The Raiders escaped with a win in Mexico City against a good team who played better than they did for most of the game. It still is hard to believe they actually won that game because even the next day it feels like a totally stolen game. They should have lost, but they found a way to win anyway.
Let's be honest though, the Texans clearly have legitimate beef with the way this game played out. Their first drive had DeAndre Hopkins appear to run along the sidelines for a touchdown but he was called out of bounds. Now, there is much debate about whether he actually was out of bounds or not with Texans fans being certain he was but photographic proof being not quite so certain.
This photo floating around does appear like his heel might have been out of bounds after all, though I’m not 100% it shows definitively if his heel was actually touching the line or hovering slightly over the top of it. It definitely looks like he is out though.
The thing about this that is a legitimate gripe whether you think he was out of bounds or not is that the refs should have allowed the play to continue in order to review it afterwards. It's not certain one way or the other without the intensive review of the play, but blowing the whistle made it a non-factor anyway because it was unreviewable after that. If the refs allow the play to continue without the whistle they automatically would have reviewed it and it would have allowed a more informed decision on the play.
That wasn't the biggest issue from the refs in the game though, that came on the Texans 2nd to last drive of the game. Houston had clear momentum, and had driven into field goal range while appearing to get their first down on a Lamar Miller run on 3rd down. If Texans coach Bill O'Brien challenges that 3rd down play, the refs almost surely would have overturned the spot and given a first down.
The bad spot didn't get challenged though and the Texans went for it on 4th down instead. Again, the runner appeared to get the first and the refs spotted it short. Like, credit card slim short. This time the play was reviewed because of it being a turnover on downs but the refs upheld the call despite it truly appearing like he easily got the first.
To all that I say a very succinct, "Oh Well". The Raiders have been screwed over constantly year in and year out by terrible officiating. All of us here that are part of Raider Nation know that, game after game and season after season the refs have made bad calls that cost the Raiders dearly. It was bound to happen sooner or later where the refs actually helped Oakland win a game, and this was finally that comeuppance.
I hate to see a game possibly decided by bad officiating, I really do. I feel for the Texans fans on that, however as far as karma goes the NFL owed a game like this to the Raiders. That won't make Houston fans feel better about it whatsoever because they did get screwed over, but I refuse to feel bad about a win like that after so many losses for the Raiders caused in similar fashion.
The game wasn't necessarily given to the Raiders with those mistakes though, the Texans defense still needed to make stops in the 4th quarter that they were incapable of making. The end of the game is when Derek Carr is really amazing, and this was another game where he showed how clutch he is.
The 75 yard touchdown to Jamize Olawale that tied the game at 20 was such a perfectly drawn up play from Bill Musgrave though. Using Amari Cooper in the backfield as a decoy made the defender who could have stopped Olawale the easiest eliminate himself on the play completely by focusing on Cooper instead. Carr set up the play perfectly by looking towards Cooper to sell the decoy before throwing a pass to Olawale who made one move and then was gone for the TD.
Then for the Raiders to come back after the questionable turnover on downs and immediately gash the Texans defense with big plays was just a thing of beauty. That was the Raiders offense we have grown accustomed to, when they play like that there isn't a defense in the league that can stop them. Especially on the game winning touchdown to Amari Cooper, how do you stop a play like that?
Cooper turned on a dime and then was immediately at full speed. He got a hell of a block from Seth Roberts which was another controversial play because he may have blocked a tad early which would have been a penalty, though I believe he timed it absolutely perfectly. Seeing Roberts take out basically 3 defenders and then Amari Cooper just blast past them all like a rocket is one of my favorite plays of this exciting season.
The defense wasn't very good for most of this game, but they did just enough to win when it mattered. How good has Bruce Irvin been for the Raiders? He had another huge play with a sack on Brock Osweiler on their final drive, a sack which helped lead to another bad decision by Bill O'Brien who decided to punt with 3 minutes left and 1 timeout.
Irvin has to be in the running for best defensive free agent acquisition this season in the entire NFL. He is a leader and a clutch player who just seems to make plays when the Raiders need it most. Without him the Raiders very likely would have lost a couple more games this season than the 2 they have lost so far. Irvin has been everything the Raiders hoped for and more.
Another player on defense who made a huge impact in this game was Karl Joseph, and I actually mean that literally. This guy lays the wood, if you are going to take him on one on one you are going to feel it afterwards. Several different plays he came up with devastating hits in this one, he too has been everything the Raiders hoped he'd be.
Last but not least, the fans in Mexico were absolutely amazing. The game was far closer to Houston than it was to Oakland but you could see the stadium was overwhelmed with Raiders fans. The team might have lost a home game in Oakland, but this really did feel like a true home game despite being in Mexico City anyway.
Now the Raiders have matched their best season win total since 2002 at 8-2 after just Week 11. The next win for the team is going to be the most exciting one for me since that long ago season because it will finally end the non-winning season streak the Raiders have been on since their last Super Bowl appearance.
That win could come next week against a struggling Carolina Panthers but you can't sleep on a team like Carolina. Cam Newton is a load, and he knows that their season has been a disaster that can't afford another loss. The Raiders will need a much better defensive performance against Carolina if they want to end the streak next week against the Panthers.
Enjoy this win until then either way, because they got outplayed and still found ways to win. Even if it came with a little bit of help from the Zebras they still earned this win in the end. Anybody can win when the team plays great, it's winning poorer performances like this one that separated the good teams from the average ones.
Just Win Baby.