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The Morning After: Raiders at Ravens

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Oakland Raiders v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Was John Harbaugh giving his best impression of Forrest Gump as a coach yesterday? Because he just kept running, and running, and running, and nobody told him to stop. That’s because it worked like a freaking charm, they flipped the switch to the running game and it was suddenly lights out for the Oakland Raiders in this one.

I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything like that, suddenly it was like watching an Army college football game because they just straight up stopped passing the ball in the second half. Why would they do anything else with how inept the Raiders were at stopping them though. Once they became a run on first, second and third down team Oakland was at their complete mercy.

Looking at the team stats tells you everything you need to know about how this game shook out, the Ravens had 242 rushing yards to the Raiders 67. The Raiders actually had 182 passing yards to the Ravens 174, but lost the overall yards 416 to 249. That shows just how much Baltimore imposed their will on Oakland in the 2nd half.

The funny part is that this game was actually a lot closer than the 34-17 final score looks, especially when you consider that 14 of the 17 point win for the Ravens came on a punt return that never should have counted and a fumble returned for a touchdown late in the 4th quarter. The reason that punt return never should have counted was because one the most key blocks to free the return man was a hold so egregious that I’m surprised that Dwayne Harris’s jersey didn’t rip. Oh yeah, and it was directly in the hole that Ravens return man Cyrus Jones ran through.

As for the fumble returned for a touchdown, can you believe that was the first time Terrell Suggs returned a fumble for a touchdown? That was shocking to me. Suggs is a future hall of famer, who played on one of the toughest defenses in NFL history when they had Ray Lewis in his prime, on a team that was known for creating points off their turnovers. It was bound to happen before Suggs called it quits, but of course it was the Raiders who finally gave him that opportunity.

Overall, this was one of the more mundane games of the season for the Raiders. They didn’t play horrible, but they certainly didn’t play well either. Derek Carr played ok but his pedestrian stat line of 16 of 34 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown shows that he certainly didn’t play well.

The 67 yards rushing was the real killer in a game that was actually somewhat close for most of the time, especially because Doug Martin was running well (11 carries for 51 yards, 4.6 average on the day) before Oakland just completely stopped trying to run. When is it ever a good idea for a team to go completely one dimensional?

Ironically, in this very same game going one dimensional worked really well for the Ravens actually. When does it work out for the Raiders though? Pretty much never. Derek Carr is at his best when there is a running game with him, going completely away from running the ball with him generally does not work out well.

The one positive that is definitely worth pointing out though is that the Ravens went full blown Forrest Gump on the Raiders because the Oakland pass defense was doing pretty damn well against the rookie Lamarr Jackson’s arm. His legs not so much, but they were defending the pass well. Baltimore switched to mostly running the ball because they couldn’t get their passing game going.

The 2nd interception was an absolute beauty for the Raiders too, Gareon Conley’s blanket coverage and volleyball bump to Marcus Gilchrist was one of the best defensive plays for Oakland on the whole season. That’s not saying much I guess, but still it’s great to see how well Conley has been playing since he wasn’t traded at the deadline like the rumors suggested.

In the end, at least the Raiders were competitive and didn’t screw up their draft position. Next up is the first of two matches against the rival Kansas City Chiefs though, so it’s only going to get harder from here. The Chiefs have embarrassed good teams this season showing to be one of the NFL’s elite teams of 2018 and the rival Raiders are a dumpster fire. You know what that means though, trap game!

Probably not, but damn it would be fun to see the Raiders shock the Chiefs in such a terrible season for Oakland and great season for KC. That is the stuff that rivalries are all about, but really we should all just be begging for a competitive game that isn’t a disaster. There’s one thing going for the Raiders in this one, it’s their super bowl this year while it’s a blip on the radar for the Chiefs.

We will see what happens next week, but if the Ravens can run their way to 34 points on the Raiders it doesn’t exactly bode well for what the Patrick Mahomes debut in the Raiders/Chiefs rivalry could do. If nothing else at least it’s one step closer to this awful season being over with.