That was one of the wildest games I’ve ever seen. That’s saying something considering some of the wild games the Raiders alone have had just this season. The thing is though that without the NFL record 23 penalties, the Raiders should have put the Buccaneers away fairly easily.
After the first couple series in the game, Jameis Winston was downright horrible. He began going 8 of 9 for 91 yards to help the Bucs jump out to a 10-0 lead to begin the second quarter. Then for what amounted to basically the length of an entire game (3 quarters and overtime), he went 8 for 23 for 89 yards. Some of that was the Raiders defense and some of it was just him playing poorly.
And yet the Raiders still managed to let the Bucs score two touchdowns in the second half and couldn’t put them away in regulation. Even while dominating the Bucs in time of possession in the overtime period, it took them nearly the entire first OT to put points on the board to end it. So many missed opportunities against a team that seemed to just be milling around waiting to stumble into a win.
In the end, a 41-yard catch and run by Seth Roberts would seal the deal and the Raiders packed up after their ten day Florida trip and headed home with two more wins under their belt.
Throwing for 513 yards and 4 touchdowns without an interception is a pretty good way to earn Top Baller. It’s a good way to earn a lot of accolades, actually. With a lot of plays made, let’s just look at the highlights.
A slow start had the Raiders entering the second quarter scoreless. The first play of any kind was a huge one with Carr connecting with Jamize Olawale up the right sideline. He caught it in stride and took off for a 68-yard gain to the 3-yard-line. A couple penalties – including a delay of game on Carr – would force them to settle for a field goal, but at least they got on the board.
We pick things up in the second half with the Raiders getting the ball first, down 10-3. That’s when Carr’s day really started. And it was the AC/DC greatest hits. Three plays into the drive, in third and 10, he connected with Amari Cooper on a slant for 28 yards. Three plays later, they were back in third and six and Carr hooked up with Seth Roberts for 13 yards.
The biggest play on the drive was not officially even a play. Carr went for Cooper on the long ball and the Bucs were called for pass interference in the end zone to set the Raiders up at the one-yard-line. On first and goal, the Raiders called Donald Penn’s number to try and get him a TD against his former team. Carr rolled right on a bootleg, saw Penn open and tossed it to him for the score to tie the game at 10-10.
The next drive, AC/DC continue to play the hits, with Carr throwing for Cooper for 16 yards and then a perfect strike on a long ball for the 34-yard touchdown and the lead at 17-10.
Penalties would begin to plague the Raiders once again which not only stalled their drives but allowed the Buccaneers to take back the lead at 24-17.
This time the comeback was a bit more spread out. Carr completed five passes to four different receivers for 78 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a pass around a defender to where only Mychal Rivera could get it from 8 yards out to tie it back up at 24-24.
Carr would drive the Raiders back into field goal range with a 10-yard connection with Crabtree and a 13-yard scramble. He also threw a perfect strike to Cooper up the left sideline, but Coop dropped it, leading to the scramble to put the Raiders in range for a 50-yard field goal attempt. Janikowski missed it wide left and it was back to work for Carr in overtime.
Three plays into the overtime period, the Raiders were in third and 3 and Carr hit Crabtree who broke away for a 45-yard catch and run to the 23-yard-line. That’s easy field goal range, but again stupid penalties would have them backed up, this time for a 52-yard attempt. And again, Janikowski missed; this time wide right.
After another penalty plagued drive led to a punt, the Raiders would finally push through. Two completions along with two incompletions put the Raiders in 4th and 3 at the Tampa 41-yard-line. They went for it and Carr hit Seth Roberts over the middle, who broke a tackle and had open field for the walk off touchdown.
In any other game this season, Mack’s performance would have been worthy of being named Top Baller. I noted that, barring any major mistakes, Mack had already done enough in the first couple series alone to be worthy of being called a Baller. That’s how good he was Sunday.
He was all over the first series. Keeping his gap to allow a tackle for loss on the first play. Then on third and 4, he was held while bull rushing his blocker into Winston’s lap. That made it third and 14 and he teamed up to tackle Winston for one yard on his scramble attempt.
The second drive was a longer one, but because of Mack, it ended short of the end zone. He got pressure to nail Winston as he threw, but somehow it still resulted in a completion and a third down conversion to the 16-yard-line. Two plays later, he sacked Winston for a 7-yard loss, leading to the Bucs settling for a field goal.
Mack would get his second sack of the game on the first defensive play of the third quarter, to get the message sent early. The Buccaneers tried to get tricky on a sweep right keeper left. Mack wasn’t fooled. He stayed home and when Winston turned to bootleg left there was Mack to meet him for a 5-yard loss.
The following drive, after the Raiders had scored their go-ahead touchdown to make it 17-10, the Bucs response was a five-play series ended with Mack hitting Winston as he threw for an incompletion on both of the final two plays of the series. Sometimes the quarterback just needs a reminder of the message sent earlier.
Neither of the two successful touchdown drives to follow could be blamed on Mack. The first one was set up by a bad punt and a missed tackle for a big gain on a catch. The other drive featured three third downs converted by penalties resulted in another touchdown and the Bucs lead.
In the overtime period, Mack added two run stuffs and a forced fumble which the Bucs recovered. Winston’s 8 completions for 89 yards in the final three quarters and overtime had a lot to do with how rattled he was from the pressure Mack was putting on him. Mack finished tied for the team lead with 7 tackles (6 solo), 2.0 sacks, 2.0 tackles for loss, 4 QB hits, and a forced fumble. Cripes.
At halftime, Cooper was a forgotten man. He had just 2 catches for 11 yards. But not surprisingly when the offense got going, it got going through Coop. The first drive of the third quarter, in third and ten, Carr found Cooper on a slant for 28 yards. He went for Cooper again on the long ball and the defender interfered with him in the end zone to set the Raiders up in first and goal from the one. From there they put their first touchdown on the board to tie it at 10-10.
The next drive was also for a touchdown. Again Carr went for Cooper on the long ball, but this time Cooper was well behind his defender and hauled it in for a 34-yard score. That drive also featured a 16-yard catch by Coop.
Cooper would catch 10 passes on 10 targets before missing one. And it was a really bad drop. With just :17 seconds left and the Raiders at the Tampa 45-yard-line, Cooper got open along the left sideline. Carr threw a perfect pass right into his bread basket in stride for what was either a touchdown or to put the Raiders in chip shot field goal range to win it in the final seconds. But Cooper dropped it. Flat out dropped it. Janikowski missed the 50-yard field goal and the game headed to overtime, where it had no business going.
Had the Raiders lost this game, that drop by Cooper would have been a major factor and his 12 catches for 173 yards would have all been for naught. But the Raiders won, and the mere fact that they were able to overcome all the penalties was because of Cooper’s performance throughout the game.
Scoring the game-winning, walk-off touchdown is probably worthy of being called a Baller all by itself. That is especially true for how Roberts did it. With the raiders in fourth and 3 from the Tampa 41-yard-line, they went for it in the hopes of getting into field goal range. Roberts went over the middle and caught the Carr delivery just as two defenders were converging on him. They both hit him simultaneously, but he kept his feet as they bounced off of him and each other. That gave him open field to sprint for the touchdown to send the Raiders away winners.
That’s how Roberts will be remembered, but he had a few other big catches as well. A 13-yard catch on third and 6 kept the Raiders first touchdown drive alive. He later got the Raiders’ third touchdown drive started with a 15-yard catch giving him 69 yards and a touchdown on three catches.
Jalen Richard – Went 20 yards on his first carry of the game, finishing with 34 yards on 5 carries (6.8 ypc). He also returned a punt 20 yards to set the Raiders up at their own 45-yard-line and set up the late field goal attempt.
Mychal Rivera – Two of his three catches were big time. The first went for 27 yards on a seam route. The other was the late game-tying touchdown in which he laid out around a defender for the catch from eight yards out.