinking?  That penalty gave the Titans a first down at the Oakland 34-yard line.  The next three plays were all pass plays and they all fell incomplete.  But, thanks to our good friend Mr. Irvin, the Titans were in field goal range.  Succop had been watching Tavecchio kick 52-yard field goals all day and this was his big chance to prove he could do the same thing.  His 52-yard kick was good and the Raiders led 23-16 with 4:49 to go in the game.

Return man Cordarrelle Patterson returned the kickoff to the 41-yard line.  Now it was time for the Raiders to eat up some clock.  In other words, it was time for “Beastmode.”  Lynch carried the ball four times and Richard added a couple of carries.  That moved the Raiders to the Tennessee 23-yard line.  On third and two from the 23, Lynch got the call again and the Titans were ready for it.  Lynch was thrown for a loss of two yards.  With 1:15 on the clock, Tavecchio trotted on to the field and his 43-yard field goal attempt was good.  That put the Raiders up 26-16 with 1:09 remaining.

The Titans quickly moved from their 25 to the Oakland 34.  With 12 seconds to go, they decided to try a field goal.  This time Succop missed from 52 yards and that sealed the 26-16 victory for the Raiders.  To tell you the truth, I was shocked at how well the Raider defense played.  I had visions of this game being a 38-35 shootout.  But they played well and allowed only one touchdown.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 22 of 32 for 262 yards and two touchdowns.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with six and yards with 83.  Crabtree, Cooper and Cook combined for 16 receptions for 201 yards.  Marshawn Lynch led the team in rushing as he grinded out 76 tough yards on 18 carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 109 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, safety Karl Joseph led the team in solo tackles with six.  As I said before, the defense played well.  But Mariota had all day to throw and there was little pressure applied to him.  That needs to be addressed.

For the Titans, Marcus Mariota completed 25 of 41 for 256 yards.  He also had three carries for 26 yards and a touchdown.  Delanie Walker led the team in receptions with seven and yards with 76.  DeMarco Murray was the leading rusher with 44 yards on 12 carries.  21 of those yards came on one carry.  All totaled, the Titans rushed for 95 yards on 21 carries.  Defensively, safety Kevin Byard led the team in solo tackles with eight.

Up next for the Raiders is a home game against the New York Jets.  They are coming off a loss to the Buffalo Bills and I am sure they won’t be too thrilled to be playing on the dirt infield of the Oakland Coliseum.  But, the Oakland Athletics have no chance to make the playoffs this year and it will be the only game played with a dirt infield.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

QB or Not QB: Meet Mitchell

The Chicago Bears shocked everyone – including Mitchell Trubisky –when they traded their number three overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers to get the number two overall pick which they used to select – North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

A lot of people seem be laughing at the Bears for doing this because the prevailing wisdom seems to be that the Bears could have just waited one more pick and still gotten Trubisky.

Instead, by moving up, the Bears also gave the Niners their third and fourth round picks this year and their third rounder next year. In other words, many believe the Bears gave up three picks for nothing.

None of this matters, of course, if Trubisky turns out to be the next Aaron Rodgers, or even the next Jim McMahon. People will long forget what other dudes the Bears could have gotten with those later picks if good old Mitchell is leading the Monsters of Maddening to a couple of Super Bowls.

But some are also questioning the Bears’ move because they think Trubisky isn’t even the best QB in the draft.

So, um, we don’t know.

Bears GM Ryan Pace said of Trubisky, simply, “we did what we had to do to get him.”

Did they have to do it?

Only time – and the venom of Mike Glennon – will tell.

They Limped Into Houston And Crawled back To Oakland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy

A Tainted Victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy

 

Playoffs? Are You Kidding Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas from The Raider Guy

 

Dropped Frozen Balloons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy

 

29 Unanswered Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

 

Raiders Defeat Panthers, 35-32

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next four drives looked like this for the Panthers:

Stewart 1-yard touchdown run (Extra point blocked)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy