Raiders Escape San Diego With Key Late Season Road Win.

Terrell White – Dec 19, 2016

Holla At Me Raider Nation!

Ok, Ok, I know that everyone wants to talk about the end of the Raider playoff drought. Now, I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't enjoying the moment. However, for me the playoffs have never been the ends of a means, but always a means to an end. It's not about the playoffs. It's about the Super Bowl; Which you can only get to - if you make the playoffs. A Super Bowl that I don't believe the Raiders can win, with their offense operating exclusively out of the shot gun formation.

Raiders On O.

For the Raider offense, playing on the road in Kanas City, is / was nothing like playing on the road in San Diego. This game might as well have been a Raider home game. Every time the camera would pan to the crowd looking for powder blue, all they would find was Silver & Black!! You know you're having a bad home day, when you can't get you're offense run -- due to the crowd screaming for the other team! In other good news, the Raider offensive line would welcome back #70 K. Osemele. However, the Raider offense still seems to be operating slightly out of gear. My belief, as it has always been is that the Raider offensive being stuck in shot gun formation, due to the dislocated pinky on Carr's throwing hand has been hampering this teams explosion and productivity.  

It was good to see Raider tight end #81 Michael Rivera involved early (and late) in the Raiders game plan. On a 3rd & 8 (Raiders driving after the Charger opening touchdown) from the San Diego 44 yard line Carr would find the tight end for a 15 yard first down. I was hoping that the team would come back the tight end later in the drive; However on their next 3rd & 8, this time from Charger 27 yard line Carr would look for wide receiver #15 M. Crabtree. Crabtree unfortunately would juggle and drop the third down pass. Forcing the Raiders & kicker #11 S. Janikowski into a 45 yard field goal. Raiders: 3 Chargers: 7.

After the Brue Irvin sack would force a Charger punt it was good to see the Raiders look to get back to running the ball. As we all know, late in the season, and especially in the playoffs an offense having the ability to move the ball with their running game is vital for their success. Speaking of success, you could say that Raider rookie running back # 30 J. Richard has been one. All season long Richard has been providing the Raiders with a spark. Sunday was no exception. Late in the first quarter the Raider rookie rusher would break off a 25 yard run setting the Raider offense up just inside the Charger 20 yard line. However, on the next play from scrimmage running back #28 L. Murray would be stripped, and fumble; The ball would be recovered by San Diego, killing a Raider scoring opportunity.

The Raider defense however would refuse to allow San Diego to capitalize off of the Murray fumble. Carr and the Raider offense would get the ball back, and would put together what appeared to be a very nice drive. On 3rd & 10 from mid field Carr would find wide receiver #89 A. Cooper for a nice first down catch & run. Cooper would beat Charger star defensive back #26 C. Hayward, who would go for the deflection, while making the catch on the left side line, and take off down the field for a 28 yard gain. However, on 3rd & 6 from inside the Charger 20 yard line the Raider offense would suffer another turnover; This time around the culprit would be quarterback #4 D. Carr; When he would have his pass be intercepted by Charger defender #38.

After another 3 & out forced by the Raider defense, the Raider offense would be set up in great field position. However, the Raider drive would stall when on 2nd & 10 from the Charger 48 yard line San Diego rookie defensive end #99  J. Bosa would reintroduce himself to Raider quarterback D. Carr. Bosa would beat Raider tackle #77 A. Howard around the right side, and sack Carr as he was looking to move to his left, in an effort to extend the play. The Bosa sack (3rd in 2 meetings against Oakland) would put the Raider offense into a 3rd & 16; Forcing an eventual kick by Raider punter #7 M. King.

No matter what has been going on with the Raider offense, you have to love how they perform late in halves. Sunday again was no exception. With 1:29 left in the first half, and down by 7  Carr and the Raider offense would go to work. On 1st & 10 from their own 25 yard line Carr would run a delayed hand off play for running back #28 L. Murray; After a 9 yard run the Raiders would be set up with a 2nd &1. Once again Carr would call on running back #28 L. Murray. This time the Raider rusher would burst up the middle for a 33 yard gain. The dash by Murray would set the Raiders up with a 1st &10 at the San Diego 35 yard line. 1st &10, with 56 seconds left Carr hands to running back #33 D. Washington for a 12 yard pick up. 47 seconds left, 1st &10 from the 21 yard line of the Chargers, Carr's pass to D. Washington is incomplete. 2nd & 10 Carr drops back and hits running back #30 J. Richard for a short gain. A 3rd down holding call on #20 Lowery against Raider tight end #88 C. Walford would set the Raiders up with a 1st &10 from the 16 yard line. On 1st down Carr would drop back and loft a pass to wide receiver #15 M. Crabtree who would come up with yet another high light touchdown catch. Raiders: 10 Chargers: 10. Half-Time.

