For the second season in a row, the Raiders went to Nashville and pulled out a hard fought win over the Titans. At times it wasn’t pretty, but in the end they got what they came for – a W.
After two weeks of little defense to speak of from this Raiders team, defense suddenly became the order of the day. Three forced turnovers and a few timely plays by the offense helped pave the way for a 17-10 victory.
A week after posting three passes defended against the Falcons, Amerson upped his game to five in this one. He had a pass defended and tight coverage incompletion to force a punt on the Titans second series. His next pass defended also came on third down to end a Titans series in the second quarter. And on the final two plays of the second quarter, he had back-to-back passes defended – the second one was intercepted by Reggie Nelson off the deflection to end the Titans hopes of scoring before half. They headed to the locker room lucky to only be down 17-3.
In the third quarter, he had tight coverage on an incompletion which helped lead to a three-and-out. Then early in the fourth quarter, on third and 19, he had his fifth pass breakup of the day.
Somehow the official NFL box score only credits Amerson with four passes defended. Pro Football Focus credits him with five, just as I did here. I can’t tell which of them the NFL official stats decided wasn’t worthy of credit. Even still, his 8 breakups (which should be 9) is second in the NFL behind Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. These two finished last season one and two in passes defended as well.
Crabs has been so clutch this season. From the game-winning 2-point conversion in the opener, to the touchdown on 4th and two last week, to one of his several big catches in this game.
His first catch came on the Raiders’ second drive. It was a 7-yard completion to convert on third and six. He was in position on two more third downs in the second quarter, but Derek Carr overthrew him.
Perhaps Crabtree’s most impressive catch came on the opening drive of the third quarter. Carr escaped pressure and looked downfield for his sure-handed receiver. Crabtree was covered, but Carr threw it up anyway and Crabtree climbed the ladder, had his helmet knocked off, and still came down with the catch for a 29-yard gain. Unfortunately the drive didn’t go much farther.
Crabtree opened the fourth quarter with a 13-yard reception. Two plays later, Carr again threw for Crabtree despite his defender being in tight coverage. This time, it was defended and tipped in the air where it was picked off.
When the Raiders got the ball back, so did Crabtree. The first pass went his way and he spun away from his coverage and shot up the field for a 31-yard gain. But yet again, the Raiders couldn’t sustain the drive.
Just as Crabtree’s day began, it ended with him making a clutch catch to convert on third down. Crabs finished leading all receivers with 8 catches for 102 yards. Unfortunately the rest of the offense wasn’t at his level on this day.
No one on this defense was more visibly frustrated with how things were playing out in the first two games. And low and behold, when the defense finally looked competent, Nelson had a big day. Or, if you like, it was competent in part because of Nelson’s big day.
Every play he made was a crucial one. With the Raiders up 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, the Titans were lined up in third and 19 and went for the tight end with DJ Hayden in coverage. The pass was caught for 16 yards but may very well have resulted in a first down had Nelson not been there to stop it short and force a punt.
The next Titans drive ended in three plays. That third play, Marcus Mariota ran it and Bruce Irvin punched the ball out before he could go into his slide. Nelson was right there to recover it and give the Raiders the ball in scoring position. They added a field goal to extend the lead to 10-3.
Two series later, as the final seconds of the first half ticked away, Mariota went for his receiver over the middle and Amerson defended it. The ball was tipped in the air and there was Nelson again, on the spot to pick it off. What ensued on his return was confusing nonsense. They blew the play dead because they said he stepped out of bounds. The replay appeared inconclusive and the officials said the game clock wasn’t started on time which meant the half was over by the time he stepped out of bounds. It was all pretty sketchy and it cost the Raiders a chance to score at the end of the first half. Moving on.
Nelson’s final big play was knocking down a pass on third and 5 midway through the fourth quarter. It kept the score at 17-10 and the Titans would have just their final drive of the game to try and tie it up. They didn’t.
Washington picked up 57 yards on just six carries (9.5 yards per carry). His two biggest carries came on back-to-back plays on the same drive. The first one he shot up the gut for 30 yards and the next play he found another gap to go for 14 yards. He also caught a pass for five yards on the next play which set up the 19-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Seth Roberts to put the Raiders up 17-3 just before halftime.
People like to say “if you take away that ___ yard play, he didn’t have a great day.” That’s a stupid argument I would never recommend you make, because they all count in the final totals, but if you WERE to take away Washington’s 30-yard run, he still averaged over 5 yards per carry on the rest of his runs.
Of his seven punts, 3 were stopped inside the 20-yard-line. Two of those were stopped inside the ten. He also had a 60-yard punt with a 10-yard return and a 72-yard punt that had a holding tacked on to start the Titans’ drive at their own ten-yard-line.
Welcome back, Sean. It’s good to see what a favorable match-up can do for the Raiders’ prize defensive free agent addition. As a defensive back, you know you’ve had a good game when you catch as many passes as you gave up (1).
Late in the third quarter, for a moment it appeared Smith might give up his first catch of the game. But Smith got his hands on the ball just as Rishard Mathews did and Smith is stronger, so he ripped the ball out of Mathews’s hands for the interception.
The one catch Smith gave up was on the Titans’ final drive. It went for 19 yards to the 3-yard-line. But then Titans’ tackle Taylor Lewan torpedoed the pile and was called for unnecessary roughness. The penalty backed the Titans up 15 yards, making the overall damage on the play four yards.
The three biggest runs in this game went for 30, 22T, and 14 yards. All three of them were made possible by a generous grant from the Route 66 Foundation. The 22-yard run was Latavius Murray finding a crease up the middle to give the Raiders a touchdown on their first drive. The 30-yard and 14-yard runs were at the end of the first half. Both were DeAndre Washington and they set up the Raiders other touchdown to take a 17-3 lead at halftime. Jackson’s pass blocking still needs some work, but his big run blocks made up for it in this game.
Yes, the final of the Raiders four starting defensive backs. As a safety, when you lead the team in tackles (10) while not being on the hook for any big plays, you’ve done your job. If you wanted a peek at the alternative, you got it too. Keith McGill came in the game for a total of two defensive snaps and one of them he gave up a 17-yard catch to the tight end on third and six.
Bruce Irvin – Forced the fumble on the scramble by Marcus Mariota by slapping the ball out from behind. It led to a field goal to go up 10-3 in the second quarter. He finished with 4 solo tackles.
Jamize Olawale – On both of DeAndre Washington’s big runs to set up the Raiders’ touchdown before the half, Olawale led the way with a big block.
Sebastian Janikowski – This is more of a congratulations than anything. Janikowski’s 52-yard field goal in the second quarter gave him the NFL all-time record for most field goals of 50 yards or more. A prestigious record for sure.