Tag Archives: game recaps

Week 7 Final: Raiders 37, Chargers 29

Full game stats here.

San Diego managed to make it exciting in the fourth quarter, but the first three quarters of this game was the best we’ve seen out of this team in several years, at the very least since the epic 59-14 beatdown of the Kyle “Neckbeard” Orton Broncos in 2010, almost exactly to the date.

The score is deceptive because the Raiders took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter and let the Chargers back into the game, but make no mistake — Oakland dismantled the Chargers, made them one-dimensional, forced them to lean on Rivers. Right from the start, from Malcolm Smith’s interception on the third play of the game, leading to an easy touchdown for the Raiders, Oakland controlled the tempo of the game, on offense and defense. The 30-6 halftime lead left no doubt as to the outcome.

The Chargers were wounded and vulnerable, and had two key scratches right before the game, in Antonio Gates and Eric Weddle. But the Raiders were so dominant throughout that even Gates and Weddle, who are both outstanding players, might not have made that much of a difference.

The best teams know how to hold a big lead on an opponent, to keep them down and not let them back in the game. After being down 37-6, San Diego was able to put up 23 points in the final quarter and get within a touchdown, while the Raiders couldn’t get a first down just to burn off the clock at the end. If the game had been even two or three minutes longer it might have been a problem.

But this is a young team that’s still learning how to win, much less win decisively. Things happen, and the main thing is that they held on for the win, and learned a lesson without having to lose a game in the process. Whatever the case, the Raiders played crisp, focused ball, and they put together one of their best games in half a decade.

Week 4 Final: Bears 22, Raiders 20

Look, we can’t say we weren’t warned. Everything that’s been an issue for the Raiders so far — the inability to cover tight ends; settling for field goals instead of driving for touchdowns; getting points from turnovers — came to the forefront against what is (was) arguably the NFL’s worst team.

Full stats here, play-by-play here.

Going into this game, it was basically understood that no one should make too big of a deal out of it either way, especially if the Raiders had won. It’s interconference, against a mediocre team, there were a few bright spots, yada yada. But since they not only lost, but found a way to lose, you can at least say that this was a game that will dog them at the end of the season, just for rankings’ sake, that it was a game that they could and should have won, that it emphasized several glaring weaknesses that they are really going to have to work on if they’re going to take things to the proverbial next level.

This was always going to be a tougher game than it looked on paper, partly because it was in Chicago, partly because Jay Cutler, despite his flaws, was going to be tougher to beat than Jimmy Clausen. But again, these are the kinds of games that sort out average teams from truly good teams.

Onward and upward. Surely Jack Del Rio has the Raiders primed for an epic matchup against his former team, ready to tear Peyton Manning a new one, and head into the bye week on a really strong note. Keep your fingers crossed.

Week 3 Final: Raiders 27, Browns 20

Good game, right down to the wire, but a bit frustrating in some respects. It’s always a good day to walk away with a W, no matter how close, but before people start talking about turning a corner, it’s important to keep it in perspective. After a strong first three quarters, Oakland found a way to make a nail-biter out of what should have been a laugher, nearly blowing a three-possession lead. That’s the hallmark of young teams who haven’t learned how to finish games strong.

Some real bright spots to be worked on in the weeks to come, though — despite a midfield fumble in the 4th quarter that let the Browns get back in the game, Amari Cooper just gets better week to week. His route-running and after-catch moves make him a real offensive threat. The running game took a while to get going, but once it did, Latavius Murray broke off some great runs to extend drives.

Getting some sacks definitely helps as well, of course, but on a day where the secondary struggled as usual, it was somehow fitting that a banged-up Charles Woodson had the game-clinching interception, with Cleveland driving strong for what would have been a tying score. Linebackers Ray Ray Armstrong, who had the Raiders first sack of the game (and season), and Neiron Ball, who had a fumble recovery and a sack in the last five minutes of the game, really stepped up. Again, the key here is not so much the mistakes that let the Browns stay in the game, but that the Raiders continue to finish games, which they have done well today and last week.

How long has it been since the Raiders started off 2-1, ten years, twelve? How long as it been since they won two games in a row? I honestly can’t recall. Next week is another road game, against the Bears, who are terrible this season, then home against Denver, who are definitely not the team they’ve been the last few years. If the Raiders continue to play like they have against Baltimore and Cleveland, with poise and resilience, they could hit the bye week at 4-1.

