Week four of the 2015 season had the Oakland Raiders heading east once again. This time it was off to Chicago to face the Bears. The Raiders were coming off a 27-20 win over the Cleveland Browns and the Bears were coming off a 26-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. In that game, I thought their defense played very well. Unfortunately, their offense had a real bad day. That’s probably because quarterback Jay Cutler wasn’t playing. But he was back for the game against the Raiders. Usually when a team knows the opposing quarterback isn’t playing at 100 percent, they bring the blitz and try to make him have a rough day. But this is the Raiders we are talking about. They don’t blitz and rarely bring any extra pressure. Why is that? Hell if I know. That was a big help to Cutler. There was blood in the water and he was going up against 11 toothless sharks.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked off the game and like usual, it was downed deep in the end zone. The consensus among fantasy football players all over the world was to start tight end Martellus Bennett. Good idea. On second and seven from the 23, Cutler dodged a couple of pass rushers and fired a pass to Bennett that was good for 24 yards. On third and two from the Oakland 45, Cutler floated a pass up the left side that was hauled in by wide receiver Marquess Wilson for a gain of 35 yards. Three plays later, Cutler hit wide receiver Eddie Royal across the middle and he took it in for a touchdown. The extra point attempt by kicker Robbie Gould was blocked and the Bears led 6-0 with 10:57 to go in the first quarter.
Neither offense could do much with the ball until the Raiders took over at their 49-yard line early in the second quarter. Quarterback Derek Carr completed two short passes to wide receiver Amari Cooper and on third down, Carr hooked up with tight end Lee Smith for a first down at the Chicago 39-yard line. They continued to give the ball to running back Latavius Murray up the middle and it wasn’t working. On third and long, Carr tossed a screen pass to Murray who took it up the left side for a gain off 11 and a first down at the 26. From the 26, Carr went deep for Cooper in the end zone. It was initially ruled incomplete, but replay showed Cooper had both feet in bounds and that gave the Raiders their first touchdown of the day. Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 7-6 with 11:10 to go in the second quarter.
On first down from the 25, Cutler fumbled the snap and it was recovered by defensive tackle Dan Williams. That gave the Raiders the ball in prime position to increase their lead. Completions to Murray and Cooper moved the ball down to the four-yard line. From the four, Carr found running back Roy Helu open and he took it in for a touchdown. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders were up 14-6 with 7:12 to go in the second quarter.
The Bears took over at their 20-yard line. Some carries by running back Matt Forte and completions to Royal and Forte quickly moved the Bears into Oakland territory. Forte ran up the left side for a good gain and to top it off, cornerback Neiko Thorpe was flagged for a facemask penalty. That put the ball at the nine-yard line. Two plays later, Cutler looked to his left and saw Bennett standing all alone in the corner of the end zone. He tossed him the ball and Bennett caught it for another touchdown. That was truly a disgusting display of defense, Raiders. DISGUSTING!!!! Gould made the point after and that tightened things up. The Raiders led 14-13 with 3:30 to go in the second quarter.
The Raiders took over at their 29-yard line and didn’t have the ball for very long. That’s because Murray couldn’t handle a pass. The ball hit his hands, bounced straight up in the air and was picked off by linebacker Pernell McPhee. Murray dragged him down at the 13 and the Bears took over with excellent field position. For some reason, the defense decided to prevent the Bears from getting into the end zone. They did a good job and on fourth and goal from the one, the Bears decided to try a field goal. It was good and the Bears led 16-13 at the end of the first half.
The Raiders did absolutely nothing on their first possession of the second half and Marquette King punted the ball away. The Bears took over at their 46-yard line and on first down, Forte was hit by cornerback David Amerson and the ball came loose. It was recovered by defensive tackle Stacy McGee and the Raiders got the ball back at the Chicago 46-yard line. A seven-yard run by Murray was followed by an illegal use of hands penalty on the Bears. That moved the ball to the 34, but other than a 17-yard completion to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, the Raiders didn’t get much farther. What looked like a touchdown pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts was ruled incomplete. It was the correct call as Roberts couldn’t get both feet in bounds. Janikowski was called on for a 29-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good and the Raiders led 17-16 with 10:53 to go in the third quarter.
