Category Archives: game recaps

Week 15 Final: Raiders 19, Chargers 16

Once again, it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t easy. But they got it done, and for the first time since 2002, the Raiders are back in the playoffs!

The defining characteristic of the team all season has been that they are never out, and they play the full 60.  That has obviously not been the case during the lean years, and it’s an excellent thing to see. They might make a few mistakes along the way, but every opponent knows now that if they’re down, they surge and catch up in the 4th quarter. Time and again, they do not stay down.

On top of that, Kansas City dropped their home game today against the Titans, putting the Raiders back in sole possession of first place in the division.

You can see them tightening things up a bit, and going deep into the playoffs. The talent is clearly there, and they just need to capitalize on turnovers and breaks a little better. Just two games to go, and both the Colts and Broncos are looking beatable. The Raiders control their destiny now, and are guaranteed at least the #2 playoff seed if they win the last two. We haven’t been able to say that for a long time, and it feels good. GO RAIDERS!

Week 3 Final: Raiders 17, Titans 10

When the Raiders visited Tennessee last year, they needed a lucky break in the final minutes of the game to secure a win. Today was the same, except even more down to the wire, with TJ Carrie perhaps getting away with pressure on the Titans’ final play, getting a hand on Harry Douglas in the end zone, and preventing him from catching a tying (or winning touchdown).

The defense definitely improved, forcing three turnovers and holding the Titans to just 10 points. They seemed to get gassed in the second half, however, allowing Tennessee back in the game and getting picked apart at will by Marcus Mariota in the final drive.

Whatever the case, they got the job done, and showed real improvement in a critical area. Coming out of next week’s showdown in Baltimore with a 3-1 record would go a long way to establishing themselves as legitimate playoff contenders.

Week 2 Final: Falcons 35, Raiders 28

Say what you will, this year’s team does not lack in pure entertainment value so far. We got a little bit of everything today, but ultimately lost what should have been a very winnable game.

After Atlanta’s first two possessions, the Raiders’ defense simply couldn’t stop the Falcons, who passed and ran seemingly at will. Free-agent CB Sean Smith continues to be a liability in coverage. Even with a bum wheel, WR Julio Jones had Smith in his back pocket all afternoon, burning him time and again with quick and obvious inside breaks. Even the fluke defection caught by Atlanta WR Justin Hardy was within Smith’s power to prevent.

He’s not DeAngelo Hall cat-chasing-a-laser-pointer bad, but Smith was signed specifically to be the key player in the defensive backfield. He’s made a couple of decent tackles, but is getting burned quite a bit already.

Signs of life late in the game were extinguished when Amari Cooper had a fantastic 50-yard catch-and-run TD called back because he had stepped out of bounds prior to the reception. After the loss of down put the Raiders at 4th-and-2 at midfield, Jack Del Rio went for one more gutsy call, this time to no avail.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Del Rio’s guts in making these play calls. But it’s difficult already to shake the feeling that he’s making them at least in part because he feels like he can’t trust his defense to hold the opponent. And he really can’t so far.

The offense continues to click, and show the ability to play catch-up in the 4th quarter, something it was not very effective at previously. But the defense has got to step up and get it done, and stop leaving the offense in a late-game hole.

The expectations might have been a little high. It’s not that the Raiders can’t or won’t reach the playoffs this year — they can and should. But good teams, solid playoff teams, don’t keep letting mediocre teams build two-touchdown leads on them, and have to scramble back frantically in the fourth quarter.

They can’t all be nail-biters; good teams have their share of methodical, plodding games, almost boring in their relentless efficiency. That was definitely not the case today. This should have been like the Jets game last season, and instead it was a rerun of last week’s Saints game, without all the lucky breaks.

Week 16 Final: Raiders 23, Chargers 20

Full game stats here.

With both teams out of contention, there’s just as much chance for a game to turn into a free-for-all as a sleep-fest. And this one began as the latter, and ended as the former.

It started out poorly enough, with Derek Carr getting picked early in the game yet again. This time, unlike last week against Green Bay, he managed to stop digging that early hole, and the Raiders found their way back into it. The defense still has trouble stopping Danny Woodhead, but managed to hang in there long enough to gut it out. The late end-around attempt with Charles Woodson, even though it didn’t work, was a nice gesture and a fitting tribute to a great all-time Oakland Raider.

