Just when you thought the Raiders had figured out some things - at least on defense - they come out and have a performance as they did in London Sunday.
The highlights for Raiders fans ended early. It consisted of the Def Leppard set and the first drive. And that was it.
On the first play of the game, Derek Carr went for James Jones up the right sideline and Jones makes a diving one-handed grab for a 30-yard gain. A few plays later, Vincent Brown gets his first catch as a Raider. It goes for 8 yards to pick up the firsts down and put the Raiders in scoring position at the 33-yard line. The Raiders weren't done yet, though. Derek Carr goes for Andre Holmes this time to convert another third down and put the Raiders in first down at the 15-yard line.
After moving down the field through the air, the Raiders went to the ground and Darren McFadden ran to the three-yard line. Then Carr rolled left and scanned his receivers and hit tight end Brian Leonhardt for the touchdown. The Wembley Stadium crowd loved seeing the quick score as the Raiders went up 7-0 over the Dolphins.
On that opening drive, Derek Carr went 4 for 5 for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also converted three first downs. Just the start this struggling offense needed.
Just as the Raiders offense did to the Dolphins defense, the Dolphins offense did to the Raiders defense. The two differences being the Raiders moved the ball mostly through the air, and the Dolphins got the bulk of their drive on the ground. The other major difference is the Dolphins drive stalled outside the 20-yard line and they settled for a field goal. Raiders up 7-3 to begin the game.
The worst news on that drive is the loss of linebacker Kaluka Maiava to a hamstring injury. It looked coming in that the Raiders could have three healthy linebacker but that was when Miles Burris was questionable. Burris played but they ended up with three linebackers anyway.
The following drive the Dolphins went to the air. This time they had far more success. They got in business in Raiders territory when Ryan Tannehill put a perfect pass on Brian Hartline for a 35-yard catch. The Dolphins set up in scoring position once again at the Oakland 37-yard line. A few plays later, Tannehill hit Mike Wallace for 16 yards to put the Dolphins at the 15-yard line. Then it was Mike Wallace again on a catch in the flat he ran 13 yards for the touchdown to put the Dolphins up 10-3 following the extra point.
This is as good a time as any to remind you that the only team either of these teams has played well against were the Patriots. The main difference is the Raiders lost to the Pats while the Dolphins hung 33 points on them.
To further demonstrate this, the Raiders offense came out on the next possession and had a terrible series. Derek Carr attempted to improvise, throwing a short pass while falling away and had it tipped in the air. It was luckily not picked off because it was inside the ten-yard line. Carr was sacked on the following play and after the punt, the Dolphins had pretty good field position at their 37-yard line.
Three straight plays that resulted in first downs (15, 15, 10) and the Dolphins were quickly in the red zone once again. They found themselves in fourth and inches at the 8-yard line and went for it. They picked up more than the inches they needed. They picked up a few more as Lamar Miller took the pitch and ran for the touchdown. So much for that quick start by the Raiders, eh? They were quickly down 17-7 and it was still early in the second quarter.
Yet another futile three and out later, and the Raiders were punting the ball away. They got a break when the Dolphins return man fumbled it, giving them the ball back at their own 43-yard line. The Raiders very nearly gave it right back with a fumble by Vincent Brown but James Jones recovered. After another three and out, the Raiders punted once again. This time they could at least gain the field position battle.
That field position battle didn't favor the Raiders for long. Four plays to be exact. That's how long it took the Dolphins to drive to scoring position at the Oakland 35-yard line. From there they took a few plays to score. Ryan Tannehill with a bootleg left hit tight end Dion Sims, who had gotten behind three Raiders defenders for the score. It was 24-7 with 2:00 remaining in the first half.
After one first down, the Raiders once again stalled following a bad pass from Carr that sailed wide and incomplete of an open Mychal Rivera. That's how they headed into half time.
Remember the embarrassment against Houston in their home opener? Well, the Raiders have taken that embarrassment and gone international. So far this looks every bit the embarrassment that game was. But on a global scale.
After starting the game 6 for 7 for 67 yards and a touchdown, Derek Carr then went 6 for 12 for 49 yards the remainder of the firsts half.
The defense gave up a score on every Dolphins possession in the first half. Unless you count the kneel down to end the half.
Since the Dolphins won the toss, they got the ball first in the second half and it was more of the same. They went through the Raiders so-called defense like a spoon through clotted cream. On three consecutive plays they drove into Raiders territory, into scoring position, and in first and goal inside the five-yard line. It ended with a fumble, recovered by Charles Woodson for a touchback. But that too would not last long.
Three plays into the possession, in third and ten, Derek Carr stepped up to avoid pressure, and didn't avoid the corner shadowing his receiver and he was intercepted. It was returned to the 2-yard line and the Dolphins punched it in on the net play to further add to the implosion, now down 31-7 early in the third quarter.
After a short drive, Derek Carr pulled up lame and was taken out in favor of Matt McGloin. On the second play, Stefen Wisniewski had a bad snap and Cortland Finnegan picked it up and took it to the house and a 38-7 Dolphins lead. Still the third quarter.
Did I say a global scale? I meant galactic scale.
The two teams continued to trade turnovers with Matt McGloin and Ryan Tannehill both throwing interceptions. Then it was the two teams exchanging punts (yes, the Raiders actually stopped the Dolphins).
Matt McGloin took the ball once again and this time drove the Raiders for a touchdown. The final two plays were a long catch and run by James Jones followed by a 22-yard touchdown pass to Andre Holmes to make the score look a bit more respectable at 39-14.
The Dolphins took their foot off the gas at that point, removing Ryan Tannehill and replacing him with Matt Moore.
It didn't change much. Even with Moore at quarterback, the Dolphins were moving the ball on the Raiders. Mostly because the Dolphins just ran the ball to take time off the clock. They drove to the Oakland 20-yard line and opted to go for it on fourth down. Though they didn't convert, they were content to let the time run down and turn the ball over on downs. That pretty much was the end of it.
For all the talk of momentum and confidence in their close loss in New England last week, the Raiders looked even worse than they had in their home opener against the Texans two weeks ago.
The Raiders now head into the bye week at 0-4. There has been much speculation about whether Dennis Allen would be able to survive such a start. Getting blown out in this one may be the nail in the his proverbial coffin as Raiders head coach. With a bye week ahead and this team as inept as they've ever been, they have nothing to lose. Except more games.
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