You won't often see the team's leading tackler top the Busters list. Today is one of those days. Yes, he led the team with 13 tackles (7 solo). But he also tied for the team lead in missed tackles (3). Kind of the story of last season for Lofton. Oh, and he was a serious liability in coverage as well. He was targeted 7 times and gave up a catch all 7 times.
He gave up a 6-yard catch on the Ravens' first actual drive which ended in a field goal. Their next scoring drive, he missed a tackle for a 16-yard run and then gave up a 26-yard touchdown catch to relinquish the Raiders' early lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Raiders would take the lead back at 17-17, and Lofton would give it right back to the Ravens by missing a tackle on fourth and one and then giving up the 9-yard touchdown catch on third and 3. He was called for a questionable illegal contact penalty on the next drive which helped the Ravens again tie the game at 20-20 at half.
I would be remised if I didn't mention his fantastic third quarter in which he had a tackle on a 7-yard catch short of the first down marker to stop them for a three-and-out to start the quarter. Then he had two stops for short yardage on dump passes at the end of the quarter. The Raiders were able to jump back to a 10-point lead with that.
That lead too would evaporate. On the touchdown run, Lofton didn't cover his gap, instead biting on the fake to the wrong gap at left guard allowing the back to fly through the right guard gap and into the end zone nearly untouched. And finally, he ran into the ref to give up an 11-yard catch on the Ravens' final drive to take their only lead of the game at 33-30, leaving it to the offense to drive for the comeback win with just over two minutes remaining. Good thing for him, they did.
Taylor Mays, Charles Woodson, Larry Asante
We kinda knew the Raiders would be in trouble at the safety position in this game, regardless of whether Woodson was playing. Yeah, yeah, I know Woodson was injured; playing a week since dislocating his shoulder. That feat did not go unnoticed I assure you. But Busters isn't a place where we make excuses. It's about on-field performance and he played as you might expect someone with essentially one arm.
The question here is; what excuses do Mays and Asante have? I mean, considering they were healthy and combined for 4 missed tackles in the same amount of snaps Woodson had 3.
Mays gave up an 8-yard catch on third and 4 to keep the Ravens' first drive alive and they drove for a field goal. Next drive began with Woodson missing a tackle that resulted in a 22-yard catch and run. That drive resulted in a Ravens touchdown. The next drive Woodson gave up his only catch in the game; on which he had another missed tackle resulting in a 38-yard gain. The next play, Mays missed a tackle on an 11-yard catch to the 16-yard-line. Then Mays gave up the 9-yard touchdown catch (along with Lofton) to end the drive.
The next drive, Mays would miss another tackle to give up a 15-yard run on third and 15 and the drive that should have been stopped right there, kept going until the Ravens eventually had to kick the field goal in the final seconds.
By the end of the third quarter, the Raiders were up 30-20 and seemed to be in command of things late. Asante looked great in that quarter. He started with a tackle for loss on a dump pass and the series ended in a three-and-out. He ended the next series with good coverage on third down for an incompletion. But when the fourth quarter, when the Raiders needed it most, he was at his worst.
Early in the fourth quarter, Asante gave up a 26-yard catch that led to a Ravens' field goal and on the next drive he missed a tackle on a 38-yard catch, was called for pass interference, and was late on a 9-yard catch. Those two drives allowed the Ravens to come back and tie the game at 30-30.
Ken Norton Jr
The mantra has been not to give up ‘explosives'. To bend but not break. Well, giving up 33 points in each of the team's games this season is not bent. It's broken. It shouldn't take a late drive to score 37 points to win the game. But that's what the Raiders had to do because the defense was so bad they couldn't keep the Ravens from coming back to tie the game, which they did four times, and take the lead late.
Sure, Norton doesn't have a ton to work with here. But some things are more in his control than others. The Ravens' got their first score thanks to a mismatch that should never happen, putting Malcolm Smith on Steve Smith Sr (no relation). The result was a 37-yard catch to set up a field goal.
Early in the second quarter, the defense was called for 12-men on the field to put the Ravens in first and 5 at the Raiders' 27-yard-line. They would pick up those 27 yards in four plays to tie the game at 17-17.
There was a few times in this game I noticed the Raiders lined up without a defensive tackle on the line. In fact, Dan Williams, the team's starting nose tackle, played just 28 snaps (34%). One of those times with no DT in the game was with the Ravens at the 7-yard-line. With just Denico Autry tasked with covering the middle of the line, the Ravens (of course) ran it up the middle. The running back simply faked left to get Lofton to commit to that gap and took it through the huge hole at right guard to score easily. That was the fourth time in the game the Ravens came back to tie it. The next time they got the ball, it was for the lead.
When the offense scores 30 points, they shouldn't have to make a heroic come-from-behind win in the final seconds.
Denico Autry, Justin Tuck, Khalil Mack
These three played most of the game along the defensive line for the Raiders. Aldon Smith played more than half the snaps as well, but he actually got a couple good pressures. The rest of these guys were mostly seen getting blocked off the line or stonewalled out the backfield.
Mack teamed up for a tackle for no gain late in the second quarter but it was negated by an encroachment penalty on Autry. On the Ravens' first drive of the second quarter, Mack and Tuck were blocked on a 6-yard run and a few plays later, Autry missed a tackle on a 5-yard run to put the Ravens at the 11-yard line. They scored two plays later. The next drive Tuck was blocked on a 15-yard run on third and 15. Later on the same drive, Autry was offsides for the second time.
All three of them were pushed around over the entire fourth quarter. They almost seemed to be running through Autry by design, with at least four runs going through his position for positive yards.
Mack wasn't terrible. He was just a non-factor. He had just one tackle in the game. He got pressure a couple times but no official hurries. Autry had two tackles in the game with no hurries. Tuck had four tackles but wasn't even in the Ravens backfield in this game.