May 28, 2017

Monday Night Madness In Mexico City

The tenth game on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a trip to Mexico City, Mexico to take on the Houston Texans.  The Texans were coming off a 24-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Raiders were coming off a bye week.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski sent the opening kickoff deep and the Texans started at their 25-yard line.  On third and eight from the 27, quarterback Brock Osweiler connected with tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz for a gain of ten and a first down at the 37.  On third and seven from the 40, Osweiler threw to the left side and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins made the catch and headed up the left sideline.  It looked like he might take it all the way, but he was ruled out of bounds at the Oakland 36-yard line.  A couple of runs by running back Lamar Miller and another conversion on third and long put the Texans at the 17.  But the Raider defense finally woke up and the drive stalled at the 14.  Kicker Nick Novak came on for a 32-yard field goal attempt and the kick was good.  With 8:34 to go in the first quarter, the Texans led 3-0.

Both teams punted on their next possessions.  At the 4:35 mark of the first quarter, the Raiders got the ball back at their 21-yard line.  Quarterback Derek Carr came out throwing.  Completions to tight end Clive Walford and fullback Jamize Olawale moved the Raiders to the 49.  On second and 12 from the 47, Carr went deep for wide receiver Michael Crabtree.  He couldn’t haul it in.  That’s probably because cornerback Johnathan Joseph was pulling on his arm and wasn’t even looking for the ball.  That drew a flag for pass interference and put the ball at the Houston 20-yard line.  Two plays later, Carr tossed a short pass to running back Jalen Richard across the middle.  He made some nifty moves and dove into the end zone.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-3 with 14:47 to go in the second quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, return man Tyler Irvin fumbled and the ball was recovered by Taiwan Jones of the Raiders at the Houston 19-yard line.  This gave the Raiders a golden opportunity to go up 14-3.  A 15-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper set up a first and goal from the four.  Running back Latavius Murray ran up the middle for a gain of three yards.  From the one, Olawale dove into the pile and came up short of the goal line.  Instead of trying to run it again, the Raiders opted for a pass play.  It didn’t work as Carr couldn’t find anyone open and he basically just threw the ball away.  Janikowski came on and his 19-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 12:48 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders led 10-3.

Another kickoff in the thin Mexican air meant another touch-back.  On third and eight from the 28, Osweiler threw a pass across the middle for Hopkins.  It was incomplete, but cornerback D.J. Hayden was penalized for holding and that gave the Texans a first down at the 33.  Two carries by Miller and another completion to Fiedorowicz moved the Texans into Oakland territory.  From the 34, Miller got loose again and headed for the end zone.  It was originally ruled a touchdown, but replay showed he was pushed out of bounds at the one-yard line.  On first down, Osweiler had a pass knocked right back to him by defensive end Denico Autry.  Osweiler tried to run, but he was brought down for a loss of seven yards.  A false start moved them back five yards.  Suddenly, it looked like the Texans were in danger of not finding the end zone.  Not so fast.  On second and goal from the 12, rookie wide receiver Braxton Miller  put a move on cornerback David Amerson and was wide open in the end zone.  Osweiler saw him and Miller hauled it in for a touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the score was tied 10-10 with eight minutes to go in the second quarter.

With the exception of an interception by Raider linebacker Malcolm Smith, neither team would score again in the first half.  The interception gave the Raiders good field position, but they couldn’t capitalize.  Every time they tried to run the ball, they went nowhere.  Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the Texan defense were playing very well and making things miserable for the Raider running game.  At halftime, the score was 10-10.

On the very first play of the second half, Carr threw the ball deep down the middle of the field for Cooper.  The throw was way off target and picked off by cornerback A.J. Bouye.  That gave the Texans the ball at their 35-yard line.  A scramble by Osweiler and a pass to tight end Ryan Griffin quickly put the Texans into Oakland territory.  A short completion to L. Miller and another catch by Griffin gave the Texans a first down at the 20.  Another catch by Griffin and another run by L. Miller put them at the eight-yard line.  Two plays later, Osweiler went deep for B. Miller and the pass was incomplete.  As a matter of fact, it was way over-thrown.  But that didn’t stop the zebras from throwing another flag.  Once again, the victim was Hayden and that gave the Texans a first down at the one-yard line.  L. Miller finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.  Novak made the point after and the Texans led 17-10 with 8:32 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders took over at their 25 and they pretty much abandoned the running game.  Completions to Crabtree and Olawale had them on the move again.  Add a personal foul on Joseph and the Raiders were in Houston territory.  On third and eight from the 32, Carr went deep for Crabtree again.  It was incomplete, but another flag was thrown.  The Texans were flagged for pass interference again.  That put the ball at the eight.  Three plays gained six yards and that meant it was time for another field goal attempt.  It was only a 20-yard attempt and Janikowski had no problem making it.  With 2:39 to go in the third quarter, the Texans led 17-13.

