The feeling after the Raiders’ big win Sunday over the Jets was that of elation. A 45-20 home opening win will do that. Jack Del Rio was about as jovial as you’ll ever see him, Marshawn Lynch was literally dancing like a like no one has ever seen him dance before and everyone was loving it. But despite the final margin of victory, they didn’t cruise to that win unopposed.
We as the media can nitpick from time to time, but we aren’t the only ones. The players can do so as well.
So, let’s nitpick. Just cuz we can.
The Raiders didn’t score on their opening drive. They went three and out. That included Marshawn Lynch being stopped for a loss and Lee Smith called for an unnecessary roughness penalty on the first play from scrimmage.
Though the Raiders scored two touchdowns in the first 17 minutes, the Jets were able to go on their own 10-0 run to pull it 14-10 with 2:00 minutes left in the first half.
You don’t think when looking at these two teams that you should find yourself in a 4-point game just before half.
A major factor in the Jets’ ability to mount a comeback was penalties. The Raiders were flagged six times in the first half for 64 yards. Compared to the Jets 1 flag for 5 yards.
Four of those flags were of personal foul penalties including roughing penalties on Lee Smith, Bruce Irvin, and Jon Feliciano, and a taunting on Marquel Lee. Two of those penalties came on the Jets’ scoring drives.
The Irvin penalty was the most easily criticized. It was in every conceivable way simply a tackle. The penalty was explained as happening after the play was over, but the play was NOT over.
This flag comes on the heels of Irvin getting a similar flag for putting a suplex on Titans tight end Delanie Walker in the season opener - a questionable, but less controversial penalty. The flag today seemed like a reverberation of that penalty.
“I think they’re watching me extra now,” said Irvin. “It was a football tackle to me but they thought differently.”
Del Rio was understandably furious at the call on the field. Luckily, it had become somewhat of water under the bridge by the time the game was over, so he could laugh about it, asking me with a smile and a laugh “What did you think? Did you think I liked it? Are you giving me a chance to get in trouble?,” he quipped.
“There were some things I thought were a little bit, maybe called a little too tight. I’m not sure that’s what our league needs. I thought we were making effort to speed up the games. I’d like to see that continue.”
That penalty set the Jets up with a first down in Oakland territory and three plays later, Josh McCown found Jermaine Kearse for a 34-yard touchdown.
That one penalty aside, the feeling early on was uneasiness. A team with Super Bowl aspirations doesn’t feel like it should have tense moments against arguably the worst team in the NFL.
“I still feel like it wasn’t a super blowout, you know what I’m saying?,” said Mack. “I want to shut teams out. That’s what you want as a defense. Shut teams out and that way you can get more effective when you talk about sacks and turnovers and all the different things. That’s what we want to do.”
It’s probably no coincidence it’s mainly the defense that would see areas where they could improve. They gave up 20 points in the game, which is not great. But to say this was just the offense that racked up points, would be missing the big plays by the defense and special teams that put them there including four sacks and a forced fumble.
Celebrate this one, guys. Knowing full well to keep in mind that these are the Jets and opponents will get much tougher from here.