March 27, 2017

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

 

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