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Raiders vs. Rams: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

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Los Angeles Rams v Oakland Raiders Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This game was a tough one to stomach. After leading 13-10 at the half, the Raiders completely laid an egg in the second half to lose 33-13. It’s clear the Rams are the class of the league and nobody should have expected a win, but to see them collapse the way they did was disheartening.

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but let’s give some credit first.


1) Rams offensive line

One of the key secrets to the Rams’ success is that they quietly have one of the best offensive lines in football. Tonight they were able to open up just enough holes in the run game that Todd Gurley could keep the Raiders defense off balance, and they gave Jared Goff all day to throw. The Raiders had no pass rush whatsoever, and only one sack. Would Khalil Mack have helped? Personally, I doubt it. We already saw Andrew Whitworth shut him down a few years ago with the Bengals, and tonight wouldn’t have gone any differently. This unit is on another level.

2) Jared Cook

Cook had a spectacular game as the Raiders’ only real weapon in the passing game. He caught nine passes for 180 yards which is pretty close to the Raiders’ all time record for receiving yards in a single game by a tight end. The Rams had no answer for Cook tonight and he looks to be a major part of the offense moving forward.

3) Brandin Cooks

Why on Earth did the Patriots let this guy go? For that matter, why did the Saints? Cooks was absolutely uncoverable tonight, displaying speed and hands and the ability to exploit zone coverage. Sammy Watkins was inconsistent but this guy could be the one who makes the Rams even more explosive, and that’s a scary thought.

4) Rams coaching staff

After being thoroughly outcoached by Jon Gruden and company in the first half, Sean McVay and Wade Phillips made the necessary halftime adjustments to fight their way back. Phillips’ defense showed its teeth and even though they only sacked Derek Carr once, the constant pressure was enough to stall multiple Raiders drives. Phillips is one of the best defensive coordinators of all time and he showed it tonight.


1) Derek Carr

Holy Toledo, that was a bad performance. Carr threw for 303 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions, one of which was a pick-six to Marcus Peters. Carr’s second pick was a completely inexcusable throw which was lobbed into the sky and landed right in the waiting hands of Rams LB Cory Littleton. The first was Carr trying one too many times to hit Jared Cook, and underthrowing the ball by a full two yards in the end zone. Each throw was awful in its own way. Carr’s total reluctance to throw deep might have been part of the game plan, but it looked like he was just rattled. I feel like Gruden’s offensive game plan could have succeeded if Carr had made the correct throws and not made critical errors.

Carr has always had his detractors, and this game will simply add more fuel to that fire. Carr is getting paid like a franchise quarterback, but he hasn’t looked like one since the Chiefs game last October. The team is on his shoulders now, it goes as he goes. If he is going to play like this, the team will go nowhere but the top of the draft again.

2) Raiders defensive line

Chalk this one up as a learning experience for this very young positional group. Tank Carradine was inactive for some reason, leaving Fadol Brown and Shilique Calhoun backing up Frostee Rucker at defensive end opposite Bruce Irvin. While the Raiders’ rookie trio of PJ Hall, Maurice Hurst and Arden Key are talented, they are still rookies and were treated as such today. The Rams’ offensive line is full of veteran studs. The youngsters did nothing today, but they’ll be chomping at the bit to feast on Denver’s line next week.

3) Raiders safeties

Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson started at safety for Oakland tonight, and neither were particularly good. Nelson’s coverage strategy of ‘diving and grabbing at air’ was especially ineffective, and it’s only due to the fact that Jared Goff constantly overshot his deep passes that the secondary didn’t look worse. Rashaan Melvin and Gareon Conley played just fine, and Conley remains a stud when healthy, but where is Karl Joseph, and how is he not better than these two?

4) Matt Stafford

If you think Derek Carr had a bad day, go look at Matt Stafford’s line. If there’s two teams that live and die with their quarterback more than the Raiders, it’s the Packers and Lions. The Packers game was an example of a quarterback dragging his team to victory, while the Lions game was an example of a quarterback dragging his team to the bottom of the ocean.

Stafford went 24/46 for 286 yards, a touchdown and FOUR picks, including one that was returned for a touchdown by the Jets of all teams. Stafford was outshined by rookie Sam Darnold, who led his team to the 48-17 win and threw two touchdowns after his first pass as a pro was picked and returned for a TD as well.