This one was a much closer game than most thought it would be. The score was tied for much of the game, including a 10-10 tie through most of the fourth quarter, right up until the finale seconds.
As you might expect, with a score that low, it wasn’t either team’s offense that was keeping their team afloat. It was a dismal performance by both offenses, with 7 turnovers between them and 13 punts. The Raiders alone had 5 turnovers along with a turnover on downs.
There will be credit given for the Raiders defense for the job they did in keeping Eagles backup QB Nick Foles in check most of the game.
A classic case of the stats not telling the story of just how much of a factor Mack played in this game. The box score has him with 4 tackles and no sacks. But he did so much more than that.
He had two run stops for a combined three yards on the Eagles’ second possession. The second was a stop for one yard on fourth and one, but the officials either placed the ball incorrectly after the third down stop or Eagles center Jason Kelce moved it. Look.
The unofficial line is correct. Yet look where the center has the ball. This on 4th and one is inexcusable by the officials. Thy converted by a half yard. pic.twitter.com/kq2tQ0riIY— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) December 27, 2017
Mack’s tackle for one yard could have been a stop but because of the initial bad spot, it was a first down by a half yard. The Eagles went on to score their only offensive touchdown on that drive. The Raiders just keep getting the short end of the stick from the officials on measurements.
As I said, Mack may not have had a sack – his first game in five weeks he didn’t have one – but he played a part in both sacks and a tackle for loss. He forced right tackle Lane Johnson to be flagged for holding twice in the game.
On Jihad Ward’s sack, Mack was used on a stunt inside and Johnson stayed with him for the double team, allowing Ward a free rush outside to get his first career sack. Later, he got pressure on Foles, but it was Denico Autry who would end up getting the sack for a 16-yard loss, forcing the Eagles to punt out of their own end zone.
With just over two minutes left in the game and the Eagles getting the ball back tied at 10 apiece, Mack would stuff a run and when the back tried to escape the other direction, Bruce Irvin tackled him for a loss of six to put the Eagles in second and 16 at their own 4-yard-line. Mack would make the run stop on the next play and the Eagles would punt out of their own end zone again.
Most of you are probably surprised Nelson wasn’t Top Baller. I get that. To be honest, I was just as surprised when I watched the tape. Nelson had both of the Raiders’ takeaways and that was after having a sure pick six go through his hands early in the second quarter.
In two series at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second, Nelson had a run stop for two yards, a pass defended on third down (the near pick six) and another pass defended.
After a Carr interception in the third quarter gave the Eagles the ball in Oakland territory at the 44, Nelson kept them from scoring. He led out the series with tight coverage on an incompletion and on the next play punched the ball out of the hands of running back Jay Ajayi after a long run that would have put the Eagles in scoring position.
Early in the 4th quarter, with the score tied at 10-10, Nelson was back to Mr Opportunistic, in position to pull down a high pass off the hands of tight end Zach Ertz to give the Raiders the ball at the Philadelphia 37-yard-line. But just like his last takeaway, the Raiders would give the ball right back on a turnover and fail to get any points out of it.
Much of Irvin’s contributions did show up in the stat line. He had 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a QB hit, and a pass defended. His biggest plays came in the fourth quarter where he had both of his tackles for loss, including the one that put the Eagles in 2nd and 16 at their own 4-yard-line to force a crucial three-and-out approaching the 2-minute mark. It was also Irvin’s pressure on Foles that forced his errant pass that grazed off Ertz’s fingertips and into the arms of Nelson for the interception.
The cold night in Philadelphia was a major factor in all the ball security issues on the day. As evidence, Lynch, who hadn’t fumbled since 2014, put one on the ground. That aside, he was most of the Raiders’ offense. The Raiders had 274 yards of total offense and 95 of those came on Lynch’s 25 carries.
Marshawn really got things going in the second half. With the score knotted at 7-7 at the half, he took the first carry and went for 16 yards. He had 26 yards rushing on that drive and the Raiders were able to add a field goal. It would have been a touchdown drive had Michael Crabtree not dropped it, but they were still able to take the lead 10-7.
The next carry he got after that drive, he picked up 15 yards. He picked up a first down on third and one that helped put the Raiders in field goal range, but Tavecchio missed from 48 yards out. Lynch would later have a long run called back on a very questionable holding penalty on Lee Smith.
TJ Carrie, Sean Smith
Smith played nearly every snap and wasn’t targeted while covering Alshon Jeffery most of the game. Jeffery had two targets and no catches in the game.
Carrie was a lot more visible, but mostly for the right reasons. He had tight coverage on the first play of the game to force an incompletion. He had tight coverage on an incompletion on third down. The longest catch he surrendered was for ten yards on third and 18. That’s a catch they want him giving up and making the stop. When Nelson forced the fumble in the third quarter, it was Carrie who recovered it.
The one touchdown the Raiders scored came on a vicious double move by Coop to the inside, getting Jalen Mills to bite and breaking deep for a 63-yard score. Later, Coop bailed out Carr on a high arching pass with two defenders in the area. He made the catch for 45 yards, but it was called back by a Gabe Jackson holding. Had the ball been intercepted, or even fallen incomplete the Eagles would have declined the penalty to force a punt. Coop also laid a nice block to help Jalen Richard pick up 23 yards on a screen in the fourth.
David Sharpe, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson
The rookie Sharpe did a fine job of protecting Derek Carr’s blind side, playing every snap and surrendering just one pressure and no sacks. He and Osemele were also outstanding in run blocking. Osemele laid the key block on Jalen Richard’s 34-yard run early in the third quarter that set up the Raiders’ go-ahead field goal.
After the Eagles tied it back up with a field goal, Sharpe, KO, and Hudson all laid big blocks to spring Marshawn Lynch for a 15-yard run. It was a block by Sharpe that gave Marshawn enough room to pick of the first down on third and one. The drive still alive, the Raiders moved into field goal range, but Tavecchio would miss the 48-yard attempt early in the fourth.
The following drive Osemele and Hudson would get down field on the 23-yard Richard screen that would again put them in scoring position. But again, the drive would end with a turnover on a Richard fumble.
It must be acknowledged the stark contrast between the way the defense has played under him the past five games and the way they played the first ten games this season. They are far more dynamic and aggressive as the stunts and turnovers bear out. Now, if he can get a handle on those wide open dumps and screens, like the one on which the Eagles got their only offensive touchdown.
Denico Autry – He had a sack for a 16-yard loss and got his hands up to help force an incompletion. You get that ball near him, he will bat it down. He leads the league (6) in that category.