As I have been saying a lot lately, the Raiders can't seem to get a complete game put together on both sides of the ball. These days it's the defense that has shown up while the offense is among the worst in the NFL. This week was no different in a 13-6 loss in San Diego.
Among the stooge-esque bumbling on offense, there was actually some good plays made on the other side of the ball. Though in the NFL, rarely does anyone want to watch 60 minutes of short yardage runs, incomplete passes, field goals, and punts.
But as usual, Ballers & Busters is here to give credit where it is due even in a seemingly unwatchable game as this one.
Following the game, Woodson said he "failed the team" because of one play he didn't make. That was a play late in the fourth quarter in which he stepped in front of a pass from Philip Rivers intended for Antonio Gates on what very well should have been a pick six. But the ball went through his arms and Gates managed to make a miraculous catch. It went from a potential game-tying play, to a big factor in the loss. Hard to really blame Woodson for the play he nearly made or the fantastic play Gates made. But even so, Woodson more than made up for it the rest of the game.
The ageless one led the Raiders with 14 tackles (11 solo). That's five more tackles than the next guy (Sio Moore). Most of those tackles were not made downfield after a long catch, either. The Chargers only had one catches go for more than 20 yards, and that was a touchdown.
The first actual drive the Chargers mounted in this game came late in the first quarter and Woodson had three tackles to help stop them to force a punt.
In the second quarter, the Chargers were driving again and were in first and goal at the 9-yard line. That's when Woodson stuffed a run for a 4-yard gain and two plays later joined his teammates in blanketing all receivers until pressure could come, forcing Rivers to throw the ball away to end the drive with a field goal. He had another tackle on the next drive which ended with a missed 48-yard field goal attempt.
The second series of the third quarter ended with Woodson stopped a receiver short of the first down. But this time Chargers kicker Nick Novak atoned for his miss to end the first half my nailing a 52-yard field goal.
Woodson's efforts helped keep this game within reach and he nearly put the cherry on top at the end. Still top Baller even without playing the hero.
He finally did it. Khalil Mack, in the 11th week of the 2014 NFL season got his first sack. It came on third down with just over six minutes remaining and got the Raiders the ball back where they then drove for a field goal to pull within a score late. That sack energized the entire Raiders team, and especially Mack who on the next drive did everything in his power (which is a lot) to give the Raiders offense another shot at pulling out the win. He had a run stuff for no gain, a run stuff for a loss, and then ended the drive with another run stuff for one yard on third and five. This after the Raiders offense routinely gave Mack and the defense very little rest all day. He showed up big time when the Raiders needed it most.
He wasn't exactly a ghost before those two drives either. He finally got a couple of holding calls from the officials in this one. One of those holding penalties wiped out a 26-yard catch that would have put the Chargers in first and goal. Despite being held, he still drove in on Philip Rivers and pushed his blocker onto Rivers' knee which had him hobbling around for a while. Dude's hard to stop and it's good to see he finally officially has a sack to show for it.
The first defensive play of this game was made by Sio Moore. The Raiders turned the ball over on the their first offensive play and from the Oakland 22-yard line, Moore stuffed the runner for no gain. Unfortunately they scored on a touchdown pass on the next play, but whaddyagonnado?
The first actual drive for the Chargers, Sio had another run stuff on the second play. The next time the Chargers began to move the ball was late in the second quarter and Sio locked up his man along with several others on third and goal from the 6-yard-line to hold them to a field goal.
Just as he had begun the game, Sio began the second half - with a run stuff. And the Chargers had a three and out to begin the third quarter. He had another run stuff on their next possession. And another on the following possession. That one came on third and one and Sio stuffed the run for no gain to force a punt.
Midway through the fourth quarter, when Khalil Mack got his sack, it was Sio who made it happen. He showed like he was going to blitz up the middle but at the snap of the ball, he backed out and shadowed Ryan Mathews out of the backfield. When Rivers saw Sio showing blitz, he immediately wanted to dump the ball off to Mathews on a shallow route out of the backfield, but when he looked Mathews' way, there was Sio right there with him. This allowed Mack to fight through his block and sack Rivers.
Sio finished second on the team with 9 tackles (6 solo) and only gave up one catch for 12 yards in coverage.
Also getting his first sack as a Raiders was Antonio Smith. He was a man possessed in this one, looking like his old pass rushing self. And with his sack, he even got to do his signature Ninja sword sack celebration. His first play of the day was a pressure on Rivers to force and incompletion and sending the Chargers offense to the sideline with a three-and-out on their second possession.
