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Raiders week 11 Ballers & Busters vs Texans

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It was another gritty, come-from-behind win for the Raiders. This time on the international stage in Mexico City. In a game that was rocky early on, had the Raider staring at a 17-10 deficit approaching the end of the third quarter and a 20-13 deficit early in the fourth. Then the Raiders, as they have been known to do this season, turned it on, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull out a 27-20 win.

Everything about this match-up looked going in like the Raiders would do well to stay on the ground. And they tried that in the first half, only to watch that plan fail miserably. Jadeveon Clowney almost single-handedly destroyed the Raiders’ chances to run the ball, with five stops, including two tackles for loss.

Throwing on one of the best passing offenses in the league wasn’t working out well either. Late in the game, however, they found their offense, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull out the win.

Texans fans (and Broncos fans too as it turns out) are angry due to two big questionable calls, and probably think the officials should be the Top Baller this week.

The thing is though, the biggest call was the officials whistling the play dead when DeAndre Hopkins stepped out of bounds. It was a 24-yard catch that would have gone the distance had he not stepped out. But he did step out, so it was the correct call on the field.

The other was the spot placement on a fourth down run late. That run looked like a first down upon initial viewing, and upon another look, it’s so close, it really could have gone either way. The officials didn’t see indisputable visual evidence to change their original spot, so the call stood. If it had happened to the Raiders, you all would be furious too. Let’s not pretend you wouldn’t be. That’s just how things go sometimes. It’s a game of inches.

There are actually some real Ballers though, so let’s get to those.


Malcolm Smith

Welcome to the 2016 Ballers, Malcolm. Making his first appearance as a Baller this season shows the progress Smith has made since the first month. He was a Buster each of the first four weeks, not listed at all for the next five, and now he’s Top Baller. Started at the bottom, now we’re here.

Early on, he was doing what he had done the past few weeks – make some tackles on runs, but nothing at the line, while giving up a couple catches for first downs. Late in the second quarter, he got a great read on the tight end, stayed right with him up the middle of the field, turning his head just at the right time, and leaping to make the interception to give the Raider the ball at midfield. He followed that up with a tackle on a catch for one yard to help send the two teams to the half tied at 10-10.

The final play of the third quarter saw Smith give up another catch to the tight end and missing the tackle to go for 20 yards. But it was also Malcolm who was in tight coverage to force an incompletion on third down to keep the damage at a field goal and a one score game, down 20-13.

One play is all it would take for the Raiders to tie the game back up. It was the 75-yard catch and run by Jamize Olawale and it was a new ball game at 20-20.

The defense would get no rest. They returned to a short field, with a big return starting the Texans drive at their own 44-yard-line. From there the Texans drove into the red zone, looking as if they would take the lead back either on a field goal or a touchdown. In third and two, Smith stuffed the run for one yard. Faced with 4th and one, the Texans opted to go for it. Smith was right there again, to make the tackle for no gain. That was the controversial spot which was challenged and upheld upon review. The Raiders took over on downs and in five plays, drove for the game winning touchdown.

The interception late in the first half and those two tackles late in the fourth quarter were HUGE for the outcome of this game. He also tied for the team lead with 10 combined tackles (9 solo).

Bruce Irvin

All the talk about Khalil Mack and his reunion with the man he sacked five times last year probably had Irvin asking ‘What do I look like, chopped liver?’ If that were the case, then perhaps we should do this every week. Early on, his play on defense kept the Raiders afloat.

Just on the first series alone, he was all over the place. He made the first tackle on a 4-yard pass to the tight end. The next play he shot into the backfield to make the tackle for loss on a run. Two third down conversions later, he had another run stuff. Another third down conversion and he had another tackle for a loss of two. Finally, on the fourth third down of the series, the Texans were stopped. And of course Irvin had a hand in it, pressuring Osweiler to force him to throw the ball away to keep the damage at a field goal.

He finished tied for the team lead with 10 combined tackles (9 solo) along with a sack on the Texans final drive to put them in third and long, and play in which he kept his gap to string out the run and cause a tackle for no gain.

