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Offensive line woes put Raiders ‘in very tough spot’ vs Bengals, upend positive momentum

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It was just one big win over the Steelers, but suddenly Raiders Nation was feeling pretty good about their chances stacking wins to finish out the season. That’s because the win seemed to be the most positive step in the right direction for the Raiders, who had played a tough game against the Chiefs the week before. It seemed to signal an upswing. That upswing didn’t go very high.

In Cincinnati, facing a backup quarterback on a team that had lost five straight games was the perfect opportunity for this Raiders team to keep it going. The problem proved to be the offensive line and the Raiders couldn’t get out of their own way all day long.

Derek Carr was sacked five times in the contest. And the Raiders running backs could pick up just 49 yards combined.

The known problem coming in was the Raiders were starting players who had been added to the team within the past two weeks. Chaz Green was signed off the street while Denzelle Good was claimed off waivers from the Colts. They had to face one of the best in the game in Geno Atkins. And Atkins ate their lunch.

The first drive lasted five plays in large part because Atkins got in the backfield to make a tackle for loss. He would later sack Derek Carr not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. And he’s a defensive tackle. As you might expect, that’s a career high sack total for a single game for Atkins.

“We didn’t have much time. We were looking for them in some passing situations and we struggled,” said Jon Gruden.

“I’m not going to single them out. They were put in a very tough spot today, as tough a spot as I’ve ever called plays with, with a group of guys that are just getting to know each other. . . we got a lot of moving piece right now and it’s not easy at this stage of the season to get everybody coordinated for 60 minutes.”

That interior line wasn’t the only issue though. There was the rookies tackles as well.

The second Raiders possession, rookie Sam Hubbard got around Kolton Miller in a flash, easily slapping down Miller’s hand while trying to keep him from getting the edge. Derek Carr didn’t have a chance as Hubbard plowed into his back to force the fumble. The Bengals recovered at midfield.

Swooping in to try and save the day was Erik Harris who, on first down, make a spectacular, over-the-shoulder interception on a deep pass attempt from Jeff Driskel. It gave the Raiders the ball back at at their own six-yard-line.

That offensive line failed again and the Raiders were unable to take advantage. Atkins again made a run stuff to start things off, then Carr was chased out of the pocket and forced to throw the ball away. After the punt, the Bengals had even better field position than when Driskel threw the interception.

Taking over at the 45, the Bengals used the great field position to drive for the first score of the game to take a 7-0 lead. Tyler Boyd took over on the drive with a 7-yard catch on 4th and two, a 21-yard catch to set up first and goal, and the 7-yard TD catch.

It was Joe Mixon time after that. He led the Bengals on another touchdown drive, including a 47-yard burst.

Down a score, the Raiders needed an answer. On second down, Jalen Richard took the hand off, through off left guard and was met by defenders. He tried driving through them and had the ball knocked out to give the Bengals the ball back in field goal range at the Oakland 34.

By midway through the second quarter, the Bengals were up 17-0. The Raiders would answer with their first scoring drive, but it began in fourth and 15 with Chaz Green being flagged for a false start. Fourth string tight end Darren Waller had the big play, catching a short pass, breaking a tackle to go for 44 yards to the one. From there the Raiders went to Lee Smith, just as they had in the two previous games, and once again Smith was wide open for the touchdown.

A 41-yard kick return with a facemask penalty on Daniel Carlson tacked on, gave the Bengals the ball at the Oakland 46. A ridiculous taunting penalty on Arden Key put the Bengals in position for a field goal to go up 20-7.

With 1:39 left in the second quarter, the Raiders had time for an answer. That time ran out with left tackle Kolton Miller once again giving up a sack to Sam Hubbard.

Come the third quarter, the Raiders were driving, looking to make it a one-score game. Carr connected with Jordy Nelson for 44 yards to put the team in first and goal at the 7-yard-line. From there right tackle Brandon Parker and his fellow rookie on the opposite side were both called for false start penalties. The Raiders would settle for a field goal to pull to down 20-13. One score game, but not as they would’ve hoped.

A 27-yard pass from Driskel to tight end Uzomah put the Bengals in Raiders territory. A 22-yard screen pass to Giovani Bernard moved them in range for a chipshot field goal to put the Bengals back up by two scores at 23-13.

The following drive, Geno Atkins had his first sack and the Raiders went three-and-out.

A defensive stand by the Raiders, gave the offense great field position near midfield. It led to a Daniel Carlson 40-yard field goal to bring it to 23-16. It was a one-score game again. And it lasted exactly one minute.

On the ensuing kickoff, return man Erickson went for 77 yards. Two plays and Mixon took the pitch out right for a 15-yard touchdown. It gave Mixon 116 yards and two touchdowns for the game and gave the Bengals a 30-16 lead. Yes, the Raiders gave up 30 points to a team led by Jeff Driskel.

With just over four minutes to get two touchdowns, the Raiders had to go for a touchdown on their next drive. Geno Atkins would sack Derek Carr twice in a row. And that was that.

Darren Waller has his first catch and first run for the Raiders. He went for 21 yards on an end around for the longest run of his career. His 44-yard catch was also the longest of his career.

Jordy Nelson led the Raiders in receiving with 88 yard on 6 catches.

Derek Carr finished 21 of 38 for 263 yards and a touchdown. He fumbled, but didn’t throw an interception for ninth straight game. He was sacked five times, bringing his season total to 47.