With the first wave of cuts looming, it was important for the backups on this team to have a good showing. Surprise cuts always happen so every snap is crucial for these hopefuls. The backups would get nearly a whole half of football to themselves in this game.
For the most part, there was some fine play by the Raiders reserves. They took a 13-10 third quarter deficit and outscored the Lions 21-7 the remainder of the game. From a team perspective, the 13-10 score was more important, but from an individual standpoint, it is very important for the backups trying to move up the depth chart or make the team.
Here are those who blew up the spot and those who crashed and burned:
What a turn around. After landing on the Buster list the first two weeks, he tops the Baller list. He was on fire in this game. First it was the afterburners he put on to scramble for a 59 yard run which was followed up by another run in which he escaped pressure and ran for a 17 yard touchdown. Then on his next drive he threw to Juron Criner for a 41 yard touchdown. He finished off his jaw-dropping day with another pass to Criner which the rookie receiver took for a 76-yard touchdown. He was far from perfect, though. Both of his first two TD drives almost didn't happen. He had a fumbled snap on the first drive that was luckily recovered by the Raiders. On the next drive he had a bad interception that was called back due to a penalty and a fumbled snap. But his great plays were what won this game for the Raiders and that is the essence of what it means to be a Baller.
From the looks of things, he was in a dead heat coming into this game to make this team. If that is true, he made the team with this performance. As part of the third team defensive line, Cumbie came into the game until early in the fourth quarter. He finished off his first drive with a run stuff followed by a sack. Next drive, he had two tips at the line for incompletions and then ended the drive by putting pressure on the quarterback and for an incompletion. And just when you thought two tips were enough, he effectively ended this game by tipping the ball at the line AGAIN. He has been showing up big time in this preseason.
The world was finally able to see the Juron Criner that we have been seeing throughout camp. The Juron Criner who tracks passes and nabs them like flypaper. The first pass he pulled in was an underthrown ball from Terrelle Pryor. Criner led the corner long and then last instant lept in the air to pulled it down over his back and fell into the endzone for a 41 yard touchdown. The next pass he saw, he had beaten his man and reached out to fingertip grab the Pryor pass, keep him feet and run for a 76-yard touchdown. As they say, ‘that's what I'm talkin' about.'
Talk about making a statement. He stepped up and took the primary backup job in Oakland with his performance in this game. On the Raiders' first touchdown drive he had two nice runs to help get them in the redzone before Darren McFadden came back in the game to finish out the drive. On each of the next two drives, he had a nifty run- each more impressive than the last. The second run was improvisation at its finest. He was set to go up the middle but as soon as he got the handoff, he had the defensive tackle in his face on a bull rush. He quickly spun away, stepped forward only to see the lane had filled up with a linebacker. Then he popped back and ran left and turn on his speed to pick up 11 yards. That may not seem like a big run but considering where he started and how he got there, it was pretty incredible. He finished with 10 rushes for 50 yards.
He made two potentially great plays in this game. Mr Opportunistic, makes his own opportunities. First play he made was when he tackled Lions' return man Justin Miller to keep him from scoring after an 80-yard return. It saved four points because the Lions were unable to convert. Later, he had in interception in which he reached in and stole the ball away from the receiver. Unfortunately it was negated by a bogus roughing the passer penalty on Tommy Kelly.
He didn't even enter the game until the fourth quarter. But when he did, you could tell. He promptly gave up a catch and two plays later, he gave up another catch for a first down. Just one more drive in the game now. Again, first play Chekwa gave up a 17-yard catch. A few plays later he gave up a 5-yard catch following by an illegal hands to the face penalty. A few plays later, the Lions scored a touchdown. Rookie Kellen Moore was loving him some Chimdi in this game.
He was in on special teams in the first half and missed a tackle to give up a 80-yard kickoff return. Sebastian Janikowski tried to stop the return man and pulled up lame with a groin injury. If Janikowski is out for long, Taylor deserves some of the blame for that. He also gave up a 14-yard catch on the Lions' final drive to set up their last touchdown.