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Raiders once again survive without top receivers in the lineup, live to fight another day

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NFL: New York Giants at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Suddenly the Raiders have found themselves right in the thick of the playoff race. Unfortunately they also suddenly have found themselves without their top two wide receivers, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

Crabtree was ejected for fighting on the second series of last week’s game against the Broncos and Cooper was knocked out in the second quarter with a concussion.

Both incidents carried over into this week against the Giants with Crabtree getting suspended for this week’s game and Cooper having not yet returned from his concussion.

That meant that, with no room for error, the Raiders would need to do get their contributions elsewhere. Namely from their three reserve wide receivers, but it didn’t end there.

First area that stepped up was the run game, with Marshawn Lynch following up 26 carries last week by going for 60 yards in three carries to begin this week’s game, including a 51-yard touchdown scamper. He would finish with 101 yards on 17 carries (5.9 ypc), giving the Raiders their first 100-yard rusher of the season.

Leaning on the run game is a good thing, but it can’t be the only thing. They would need to put the ball in the air.

Next up was Seth Roberts, who is normally the team’s slot receiver and has led the team in snaps with them Coop and Crap. He was the team’s leading receiver at halftime with 3 catches on 3 targets for 33 yards, including an 18-yard catch on the team’s drive for a field goal in the second quarter.

Next, the team got production from an unexpected source — Clive Walford. The third year tight end doesn’t see the ball much behind Jared Cook and with so many other weapons in the Raiders arsenal. So, naturally being without Coop and Crab opened the door for him as well. By the end of the third quarter, he was the team’s leading receiver with 4 catches on 4 targets for 57 yards.

“Whenever we can put both tight ends out there, obviously we needed it with our situation today,” said Derek Carr after the game. “We needed them. When the teams play certain coverages because certain people are on the field. Usually, the guy that’s not out there the most is going to have the 1-on-1’s. Clive [Walford] did a great job.. .

“He was explosive for us. We had a big play down the middle, a couple of 3rd downs were close, those kind of things. If we can have all of our guys step up like they did, it’s going to be good for us.”

It was still a 10-7 game to start the fourth quarter, though, so more contributions were necessary. On the first drive of the final quarter, they got what they needed, starting with Cordarrelle Patterson catching a 19-yard pass. Later in the drive, Marshawn Lynch went full Beast Mode on a dump pass he took for 21 yards.

Then it was Johnny Holton catching a leaping 16-yard toe-tapper that put the Raiders in first and goal. They scored on the next play on a 9-yard touchdown run by DeAndre Washington.

The Giants weren’t going away, though, so the scoring would need to continue. The big play was Patterson catching a short pass and streaking for 59 yards.

“We sat on the sideline before we got the ball and [offensive coordinator] Todd [Downing] drew up the play,” said Patterson. “It was just a screen route, we ran it all game but we just did it out of a different formation. He said, just get the ball and we are going to score a touchdown. Unfortunately, I got caught and I don’t like getting caught so I was mad after that but we got the win. At the end of the day that’s all that matters.”

Then Holton finished it off with a 10-yard touchdown catch.

In the end it would be Patterson who, just as he did last week, led the team in receiving. That 59-yard catch put him just shy of 100 yards for the game (97).

“Cordarrelle really played a heck of a game,” said Jack Del Rio postgame. “He was impactful on special teams. He was impactful as a receiver, as a blocker, as a ball carrier. He played really well for us today. Johnny Holton came up. That toe tap there on that touchdown drive when we went to a 10-point lead there. Just following that Marshawn [Lynch], that great play on third down where he kind of went Beast Mode there. Went through a couple of defenders. It was really good stuff.”

They needed everything they got from their reserves to pull out their 24-17 win over the Giants Sunday just as they did their 21-14 win over the Broncos last week.

In so doing they weathered the storm to go 2-0 these past two weeks, looking to hopefully see both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree return to the lineup when they travel to Kansas City for the crucial match-up with the Chiefs with the division up for grabs.