Last Sunday meant a lot of things to these Raiders. They got their second win in three weeks, first and foremost. They beat their cross-bay rival 49ers which made it all the sweeter. And it was a big bounce back game after getting blown out 52-0 in St Louis just the week before. That shows great character, especially for a squad that was once 0-10 on the season.
The final score of 24-13 doesn't really convey just how decisive this victory was over the 49ers. The Raiders beat up the 49ers and made Colin Kaepernick look like a bumbling mess for much of the game. All the while, the Raiders offensive attack rose up in the second half with two-straight long touchdown drives.
This one closely resembled the win over the Chiefs two weeks ago on Thursday night and bore no resemblance whatsoever to their showing against the Rams in a week that had zero Ballers and a great many Busters. That contrast should be evident in the Ballers & Busters this week too.
Just last week I was talking about Derek Carr not being at the point where he is capable of carrying this team. He pretty much did just that in this game. Let's just focus on the three touchdown drives.
The first drive started at the end of the first quarter just after the 49ers had put a touchdown on the board to take the lead at 7-3. After a false start penalty and a couple of short runs, Carr set up on third and 9 and connected with Vincent Brown for a 20-yard catch. Two plays later, he hit Mychal Rivera for 19 yards to set the Raiders up in first and goal at the 7-yard line. A couple plays later, he tossed a short pass to Donald Penn who scored from three yards out to take the lead back at 10-7.
The 49ers would add a couple field goals - one at the end of the first half and one in the third quarter to take the lead back again at 13-10. And just like the last time the 49ers took the lead, Carr and the Raiders offense answered with a touchdown drive.
Carr had his way with the 49ers defense on this drive. He threw a 16-yard pass to Andre Holmes followed by a 12-yard pass to Marcel Reece. A few plays later, he escaped pressure and directed traffic to position Mychal Rivera for a 27-yard completion. He finished off the drive with a 7-yard hook-up with Reece followed by hitting Reece again on a 9-yard post pattern for the score and a 17-13 lead.
Just to see to it, this time the 49ers wouldn't creep back into it, Carr came back out on the next series, dealing again. First play, he hit Holmes in stride for 22 yards. Then, just like the drive before this one, he threw under pressure to Rivera for 27 yards. He again went to Reece for 14 yards, then back to Rivera for an 8-yard completion to the 6-yard line. He finished things off going to his favorite receiver on the day once again with a 5-yard touchdown to Rivera and a 24-13 statement which the 49ers could not answer.
The rookie signal caller went 22 of 28 on the day. One of those incompletions was thrown away, the other dropped which means just four on-target incompletions. He threw for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions for an impressive 140.2 passer rating. He looked like the far better quarterback in this game over Colin Kaepernick.
Can't give Carr credit without acknowledging his top target for his contributions. Rivera had his first career 100-yard game, finishing with 109 yards on 7 catches. He caught every pass thrown his way and the final catch was the final touchdown of the day.
Among Rivera's catches were a 19-yard catch on the first touchdown drive to the 7-yard line, an 18-yard catch on third and 6 on the following drive, a 27-yard catch on the second touchdown drive, and another 27-yard catch along with an 8-yard catch to the 6-yard line, and the 5-yard touchdown catch for the final score.
Offensive linemen are usually at their best when they are absent from the game wrap. That means they went about their business blocking to allow others to put up the stats. Not this day. This day, Penn got in the box score with a touchdown catch. It was the Raiders' first touchdown of the day. With the Raiders in third and goal at the three yard line, he reported as eligible. Upon the snap went a couple yards out and turned around. Carr was going to him the whole time, but thinking Penn would need a balloon to catch, Carr threw it a little too softly and Penn had to dig it out, then leaned back, took a hit, and scored the touchdown.
He quickly took congratulations from his teammates and then ran to fulfill a lifelong dream by leaping into the Black Hole. That was a great moment. But it's not why he is a Baller.
Penn is a Baller because he protected Carr's blindside to perfection against a fantastic 49ers pass rush, primarily Aldon Smith. He didn't allow a sack or even a single hurry. Many times in this game Carr had time to survey the field and go through his reads which was a major reason why he was able to pick apart the 49ers defense. The touchdown catch and subsequent beer shower in the Black Hole was a fitting reward for a great game.
Brandian Ross, Charles Woodson
These two represent the first play of the game, and essentially the last. On the very first snap of this game, Kaepernick dropped back, rolled left, and threw for Michael Crabtree up the left sideline. Upon Kaepernick's roll out, Ross immediately made a break toward Crabtree and got to the ball before Crabtree could to pick it off. It was a perfect way to start this game. The Raiders moved into scoring position and took the early 3-0 lead on a field goal.
Woodson sealed the victory at the end. Kaepernick was looking for Vernon Davis over the middle, hoping to simply put the ball where only Davis could get it. Unfortunately, he didn't see Woodson at all, who laid out to pick off the ball. CWood got up to run momentarily but opted to go down to preserve the victory. It was Woodson's team leading third interception of the season and the 59th of his career.
