It was complete domination for the Raiders early on. Even with the run game going next to nowhere, the Raiders jumped out to a 24-7 lead over the Panthers.
Cam Newton was completely inept for the Panthers, while Derek Carr was 14 of 19 for 167 yards and a touchdown.
The Raiders’ second drive featured a perfectly executed screen play to Latavius Murray that went for 32 yards. That play was followed up by a 24-yard pass from Derek Carr to Seth Roberts to set the Raiders up in first and goal at the 6-yard-line. On third and goal from the 2-yard-line, Carr threw it for Roberts again, who went up high to pull it down for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
A bogus roughing the passer penalty on Stacy McGee put the Panthers at the 40-yard-line. The next play, Jonathan Stewart found a seam up the middle and saw open field to run for 47 yards to the Oakland 13. A Karl Joseph pass interference penalty covering Greg Olsen set the Panthers up in first and goal at the 3-yard-line and they would score the touchdown on the next play on a Cam Newton scramble out left.
The rest of the first half was all Raiders. The defense was stout.
Raiders’ touchdown drives were courtesy of a couple unlikely sources. First it was a 15-yard catch and run by Taiwan Jones and later a 30-yard pass to Johnny Holton for 30 yards to set the Raiders up in first and goal at the 4-yard-line. Latavius Murray finished it off on the next play with the touchdown run and a 14-7 lead.
Late in the first, the Panthers would get the ball at their own 9-yard-line off a punt. It looked like they would have the last shot of the half to score, but on second down, Khalil Mack got his hands up on a screen attempt to pick off the pass and return it six yards for the defensive touchdown to complete the dominating first half.
That domination would end almost immediately with the start of the second half in potentially devastating fashion.
Getting the ball first to start the third quarter, Derek Carr took the snap on the second play and looked to dislocate his pinky finger on his throwing hand. The ball was fumbled and the Panthers recovered. Carr clutched his hand and headed for the locker room.
The Panthers took the turnover and drove for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked by Denico Autry (that man again) to keep it at 24-13.
Matt McGloin took the field for one series, going three-and-out. The Panthers then scored quickly on an 88-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn jr. They went for two to try and make up for the missed PAT and were unsuccessful to keep it at 24-19.
Derek Carr emerged from the locker room to cheers. He was wearing a glove on his throwing hand. He would return to the game and after three completions, threw a pass right into the arms of Thomas Davis who returned it to the Oakland 28-yard-line. The Panthers would take the short field and score another touchdown to take the lead. Another failed 2-point conversion would make it a 25-24 Panthers lead.
The Panthers weren’t done either. They would score another touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 32-24. The touchdown was a 44-yard bomb from Newton to Kelvin Benjamin making the catch around tight coverage by Sean Smith.
It was now or never for the Raiders. They chose now.
Carr mounted a long drive, and finished it off with a laser pass to Clive Walford up high for the touchdown. He then threaded the needle to Seth Roberts for the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 32-32.
A defensive stop by the Raiders forced a punt and one last drive to take the lead.
They drove to the 5-yard-line, draining the clock, and added a field goal for a 35-32 lead with 1:45 remaining.
A 20-yard pass from Newton to Greg Olsen and an 11-yard pass to Devin Funchess and the Panthers were in Oakland territory at the 44-yard-line. That’s when Khalil Mack said nuu-uh.
He got in for a pressure to force an incompletion. Bruce Irvin got pressure on the next play to force a throw away by Newton. A pass over the middle for Olsen was high and fell incomplete to set up fourth down.
The game was on the line with this play. Khalil Mack put on a series of pass rushing moves that destroyed his blocker and he closed on Newton in an instant, stripping the ball out of his hand and falling on it.
I have run out of superlatives for Khalil Mack. he is unbelievable.
Raiders improve to 9-2 in unlikely fashion (again), keeping their spot atop the AFC West secure. The Panthers fall to 4-7.