Victory is sweet, Raider Nation. This one was sloppy, the field was wet, and there were penalties everywhere, but one does not look a road win in the mouth no matter who the opponent is. This was the first game since Week 2 where the Raiders actually looked like the Raiders, with the bruising running game and the deep passing attack. Let’s look at rocked and what was a crock:
1) Marshawn Lynch
Oakland really could have used Lynch last week against the Bills, but it was great to see him in full effect against Miami. He found tough sledding early in the game against a very tough Miami defensive line, but as the game went on Lynch was able to break a few quality runs. He went for 57 yards and two scores on 14 carries, which is exactly what the Raiders had in mind when signing him.
2) Derek Carr
The Raiders’ franchise quarterback went 21/30 for 300 yards (for an even 10 YPA) with one touchdown, a deep bomb to Johnny Holton. His interception came on a bizarre lucky tip at the two-minute warning at the end of the game. The team likely would have punted anyway, so Carr’s armpunt was of no real consequence.
The Todd Downing Experience only reared its ugly head a few times tonight, and in fact seemed to have made its way over to the Dolphins’ playbook, as they only attacked deep on a few rare occasions. Carr went deep constantly, even though he was victimized by drops. This aggressive yet accurate Carr is the one we know and love, rather than the tentative and erratic Carr we’ve seen on occasion this season.
3) Jared Cook
The big tight end was the Raiders’ leading receiver in this game, finishing with eight catches for 126 yards. 69 of those yards came on the first drive alone. A big part of Oakland’s inability to move the football this season has been their lack of production on third downs, but Cook was a beast on third down tonight, constantly bailing the Raiders out of tough spots. We do not win this game without him. He’s become a major security blanket and safety outlet for Carr, something he hasn’t really had in previous seasons. What a superlative free agent signing by Reggie McKenzie.
4) Raiders offensive line
The Dolphins have a terrific defensive front seven, and early in the game the Raiders’ line found it difficult to open up running lanes for the backs. As the game went on, they had an easier time of it. But a big problem in recent weeks has been the pass protection. The Bills had a number of sacks and pressures last week. But tonight, the Dolphins only got a hand on Carr once, and that was Ndamukong Suh knocking the ball out of Carr’s hand, which counts as a sack. Other than that, Carr had all the time in the world to survey the field and make the throw he wanted to make. This contributed to him being able to attack deep more effectively. The Dolphins’ pass rush is no joke and the Raider line should feel proud of this effort.
It’s bad enough when a defense is out of position. It’s another thing entirely when a defense has to chase a ball-carrier and then can’t tackle him. I lost count of how many Dolphins simply bounced off of arm tackles or hits that didn’t wrap up. If the Raiders have some kind of aversion to covering players, then they should at least tackle whoever gets the ball.
There were 21 penalties for 212 yards in this game. That’s kind of a lot, and it made the game slow and difficult to watch. But, on the bright side, Oakland had 10 penalties while Miami had 11, so the refs weren’t picking on either team in particular. And they did call a number of holds when offensive linemen were tackling Mack, which happens far more often than it’s called. I don’t have an issue with the penalties that were called and I felt the refs were fair, but the sheer volume of flags bogged the game down. Both teams should try to clean that up.
3) The Dolphins front office
One of the more puzzling moves of the NFL trade deadline was the Dolphins trading RB Jay Ajayi to the Eagles for a box of doughnuts and some oceanfront property in Tulsa. Ajayi proceeded to rip off some huge runs against the Broncos today, while the Dolphins’ running backs were just okay. Kenyan Drake had a good run, but also a fumble that led to Raider points following a Dolphins onside kick that took Oakland by surprise. Neither he nor Damien Williams are going to carry a running game. At this point I’m convinced the Dolphins are not trying to win, and are merely a shell corporation to launder cocaine money.
4) The Broncos and Chiefs
Today was truly a great day to be a Raider. Both the Broncos and Chiefs went down in flames earlier today, with the Broncos being the more conflagratory of the two. Philadelphia welcomed Brock Osweiler and the Broncos to town by systematically destroying them, 51-23. Nothing went well for Denver as they got pantsed on national television and had their heads stuffed into a toilet bowl. The good people of Mike High Report want to fire everyone, from John Elway to Vance Joseph to the mascot to the Bud Light vendor. They’d probably want to fire Barrel Man if he weren’t already dead. Denver plays New England next week on Sunday Night Football in a true Meteor Game.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, visited the greater Dallas area to play the Cowboys, who have struggled recently. Dallas didn’t struggle much with the Chiefs, who forgot Cole Beasley exists. He caught a couple touchdowns for the Cowboys and the Kansas City defense’s woes continue. Will their freefall allow the Raiders to challenge for the division title? We can only hope.