Before the season, this week's match-up with the Titans appeared by many to be one of the easier games on the Raiders' schedule. I disagreed. This Titans team added some muscle on defense and talented weapons on offense last offseason. Even still, the Raiders were expected to pull out the win and they did.
It was a close one, though. The score went back and forth with four lead changes in the game. The Titans scored first, but had the extra point blocked. The Raiders then scored a touchdown and with the extra point, took the lead. They extended that lead into the third quarter until the Titans began their comeback - scoring 15 unanswered to take a 21-17 lead late in the game.
A last gasp drive which was kept alive by a phantom holding penalty resulted in the Raiders scoring the touchdown to take the final lead of 24-21.
Let's get to the performances that gave us this result:
A week after blanketing Calvin Johnson and posting four passes defended, Amerson got the start ahead of DJ Hayden and put up 6 passes defended and an interception. With each play Amerson makes, he puts his arms out as if he's telling everyone "See? I told you so." Perhaps he's hoping the Redskins coaches are watching or perhaps it's for his own coaches who started Hayden over him the past two weeks. Whatever it is, it's working for him.
Right from the first drive, he was lights out, with tight coverage to force and incompletion on third down to force a three-and-out. The second drive he gave up a 5-yard catch and made the tackle to set up a third and short. It would be the only catch he gave up the entire day.
Early in the second quarter he ended another drive with a pass defended on third down. The Titans' first drive of the third quarter featured two passes defended by Amerson. The next series ended with Amerson picking off Marcus Mariota on third and long. It came after the Raiders had turned the ball over on a fumbled kick return and kept the Titans from scoring. It gave the Raiders the ball back right about where they would have had it without the fumble.
The next series started with Amerson defending a pass and ended two plays later with tight coverage by Amerson to force an incompletion. That's how the next series would end as well. And after the Raiders had their late touchdown to take back the lead, Amerson added one more tight coverage incompletion to help keep the Titans from making a late drive of their own. I've said it before, but what a find Amerson has been.
He got the game ball for his efforts in this game. Which is quite an accomplishment considering what Amerson did. Roberts caught six passes in this game and five of them were huge plays. His first catch came late in the first quarter. He broke open on a post pattern and made a fantastic adjustment to haul in the pass which was behind him to pick up 38 yards. It started the Raiders first touchdown drive.
On the Raiders next scoring drive near the end of the second quarter, Roberts caught a pass for 17 yards on third and 10 to put the Raiders in first and goal at the 5-yard-line. They would get a field goal out of it to extend the lead to 10-6.
To begin the third quarter, the Raiders drove for another touchdown. From 10 yards out, Carr hit Roberts over the middle for about five yards. Roberts then broke a tackle, kept his balance and took it for a touchdown to extend the lead to 17-6.
When the Raiders needed it the most, Carr went back to Roberts. On the final crucial drive, Roberts caught a 31-yard pass on third down to put the Raiders in Tennessee territory. With new life after the Titans' holding penalty, and the Raiders at the 12-yard-line, Roberts got open in the left side of the end zone, again showing excellent body control to pull down the Carr pass for what would be the game-winning touchdown. It was a career game for Roberts who finished with 113 yards and 2 TD's on six catches.
Denico Autry, Mario Edwards Jr, Khalil Mack
These three were wreaking havoc on the Titans' offense the entire day. Consistently getting pressure and making key stops.
Autry batted down the very first pass of the game to help start the Titans with a three-and-out. The first play of the next series, Autry burst into the backfield to disrupt the run which was stopped for a short gain. Then on the next drive, with the Titans having scored the touchdown, Autry got up to block the extra point attempt. He was shoveled the ball on the recovery, and looked to have returned it for a score (the new rule says you can return blocked extra points for a 2-point score), but the lateral turned out to be an illegal forward pass. It was still a good block and an exciting play to watch.
The next Titans' series ended with another three-and-out thanks to Mario Edwards getting pressure up the middle. His man was called for holding, but it was declined in favor of a punt. The next series, Edwards made a fantastic read on an end around, coupled by an athletic diving tackle to stop the speedy Kendall Wright for no gain.
The drive was kept alive by a roughing the kicker penalty, and on the first play Edwards again made a big stop on Wright on an end around. This time he stopped him for a 4-yard loss. Helping out was Autry who again got push into the Titans' backfield where his man was called for holding. It was declined on account of Edwards' tackle for loss.
That play by Edwards and Autry helped set the Titans in third and 9, but thanks to the roughing the kicker penalty, they were still in field goal range at the Oakland 37-yard line. Khalil Mack changed all that, sacking Mariota for a 6-yard loss, and turning 55-yard attempt range into 61-yard attempt range. In wet conditions, that was not favorable and the Titans opted to punt. That's taking points off the board.
Midway through the third quarter, after the Raiders had taken a 17-6 lead, suddenly it looked like all of that would come crashing down. The Titans drove for a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to bring it to 17-14, followed immediately by Jeremy Ross fumbling the kickoff return to set the Titans up to at least tie the game. Then it was a return of the Mack, as he would sack Mariota on first down. A few plays later, the Titans were in third and long and the Amerson interception retained the Raiders' lead.
The following series, the Titans once again went three-and-out thanks in part to Edwards and Mack teaming up for a run stuff.
Mack added a run stuff on the next series along with coverage on an incompletion. The next drive Mack made his two crucial mistakes of the game - an unnecessary roughness penalty that put the Titans in first and goal from the nine-yard-line, and being out of position in coverage to give up the go-ahead touchdown pass. Otherwise, fantastic day by Autry, Edwards, and Mack.
