What a win the Raiders had in Oakland today in front of a stadium that was at least half full of puke Steelers fans. The Raiders have been showing the effort for several weeks now but have come up short over and over against quality teams. Today, they were able to notch one into the Win column and boy does it feel good.
So who made all the right moves, and who should rethink their life choices?
1) Derek Carr
Statistically, this was not Carr’s best performance. I don’t mean that as a pejorative, I mean that he only threw for two touchdowns and lost a fumble. We’ve seen him put up video game numbers before. But when you consider the clutch factor, putting passes into absurdly tight windows, and refusing to lose, this was Carr’s finest hour.
Derek Carr was sacked four times. He threw a pass that literally fell out of his hand as he was throwing it, the sort of thing you’d see Dave Krieg do back in the day on a sports bloopers reel. But Carr didn’t pout, sulk, cry or whine. He simply put his balls back into the wheelbarrow he keeps them in and threw dime after dime to knock the Steelers out. Your winner and new Welterweight Champion of the World, Derek Carr.
2) Gareon Conley
Holy Toledo, was Conley amazing today. He was hurt all last year and Jon Gruden damn near traded him at the deadline this year. I’m fine with trading a lot of guys, but Conley isn’t one of them. Today, Conley showed why he was a first-rounder and why he should be a franchise cornerstone for the Raiders going forward.
Conley had four tackles and two passes defensed, and a tip that led to a Raider interception just like he did last week against the Chiefs. Antonio Brown was held to five catches for 35 yards, and Conley is a big part of why the Steelers’ deep passing game was largely ineffective today. Conley is an absolute boss.
3) Raiders rush defense
Yes, I’m aware that James Conner didn’t play. Yes, I’m aware that Leveon Bell is in the Federal Witness Protection Program. But the Steelers did kinda try to run the ball today, and the Raiders shut it down completely. The Steelers ran the ball 19 times for 40 yards. That’s abysmal, especially considering how much the Steelers like to run the football. It’s kinda their thing, and the Raiders blew them up every time they tried.
4) Raiders tight ends
All told, the Raider tight ends had 142 of Oakland’s 322 receiving yards on the day. Jared Cook was unstoppable over the middle, and Carr looked to his two other tight ends in the red zone. Even though Cook led the team in receiving with 116 yards, he was the only tight end not to catch a touchdown pass. Oh well. Heck of a day for this position group. Speaking of position groups, how about the Raiders special teams? Daniel Carlson and Johnny Townsend were both cash money today.
1) Chris Boswell
It is possible, but not easy, for a field goal kicker to have a worse game than Boswell just did for the Steelers. Daniel Carlson had a game like this Week 1 at Green Bay, which led to him being cut by the Packers and picked up by the Raiders and becoming a Raider Legend. So sometimes it works out.
But Boswell’s day was just abysmal. He missed a field goal in the first half and kicked an extra point off the upright before halftime. Then he fell on his ass as he missed a potential game-tying field goal. If you watch Boswell highlights tonight, make sure you set them to Yakkety Sax.
2) Josh Dobbs
Ben Roethlisberger left this game with a rib injury after being sacked by Clinton McDonald, and anyone who watched Dobbs play at the University of Tennessee felt chills go down their spine. Dobbs was a mediocre SEC quarterback at best, and anyone who is expecting him to be the future of the Steeler franchise is barking up the wrong tree. Dobbs is a smart kid who studied aerospace engineering at UT, and NASA is definitely the right place for him.
Dobbs went 4/9 for 24 yards and a pick, and his most effective play was a 10-yard rush. The offense did basically nothing with him out there. Kudos to the Raider defense for adapting to a player they had very little film on.
3) Brandon Parker
Yet another rough day for the Raiders’ rookie right tackle. He had several penalties including holding and false starts, and he couldn’t block TJ Watt on the outside. Parker is a project, but the Raiders have to evaluate whether or not he’s worth their investment. Donald Penn to the white courtesy phone.
4) The Denver Broncos
You might have heard that both the Raiders and 49ers won at home today. The great part is that not only did the Steelers lose in the Bay Area, the Broncos did too. The score was 20-14, but the game was not nearly that close. The Niners beat the ever-living shit out of Denver from start to finish. Denver’s offensive line was highly offensive, giving Case Keenum no time whatsoever to throw and giving the Broncos rushers no running lanes at all. What a putrid performance from Denver, which basically knocked them from playoff contention. Woof. I find it hard to imagine Vance Joseph will be back next year, but it’s just like Smellway to keep a lame-duck coach on for far too long just to avoid admitting he was wrong. As long as it keeps Denver mediocre, I support John Elway in this and in everything else.