Week 2 Final: Raiders 37, Ravens 33

Wow. What a crazy, fun game to watch. This is exactly the kind of game a young team needs to get under their belt — sloppy and unfocused at times, but pulling it together and getting it done when it counted the most. Key fouls by the Ravens during Oakland’s comeback drive helped, but Carr and the rest of the team showed great poise in finishing a tough game against a solid opponent.

Full game stats here.

I don’t think anyone foresaw the Raiders putting up 10 points within the first 5 minutes of the game, but that’s exactly what they did. After a couple of uncharacteristic drops by Amari Cooper, Derek Carr hooked up with him on a third-down play with a nice 68-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Baltimore started off its following possession with a fumble on the first play of the series, recovered by the Raiders and exploited for a short field goal. Unfortunately, due to the secondary’s continued difficulty in covering tight ends and seam routes, that lead was erased at the end of the first quarter. Sloppy penalties by Michael Crabtree (taunting) and Austin Howard (holding) stalled a promising early drive that would have added momentum to the Raiders’ lead.

Crabtree and Andre Holmes had terrific catches on a 2nd-quarter drive, and throughout the game at critical moments. Murray punched it in on a goal-line run. The defense had a nice stand on a 3rd-and-1 at midfield in the 2nd quarter, though they also gave up two 4th-and-1 plays (one in each half) that each cost them dearly. Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith killed a Ravens drive in 3rd qtr, forcing Flacco to throw, nearly picked by Asante. Offensive third downs were solid in the game, producing a nice long clock-killing touchdown drive late in the third quarter. A long run by Carr on a bootleg keeper was key to maintaining that drive.

The team and coaches deserve a lot of credit for being resilient after a nasty opening-day loss. There’s still a ton of work to do, as the defense gave up nearly 500 yards total, but the team at least showed that they could rebound respectably, start strong, and punch a good team square in the mouth.

Week 16 Final: Raiders 26, Bills 24

One thing to salvage from a tough season like this one is that, when the Raiders have won, it’s been against teams with winning records, and it’s been pretty decisively. Although Kyle Orton managed to lead Buffalo on a comeback drive and make it close(r), the fact is that the Raiders beat up the Bills on both sides of the ball throughout the game. Assuming that the team is finally beginning an upswing to carry into 2015, this is one of those games they can point to as the start of the turnaround.

Full game stats here.

Khalil Mack is proving to be a beast already. Teams are already double- and even triple-teaming him, and the Bills were no exception. Mack recorded one sack and two tackles and three assists, but he is a much more disruptive force than the numbers reflect. All day, Buffalo had to account for him, and Mack played a huge part in holding them Bills to 13 yards on 13 carries total.

The season ends on December 28 in Denver, always a tough but memorable game. In the meantime, despite some serious bumps in between (which the coaching staff will likely pay for), the team has managed to put together three impressive wins, against teams with winning records and were in fact vying for playoff spots. It may be too-little-too-late for 2014, but it’s definitely something to build on.

Week 15 Final: Chiefs 31, Raiders 13

The Raiders seem jinxed when it comes to visiting the state of Missouri. Two games in three weeks, lost 83-13 total. Maybe it’s something in the water. Maybe the Rams and Chiefs just wanted it more.

Well, Oakland kept it respectable in the first half today, anyway. But several serious miscues — starting with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown by De’Anthony Thomas — simply put the Raiders in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.

Full game stats here.

While Thomas’ return gave Kansas City a 10-3 halftime lead, it was a disastrous third quarter that put the game out of reach. Oddly, it was a turnover to the Raiders — specifically, Travis Kelce’s fumble directly into the arms of C.J. Wilson, who returned it 21 yards almost to the red zone — that made it clear what the ultimate outcome would be. The offense was unable to capitalize on prime field position and seize momentum, settling for a short field goal.

After Derek Carr fumbled a snap deep in his own territory, setting up an easy Chiefs touchdown, an easy 70-yard touchdown pass to backup running back Knile Davis sealed the Raiders’ fate.

Questionable coaching decisions didn’t help; Latavius Murray had 12 carries for a respectable 59 yards, but once the game got away from them they abandoned the run game, forcing Carr (who was clearly having an off day) to throw 56 times. A 56-16 pass-run ratio, with a perfect 50-50 time of possession split, shows just how badly Kansas City’s defensive line owned Oakland’s offense throughout the game.

