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Raiders week 16 report card: First balanced, complete game in all phases

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It almost seems trite to give out grades after such a rousing victory. Fans in Oakland didn’t care much how it played out, they just wanted a reason to celebrate so the sweet could outweigh the bitter in what could be their last chance to see the Raiders play in Oakland.

But we have a job to do, so let’s get to it.

Aerial attack: B+

No big plays on that wet field, but the passing game came through in the clutch. Derek Carr was efficient and completed passes to Jordy Nelson twice for third down conversions on the long drive that started in the third quarter and took 7:20 off the clock ending in a touchdown. It gave the Raiders a 24-7 lead, effectively putting the game out of reach.

Derek Carr went without an interception again. And he did a victory lap to high five all the fans after the game in case this is the last game at Oakland Coliseum.

Offensive line: A

Carr got good protection as well much of the night. Despite facing the elite duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, Carr was sacked just once and it wasn’t by either of them. Brandon Parker and Denzelle Good had monster blocks on the Raiders’ final touchdown run by Jalen Richard.

Ground game: A

Doug Martin had several huge plays in the game. The first touchdown run of the game from 24 yards out, a 14-yard run that set up the second touchdown, and the 12-yard run that gave them their final first down to kneel out the clock and put him over 100 yards. He ran 21 times for 107 yards (5.1 ypc).

The Raiders ran it 8 times on the long drive for 47 yards and the touchdown.

Defensive line: C+

No sacks from the defensive line again. The only sack was from safety Karl Joseph. There wasn’t a lot of rushing yards, but much of that had to do with the Broncos spending the second half in desperation mode.

Linebacking corps: B

Credit where it’s due for not giving up the same explosive plays they have most games this season. Then again, Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay was lost to a hand injury and the Broncos were deploying their fourth starting tight end of the season.

Secondary: A

Most of the tackles the Raiders had in the game came from the defensive backs. Rashaan Melvin made the first three tackles and led the team in tackling form wire to wire. Karl Joseph laid the wood a couple times. Marcus Gilchrist had a big hit as well and had a late interception. Erik Harris had an interception as well. And the defense held an opponent to below 20 points for the first time all season.

Special teams: A+

Even with a net of 12 yards in the first half the Raiders led the game 7-0. That came off of a 99-yard punt return by Dwayne Harris. It was an incredibly smart play by Harris, who scooped up a ball which the Broncos had saved from going into the end zone and returned it for the score. Along the way he got blocked from Kyle Wilber, Marquel Lee, Nicholas Morrow, and Nick Nelson.

Punter Johnny Townsend had a punt take a favorable bounce and stop at 64 yards. He had a 37-yard punt early, but went on to land three of his five punts inside the 20 including a 47-yarder that was fair caught at the 12 late in the game. Kicker Daniel Carlson connected on both of his field goal attempts from 43 and 45 yards out.

Overall grade: A