Editor's note: This week's Top Buster was a decision I was unable to give to just one person or even a couple people. There were so many critical mistakes across the team, it made that task impossible. So, what I've done this week is split the Busters in the two tiers - the Top Busters and the rest of the Busters. For the Top Busters we'll just start at the top of the chain and go from there.
Jack Del Rio
When this team was putting up big points on offense a few weeks ago and blew out the Chargers and Jets, I asked if anything the Raiders were doing surprised him. He answered with an emphatic "No" with nothing further. Then what they did (or didn't do) this week must have taken him completely off guard.
The way he managed this game seemed like he was just standing over there in utter disbelief, because it was like he was a spectator with the rest of us. Early in the second quarter, on two consecutive plays, Del Rio had the chance to possibly change the outcome and didn't.
With the Raiders in third and four from their own 47-yard-line, Derek Carr took too long to get out of the huddle and get to the line and was called for delay of game. Seeing the clock tick down, a timeout would have been a good idea there. Instead they were pushed back to third and nine from their own 42-yard-line.
Now third and long, made a pass the obvious call. Carr hit Crabtree along the right sideline, Crabtree tapped his toes inbounds with possession, took two steps out of bounds, stumbled, used the ball to catch his balance and left it on the turf several yards out of bounds. Initially ruled a catch (the right call) until the ball was left on the turf and then the catch was waved off and the Raiders were forced to punt.
Since then Del Rio has stated he understands the rule and it would have been a wasted challenge. That may be true, but several analysts with a very good understanding of officiating have since said that it should have been ruled a catch. Certainly enough so that a challenge was warranted.
Del Rio had three timeouts at his disposal in the first half. He used one and it was while trying to ‘freeze' the kicker on a late 51-yard field goal attempt which was good. Carr had another delay of game in the third quarter which turned a third and six in the a third and 11 and again the following play fell incomplete. At least this time the Raiders could trot Sebastian Janikowski out for a 56-yard field goal which could have been at least a 51-yarder had Del Rio used a timeout there. Lucky for him, Seabass made it.
Ken Norton Jr
For all the additions to the Raiders defense this offseason, they are actually considerably worse this season than last season's 3-13 squad. They are the 29th overall defense this season and were 12th overall last season. I'm not entirely sure how that's even possible, but there it is.
Each week we watch as this defense fails to stop basic things like running back screens, tight ends, bubble screens, and quarterback scrambles. The Lions only touchdown in this game came on a Matt Stafford scramble right up the gut from five yards out. And that run was set up by an 18-yard Stafford run around the right side.
Del Rio expressed great frustration this week when talking about the team's inability to keep a simple bubble screen from going for a big gain. Running back screens are also a big problem. The biggest play on the Lions final drive was a running back screen that went for 21 yards. There was simply no one there to cover the back. No one even near him. Speaking of that last drive...
7:22 off the clock! SEVEN MINUTES AND TWENTY TWO SECONDS. Half the quarter. That's how much time the Lions were able to bleed off the clock on what became their last drive. And it is compounded by the fact that the Lions are THE WORST running team in the league this season. It just boggles the mind. There's no making sense out of it. This defense is simply lost.
Penn had three huge mistakes in this game that cost the Raiders dearly. The first mistake was on the Raiders first drive of the third quarter. With the team in second and goal from the one-yard-line, Marcel Reece went up the middle. Penn was beaten on the inside move and his man stuffed Reece for no gain. Penn made it a big mistake when he dove after his man and rolled into the back of Rodney Hudson's ankles, re-aggravating Hudson's sprained ankle and knocking him out the game. His injury is potentially a setback. That is yet to be determined.
Derek Carr was sacked once in this game. And it was Penn who gave it up. Early in the fourth quarter, the Lions had just scored the touchdown to take a 16-13 lead. On the Raiders' first offensive play, Ezekial Ansah put a little juke move on Penn that completely got him off balance and gave Ansah a free path to the quarterback for a five-yard loss. It resulted started off a three-and-out.
Just like Penn began the fourth quarter, he would end it. With the Raiders backed up to their own goal line, Ansah again put a move on Penn, this time getting the inside and causing Penn to hold him and take him to the turf in the end zone. Before even seeing the flag, Ansah sat up and put his hands in the safety sign because a holding in the end zone is as good as a sack. The Lions extended the lead to 18-13 and would get the ball off of the free kick. That safety was the last offensive play by the Raiders.