Again, both offenses were held in check until the three minute mark of the third quarter. After a 38-yard punt by King, the Bears took over at their ten-yard line. Forte was the featured player early in this drive and the Raiders had no idea how to stop him. A pass interference penalty on the Raiders moved the ball to the 50-yard line. But the drive would come to an end on the Oakland 36-yard line. Gould was brought into the game for a 54-yard field goal attempt and he got all of it. That kick would have been good from 64 yards. That put the Bears up 19-17 with 13 minutes to go in the game.
The Raiders started at their 20 and methodically started moving the ball in the right direction. Completions to Crabtree and fullback Marcel Reece put the ball at the 45. Then Butterfingers Murray made another appearance. It was a simple pitch from Carr and for whatever reason, Murray couldn’t handle it and the ball was recovered by defensive end Sam Acho at the Oakland 46-yard line. Cutler went to work and completions to Royal and Wilson moved the ball to the 32-yard line. On third and one from the 23, Cutler looked for Bennett on the right side. But the pass was picked off by safety Charles Woodson at the seven and returned to the 18-yard line. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Raiders moved the ball back to the nine-yard line.
With 6:41 to go in the game, the Raiders had another chance to take the lead. Two completions to Crabtree and a 12-yard run by Helu quickly moved the ball into Chicago territory. On third and two from the 33, Helu got the call again and he ran off left guard for a gain of three and a first down at the 30. Helu gained eight yards on the next two plays and on third and two from the 22, the Bears crowded the line of scrimmage. I was thinking it would be a nice opportunity for a play action pass. But Helu got the call again and he was promptly flattened by a herd of angry Bears. So, with 2:10 to go, Janikowski was brought into the game again and he made the 41-yard field goal attempt.
In real life, two minutes and five seconds isn’t a very long time. In the world of football, it is an eternity. The Bears started at their 20 and on first down, Cutler found Forte for a gain of six. One of the toothless sharks got to Cutler and sacked him for a modest loss of one yard on second down. That was followed by an incomplete pass. That set up fourth down. I was pretty sure the pass was going to go to either Bennett or Forte. Cutler took the snap, felt little pressure and completed a seven-yard pass to Bennett. “Covering” Bennett was linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong. That guy couldn’t cover a bed with a blanket. That completion kept the drive alive and Cutler completed more passes to Royal and Wilson. The Raiders simply had no answer. The pass rush couldn’t get to Cutler and the secondary was a day late and a dollar short. I don’t even know where the linebackers were. So, with seven seconds to go, Gould was brought into the game for a 49-yard attempt. Was it good? Of course it was good. That put the Bears up 22-20 with two seconds to go. Despite the Raiders efforts to move the ball up-field with lots of laterals on the ensuing kickoff, they fell short and the Bears came away with a 22-20 win. The loss dropped the Raiders to 2-2 and the Bears got their first win of the season.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 20 of 33 for 196 yards, two touchdowns and one interception that most certainly was not his fault. Blame it on Butterfingers Murray. Michael Crabtree led all receivers in receptions with five and receiving yards with 80. Amari Cooper had a good first half, but was totally invisible in the second half. He finished the game with four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. The running game never got in gear as it seemed like every running play was up the middle. Murray led the team in rushing yards with 49 on 16 carries. As a team, the Raiders rushed for 70 yards. Defensively, linebacker Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with nine.
For the Bears, Jay Cutler completed 28 of 43 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. As predicted, Martellus Bennett had a good day and led the team in receptions with 11 and yards with 83 and a touchdown. On the ground, Matt Forte racked up 91 yards on 25 carries. As a team, the Bears rushed for 98 yards. Forte also caught four passes for 64 yards. Defensively, linebacker Pernell McPhee led the team in solo tackles with seven. McPhee also had an interception.
Despite being out-gained 371-243 in total yards and only running 57 plays, the Raiders could have come away with a win. But they didn’t. I could go into details, but I don’t want to get any more pissed off than I already am. It doesn’t get any easier next week as the Denver Broncos are coming to Oakland. I watched their game against the Vikings and it came down to the wire. The Vikings were trailing by three and had the ball late in the game. But the Broncos didn’t lay back and let them throw the ball over the place. They called a safety blitz, forced a fumble and recovered it to seal the win. Maybe defensive coordinator Ken Norton will look into doing something like that if the opportunity arises. I doubt he will, but one can hope. Take it easy.
The Raider Guy