After a year filled with big free agent signings, the Oakland Raiders were named the paper champions of the 2016 offseason. With a 3-1 overall record including a 3-0 start on the road, these Raiders are living up to expectations and have shown the resiliency necessary to win football games. How did the offense grade in their latest 28-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens?
In a game in which Derek Carr failed to reach 200 passing yards (199), this may have been his most encouraging performance of the season. Carr was facing a tough Ravens defense at home, the Raiders run game was nonexistent, and Vadal Alexander was getting his butt kicked at right tackle. Yet, Carr still found a way to throw four passing touchdowns including a game winning touchdown to Michael Crabtree. It is so impressive watching Carr's poise in these crucial moments.
Speaking of Crabtree, I am convinced he is the definition of clutch. All season, whenever a catch needs to be made Crabtree somehow comes down with it. He led the Silver and Black in receiving with 88 yards and 3 touchdowns. Aside from a Clive Walford drop, the rest of the receiving core did a nice job of holding onto the football as drops have been an issue with this group.
As for the offensive line, four of them were great. Rookie Vadal Alexander started at right tackle with Menelik Watson and Austin Howard out and he certainly struggled giving up four holding penalties. Carr was constantly pressured from his right side and it was apparent he was uncomfortable. Even with the absence of both the starting and second string right tackles, this offensive line did not give up a sack the entire game.
The Raiders rushing attack that has emerged as one of the best in the NFL didn't make the flight to Baltimore. This unit was held to 62 rushing yards on 19 carries (3.3 avg.). 28 of those yards came from one DeAndre Washington run that setup a touchdown. The Raiders offense was held to 6 three and outs and much of the blame should be placed on the run game as this unit aside from one run couldn't manage anything on the ground.
Add on a fumble by DeAndre Washington that led to a Ravens go-ahead touchdown and a failed third and one conversion by Jamize Olawale and this was certainly a game to forget for this unit. The offensive line wasn't much better as they failed to open up holes against a tough Ravens defense.
Six three and outs for any offense is completely unacceptable and while much of the blame goes to the lack of a rushing attack, Bill Musgrave must also carry responsibility. Too often during this game were the Raiders calling short passes, draws, and screens instead of pushing the ball down the field. The worst call of the game I saw was on a third and one where Musgrave decided to pitch the ball to Latavius Murray. I will never understand why offensive coordinators call a play designed to pitch the ball five yards backwards when they only need to gain one yard!
Luckily for the Raiders and Musgrave's grade, the offense finally began pushing the ball vertically and it paid off as the Raiders scored four passing touchdowns including a game winner.