While it's usually Khalil Mack we are talking about after games, this one was all Bruce Irvin. He and the pass rushers helped seal a 19-16 victory over the Chargers. But how did the defense as a whole grade during the performance?
The Chargers opened the game with a 47-yard touchdown to a wide-open Travis Benjamin. But after that, the Raiders secondary did a much better job against Philip Rivers. Nate Allen deserves praise for delivering another solid performance, he has become such an asset for this team with Karl Joseph being injured.
Aside from Irvin who was a monster all game, the rest of the pass rush was dormant until the Chargers final drive. Every time an opposing offense has a chance to comeback at the end of the game, the Raiders defense shuts them down time after time. This team as a whole has improved so much at closing out games and it is a huge reason why they are 11-3.
Granted the Chargers were literally down to their fourth and fifth string running backs with Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, and Branden Oliver all injured, but the Raiders run defense played well limiting the Chargers to just 73 yards on the ground (3.3 yards per carry) with zero touchdowns. This is the type of performance this defense needs as it makes the opposing offense one dimensional and easy to predict.
Apparently Ken Norton Jr completely forgot that the Chargers receivers torched the Raiders secondary in their first meeting, because that is exactly what Travis Benjamin did the very first drive! It baffles me that Norton doesn't have his safeties help over the top more often as the Raiders cornerbacks often cannot keep up with opposing receivers.
Watching the game, I lost count of how many times on third down that Rivers simply threw a five-yard crossing route for the first. Yet time after time it worked as Norton and the defense never adjusted to it.
But on a positive note, the defense only gave up 16 points and didn't get beat deep anymore after that first touchdown.
Overall Defensive Grade: B
Marquette King did well averaging 51 yards on three punts and Sebastian Janikowski was perfect converting all four of his field goal attempts.