It was a bounce back game for Cooper who was coming off a one-catch, two-drop game in Detroit last week. This week he had his second most catches on the season (7) and his third most receiving yards (115).
As the Raiders are want to do, they went for Cooper on the first play of the game. He caught it for a 7-yard gain. It would set the tone for his team leading 12 targets in the game. And though he caught just over half of those passes, none of the five incompletions were drops.
On the Raiders' drive late in the second quarter, Cooper had two key receptions. The first went for 30 yards on third and four. A few plays later he dug out a low pass for an 11-yard gain that put the Raiders in field goal range at the Titans 33-yard-line. They would add a field goal to go up 10-6 at the half. That last catch also gave him the Raiders' rookie receiving record, surpassing the old record of 771 yards set by James Jett in 1993.
That rookie record was put well behind him when he had the biggest catch of the Raiders scoring drive to begin the third quarter. He got separation up the right sideline, fended off the corner, and hauled in a 41-yard bomb that put the Raiders at the 12-yard-line. Three plays later, they put it in the end zone for a 17-6 lead. He would add a 16-yard catch to start off the Raiders' final game-winning drive which would give him the team lead in catches and yards in the game.
Dan Williams, Justin Ellis
These two lane cloggers helped hold the Titans to a season low 44 yards rushing. Running backs were either finding no holes and opting to try elsewhere or were getting stopped by one of these two. The only blip was an unnecessary roughness penalty called on Williams which should at very least have been offsetting penalties. Williams' blocker did plenty of extracurricular blocking after the whistle, trying to make a scene attempting to do a sumo style takedown. Williams wasn't cooperating and after he regained his footing, he pushed back. As is often the case, the officials got the retaliation. The penalty set up the Titans' first touchdown.
He didn't give up a sack or pressure in the game and added a couple run blocks as well. Keeping the Titans out of the backfield is no small accomplishment. They came into the game with the fourth most sacks on the season.
When you look at his stat line, Carr as a Baller looks like a lock. But the way the game unfolded made this a much more difficult call. There was one area that pushed him from Betweener to Baller - results.
The second series ended with a cringe-worthy shovel attempt by Carr intended for Latavius Murray. After not getting much on the first couple drives, the Raiders offense got going. A 38-yard connection from Carr to Roberts opened things up. Though, had Carr led Roberts properly, that would have been a touchdown pass. The next play, Carr escaped pressure to hit Murray on a screen pass which he took for 23 yards. He finished off the drive with a roll out right and a strike to Michael Crabtree right at the pylon for the touchdown and a 7-6 lead.
The next drive started with a 17-yard pass to Amari Cooper on an out route along the right sideline. That was the only completion on the series that ended with Carr fumbling the snap and throwing the ball away on fourth and two.
Late in the second quarter, the Raiders got the ball at the 4-yard-line and Carr led the offense down the field for a field goal. The drive included a 30-yard toss to Cooper on third and 4, a 14-yard connection with Clive Walford, an 11-yard pass to Cooper to get into field goal range, and, following Carr being called for a false start penalty, a 17-yard yard pass to Roberts on third and 10. The drive almost ended two plays later when Carr threw a pass right into the arms of David Bass, but it was dropped and the Raiders were able to put points on the board.
Like he has done a few times this year, Carr led the Raiders on a touchdown drive to begin the third quarter. The drive featured his best pass of the day on a 41-yard bomb to Cooper up the right sideline. It was capped off with a short pass to Roberts who broke a tackle to take it for a touchdown.
This was a come-from-behind win for the Raiders, but one reason the Raiders were behind late was Carr fumbling his second snap of the game. The Titans took advantage of the turnover to drive for the go-ahead touchdown.
Even the game-winning drive very nearly didn't happen. And probably shouldn't have happened. Carr started it off with a 16-yard strike to Cooper on a crossing route. Then on third down he hit Roberts for a 31-yard gain. The next four passes from Carr were drive killers -- a two-yard pass to Lee Smith, an underthrown incompletion to Cooper, a high incompletion for Crabtree, and a deep pass to Andre Holmes defended in double coverage.
That final pass came on fourth down and would have had the Raiders leave as losers. The controversial holding penalty kept their hopes alive and the opportunistic Carr completed a 19-yard pass to Mychal Rivera followed by a 12-yard touchdown pass to Roberts to pull out the win. That stat line I referred to earlier had Carr complete 24 of 37 passes (64%) for 330 yards, 3 TD's and no interceptions for a passer rating of 120.3.
Marquette King -- He punted four times and three of them were stopped inside the 20-yard-line. His longest punt went 59 yards and was stopped at the 12-yard-line.
Smith teamed up for a run stuff on the first series. On the Titans' first scoring drive, he gave up a 6-yard catch. The next drive he had a stop on a 3-yard run. The following series he gave up two 5-yard catches while also making the tackle. The Titans found a soft spot in the zone between Smith and TJ Carrie for a 22-yard completion late in the first half.
The Titans' first drive of the second half, Smith was blocked on a 5-yard run. In the fourth quarter, he had a pass defended on one play and then on third and 11 gave up a 14-yard catch. Two plays later, he gave up a 7-yard catch. The drive would end up in a touchdown and a 21-17 Titans lead.
In the final seconds, the Titans needed to drive for a field goal. Smith had tight coverage on an incompletion but on third and 10, he gave up a 27-yard catch that put the Titans near midfield with plenty of time to get into field goal range. A Nate Allen interception on the next play ended that threat.