Jamize Olawale, Jalen Richard, Latavius Murray

This is one of the weirder Baller trios I’ve ever seen. All running backs, all of whom combined for 32 yards rushing on 17 carries (1.8 yards per carry). Yikes. Then you look at what they did as receivers and you see just why they’re all three here. Between them, they were most of the Raiders’ offense, catching 11 passes for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns. That’s more catches (10) than the rest of the team combined and twice as many yards (96) and touchdowns (1).

Olawale started it off with a 9-yard catch late in the first quarter. Then it was a pass two yards off the line of scrimmage to Jalen Richard that he took the final 15 yards for the touchdown to finish off that drive and put the Raiders ahead 7-3.

In the third quarter, Olawale would add another short catch, this time for 6 yards. Two plays later, on third down, he made a fantastic block on Jadeveon Clowney that gave Derek Carr time to find Michael Crabtree for the first down. Murray added a catch on the drive which led to a field goal cut into the Texans’ lead at 17-13.

The next time the Raiders saw the ball, they would more than cut into the Texans’ lead, they would eliminate it. After the Texans added a field goal to go up 20-13, on one play, Jamize Olawale got open, caught a short pass, eluded a defender, and was gone for a 75-yard touchdown.

A stop on fourth and one by the defense, gave the Raider the ball with 85 yards ahead of them. They picked up 39 of those yards when Latavius Murray caught a pass in the left flat and found open field up the sideline to reach the 35. The next play, Amari Cooper would pick up the rest.

Just one more task left for the offense. They got the ball with 3:02 remaining, which meant a couple first downs and they could end it. On the second play, Jalen Richard got open along the right sideline for 29 yards and we hit the two-minute warning. Just one first down needed. It took all four downs for Murray to get it, but finally, on fourth and one, he got around the left edge for six yards to put ice it.

Derek Carr

Even though most of his passing yards came after the catch, someone had to steer this ship through the rocks. And just like he has done several times before this season, Carr kept it steady as she went and notched another come-from-behind victory on his belt.

The first touchdown pass to Jalen Richard was no gimme. Carr had to thread the needle to get the ball to his little rookie back. He put the ball right where it needed to be to allow Richard to break free and weave his way another 15 yards for the score.

Carr’s interception on the first play of the third quarter was not pretty. He never should have thrown that ball, let alone launched it up for grabs the way he did. The Texans took over and would score a touchdown on the possession to take a 17-13 lead. Which meant yet Carr and the Raiders were faced with another late deficit.

They carried that deficit into the fourth quarter, down 20-13. Then some trickeration with Amari Cooper lining up in the backfield and Jamize Olawale out wide, confused the Texans and led to Olawale getting open. Carr threw it to him and Olawale did the rest for a 75-yard, game-tying touchdown play.

Carr would also get big plays from Murray and Cooper on short passes to complete the comeback win and finish 21 of 31 (67%) for 295 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. And the W.

Sean Smith

He gave up one catch for six yards. That’s it. What more do you want? He had a couple tackles too, one was a run stuff for a two-yard gain.

Khalil Mack

Mack ended the Texans’ first two possessions with a pressure to force a throw away and a run stuff for one yard on third and two. The next drive, he got a pressure that clearly gave Brock Osweiler a serious flashback, causing him to throw right to a linebacker and he was lucky it wasn’t intercepted (more on that later). Mack then ended the Texans’ final drive of the first half by sacking Osweiler. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack, and 2 hurries.

Donald Penn

Kept Derek Carr protected from his blindside and clean all day, while giving up just one run stuff.

Amari Cooper

That one big play was enough. When he took that short pass out left, made a move that had the defenders falling over themselves, then broke up field, through defenders and gone 35 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Via con dios, Mexico City.

Honorable Mention

Karl Joseph – tied for the team lead with 10 combined tackles (9 solo). Two of those tackles were big hits – one to stop a long run at the one-yard-line, the other on a scramble by Brock Osweiler just short of the first down marker.

Bill Musgrave – The second half adjustment to use the running backs in the passing game as he did was well played; especially the tricky Amari/Jamize switcheroo. If he had called for the blockers to double team Jadeveon Clowney, those backs may have had more than 7 rushing yards in the first half and averaged more than 1.5 yards per carry.

Continue to the Busters