Later he got pressure in Rivers' face again and got a good lick on him as he threw. Those add up. And Smith added to it himself on the very next series when he again pressured Rivers and nailed him as he threw incomplete. The next possession was the first of the third quarter and that one ended with his sack on third down. His final play came to begin the fourth quarter when he held his gap to allow for a run stuff for no gain. He finished with 2 solo tackles - both for a loss-a sack and a QB hurry.
Nine games and nearly three quarters in to the season, it was Latavius Murray's turn to carry the ball. He had a total of six carries on the season before this game. And with just seconds remaining in the third quarter, he got the ball. His first carry went for 14 yards. They gave him the ball on the next play and he took it for 23 yards. Those two runs were ten yards more than the rest of the Raiders running backs had combined in this game.
Murray added a 7-yard catch, 10-yard catch, and a 5-yard run on the day. He finished with 43 yards rushing and 59 yards from scrimmage to which led the team in both categories.
The troubles the Raiders defense was giving Philip Rivers in this game was very reminiscent of week five last season when Rivers said he was confused by the Raiders schemes all day. There were several times when the Raiders defense made the right call to crack what Rivers and the Chargers offense planned to do. It was an overall fantastic defensive effort from start to finish and the Defensive Coordinator deserves some credit for that.
Brandian Ross - He made several nice plays in this game. The biggest one was a pass defended in the first quarter which won't count in the stats because there was an off-sides penalty. But had he not made the play, the Chargers would have declined the penalty in favor of the yards which would have put them in first and goal. Instead they had to punt. He later added a run stuff for no gain on second and goal from the 6-yard line to help force them to settle for a field goal. He finished third on the team with 8 tackles (6 solo).
Justin Ellis -- Big Jelly was doing some work in this one. He had a run stuff for no gain on the Chargers' second possession which ended in a three-and-out. To begin the second quarter, he got pressure on Philip Rivers to rush the throw and got his hands up to force it incomplete. That series ended on the next play.
He didn't make a lot of plays in this game, but the ones he made all seemed to have a great degree of difficulty to them. And he mixed it in with a good amount of poor decisions as well. Following the bad snap that resulting in a fumble to start the game, the next series ended with Carr throwing too short for a wide open Kenbrell Thompkins short of the first down. If Carr had thrown it where he should have, Thompkins not only would have had the first down, but some open field to run.
The next series, Carr put a pass in a tight window for a completion to Andre Holmes followed by a big 33-yard connection with Mychal Rivera that set up the Raiders first field goal.
On the first series of the second half, he twice attempted to improvise. The first time was a pitch to Marcel Reece that resulted in a tackle for a five-yard loss. Two plays later, he tried to throw a ball to the opposite side of the line to Darren McFadden who wasn't expecting it. The ball hung in the air too long and was nearly intercepted. Luckily it was only a three-and-out.
Midway through the fourth quarter, he connected with Kenbrell Thompkins who broke a tackle to go 35 yards to the San Diego 15-yard line. Then on third and two, Carr threw too high for Jones and the Raiders settled for a field goal.
The final drive began with Carr getting sacked for a 9-yard loss. Then with :42 seconds left, he threw a 10-yard pass to Latavius Murray and on third and nine, he threw incomplete into triple coverage. The final completion went for 28 yard to James Jones but it was not long enough and there wasn't enough time left. The Hail Mary fell incomplete and wouldn't have been long enough even if it had been caught.
On the final drive of the first quarter, Hayden gave up a 15-yard catch, but ended the drive when he tackled the receiver short of the first down to force a punt. On the Chargers final drive of the first half, he gave up a 14-yard catch on third and 6, then gave up a 9-yard catch and a 5-yard catch. The Chargers would miss the 48-yard field goal attempt.
On the Chargers first drive of the fourth quarter, Hayden gave up a 10-yard catch, but ended the drive with tight coverage on an incompletion on third down.
He gave up the only touchdown in the game. It came on the third play of the game from 22 yards out. Carrie had good coverage and even turned to face the ball but he didn't make a play on it and Malcom Floyd had an easy score. Two drives later, Carrie ended with a pass defended. He nearly gave up another catch to Floyd that would have set the Chargers up in first and goal, but a holding penalty on the Charger offensive line negated the play. Carrie didn't give up any long catches the rest of the game. He finished with 5 tackles (3 solo).