Parker did something that I’ve never seen before. He gave up three sacks on three consecutive plays. Those sacks all happened late in the fourth quarter, with the Raiders in desperation mode. But Parker’s bad day wasn’t limited to a cluster of plays in obvious passing situations. They began well before that.
On the first drive of the game, Parker was already struggling. On third and one, he gave up a run stuff for no gain, forcing the Raiders to go for it on fourth and one. They would get that first down on a 30-yard catch by Lee Smith. Then in first and goal at the 7, Parker gave up a pressure that flushed Derek Carr from the pocket where he had to throw the ball away. Luckily the Raiders were able to score two plays later despite Parker.
The next time the Raiders went on a drive, Parker threatened to ruin that too. He gave up another pressure to once again have Carr flushed from the pocket, shutting down half the field. It fell incomplete. Two plays later, Parker was supposed to help block on a screen, but not only did he get Doug Martin tripped up, his man was able to bat down the pass attempt. They wouldn’t pick up the first down and settled for a field goal.
Now we come to the sacks. On the first one, Carr stepped up into the pocket and had his arm hit from behind by Matt Judon for the strip sack. Terrell Suggs scooped it up and returned it for the score to put the game essentially out of reach at 34-17.
With the ball back, Parker gave up sacks on each of the next two plays for a loss of 12 yards, putting any chance of a miraculous comeback out of reach.
I understand Carr’s task is not an easy one. His receiving corps is probably the worst in the league and his offensive line is pretty bad too. But good quarterbacks make their teammates better and we’re just not seeing that from Carr.
He threw the ball 34 times in this game and completed just 16 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown.
Among those passes, he had two that went for big yards – a short pass to a wide open Lee Smith that went for 30 yards and a 44-yard pass to Seth Roberts. His touchdown pass was thanks to a brilliant play by Jared Cook because Carr’s pass was so far behind him that he had to defy the laws of physics to do it.
His pass to Lee Smith that went for 30 yards came on the opening drive to set up a touchdown to start the day. Then he led the Raiders to four straight punts in which he completed just one pass to a wide receiver.
His second possession went three-and-out with a bat down at the line, a pass too high for Jalen Richard, and an overthrow for Marcell Ateman.
A long drive gave the Ravens a 27-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. An answer was needed. The Raiders went three-and-out. On second down, Carr threw for Johnny Holton, but he didn’t lead him on a corner route, causing Holton to have to adjust to it and try to catch a jump ball. Holton mistimed his jump and dropped it. The next pass Carr threw just out of bounds for Cook and the possession was over.
The strip sack never should have happened. Two plays before that, Carr didn’t see Seth Roberts wide open as plain as day on a cross over the middle because Carr was busy seeing if Ateman could get open for a 2-yard pass on the right sideline. Roberts would have had huge yardage had Carr actually seen him. The next play, in third and 8, Carr missed Ateman wide. That brought up 4th and 8 and no choice but to go for it.
On that 4th down play Carr appeared to be waiting for Jordy Nelson to break open deep, which caused him to hold onto the ball a bit too long – 2.7 seconds by my watch – giving Judon time to recover from rushing the edge to crash the pocket and hit his arm as he tried to throw. Had he anticipated Jared Cook on his comeback route, he would have gotten rid of it faster and had the first down. Instead it was a touchdown the other way and a 34-17 defeat.
Paul Guenther, Nicholas Morrow, Shilique Cahoun, Johnathan Hankins, Arden Key, Frostee Rucker, Maurice Hurst
When the Ravens started moving, there were a lot of guys getting made fools of, so it wasn’t easy to narrow it down. They were all bad. And the fact that a triple option offense made them look this foolish falls on the defensive coordinator.
We pick things up at the end of the first half. A 19-yard run got things started for the Ravens. The next play they handed it off on the option and there was simply no one home to keep the back from getting the edge and picking up 7 yards. Morrow didn’t keep containment on the edge the next play to give up 6 yards on third and three. It was the timely Gilchrist interception in the end zone that kept the Ravens from scoring before the half.
The Ravens would pick up where they left off to begin the third quarter with Hurst and Hankins giving up runs of 5 and 9 yards. Then Rucker and Morrow gave up a 6-yard run. Two plays later, in third and two, Calhoun was pushed back to give up the first down on a four yard run. The next play Key didn’t hold containment and Hankins was blocked to give up a 9-yard run. The play after that, Calhoun didn’t keep containment to give up a 15-yard run to put the Ravens in first and goal at the 5. Jackson would keep it to run for the touchdown on the next play.
The following drive was the nearly 9-minute one. It would be tedious to go through each player individually on this drive. Most notably Morrow was brutal on the drive, Key missed tackle a tackle on 3rd down, Calhoun missed a tackle on a 9-yard run, and Hankins jumped offsides on third and one. And 17 plays later, the Ravens went up 27-17.
Morrow and Calhoun were also among those who were beaten on the 70-yard punt return for a touchdown. Speaking of which...
Johnny Townsend, Dwayne Harris, Rich Bisaccia
Horrific special teams work in this game. Townsend is the worst offender of all. His punts have no place in the NFL. He had six punts in the game and finished with a 44.7 average and a pathetic 31.5 net average.
His first punt went 38 yards and was helped by illegal block penalty. His second punt was his longest. So long, in fact, that he outkicked his coverage. The return man fielded it with a good ten yards between him and the gunners (Harris and Johnny Holton) and 20 yards from the next man (Calhoun). Harris didn’t lay a hand on the returner who went 70 yard for the touchdown.
Townsend had another 38-yard punt. This one returned 9 yards to the 30 where Harris pushed him out of bounds for a net of 29 yards. His best punt went 47 yards, but only because of a very favorable bounce. It actually only went 30 yards in the air.
Harris had a chance to give the Raiders good field position on their final drive. When he fielded the punt, he had 15 yards of open field. He danced around and lost three yards instead.
Monday Gruden said Jordy Nelson wasn’t 100% healthy. So…why was he playing then? He was clearly a liability. Not only did Nelson play, he played 52 snaps. In that time, he saw one target and got no separation on it for an incompletion. The only time he touched the ball was on an end around. Really? And end around? For a team with at very least some speed at receiver, they give it to the slowest skill position player on the field? The result was predictable – a 2-yard loss.
There were plenty of questionable decisions. Like throwing the red flag to challenge a catch that took all of one look to see it wouldn’t be successful, costing the Raiders a timeout. Wasting timeouts has been an issue all season.
The final chance of any kind the Raiders had of making this one look a bit more respectable, saw them in third and 22. Gruden called for a bubble screen to Keon Hatcher that went for 8 yards. That play is unlikely to cover 22 yards, but had they decided that they were going for it on fourth down regardless, it would make sense to make it a more manageable play. They punted. Down 17 points with 3:47 remaining, they punted.