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Goro’s Quick Hits for Raiders week 13 win over Giants

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New York Giants vs Oakland Raiders Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

I’m not all the way back to dancing for joy over this win, but I’m getting there. The opponent was a depleted, demoralized, dysfunctional team, but one where the men on the field still had something to play for and embattled players with an “Us vs the World”-mentality can sometimes be very dangerous. I thought the best thing would be if the Raiders could put 2-3 scores up in the first half and hold them down defensively, that the Giants might emotionally pack it in for the latter half of the game.

Surprisingly, the defense came up big in the first half with three 3-and-outs to start the game and 2 sack fumbles to derail the Giants offense. The Offense exploded early (“BEEEEEAST MOOOOODE!”) but was erratic after that and could not do enough damage to break the Giants’ will.

It’s the 2nd game where the defense looked aggressive and carrying the swagger necessary to be successful. It’s also the 2nd game where they have faced a subpar QB who seemed to have difficulty reading the coverage and had accuracy issues otherwise.

Still, coverage held up and pass rush got home and it may give these players on the field more confidence and particularly the younger players like Nick Morrow, Dexter McDonald, Treyvon Hester, and Eddie Vanderdoes are growing into their roles.

Khalil Mack and the pass rush was getting the QB to hold the ball that half second extra to let them get home. The coverage was doing their job combined with the QB being a little methodical in trying to get his read.

Bruce Irvin’s strip sack came on a very nice blitz design. Slot Corner TJ Carrie drops down and blitzes with middle linebacker Navorro Bowman while opposite side Khalil Mack drops into coverage. This brings 3 rushers on two blockers while there is a double team and RB Chip on Denico Autry on the opposite side.

But Mack’s sack was pure speed/power. Mack just burst upfield and the Giants’ right tackle can drop fast enough. Mack turns the corner and takes a two hand punch (one to the facemask). Doesn’t matter, Mack is too powerful to be shoved off his line and crashes down right on Geno and grabs the ball like it belongs to him.

Going forward, Bruce and Khalil are both going to have keep playing at this high level and Interim (?) Defensive Coordinator John Pagano will have to continue to keep the pressure on with some of these nice rush calls.

Note: The Raiders’ defense DID show these types of plays last year and earlier this year, but after the Washington Week 3 game, where Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ OL destroyed the blitz each time, Ken Norton reduced its usage. Then once the DB injuries came, Norton gave up entirely on pressure packages.

Still a problem was maintaining some rush lane integrity, the lack thereof allowed Geno Smith to break contain. While Geno did not make any big plays out of that, someone like Alex Smith (particularly with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce downfield) may end up doing more damage.

Big question now is whether the Raiders’ defense is rising up or whether this is a minor mirage. Bring on the Chiefs.