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Raiders week 15 Ballers & Busters vs Bengals

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Another game against an opponent that seemed like the perfect chance for the Raiders to flex a little bit that they went out with a whimper. It wasn’t the thumping they took in San Francisco, but it still wasn’t great.

Facing a Bengals team on a 5-game losing streak and with backup QB Jeff Driskel starting, the Bengals still had 17 points before the Raiders got on the scoreboard and jumped out to a 20-7 lead at halftime.

By the time it was over, the Raiders had once again had a 30 burger dropped on them and running back Joe Mixon had a career-high 129 yards and two touchdowns.


P.J. Hall, Johnathan Hankins, Frostee Rucker

Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are that in a game where a running back had 129 yards and a couple touchdowns that the interior defensive linemen would take the Top Baller spot. Mainly that’s because a large portion of Mixon’s rush total and one of his touchdowns came on two runs -- a 47-yard run in the second quarter, and a 15-yard touchdown run off a pitch in the 4th quarter. Hall, Hankins, and Rucker were not to blame for either of them.

Mixon also had 21 of his 27 runs go for three yards or less, including five stopped for a loss for a total of a net 22 yards. That’s basically an average of one yard per carry on 21 runs. And these three guys had a lot to do with that.

Mixon’s first run went for 8 yards. Rucker was in position and was held on the play, but there was no call. The next play Hankins got in the backfield setting it up for Marquel Lee to make the tackle for a loss of two. An incompletion on the next play would force a three-and-out. That was after picking up eight yards on first down.

To get their first scoring drive, the Bengals took to the air. Their four runs went for a combined four yards. Their second scoring drive featured that big 47-yard run, which, as I said, wasn’t the fault of these three. There were three plays made on that drive – a Hall run stuff for two yards, a run stop by Hankins on 1st and goal at the 3-yard-line, a run stop for no gain on 2nd and goal in which Hankins clogged the run lane, and a Rucker pass deflection at the line on third and goal at the one. They would go for it on 4th and one and get in.

A fumble would set the Bengals up for the third score on a field goal and a 41-yard kick return would set them up for their fourth score to go up 20-7. Along the way, though, Rucker had two run stops for a net of no yards and Hall assisted by clogging his lane on one of them for a loss. Hall would have another couple run stuffs including a tackle for loss before the half.

To begin the third quarter, Hankins broke into the backfield to pressure Driskel into an incompletion and on the next play, Rucker and Hall combined for a run stuff for a loss. A bogus pass interference penalty on Gareon Conley would keep the drive going, but it wouldn’t last long. Hankins and Rucker strung out the run to set up a tackle for loss and the drive would end a couple plays later. Another run stop featuring Hall and Rucker would lead to a three-and-out on the next possession.

PJ Hall was an absolute beast the rest of the game, starting with a burst into the backfield forcing a holding penalty to start the fourth quarter. Later on that same drive, with the Bengals in first and goal at the 7-yard-line, he clogged the run lane to set up a run stop and the Bengals would settle for a short field goal. The next possession, he stopped a screen for one yard, and made a run stuff for minimal gain, leading to a three-and-out.

Erik Harris

Harris was balling for sure in this game. The Bengals’ second possession had them in great field position near midfield. It lasted one play. Driskel went deep and Harris came flying over to make a spectacular over-the-shoulder interception – the first of his career – to give the Raiders the ball right back.

The first play of the second quarter, Harris shadowed his man and swiped the pass down incomplete. Two plays later, he made a tackle on a short catch.

Harris has long been known more for his special teams play. He also has rare speed an athleticism which was on full display. Late in the 4th quarter, the Bengals returned a kickoff 77 yards. That would have been a 98-yard touchdown, but while Alex Erickson was outrunning the rest of the Raiders special teams unit, here comes Harris from the opposite side of the field, in another gear from everyone else to pass them up and catch Erickson from behind and keep him from scoring a touchdown.

If you’d like to see the highlights of Harris’s day, check out BD Williams’ breakdown.

Jordy Nelson

Led the Raiders in receptions (8) and receiving yards (88) in the game. Half of his yards came on one catch in which he got wide open for what could have been a touchdown, but he had to adjust to the Derek Carr pass that was behind him and when he slid to catch it, he was touched down. It put the Raiders in first and goal at the 7-yard-line, but they were unable to get in the end zone, settling for a short field goal to pull to within a score at 20-13.

Nelson led out a drive late in the 4th with a 14-yard grab to put them at the Cincinnati 38-yard-line and they added another field goal to pull back to within a score at 23-16. But that big kick return that followed would seal the deal for the Raiders.

Darren Waller

At the half, Waller was the Raiders leading rusher and leading receiver even though he had just one catch and one carry. His carry came on an end around and went for 21 yards. His catch came on a shallow cross in which he broke a tackle and went 44 yard to the one-yard-line. It looked like he might have gotten in for the touchdown, but was called down just shy of the goal line. No matter, because the Raiders just pulled out their handy-dandy Lee Smith one-yard TD pass play to finish it off for their only touchdown of the game.

Rodney Hudson

While chaos was all around him, he just went about his business of being the best center in the league. He had new faces on each side of him with both Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson out and he was still a rock. Geno Atkins was having his way with whomever he faced. Whomever he faced OTHER than Hudson. He opened up a few nice holes, including one that Jalen Richard didn’t take (more on that later). He can’t do it all by himself, but he sure tried.

Daniel Carlson

Another stellar outing for Carlson, representing 10 of the Raiders 16 points. Tying a career-high with a 50-yard field goal on his first one, bringing the Raiders to within a score on his second one, and doing it again from 40 yards out late in the fourth quarter.

Honorable Mention

Lee Smith – That’s three weeks in a row now he’s caught a touchdown pass. You’d think teams would figure this out by now, but he just keeps getting open and just keeps making the catch.

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