Week 13 Final: Rams 52, Raiders 0

Holy crap. Did that just happen? That just happened.

Whatever hopes that last game’s comeback drive and win against the Chiefs would translate into positive momentum for the Raiders were dashed on the field at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. I said that the Rams were the best 4-7 team in the league, given the elite opponents they had beaten. And one of the key differences between good teams and bad teams is that while bad teams might win one once in a while, it doesn’t matter whether the team they beat is good or bad, they’ll just squeak by on luck or circumstance, a good drive at the right time. But a good team will punish bad teams.

And that’s what happened here; the Raiders were historically awful today, in all phases of the game. The offense is a dead fish, unable to get a first down until they were already down 21-0. They barely got across the 50-yard line, forget the red zone. McFadden and Jones-Drew ran hard, as usual, but mostly got stuffed (as usual), and once the score got out of hand the running game was abandoned (as usual). Matt Schaub finally got in the game in the fourth quarter, just long enough to fumble the ball away, and then throw a pick-six. That was $8.5M well spent.

The defense was slow and listless, looking like they were running uphill, underwater, through snow. Tre Mason ran through multiple tacklers, over and over again, racking up yards and touchdowns, looking like Jamaal Charles last year, as the D looked like they had never seen a screen before. While the defense did play tighter and better in the second half, by then the Rams were up 38-0. Too little, too late. By that point Shaun Hill, a career scrub, looked like Kurt Warner. Rookie WR Stedman Bailey rolled up nearly 100 yards receiving in the first quarter.

Special teams was a big fail also; George Atkinson III returned kicks as if he had never done it before, running indecisively, fumbling the ball away deep in their own territory. T.J. Carrie almost broke off a nice punt return, only to be flattened by Ray-Ray Armstrong. This is how teams end up 1-11 (or 1-15, at the rate they’re going); this is how they get pounded 52-0.

Full game stats here, if you have the stomach for it.

There’s no way to sugar-coat this one, no way to put a positive spin on it. This is literally the worst loss for the team since 1961, just three points off their record 55-0 loss to Houston over half a century ago.

Three years into the Great Rebuild, this is the team we have — listless, indifferent, undisciplined, incompetent. On the one hand, successful teams are built on continuity and stability and consistency, which would seem to indicate that it might be best to stay the course on management and coaching, or at least not replace anyone until someone better is available. On the other hand, 52-0. And like so many of their blowout losses this season and the previous two seasons, it wasn’t even that close; the Rams just let off the gas in the second half. Amazingly, it could have been even worse.

But the contrast was stark right from the beginning. St. Louis played tight, focused ball on offense and defense, taking their game right to the Raiders, daring them to punch back. And the Raiders were having none of it.

One of the more disheartening moments was seeing Carr and Schaub on the sidelines, down 45-0, chatting and smiling and laughing. News reports from the locker room afterward said the locker room demeanor wasn’t “angry” or “disgusted,” but rather “disappointment” and “surprise”. Frankly, I want them to be angry and disgusted. They embarrassed themselves and their fans, once again. It’s becoming a habit with this team and these players. They played like shit, ineptly, without passion or purpose. It’s unbelievable that they had ten days — after their first win in an entire year — to prepare for this game, and came out so flat and incompetent in every single phase. It’s unacceptable to fans, and it should be unacceptable to players and coaches.

So we’ll see what happens next — the Niners, reeling from their own embarrassing Thanksgiving loss to their arch-rival Seahawks, come to Oakland next Sunday. Speculation about Jim Harbaugh coming to coach the Raiders next season has been rampant all weekend, and there are pros and cons to that (like anything else). San Francisco’s visit across the Bay Bridge comes sandwiched between their Seahawk games; they have to travel to Seattle the following week, for a must-win game if they are to make the post-season.

Will the Raiders step up, use this humiliating experience to take their jobs seriously and play hard and well, against a team that may be looking ahead to a game they desperately need to win? Or will the Niners use an incompetent Raiders team as a punching bag for their own frustrations, as a warm-up and an easy win before they have to play a division rival? It’s up to the Raiders players and coaches to decide which way they want to go, to start fighting back and playing like the team that shocked the Chefs, or continue to be the team that other teams’ fans don’t even hate or laugh at any more, because they feel sorry for them.