Ellis was the man in the middle who was blocked clear for Stafford to easily score up the middle on his QB scramble. And he missed the final tackle of the game that went for 11 yards and allowed the Lions to kneel out the clock. He also gave up a 9-yard run on the second play of the game. Ellis had a grand total of one tackle in the game on 30 snaps.
He had more drops (2) in this game than he had catches (1). He now has 10 on the season which is just one behind the league lead. His first drop happened in the second quarter on third and 3 to end the series with a three-and-out.
His second drop turned out to be a back breaker. With the Raiders down 16-13, they lined up in firsts and 14 at their own 4-yard-line after a block in the back on the return and a holding penalty on first down. Three plays later, came the safety. But that didn't have to happen. Cooper dropped the pass thrown right to him in stride that had a very good chance of resulting in a first down. Instead the series devolved into a safety and the Raiders offense wouldn't get another chance to make up for it.
The Lions offense scored their go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter. On that touchdown drive, they lined up in third and 10 and running back Theo Riddick popped out into coverage and was Smith's assignment. Riddick made one little move, Smith bit, Stafford dumped it to Riddick and he went for 16 yards. Smith didn't need to stop the pass, he just needed to be there to stop Riddick after the catch. He took himself out of any chance to do that.
On the Lions' final drive of the game, they had gotten a couple first downs already, but were still just out of field goal range at the Oakland 37-yard line following a Mack run stuff. A stop on the next play would have put them in third down, facing a punt, with a 5-point lead and about three minutes on the clock for the Raiders to have a shot at a game-winning drive. That ended when Smith gave up an 11-yard catch to Riddick. It got even worse when on the next play, he was blocked to give up a 7-yard run which put the Lions inside the 20-yard-line. This forced the Raiders to take a time out to try and stop the bleeding. It didn't work.
Of Smith's five tackles in the game, only one was against the run and it was four yards down field. He had a sack when he chased Stafford out of bounds for no gain.
If you wanna know why the Raiders were held scoreless in the first half, Webb's performance may help provide clarity. They had four series in the first half, and the final three of them Webb was a self-destructive force.
On their second drive, the Raiders had just gotten their first first down of the day. And on the next play Webb gave up a tackle for three yard loss on a run. Their third possession began with Webb giving up a another run stuff for a loss and helped result in a three-and-out. Their final drive of the first half, Webb was late on a pull block that resulted in a 5-yard loss and the series ended two plays later.
He was so close to having a good game. One more tackle. That's all he needed. On the Lions' final drive he was in position to make the stop in the running back on third and three, but he lowered his head and didn't wrap up, so he was bowled over and the run went for five yards and the first down. Had he made that tackle, the drive would have stopped there, the Lions would have kicked a field goal and the Raiders offense would have had 2:31 to try and drive for a tying score. He had one other mistake when he was late to help on a 36-yard catch up the sideline on the Lions final drive of the first half. It put the Lions in field goal range and they converted from 51 yards out to take a 9-0 lead.
DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie
Hayden was up to his usual tricks early. He gave up the two longest plays on the Lions opening drive including a 19-yard catch on the very first play of the game and a 21-yard catch that went to the 12-yard line. The Lions settled for a field goal on the drive.
Their next drive went for another field goal and Carrie gave up a 9-yard catch to start it off. He also gave up a 9-yard catch early in their next scoring drive. Hayden would give up a 5-yard catch on third and one on the next play. That drive was brutal for Carrie. The next play he surrendered a 20-yard catch and a few plays later was burnt for a 36-yard catch up the left sideline. He was able to make a couple nice plays at the end of the drive to limit the damage to a field goal.
Hayden was blocked on the first play of the Lions' touchdown drive to begin the fourth quarter. It was the biggest play of the drive, going for 21 yards on a bubble screen (of course). Carrie would give up a 7-yard catch on that same drive and a 7-yard gain on a bubble screen for a first down on the Lions' long final drive.
Jackson was the lead blocker on the Raiders' only touchdown of the day. Other than that, he had a brutal outing. He gave up two tackles for loss, and run stuffs for one and two yards. Runs that were to go through him netted just one yard and the Raiders had their worst run total of the season, gaining just 50 yards on the ground. Raiders running backs averaged 2.2 yards per carry.