After tying the score just before the half, the Raiders would come out in the 3rd quarter looking to take control of the game. The first big play of the Oakland drive to start the second half would come when quarterback #4 D. Carr would hit wide receiver #18 A. Holmes for a  20+ yard pick up. The Holmes reception would set the Raider offense up with a 1st &10 from the Charger 23 yard line. On 1st & 10 Carr would hand the ball off to running back #28 L. Murray for 3 yards. 2nd & 7 Carr tosses underneath to wide receiver #10 S. Roberts. However, on 3rd & 2  Carr would be fortunate to no have his pass intercepted by Charger defender #54 M. Ingram. The Raiders would have to settle for a #11 S. Janikowski field goal from 33 yards away. Raiders: 13 Chargers: 10.

It's now towards the end of the third quarter. The Raiders have the ball, down by 3 inside their own 10 yard line. Carr drops back and (from his own end zone) hits wide receiver #15 M. Crabtree for a 20 yard pick up. Next 1st & 10 Carr gets Charger defender $54 M. Ingram to just off sides. Now 2nd & 3 Carr would go back to his tight end #81 M. Rivera for a 29 yard gain down the left side line. However, once again despite a promising star, the Raiders offensive drive would stall, and the team would be forced to punt.

After being gifted with a turnover the Raider offense, down by 3 in the 4th quarter would find themselves with a golden scoring opportunity. A Malcom Smith fumble recovery would give the Raiders the ball 1st & 10 from the Charger 13 yard line. 1st & 10 Carr hands the ball off to L. Murray for a one yard gain. On 2nd & 9 Carr throws a little dump off pass to fullback #49 J. Olawale who gets brought down around the 2 yard line. 1st & goal Raiders run L. Murray on the right side, but he is stood up by #51 Emmanuel. On 2nd & goal Carr and the Raiders would look to go with the play action pass. However, the Chargers were not fooled, and Carr's pass to tight end #88 C. Walford would fall incomplete. Now 3rd & goal, the Raiders would again go back to Murray, this time trying the left side of the line; The result however would end up the same, stuffed for no gain. The Raiders would be forced into kicking the game tying field goal; It was lucky for them that the Chargers kicker missed his extra point attempt earlier in the contest. Raiders: 16 Chargers: 16.

Despite the Raiders being unable to score the go ahead touchdown, you have to admire how the offense has handled late game situations. Sunday, again the Raiders would not disappoint. with 6 minutes left in a tie contest the Raider offense would go to work. On 1st & 10 from their own 20 yard line running back #28 L. Murray would take off for a 27 yard burst up to the Raider 47 yard line. On the next play Carr would hit wide out #10 S. Roberts who would take the ball down to the 31 yard line of San Diego. Now with 4:34 left in the game the Raiders would be facing a 3rd 8 from just inside the Charger 30 yard line. Carr would take the snap, and feel almost immediate pressure coming from his left side. The signal caller would scramble out to the right, and not being able to find an open receiver, would use his legs to pick up the key 1st down for the Raider offense.

After the Carr 1st down scramble the Raiders would have a fresh set of downs at the Charger 21 yard line. A 2 yard run by Murray would have the Raiders in a 2nd & 8. An incomplete pass to wide receiver #89 A. Cooper would leave the Raiders with a 3rd & 8. On 3rd & 8 however, quarterback #4 D. Carr would be sacked by Charger defender #54 M. Ingram. The sack would leave the Raiders no other option but to attempt another S. Janikowski 44 yard (game ending) field goal. Raiders: 19 Chargers: 16. Game Over.

Raiders On D.

When the Raiders and Chargers get together you can pretty much throw away the records. The teams have a long history, and anything can happen. Last time the two teams met the contest was a shoot out; Things were looking to be headed in the same direction this time around. On the Chargers opening drive they would be facing a 3rd & 8 from around mid field when San Diego quarterback #17 P. Rivers would launch a 47 yard touchdown pass  to a wide open T. Benjamin. Raider defensive back #21 S. Smith was beaten on the play. The San Diego offense would run 8 plays for 97 yards on the scoring drive.  Raiders: 0 Chargers: 7.

I will give the Chargers credit. They weren't going to allow Raider defensive end #52 K. Mack to wreck their offensive game plan. Unfortunately for San Diego they forgot that Mack isn't alone. Raider outside linebacker #51 Bruce Irvin has been doing a great job this season of taking pressure off of K. Mack. Sunday was no exception. Early (and late) Irvin would make his presence felt. On the Chargers second possession they would find themselves facing a 3rd & 8 deep in their own end when Irvin would come up with his first of two sacks on the day. 

After a shaky start to the season, and despite injury the Raider defense has more then held their own. A lot of credit has to go to defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. As well as to the defensive minded head coach Jack Del Rio. Consistently on Sunday the Raider defense forced the Charger offense into 3 & out situations. Moreover, even when the Chargers would find themselves in the Raiders red zone the defensive unit would not allow Rivers and the Chargers to score touchdowns.

