If there’s one thing the Raiders proved Sunday vs the Jaguars it’s that they can win ugly. Believe it or not, that’s important. Good teams are able to win ugly. Bad teams only win when everything’s going right.
An example of the ugliness is in the Raiders’ 11 penalties for 117 yards. On the bright side, the Jaguars were even uglier. Like, a LOT uglier. They had 13 penalties for 112 yards and had a couple players kicked out of the game for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Blake Bortles was a travesty. It seems downright silly that leading up to this game, we were talking about his great numbers last season. But the question posed coming in was even with a clearly regressing Blake Bortles this season, would the Raiders defense allow him to bounce back? The answer was no. And the three takeaways along with a forced fumble they managed to recover helped greatly in ensuring he could get no traction against the Raiders shaky D.
The offense did just enough and the special teams was superb. Speaking of special teams…
It has been quite some time since a punter was the Top Baller. And even then it was not good news. Usually when the punter is the story, your team has some serious issues. Not this week though. King was an absolute weapon which helped tilt the field when the offense could finish a drive and give the defense an assist as well.
The Raiders got the ball first and went three-and-out. King was up early. His first punt was a good one; 57 yards with an 8-yard return and that the Jaguars start the day just outside their 20-yard-line.
A field goal ended the Raiders second drive. The next punt, King launched high in the air and the return man couldn’t handle it. It was muffed and the Raiders recovered inside their 20-yard-line. They got another field goal out of it. With touchdowns to finish off the Raiders last two possessions, King was only needed as a holder until the third quarter.
When he was called on again, he put a charge into the ball, launching it 60 yards. It was fielded at the 1-yard-line and with the coverage team right there, the return man would only get to the 7-yard-line. Backed against their own goal line, the Jaguars would get just two yards and went three-and-out.
The Raiders would also go three-and-out, but with better field position. King came back out and did it again, matching his previous punt of 60 yards and the Jaguars would begin their drive at their own 6-yard-line. This time they got a total of negative one yard and were punting even deeper in their own end zone.
Their punter isn’t the caliber of King. He also had to get it off quickly due to the position King and the Raiders defense put him in. His punt quickly made it to the 47-yard-line where Jalen Richard returned it to the 37 and the Raiders were already in scoring position allowing them to add another field goal to make it 23-9 at the end of the third quarter.
Midway through the fourth quarter, with a 26-9 lead and the Raiders in full on conservative clock draining mode, King came back out to do his part. He boomed a 56-yard punt to the 11-yard-line. A 6-yard return had the Jaguars looking at 83 yards to travel. With a 15-yard penalty along the way, the Jaguars ended up having to go 98 yards in 11 plays to score, taking 3:03 off the clock, leaving just 4:12 left in the game with a ten-point deficit.
And that’s when King had his biggest play.
More running time off the clock meant another three-and-out for the Raiders. In fourth and 24, King came back on the field for the final time. The snap was low and skipped across the turf in what could have been a disastrous turn of events. Had King missed the ball, it would have been easily scooped up for a Jaguars touchdown that would have pulled them within three points. But the former wide receiver dug it out, noticed he wouldn’t be able to get the punt off, and made the snap decision to run for it.
King needed 24 yards for the first down and he got 27. Disaster averted, the Raiders had another shot to take time off the clock. They didn’t just run clock this time, they took their opportunity and drove for a touchdown to turn a potential 3-point game into a 17-point game.
And for those keeping score, that’s 20 points on two field goals, a touchdown, and a potential touchdown the other way which King was directly responsible. He finished averaging 54.6 yards per punt on five punts and an astounding 50.6 yard net. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about a punter so much in my life.
There weren’t a lot of plays made in the passing game for the Raiders, but nearly every pass Crabtree caught was a big one.
His first catch went for 11 yards on 3rd and 7 to keep the second drive alive and put the first points on the board with a field goal. He had catches for third down conversions each of the next two drives; the second one put the Raiders at the 5-yard-line helping them to get their first touchdown of the game.
In the final drive of the first half under two minutes, Crabtree had three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. One of those catches, he got behind his defender deep where he hauled in the Derek Carr pass over his shoulder for 56 yards to set the Raiders up at the 2-yard-line. Two plays later, Carr went back to Crabtree for the touchdown.
Crabtree’s final catch was just short of the sticks on third and 8, but it was crucial none the less. It set up Sebastian Janikowski for a 52-yard field goal (much easier than trying from 58 yards) and Seabass nailed it to extend the Raiders lead to 26-9. Crabtree finished with 8 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown to lead all receivers.
Welcome back to the Ballers, Khalil. It just hasn’t been the same without you.
With the Jaguars still scoreless in the second quarter, Chris Ivory broke off a 42-yard run to put them in first and goal that 8-yard-line. On the next play, Khalil Mack said they would go no farther. He stuffed a run for a 2-yard loss and two plays later, the Jaguars were lining up for a field goal.
The next drive, the Jaguars were again knocking on the door, inside the ten. And again, Mack said ‘nuh-uh’. With Blake Bortles dropping back to pass on third down, Mack got pressure on him twice in the same play to force him to throw the ball away and settle for a field goal.
Once again, to begin the third quarter, the Jaguars drove into scoring position. And guess what happened? Whoever said Mack smacked them to stuff a run for one yard wins. And yet again, the Jaguars were trotting out to put three points on the board instead of seven.
After a few ugly back and forth three-and-outs, the Jaguars were lined up at their own 12-yard-line in third and four. At the risk of redundancy here, Mack said ‘Hell naw!’ and sacked Blake Bortles for a 7-yard loss which backed them closer to their own goal line than when they started the series, and had their punter’s heels kissing the back of the end zone.
