And we're back. Or maybe we never left. Each week it's the same story. Top Bu(rri)ster is Burris as he is Em-Burris-ed at the middle linebacker spot. His first glaring mistake was on the Cardinals second drive when he had terrible position on a running back catch in the flat which caused him to completely whiff on a tackle to allow a 37-yard gain. T.J. Carrie at least attempted to make the tackle and if Burris had protected the inside, he might have had him. But no. That gain put set the Cardinals up in scoring position and they drove for their first touchdown.
The Cardinals third touchdown was almost exclusively due to miscues by Burris. The first play he was blocked on a six-yard run. Two plays later he was called for pass interference. A few plays later he was again lost in traffic on a 13-yard run. Next play he was out of position and late to give up a six-yard run to set them up at the 4-yard line and on the next play, he missed the tackle to give up the touchdown run. Also yet again, he was not near the leading tackler. Mack was the top tackler, followed by the two safeties because they were so often picking up the slack.
On the Cardinals third drive, on first and 15, the Raiders set up in zone, and Carson Palmer easily found the soft spot right in front of Brown for a 19-yard completion. After a three and out by the Raiders with a sack that had Marquette King punting out of his own endzone, the Cardinals set up shop at the 50-yard line. And on the first play, Brown gave up a 15-yard catch. Three plays later, with the Cards were in third and 8, Palmer went from Michael Floyd who streaked up the right sideline with Brown in coverage. He appeared to be right there to defend it but as the ball got there, it was like he just sunk in quicksand while Floyd easily plucked the ball over the top of him for the 33-yard score and a 14-0 lead. On a drive in the fourth quarter, he gave up a 17-yard catch on third and nine. The drive continued, allowing the Cardinals to continue to eat clock while being up by one score (8 points).
Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson
While the pass protection has been quite good across the line this season, the run blocking has not been too good. That was on full display in this one against the NFL's best run defense in the NFL. But first, on the Raiders third series, Penn gave up a pressure on Carr on third and seven that forced him out of the pocket where he was tackled for just a 3-yard gain. A couple possessions later, he gave up a run stuff. Then to start the next drive, he gave up another run stuff. The first possession of the third quarter featured Jackson giving up a pressure on Carr to force and incompletion and later losing his block on a run stuff. After the Cardinals scored their third touchdown to go up 21-13, the Raiders needed to respond. Those hopes ended when on third and ten, Penn and Jackson both gave up pressure on Carr to force an incompletion.
Third down conversions. The Raiders gave them up 60% of the time in this game. The first touchdown drive, they converted on two third downs. The Raiders were also called for 12-men on the field with the Cardinals set up in first and goal from the six yard line. They converted another third down near the end of the first half when in third and five, they ran around left tackle and there was no one home, allowing an easy nine-yard pickup.
On their third touchdown drive, the Cardinals didn't even need third down as they went 80 yards in 8 plays with 5 first downs. Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Cardinals in 3rd and 26, Taver set the defense so far back, the Cardinals easily picked up 17 yards on a catch into Raiders territory. The result was the Raiders started their drive at their own 15-yard line. So much for the field position battle.
On the ensuing possession, the Cardinals needed to run clock and score. They did just that. That score was set up when third and 8, they called for a screen play and again, no one was there to cover it for a 10-yard gain to put them in position for a 41-yard field goal to put the game away.
How is it the one guy to score a touchdown in this game ends up a Buster, you might ask? I'll tell you. This week, Tony Sparano talked about "hidden yards" which the Raiders must find to win these games. Well, sometimes those yards are ‘hidden' in big holes which without the proper vision, are never found.
McFadden left a lot of them out there Sunday. The Raiders went three and out on their first two series. Of those six plays, four featured McFadden - 4-yard run, 4-yard run, 3-yard catch, and a screen attempt in which he didn't knock the rushing defensive end off his path, allowing him to tip the ball so it never got to him. The following series saw yards left on the field. On the second play he didn't hit the hole that was created for him and was stuffed for a two-yard gain. Two plays later, he had a 12-yard gain on a wildcat but he could have gotten even more had he went behind his block inside left tackle instead of opting for outrunning the defender around the edge.
Even on the drive he scored the touchdown, he wasn't great. He had a catch in the flat on the first play and couldn't break and open field tackle for just a 2-yard gain. The big play of the drive was Derek Carr to Brice Butler for 55 yards that set the Raiders up at first and goal at the 3-yard line. Then it took McFadden three rushes to gain that three yards.
In the fourth quarter, after the Cardinals scored another touchdown to go up 21-13, McFadden had another stuffed run from not following his blocks. Overall, he was back to his average of 3.4 yards per carry and trying to run by defenders like he was back in college and dealing with lesser athletes.
‘Jelly' rolled out there for 48 snaps in this game (63%), probably because Pat Sims was ineffective last week. The results were not much better for Ellis than they were for Sims. Ellis had just one tackle in this game while routinely getting pushed around by offensive linemen. There were at least five plays that went right through his position and he couldn't make the stop on any of them. His one tackle came five yards downfield. It started in the third quarter with an 8-yard run on the first drive then a 13-yard run, a 5-yard run, and a 6-yard run on their next drive which led to their third touchdown. He was also blocked on a 5-yard run on the Cardinals final drive for the game-winning field goal.
Woodley left this game early in the third quarter with an injury but he had his share of ineffective play prior to that. He again had just one tackle. He was also blocked on a 13-yard run on the Cardinal's first touchdown drive. He was blocked on a 10-yard run on the Cards' first drive of the third quarter. Then he helped to give up runs of 13 yards and 5 yards on their third touchdown drive. That second run he gave up is where he hurt himself.