We saw a great example of this late in the second quarter. With under 2 minutes left, the Chargers would be up by 4 and have the ball in the Raider red zone. On 1st & 10 Rivers would throw a 5 yard pass to wide receiver #16 T. Williams. Now, 2nd & 5 Rivers would look to the end zone, but would come up incomplete on his pass to tight end #85 H. Henry. 3rd &5 Rivers would barely escape the Raider blitz (and Bruce Irvin), and be forced to throw the ball away. 4th & 5 from inside the Raider red zone Charger kick a field goal. Raiders: 3 Chargers: 10. 

With the game now in the 3rd quarter and the Raiders up by a field goal, San Diego would look to pressure the Oakland defense. On 1st & 10 from their own 44 yard line Rivers would hand off to running back #27 Farrow. After another run, this time by #36 Hillman for no gain the Chargers would be in another 3rd down situation. San Diego would convert on 3rd & 4 when Rivers would hit wide receiver #15 D. Inman for a 6 yard first down. 1st & 10 from the Raider 48 Rivers would once again hit wide receiver #15 D. Inman for the 1st down. 1st &10 from just outside the Raider 30 yard line quarterback #17 P. Rivers drops back, and once again (no this is not a type-o) finds wide receiver #15 D. Inman. On Inman's first two receptions he was abusing Raider defensive back # 21 S. Smith. On the 3rd, a 26 yard pick up that would set the San Diego offense up inside the Raider 10 yard line he was taking advantage of being covered by Raider defensive back #28 T.J. Carrie. On 1st & goal Phillip Rivers would find #86 H. Henry, who was able to get inside against Raider defender S. Smith for the go ahead touchdown; However, some of the juice from the Charger score would be drained when the extra point attempt by kicker #2 J. Lambo would be missed . Raiders: 13 Chargers: 16.

The 4th quarter would begin with the Raiders down by 3 and with the defense, once again needing to come up with some key plays. San Diego would being their 4th quarter drive looking to take time off the clock. On 1st & 10 from their own 10 yard line Rivers would hand the ball off to running back #27 K. Farrow (the rookie would have 30 yards on 10 carries at this point in the contest). After a gain of 3, it would be 2nd & 7. Rivers would hand the ball  back to farrow, who would gain 4 yards on the play. Now 3rd & 3 from the 13 yard line Raider Nation would interfere with Rivers being able to hear the play call, and he would be forced to burn a time out. After the time out, Rivers would again look to hand to ball off to his running back #27 K. Farrow; However, the Raider defense was ready. Farrow would be met, and stripped of the ball by Raider linebacker #54 P. Riley Jr. The Farrow fumble would be recovered by Raider linebacker #53 M. Smith.  

With the Raiders holding on to a slim 3 point lead, once again the task of closing out the game would fall on the shoulders of the Oakland defense; Once again the unit would not disappoint. On 1st & 10 from their own 15 yard line Charger quarterback P. Rivers would throw incomplete to his wide out Benjamin. 2nd & 10 Rivers would be chased and sacked (again) by #51 B. Irvin. Now 3rd & 15 from inside the 10 Rivers would have his pass swatted at the line by #52 K. Mack. On 4th & 15 Rivers would once again be harassed by #52 B. Irvin, and have his pass be intercepted by Raider safety #27 R. Nelson. Game Over.

End Game.

I've been saying for a while now that despite the fact the Raiders have, for the most part been winning while Carr and the offensive have been stuck working exclusively out of shot gun formation, that the running game has been suffering. We saw it in the loss to Kanas City. Moreover, we saw it in the win against San Diego.

On 3rd & 1, & goal to go situations late in the year, and especially in the playoffs your quarterback needs to be able to take a snap from under center, be able to turn around, and hand the ball off. Last week against Kanas City the Raiders struggled running the ball in short yardage  / goal to go situations out of the shot gun. Sunday against the Chargers the trend continued. For example, late 3rd quarter, 3rd & 1 from their own 33 yard line - Murray was stuffed - Raiders punt

An even better example was on display in the 4th quarter of Sunday's contest. Late in the game the Raiders were down by 3, but did have possession of the ball. The Oakland offense was sitting with a 1st & goal from the 2 yard line and in 3 tries were unable to get the ball across the goal line. Running out the shot gun give the defense too much of an indication as to where, and which direction you are going to go with the football; Not to mention the fact that it all but eliminates the quarterback sneak. The Raiders were able to get away with this against the super choking Chargers, but in the playoffs - I get the feeling it's going to be an entirely different situation; However, I'm going to worry about that then. My hope (and prayer) is that by the time the Raiders are ready to play in their 1st playoff game Carr will be able to operate the offense from under center.

Sticking to the present, after the teams disappointing loss last week in Kanas City it was good to see that the squad was focused on not having a repeat performance. Once again the Raiders were able to do just enough both offensively, and defensively to come away with the win. It's been a season of accomplishments for our Raiders. The accomplishment of winning the division is well within the teams grasp. They've already accomplished the goal of having a wining season, and reaching the playoffs. Now all we need to do is get a few players health, and see what other goals we can accomplish.

Raider From Birth.

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