The great field position allowed the Raiders to add another field goal and Mack helped keep the Jaguars from answering. A run stuff assisted in a Jaguars three-and-out when they were down 14 and desperate to get something going.
With the Raiders up 33-16 and the Jaguars taking their last gasps, Mack added a hit on Bortles that would have been a sack, but Bortles managed to get the ball away as he was going to the ground. Mack finished with 3 solo tackles, 1.0 sack, 2.0 tackles for loss, and 2 QB hits. Good day, sir.
This could be a case of not knowing what you got til it’s gone. Just when people were questioning whether Murray should be the Raiders’ starting running back, he was missed greatly in the loss to the Chiefs in Oakland last week. Then he returns to have a solid day in Jacksonville, putting up 59 yards on the ground with two touchdowns.
The Raiders first touchdown drive, Murray had runs of 10, 6, and 5 to help set up in scoring range. Then he finished it off with a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle to take a 13-3 lead. He had a 6-yard first down run on the next drive which also led to a touchdown to take a 20-6 halftime lead.
Murray’s 3.3 yards per carry on the day is misleading mainly because most of the second half, the Raiders were running him right into a stacked box just to drain clock. But when the Raiders finally decided they wanted to score late in the game, Murray was crucial in making that happen. Following the King run off the botched snap, Murray had two 4-yard runs to set up a third and short. With the Jaguars fully expecting another run in that situation, the Raiders went with the okeedoke on a pass to Amari Cooper for 18 yards. Then Murray finished it off with a 9-yard touchdown run.
Tying for the team lead in scoring with Murray was Janikowski. And right up until the Raiders’ final touchdown late in the fourth quarter, that 12 points was the difference in the game. Seabass was 4 for 4 on field goals including a 52-yarder bringing his NFL all-time leading total to 55 field goals from 50 yards and beyond. Making all of his field goals is doing his job. Making them from outside 50 yards is going above and beyond. Something he’s done more than any kicker in NFL history. And counting.
Yeah, the numbers don’t jump out at you – 23 for 37 (62%) for 200 yards (8.6 yards per catch) and one touchdown with an 85.4 passer rating. But wins aren’t always about numbers. It’s about making the key plays in key moments. Carr did that.
Key moments include connecting with Crabtree for 11 yards on third and seven followed by a perfect pass to Seth Roberts for 26 yards to set up the Raiders first field goal. Connecting again with Crabtree on 3rd and 3 for six yards to set up the first touchdown. Stepping up and throwing a perfect strike on the run for 56 yards to Crabtree to set up the second touchdown which was also a pass to Crabtree. His final big play went to Cooper for 18 yards on 3rd and 2 to set up the Raiders’ final touchdown to put the game away.
Austin Howard, Gabe Jackson, Donald Penn
Howard must be feeling a bit better. He had been pretty brutal in his starts prior to this one since returning from his ankle injury. He and Penn kept Derek Carr untouched all day. Howard in particular did very well to get to the second level on several runs. Gabe Jackson was a force against the run too.
Murray’s five-yard run on the Raiders first scoring drive was thanks to a Jackson block. So was his five-yard run on the next drive. Both Jackson and Howard had key blocks on a Jamize Olawale 6-yard run on 3rd and 3 which was followed by Penn and Jackson blocking on a Murray 6-yard run. Those runs put the Raiders at the 12-yard-line and the drive resulted in a touchdown.
With under two minutes remaining in the first half, the Raiders got the ball back. On the first play, Howard and Penn stonewalled their defenders, allowing Carr plenty of time to survey the field and roll right to find Crabtree for a 6-yard catch. A few plays later, Howard cleared his defender deep in the backfield, allowing Carr a sizable pocket and no one in front of him. Carr stepped up and hurled that 56-yard bomb to Crabtree to set up the touchdown in the waning seconds of the first half.
Late in the third quarter, in 2nd and 14 at the Jacksonville 30, Penn and Jackson were in position to block on a screen play, but DeAndre Washington dropped the ball. The blocks were set up perfectly on what could very well have been a first down or even a touchdown. But instead, they would settle for a field goal.
Sean Smith, David Amerson
Both players had big plays in the game. Amerson made the first one and Smith made the last one. The Raiders scored first in this game, which meant the Jaguars were eager to take back momentum by answering their score. They looked prime to do so, lined up at the 18-yard line on their second drive. Then Blake Bortles thought he had a receiver open in the end zone and put the ball in the air for him. Amerson tracked it all the way, leaping the air to take it away in the end zone, killing the Jaguars hopes of at least tying it up with a field goal. That play was huge to set the tone for the day. The Jaguars were deflated right from the start.
That same drive also featured two solid tackles by Sean Smith. One for a stop on a one-yard run and the other to stop a catch for three yards with an open field tackle. That play is what put the Jaguars in third and long which resulted in that Amerson interception.
Their totals on catches was outstanding. Amerson gave up a total of three catches for 31 yards with two passes defended. One of those catches was a stop for five yards on third and 12. His one big mistake was a 25-yard pass interference penalty.
Smith gave up four catches for 27 yards. Two of those catches went for three yards each. He was credited with one pass defended, though I saw two. His final pass defended, he batted the ball away where it was intercepted by Reggie Nelson to end the game.
Reggie Nelson – As just mentioned, he had the interception to end it. He also had tight coverage on third down to end the Jaguars’ first series. In between, he wasn’t targeted deep.
Perry Riley Jr – In his first full start for the Raiders, he played mistake-free football. He didn’t make any big plays, but he was where he was supposed to be at all times and did well to keep the defense aligned properly.
Bruce Irvin – Had his fourth forced fumble of the season, which leads the league. He also had a couple pressures on the QB.