Greetings, Raider fans! Raiderdamus the Great and Powerful is here to celebrate yet another hard-fought and close Raiders win on the road. If the team keeps pulling out games like this, I am going to have a heart attack or an ulcer. I hope you've all survived the massive amount of alcohol the second half surely caused you to consume. But, drinking during a win is far superior to drinking during a loss.
So what players were great and which ones were flat? Let's get to it.
1) Derek Carr
Once again Carr continues to prove that not only is he the best quarterback (and maybe the best overall player) from his draft class, but is one of the truly elite quarterbacks in the NFL. For a second straight season he completely outplayed Super Bowl Champion and Faux-Elite Quarterback Joe Flacco. He's also one of the best and most consistent fantasy options at quarterback that you can find with his tremendous accuracy, complement of weapons, and pass-happy offense. Today Carr went for a paltry 199 passing yards, but threw four touchdowns. That is enough to win you most weeks. Carr's low yardage total doesn't really reflect his effectiveness, but rather that Ravens mistakes and Raiders special teams successes constantly gave him short fields to work with.
2) Michael Crabtree
Crabtree was extremely clutch in this game. He caught seven passes for 88 yards and three huge touchdowns, and looked athletic and acrobatic doing so. This man is a consummate professional and does all the little things necessary to be great. He's our Cris Carter to Amari Cooper's Randy Moss. Niner fans have to be screaming with rage at how well Crabtree has played for us after their team wasted his talent for years.
3) Steve Smith Sr.
Smith is a beast even at 106 years old, and caught eight passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. Without his massive 52-yard touchdown catch, Joe Flacco's numbers would look something like 31-52 for 246 yards and no touchdowns, which is awful for that kind of volume passing. Smith is still one of the best players in football, and it's especially impressive considering he's coming off a serious injury.
4) Raiders secondary
As it stands, Flacco's real numbers are 32/52 for 298 yards and a score. That's not a bad day for the defense, especially considering Sean Smith picked off a two-point conversion attempt that would have made the final score of the game a little bit different. DJ Hayden and Karl Joseph were stout in coverage and against the run today, and Reggie Nelson made a huge play on Baltimore's final pass attempt to knock the ball free for an incompletion. After the disaster of the first few weeks, this unit has begun to establish itself as the talented group we knew they were.
There are so many more players I could mention- Bruce Irvin was huge today, as was Denico Autry and Khalil Mack. But they don't get the opportunity to have that fierce rush if the secondary plays like they did against New Orleans or Atlanta. Game ball to the boys in the back today. Shoutout to Marquette King as well for unquestionably being the best punter in football.
1) Raiders running backs
The Raiders uncharacteristically rushed for only 62 yards on the day, with the leader being DeAndre Washington to ran for 30 yards, 28 of which came on a single rush. Oakland was never able to get their running game going due to offensive line issues and a very stout Ravens defensive front which was clearly keying on this aspect of the Raider offense. Washington also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that may have spelled disaster for Oakland if not for the greatness of Derek Carr.
2) Vadal Alexander
Welcome to the NFL, rook. Alexander had a sloppy day, being called for multiple penalties and being unable to handle Baltimore's edge rushers. He shows a lot of promise, but it was a lot to ask for our third-string right tackle to play like a veteran in this environment. He will get better.
3) Ravens special teams
While Devin Hester had one huge return, it was the Raiders who controlled field position all day long. The Ravens were unable to consistently begin drives anywhere close to where they wanted to, and the Raiders had a number of excellent returns from Jalen Richard. John Harbaugh is a special teams coach by trade and this sort of performance is unusual for his teams.
4) The long-term health of Raider fans
I would like to point out at this juncture that the Oakland Raiders have a record of 3-1 with a point differential of +2. Every game has been a nail biter, and every road game has been a victory. The offensive system appears designed to turtle at the first sign of a lead rather than step on the gas, which unfailingly leads to close games where neither the Raiders not their opponents are every truly out of contention. This will be the death of us all and our livers, but hopefully not before it gets us a playoff win or three.