From the 25, Osweiler took to the air again.  Passes to wide receiver Will Fuller and Fiedorowicz went for good gains and a ten-yard scramble by Osweiler moved the ball to midfield.  Some more good running by L. Miller netted more first downs and put the Texans at the Oakland 20-yard line.  But the next three plays would gain only nine yards and on fourth and one from the 11, the Texans decided to try another field goal.  It was good and the Texans led 20-13 with 10:57 to go in the game.

The lethargic Raiders took over at their 25 and I was wondering how they could get into the end zone and tie the game up.  Carr had a quick solution.  He took the snap, had plenty of time to find a receiver and fired a dart to Olawale.  What I thought would be a gain of 20 would end up being a 75-yard touchdown as Olawale cruised into the end zone untouched.  Janikowksi made the point after and the game was tied 20-20 with 10:35 to go in the game.

Return man Akeem Hunt returned the kickoff to the Houston 44-yard line.  A five-yard run by L. Miller and a 14-yard completion to Fiedorowicz put the Texans at the Oakland 37-yard line.  On third and six from the 33, Osweiler connected with Hopkins for a gain of nine yards.  Two more carries by L. Miller gained eight yards.  On third and two, Miller ran off left tackle and was pushed out of bounds just short of the first down marker.  Instead of trying a field goal, the Texans decided to go for it.  This time, Miller didn’t get the call.  Hunt ran off left guard and was quickly brought down for no gain.  The Texans challenged the spot and the play stood as called.  That was a huge break for the Raiders and they took over at their 15-yard line.

An eight-yard pass to Cooper and a three-yard run by Murray gave the Raiders a first down at their 26.  On second down, Carr threw a short pass to Murray and he took it up the left sideline for a gain of 39 yards and a first down at the Houston 35-yard line.  From the 35, Carr looked for Cooper again.  He caught the pass and out-ran the defense for a 35-yard touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 27-20 with 4:43 to go in the game.

The Texans started at their 25 and two more completions to Fiedorowicz moved them to the 39.  Miller ran up the left side for five yards on first down.  But Osweiler was sacked by linebacker Bruce Irvin on second down for a loss of four yards.  On third and nine, Osweiler completed a short pass to wide receiver Keith Mumphery and he was dragged down by Hayden for a gain of four yards.  On fourth and five from the 44, the Texans decided to punt.  Shane Lechler got off a nice 51-yard punt and that pinned the Raiders at their five-yard line with 2:50 to go in the game.

Murray ran up the middle for a gain of three on first down.  Then Carr put a deep ball up the right side that was caught by Richard for a gain of 29 yards and a first down at the Houston 48-yard line.  With two minutes to go, Murray got the call again and ran for a gain of four yards.  The Texans called their final timeout.  All the Raiders needed was six yards and that would give them the win.  On second down, Murray ran up the middle for a gain of two.  On third down, Murray ran up the right side, stumbled and was brought down one yard short of the first down marker.  So, now what do you do?  There’s only 58 seconds to go.  Do you go for it?  Do you have King punt and put the Texans deep in their own territory?  Head coach Jack Del Rio decided to go for it.  Murray ran up the left side and gained four yards.  That was enough for a first down and it gave the Raiders a 27-20 win.  The win improved the Raiders to 8 and 2.  The loss dropped the Texans to 6 and 4.

For the Texans, Brock Osweiler completed 26 of 39 for 243 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  C.J. Fiedorowicz led all receivers in receptions with six and receiving yards with 82.  On the ground, Lamar Miller racked up 104 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown.  All totaled, the Texans ran for 124 yards on 33 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Bernardick McKinney led the team in solo tackles with eight.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 21 of 31 for 295 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.  Latavius Murray had the most receptions with five and Jamize Olawale led the team in receiving yards with 90.  75 of those yards came on one play.  The Raiders had a hard time running the ball and ended up with only 30 yards rushing on 20 carries.  Murray led the team in rushing with 33 yards on 12 carries.  Defensively, linebackers Malcolm Smith, Bruce Irvin and safety Karl Joseph tied for the lead in solo tackles with nine apiece.  Irvin also had a sack and three tackles for a loss.

Well, the Mexican experiment is over and I liked what I saw from the crowd down there.  They were loud, passionate and I’d say it was about 85 percent Raider fans.  Somebody even brought a laser to the game and shined it on Osweiler to distract him.  I haven’t seen anyone do that in a long time.  Also, the field wasn’t in the greatest shape as lots of players were slipping all over the place.  Up next for the Raiders is a home game against the Carolina Panthers.  I am sure the Raiders will be glad to be back in Oakland.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

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