Three years (with 9 wins and 25 losses) into the rebuild, and they are basically an expansion team at this point. If the NFL had English Premier League rules, the Raiders would be relegated. Losing but being able to see tangible progress is one thing, but there has been no progress — they get blown out every few weeks, just suffered their worst beatdown in 53 years, are on pace to have the worst running game in 70 years, have no kick/punt return game at all. How many times this season have you seen receivers bumble into each other on crossing routes, struggle to get separation, drop easy passes, how many times have they failed to get a simple push for a single yard on 3rd down?

Reggie McKenzie refuses to talk to media at this point (which will probably have to change after this most recent embarrassment), but the only question for him is where is the progress? There are glimmers of hope here and there in the potential of rookies like Mack and Carr, but not nearly enough to overcome the chronic dysfunction that seems to plague this team and organization. So many areas need change and improvement, it’s hard to know where to start. But after three years and regular blowout losses, it doesn’t even seem like it’s been started yet.

Al Davis built this team’s greatness and legacy on the premise that “we’d rather be feared than respected,” but at this point, the team and fans have been relegated to where they’d just rather be hated — or even ridiculed — than merely pitied.

Week 12 Final: Raiders 24, Chiefs 20

Damn, it feels so good to type the Raiders’ WINNING score first, at long last. And welcome to the fold, Latavius Murray. Better late than never, though it does make you wonder what took them so long. Murray made the most of his four carries, gaining 112 yards (nearly twice the team’s rushing average per game so far) before being knocked out by a cheap hit from Kurt Coleman that probably will (and should) draw a fine from the league.

In addition to Murray’s brief appearance exposing most of the rest of the run game as a fraud, Derek Carr showed great poise in leading the final game-winning drive, finding Mike Rivera on a key third-down conversion, and getting the first-down on a 4th-and-1 keeper. As expected, getting the go-ahead touchdown with 1:42 remaining gave Alex Smith a bit too much of a chance to come back, but the defense held tight and shut them down when it counted the most.

Full game stats here.

That penultimate play, the 3rd-and-long sack on Smith that resulted in Sio Moore and Khalil Mack dancing a bit too long deep in the backfield, characterized the season in a nutshell. Justin Tuck has really stepped up his game the last few weeks, and his heads-up timeout call while Moore and Mack were fooling around — while Smith and the Chefs were getting ready to get a free play off against nine defensive players — may have been the single most important call of this awful season. It’s hard to fault players for celebrating, after the season they’ve endured, and they’ve held together as a team admirably, but jeez — you have just twenty-eight seconds to go. It really is those little things, paying attention to the fundamentals and executing them better than the guy across the line from you, that make the difference between 0-10 and the other way around.

Still, it was a great game and a solid win against a very good opponent. The Raiders finally have a complete performance this season that they can take pride in and build on.

Week 11 Final: Chargers 13, Raiders 6

Is there a team in the entire NFL more snakebitten than the Raiders? Literally from the very first play, the offense played like they knew they were doomed. Derek Carr fumbled what must have been a flubbed snap from Stefen Wisniewski, and of course the Chargers fell right on it, scoring an easy touchdown just a couple of plays later.

Full game stats here.

Another solid defensive effort turns out to be all for naught, as the offense continues to struggle. A glimmer of hope came late in the game, as Latavius Murray finally got a few carries, including one for 23 yards, incredibly the longest by a Raiders running back this season (Derek Carr had a run for 41 yards against Houston in Week 2). It’s a safe bet that the entire Nation hopes that Tony Sparano and Greg Olson see the spark Murray provides, and either start him or at least work him more into the offense against the Chiefs on Thursday. Murray has been a subpar kickoff returner, but clearly brought something to the running game in his four carries (for 43 yards total) that McFadden (8-21) and Jones-Drew (4-6) continue to lack.

Third-down conversions are improving for the defense (San Diego converted only 4 of 15), but are worse for the offense (3 for 15). Between the non-existent run game and the inability to sustain drives, Marquette King has to punt 9 times yet again, and the time of possession is barely 25 minutes for this game. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the team will not win until those things improve; Derek Carr can throw for 500 yards, but unless he finds the end zone and the run game develops as well, it won’t matter.