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Raiders week 15 Ballers & Busters vs Cowboys

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

What do you even say about a game like this. Most are saying it’s the type of game that sums up the Raiders 2017 season. I can agree with that. If only because of how unpredictable and downright weird it was, and of course ended in heartbreak fashion.

Thanks to the 49ers suddenly revitalized team beating the Titans, the Raiders weren’t technically facing elimination. But they might as well have been.

Just as we saw last week, the Raiders didn’t force a punt in the first quarter and early in the 2nd they were down 10-0. They also didn’t threaten to score until late in the first half. And even that didn’t work out. They had a TD nullified for a highly questionable pass interference penalty and then Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 39-yard field goal.

This time, the Raiders didn’t wait until the fourth quarter to snap out of it. They scored on their first two possessions of the second half to tie it at 10-10. Then they tied it again early in the 4th quarter at 17-17.

A short field goal would put the Cowboys up 20-17 late, and a valiant effort by the Raiders ended with Derek Carr launching himself for the pylon and fumbling for a touchback. The Cowboys took over and kneeled out the clock.

Ballers

Michael Crabtree

Crabtree caught both of the Raiders’ touchdowns in the game and made plays that put them in position to score a couple times. He kept his second TD drive alive when he caught a 4-yard pass on third and three to put them at the 14-yard-line. His touchdown came on third and goal from the two-yard-line. In fact both of his touchdowns came from two yards out.

His final big play wasn’t a catch. It was a long bomb on 4th and 10 which he fought for, forcing the defensive back to interfere with him for a 55-yard penalty that put the Raiders in position to either tie or win it in the final seconds. Two plays later, Carr threw for him in the end zone, but the Cowboys were triple teaming him. The following play he was mysteriously removed from the game to be checked for a concussion on what would be the final play of the game. Carr said after the game that had he been available, they had a different play planned.

NaVorro Bowman

As he has done in all but one game since he arrived in Oakland, Bowman led the team in tackles. Six of his nine tackles came in the first half. Four of those came on one series in the second quarter which was the first time the Raiders forced the Cowboys to punt. He had a tackle for loss on a catch, two run stuffs for a combined 3 yards, and another tackle on a catch for one yard.

After the Raiders tied it up 17-17 in the fourth, he made the tackle on a catch to stop it short of the sticks. The following drive, with the Cowboys in third and goal at the one-yard-line, Bowman got in on the tackle to keep them out of the end zone and force them to settle for a short field goal.

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn continued his strong running Sunday, picking up 76 yards on 16 carries (4.8 ypc). Their drive at the end of the first half that moved into scoring range began with a 9-yard Marshawn run. And their first actual scoring drive to start the third quarter featured an 11-yard run, an 8-yard catch, and a 19-yard run off a pitch that put the team in first and goal at the 2. They scored on the next play.

Their next scoring drive, he had runs of 4, 5, and 6 yards, with the final one again putting the team at the 2-yard-line. And again, they scored on the next play.

Khalil Mack

Coming into the game, Mack had posted a sack in four consecutive games. He continued that streak and more in this one against a tough Cowboys line with an elusive Dak Prescott.

As Mack goes, the Raiders go. His first sack came in the second quarter for a loss of five and he added a run stuff on the next play. That drive would result in the Cowboys first punt.

His next sack came in the third quarter. The Raiders had just tied the game up at 10-10 and Mack’s sack led to the Cowboys’ first three-and-out. Well, that is if they didn’t fake the punt and pick up the first down anyway.

After the Raiders tied it back up again, Mack came on the rush, but this time they held him. The result was the same – a three-and-out. He added a run stuff for no gain and a pressure on the Cowboys’ final drive. He finished second on the team with 6 combined tackles (5 solo), 2.0 sacks, and 3 QB hits. He now has 10.5 sacks on the season, just a half sack away from his 2016 total when he won Defensive Player of the Year.

Rodney Hudson

Hudson isn’t a Baller because he played every snap in this game with a kidney stone. He is a Baller because he earned it despite having a freaking kidney stone.

Marshawn Lynch’s 11-yard run early in the Raiders’ first scoring drive was behind a block by Hudson. Marshawn’s final two runs to set up their second touchdown both were behind Hudson. And of course, Hudson didn’t give up any pressures, because he just doesn’t do that.

Justin Ellis

Ellis put up 5 tackles in the game (3 solo) which led all of the Raiders’ interior defensive linemen. His biggest play wasn’t a tackle though. It was on the final defensive play of the game for the Raiders, with the Cowboys in third and goal from the one. Ellis stood his ground and clogged the middle of the line to allow for the linebackers to make the tackle and hold the Cowboys to a short field goal. That’s his job. One that goes unsung at times because it doesn’t show up in the stats, but it shows up in the score.

Honorable Mention

Derek Carr

It was an up and down game for Carr as many have been this season. It started poorly and ended poorly, but there was enough in between that he deserves praise for it.

The Raiders’ first two series were three-and-outs. The first ended with him being nearly intercepted. The second, he threw behind a wide open Michael Crabtree on a quick slant.

Where things started to happen in the game was when he used his legs – something he hasn’t done much of this season. They picked up their first first down on third and 7 when Carr took off and slid for it. That drive would end when he threw for Crabtree short of the sticks.

He should have had a touchdown pass at the end of the first half, but Jared Cook was called for a phantom offensive pass interference, so it would have to wait for the third quarter.

Once again, when the Raiders needed a big play, it was not Carr’s arm, but his legs that made it happen. On third and 6, he dropped back, scanned the field and took off for 32 yards, reminding us that before he broke his leg last season, he had some wheels. And clearly he still does, when he wants to use them. A few plays later, he found Crabtree for a touchdown.

He found Crabtree in the end zone again early in the fourth quarter and again from two yards out to tie the game at 17-17. The Cowboy would go back up late in the 4th quarter, leaving the Raiders with 1:38 to try and tie it or win it.

A 19-yard connection with Seth Roberts got things moving. The drive nearly ended there with Carr throwing off target to Crabtree and then having what would have been a pick six dropped. They had no choice but to go for it on 4th and 10. Carr fled the pocket and rolled left, launching a prayer for Michael Crabtree who did the rest. He fought for the ball and the resulting defensive pass interference kept the Raiders alive.

Three plays later, Carr again scanned the field for an open receiver, this time without his favorite end zone target in the game, and went back to what put him in this position – his legs. In third and three, he took off from 8 yards out going for the pylon. He went for it all, diving for the end zone and fumbled it for a touchback.

His determination is admirable. He is commended for that. But he has to be smarter. He had the first down and going out of bounds would have stopped the clock with over :30 seconds remaining, allowing him several shots at the end zone and the chance to at very least tie it and send it to overtime. Like it or not, he got selfish and careless and in the end it cost his team the win.

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