In between the first big play and the last, Ross and Woodson made a great many more plays for the Raiders. Ross made what may have been a TD saving tackle on the next drive, to stop a catch and run at 18 yards. The drive ended three plays later.
The 49ers touchdown drive was not good for either of them. Though they combined for four tackles on the drive, Ross missed a tackle on a 23-yard catch and Woodson gave up a 7-yard catch on third and 4 which set up the touchdown on the next play.
In the third quarter the two teams were tied at 10-10 with the 49ers knocking on the door. On consecutive plays to end that drive, Woodson had coverage in the endzone on an incompletion, and Ross stopped the catch on 3rd and goal at the 2-yard line to hold them to a field goal.
Woodson finished with a team-leading 8 tackles (7 solo), with Ross third on the team with 5 tackles (5 solo).
Tarell Brown, D.J. Hayden, T.J. Carrie
This completes the Raiders secondary. And all of them are entirely deserving of being here. Brown stepped up against his former team, Hayden gave up just two catches in the game, and Carrie was a big hitter who tied for the team lead with two tackles for loss.
With that first interception by Ross, it was Brown who had the coverage on Crabtree to force Kap to try and throw it over him. Carrie had his first tackle for loss on the 49ers next drive that ended with a sack on the next play on third and 11. None of the plays made on the 49ers touchdown drive went through any of these three.
On a drive in the second quarter, Brown and Hayden were flagged on consecutive plays for pass interference and holding. Then when the 49ers attempted a field goal, Brown shot into the backfield and his blocker was called for holding, which forced them out of field goal range and they would instead have to punt.
The final drive of the first half, Brown got his foot caught under his man as he went down and he laid on the field for a couple minutes. It looked like it could be pretty bad. He eventually got up and walked gingerly to the sideline. Then two plays later, he returned to the game and had a coverage incompletion on the final play to hold the 49ers to a long field goal attempt. Toughness.
These three each made plays at the end of the 49ers drive to begin the third quarter. With the 49ers in first and goal at the nine-yard line, Carrie had his second tackle for loss. Next play, Brown had good coverage in the endzone to force an incompletion. Then on third and goal at the 10-yard line, Hayden finished off a tackle started by Brandian Ross to hold the catch short of the goal line and force a field goal.
Hayden would stop a catch short of the sticks to end the next series. The following drive, Brown had a pass defended, Carried stopped a catch short of the first down on third and five, had tight coverage on a 7-yard completion on third and 2, and stopped a catch for a 2-yard gain. Kaepernick rarely saw an open receiver in this game thanks to these three.
It took Mack ten games into the season to get his first sack. He got two more in this game. Along with getting two sacks, he had six total pressures which led all linebackers this week. But wait, there's more. That interception to begin the game was forced in part due to pressure Mack put on Kaepernick. His first sack came late in the fourth quarter. It was on first down to put the 49ers in second and 15. Then he applied the pressure on the next play to force an incompletion. On third and 15, Kaepernick threw the interception to Woodson. Mack's second sack was the final play of the game.
He had two sacks in the game with nearly identical stats to that of Khalil Mack. Smith's sacks just came a bit earlier. His first sack came late in the second quarter and helped end a 49ers series with a three-and-out. His second sack came on the defensive play before Mack's first sack near the end of the fourth quarter. That sack came on third and 8 to end what was a promising 49ers drive and hold them to a field goal attempt which kicker Phil Dawson would pull wide left.
Just like Mychal Rivera, Reece caught all seven passes thrown his way. That is much easier when most of your catches are near the line of scrimmage, but Reece made the most of those catches near the line - 49 of his 64 receiving yards came after the catch. He had an 11-yard catch on the Raiders first possession to set up the first score on a field goal. The first play of the Raiders first touchdown drive was a 6-yard catch by Reece. On their third touchdown drive, Reece had three catches for 28 yards including the 9-yard touchdown on third and one. He had two more catches on the next touchdown drive of 5 and 14 yards. His blocking was a bit suspect but as a receiver, it was his best game of the season.
Latavius Murray -- His day wasn't up to the standards he set for himself over his first two games as a Raider, but it was still a pretty good day. On the Raiders first touchdown drive he had three runs for 23 yards and presented enough of a threat that the 49ers had to account for him which helped give Carr time to throw. When the Raiders got the ball at the end of the game with 2:31 on the clock, he had a 16-yard run which he slid down instead of running for the score to help run the clock down more. He finished with 76 yards on 23 carries (3.3 yards per carry).
Stefen Wisniewski - Though he wasn't the deciding block on any runs in the game, he also didn't give up any pressures on Derek Carr which is impressive considering he was often facing two of the better defensive linemen in the league in Ray McDonald and Justin Smith.
He was lights out as a pass blocker but his run blocking was not so good. While giving up just one hurry in the game, he had just one key block on a 15-yard pitch run by Murray while giving up a run stuff on the Raiders first offensive play of the game and a tackle for loss on the second to last offensive play of the game.