As this was definitely Woodson’s final home game, and possibly the team’s final home game in Oakland, it seems appropriate that this would turn out to be an exciting finish against an original AFL rival. Good game, and a good opportunity to assess the team’s needs as it heads into the off-season.

Week 15 Final: Packers 30, Raiders 20

Full game stats here.

Two consecutive passes, two interceptions leading to 14 points for the opposition. Today we learned that the Raiders can fight their way back from self-inflicted damage pretty darned well, and that the banged-up defense still puts up a pretty good fight against an elite QB. Missing the playoffs was not really an issue; with the Jets and Steelers both winning, it would have taken some minor miracles the next couple weeks for the Raiders to have been in the hunt even if they had won today.

The last two games will be about identifying which pieces to take forward into next season, where playoff expectations will be very real, and seeing where there will be holes to be filled by free agency and draft in the off-season. The defensive backfield is a mess of injuries and botched assignments — the blown coverage on James Jones was bad enough, but the replay showed that all the deep receivers were pretty wide open, Rodgers just happened to pick Jones. But for the most part the D continued to play well. Again, it was the offense that seemed strangely inert, and at the worst possible times.

Just a heads-up, we’ll do another live-blog for the final game of the season in Kansas City on 1/3/2016. Drop in for a cold brew and chime in!

Week 14 Final: Raiders 15, Broncos 12

Full game stats here.

Another wild and woolly division rumble, another tale of two halves. On the one hand, the Raiders ended up with -12 offensive yards for the first half; on the other hand, they rebounded well in the second half, thanks to some much-needed help from special teams and Khalil Mack.

Mack has already established himself as a force to be reckoned with, and paired up perfectly with Aldon Smith earlier in the season. But Mack proved he can do it by himself just fine, sacking Brock Osweiler five times, plowing through Denver’s offensive line with ease.

This matchup turned out to be another one of those where one side of the team — in this case, the defense — performed well, while the offense mucked it up most of the day. In this case, that’s understandable, as Denver’s top-rated defense is turning out to be one of the all-time great lineups. And Amari Cooper’s mini-slump continues, in the midst of a season where he is still a legitimate contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year. But the bottom line is that this team is finally on the right track, that they’re not letting a lousy first half undermine them in the second half, that they can compete with any other team and play a full 60.

Each of the final three games (Green Bay, San Diego, and Kansas City) presents opportunities for the Raiders to show up in all facets, and prove that they can be an elite team in the coming seasons. They still need another solid free agency period and draft in the coming off-season, but Oakland continues to show that they’re moving in the right direction.

Week 13 Final: Chiefs 34, Raiders 20

Full game stats here.

It’s tough to say which stings more when you look back at a lost season in retrospect — the losses against mediocre opponents that were just derped away by lack of execution (Chicago and Detroit), or the losses against good opponents that could easily have been won if not for sloppy play and missed opportunities (Denver). Today’s game should definitely be chalked up in that latter category, as the Raiders actually led 20-14 after the first three quarters, only to have the wheels come off in the fourth, as Derek Carr got picked three times and the Chiefs scored 20 unanswered points.

The story with most of the games this year — even some of the wins — has been one of being consistent in all phases of the game. Either the offense clicks but the defense doesn’t, or it’s the other way around. (And the less said about special teams, the better.) Only in the Chargers and Jets victories has the entire team shown up to play sharp, focused, unstoppable ball.

Today it was somewhere in between, as both offense and defense had some moments. But after a nice opening drive leading to a touchdown, the offense kept stalling in three-and-outs, before finally pulling ahead to lead 14-7 at halftime, and 20-14 to start the final quarter. The defense did well, pressuring Alex Smith all day, sacking him four times, and forcing and recovering two fumbles. But once Carr started throwing interceptions, the defense started surrendering yards and points, and it was all over.

With four games to go, and the Raiders all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the goal now is to finish strong, remain competitive, smooth the rough edges, get offense and defense more tightly coordinated, and figure out who the keepers are for next year’s roster. (For example, how did Rod Streater fall off the face of the planet, and not even get a chance behind Andre Holmes and Seth Roberts?)

The good news is they keep playing hard, and have been competitive. They aren’t laying down for anyone. The bad news is they have to go to Denver next week, where Brock Osweiler has somehow managed to win two games in a row, last week against the previously unbeaten Patsies and today on the road in San Diego.

Week 12 Final: Raiders 24, Titans 21

It took a major break to make it possible, but at least Oakland knew what to do with that break. On a 4th-and-8 play on their attempted comeback drive at the end of the game, Derek Carr fired a desperation pass to Andre Holmes, who while being big, fast, and talented, has not exactly proven to be that game-breaker you look for to save the day.

No matter, as Tennessee corner B.W. Webb was flagged with what could charitably be described as a questionable holding call on Amari Cooper, across the field from where the ball was thrown, and the Raiders got a fresh set of downs. Again, the big leap here is that when they were bad, the Raiders couldn’t have capitalized on that good fortune if you had handed it to them on a silver platter. Now they are.

Amari Cooper definitely picked up where he had left off the last couple games, getting open and making fantastic catches, and moving the team downfield at will sometimes. Seth Roberts stepped up in a major way, sealing the comeback with a great end-zone catch, capping a day where he made clutch plays throughout.

As the team hits the homestretch, with two of their last five games against the suddenly resurgent Kansas City Chiefs, this was a much-needed win in which both offense and defense played pretty well, and managed to overcome some key weather-related mistakes by the end.

Week 11 Final: Lions 18, Raiders 13

Full game stats here.

I don’t know if it’s something about big-cat teams or what, but the Raiders turned in their worst all-around effort since the season opener against the Bengals. Really, it’s a wonder the Lions didn’t beat them more badly, and if they hadn’t been a 2-7 team still learning their new offense under a guy named (seriously) Jim Bob Cooter, it probably would have been more of a beatdown. The offense seems listless and inept, while the defense did a decent job in the first three quarters, only to have the inevitable late-game letdown, allowing Matthew Stafford (who is not exactly Steve Young when it comes to scrambling) to lumber five yards for a game-winning touchdown.

Every loss seems to hinge on the failure of one or both units, and this time it was the offense’s turn. They did not have an answer for Ezekiel Ansah or Stephen Tulloch. They could not get anything going, either running or passing. Maybe the Lions, fresh off winning at Lambeau Field for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, just wanted it more.

Whatever the case, this was a lackluster effort that did the team no good. Right now, it’s less about playoffs and more about progress, and after losing three straight against increasingly flawed teams, we’re not seeing the progress anymore. Admittedly, the Jets and Chargers are both half-assed teams, but the Raiders dominated those games, just beat those teams into submission (for the first three quarters anyway). But neither the Vikings nor the Steelers are significantly better than the Jets, and the Lions are nearly as bad as the Chargers. It’s one thing to lose in a solid effort, quite another to derp it up against a 2-7 team that will be lucky to win six games by the end of it all.

Amari Cooper had an especially bad day, and he seems like he has the work ethic to pick it up and pull it together. The real problem is that the coaches and team failed to have a contingency plan. Then again, since the offense only had the ball for 23:58, they really didn’t have enough time to come up with one.

Week 10 Final: Vikings 30, Raiders 14

Well. That was something, not sure what. From the Vikings’ first touchdown being scored by the son of former Raider Riki Ellison, you just knew this was going to be an odd game. And Oakland kept it close in the first half, but that 93-yard kickoff return touchdown by Cordarelle Patterson near the end of the half seemed to just take the wind out of the Raiders’ sails. The offense was strangely dormant until it was too late, and Derek Carr found out the hard way about trying to force one in (poor choice of phrase, I know). Topped off with an 80-yard touchdown run from Adrian Peterson, to give him a total of over 200 yards on the day, and once again, the Raiders seemed to not quite know what had hit them.

The next two games are on the road, but against two of the worst teams in the league, Detroit and Tennessee. Rather than worrying about getting that wild-card berth, the Raiders just need to concentrate on putting together complete games in all phases. It’s hard to say which is worse — last week’s game in Pittsburgh, where a solid offensive outing was undone by the defense’s complete inability to account for the Steelers’ two best offensive players, or today’s matchup where the defense still couldn’t get it done, but the offense didn’t really show up either.