You must understand how much is sucks not being able to give Derek Carr credit for what he does early in games due to his performance late. The first two drives saw Carr go 5 for 7 for 156 yards and a touchdown.
The next possession ended on one play. Carr scanned the field, tried to move around in the pocket, and bounced back inside before seeing Amari Cooper had gotten a step deep on his defender deep downfield. Coop had turned and didn’t see the pass thrown, and being that he was some 50 yards down the field, he didn’t think it was coming and peeled off. The moment he turned to give up on his route, Carr launched it. The only guy who knew the ball was coming was Xavien Howard who easily tracked it down and picked it off.
The pass was simply too late. Carr threw it from his own thirty and for it to hit Coop in stride at that point, the ball would have had to have been caught well into the end zone, traveling more than 70 yards in the air. Even if Coop had not given up on his route, he would have had to slow up allowing the three trailing defensive backs to battle him for the ball. The pass should not have been thrown.
As we know, the 4th quarter is where things have really gone awry for Carr and the Raiders offense. They had yet to score in the fourth quarter coming into this game. And that wouldn’t really change Sunday either.
He came out for the first drive of the 4th quarter, nursing a 17-14 lead. He dropped back for his first pass attempt and looked over the middle for a moment, before rolling right and throwing incomplete to Jordy Nelson who was tightly covered. What Carr didn’t notice was Amari Cooper out in the left flat, standing at the line with not only no one covering him, but no one anywhere near him. Had Carr simply even glanced left, he would have seen Coop with enough open field for a sizable gain. But Carr never looked.
The Raiders would eventually punt on that drive. A short punt gave the Dolphins near midfield and on one play they scored a 52-yard touchdown off a trick play on an end around pass from Albert Wilson to Jakeem Grant for the go-ahead touchdown.
On the first play of Carr’s next series, he nearly threw another interception, but it was dropped. Thanks to some outstanding running from Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin, the Raiders were back in the red zone looking to either pull to within one or take back the lead. On first down at the 13-yard-line and Carr threw a jump ball for Martavis Bryant in the end zone and it was picked off by Xavian Howard. He said he liked the match-up. Xavian Howard is a great cornerback and had Martavis in tight coverage. There was nothing there to like. The Dolphins took over at their own 20-yard-line with under three minutes remaining. And on the second play, Albert Wilson went 74 yards for the dirt on the coffin.
Some garbage time yards on the ensuing drive led to a garbage time field goal to break the Raiders’ fourth quarter scoring drought. But not really.
There is simply no excuse for the final play of the Raiders’ second drive. They were in fourth and goal from the one yard line. They should have kicked the field goal to come away with points and go up 10-0. Since that wasn’t the call, the ball should have gotten into the hands of Marshawn Lynch. Instead, Gruden got cute.
They lined up in the I formation and Carr handed it to fullback Keith Smith who was stuffed. Marshawn was sent right as if they might pitch it to him which would have been a better play. He would have had probably one guy to beat in the open field and you know if there’s one yard vs one guy, you aren’t keeping Beast Mode from getting in. He wasn’t given that chance.
The bad play calling at the goal line would continue. Later in the quarter the Raiders in 2nd and goal at the 2-yard line. So, what do they do? Pass. Derek Carr went for Jared Cook and it fell short. Third and goal, what do they do? PASS AGAIN. This time a false start by Kolton Miller backed them up. In third and goal at the seven, they finally give it to Marshawn on a botched screen play for no gain. At least this time they got points as they settled for a short field goal.
The defense made the stop on the Dolphins next possession with McDonald’s sack and the Raiders took a timeout to preserve :52 seconds on the clock. Then they field the punt at their own 10-yard-line and just choose to kneel out the clock. Getting pinned deep with :52 seconds and no timeouts is a tough spot to try to score from. But it’s not hopeless. It’s hard to believe they chose turn down the opportunity to have a shot at putting points in the board and just waste that time. You are only up by three points with noted trouble holding leads in the second half and you choose to take a knee twice instead of even attempting a couple of runs? I just don’t get it.
The second half adjustments once again were all in favor of the opponent, so there’s not much that needs to be said about that that the 21-10 second half doesn’t say. Or the 20-7 second half in Denver. Or the 23-0 second half against the Rams. Tiresome.
Marcus Gilchrist, Reggie Nelson
It’s a real wonder that Erik Harris continues to take a backseat to these two. And Karl Joseph for that matter. Gilchrist gave up the first completion of the game to Ryan Tannehill for 14 yards. The next play, Reggie Nelson gave up the second completion for six yards. It was play by others that managed to stop the drive and force a punt.
Come the second quarter, the Dolphins set up in third and 9 with Gilchrist as the nickel facing Kenny Stills. He simply ran right by Gilchrist on a go route. Reggie Nelson was deep but was a spectator as Stills caught the long ball for a 34-yard touchdown.
Late in the third quarter, after the Raiders had scored to take a 17-7 lead, the Dolphins promptly pulled right back in it. It started with a 15-yard pass in which Gilchrist collided with Rashaan Melvin to have both players down for a time shaken up and taken off the field. A few plays later, with Gilchrist sidelined, Nelson was among several Raiders players cleared out on an 18-yard TD off a sweep.
Midway through the 4th quarter, the Dolphins got tricky on a play that drew much of the Raiders defense to the left. Gilchrist was to the right and bit on the play, leaving the entire right side of the field empty for Jakeem Grant to get wide open. Gilchrist tried to recover and get back over there, but it was too late. He would get there around the 10-yard line and miss the tackle on Grant in the open field to complete the touchdown play and give the Dolphins the lead at 21-17.
Just because that long bomb was a poor decision by Carr doesn’t relieve Coop of any responsibility. Had he not given up on the play entirely and turned away, he would have at very least been able to make a play on the ball. He was outnumbered, but he is the receiver in this scenario. It’s his skillset to win in those situations. Even a defended pass from him for an incompletion would have been a win in that scenario.
Along with that play, Coop also had two drops, both on third down and both late in the game. One on the series after the Dolphins’ second touchdown and the other on the drive jut before the Dolphins’ third touchdown. He finished with 2 catches on five targets for 17 yards. A far cry from his 10 of 10 for 116 yards performance last week. Closer to his one catch for 9 yards in the opener. Number one receivers are not supposed to have disappearing acts like this.
After two admirable performances in the first two games, Miller was due. Robert Quinn helped him with that. Miller gave up a hit on Derek Carr for an incompletion on the first play of the game. The first play of the next possession, he was flagged for an illegal block. Their final drive of the first half, with the Raiders in third and goal at the two-yard-line, Miller was flagged for a false start, backing them up to the 7-yard-line and eliminating the short yardage situation. They would settle for a field goal.
Twice in a row, Miller would get Marshawn hit at the line, one of which was stopped for one yard, the other Marshawn fought through for a few yards. Then on the Raiders last gasp drive in the fourth, Miller gave up a big hit on Carr just as he released the ball on a pass that was nearly intercepted. The rookie has had better days and will have more.
I don’t recall a single positive play Whitehead had in this game. He gave up a 16-yard catch to the tight end late in the second quarter, then a 6-yard catch in the open drive of the third quarter. Late in the third, he was among those who were blocked to clear a path on the 18-yard touchdown off the jet sweep. He was later among those blocked on the 74-yard touchdown off a shovel pass which sealed the win for the Dolphins.
Clemmings came in for Donald Penn following Penn being lost to a concussion. Clemming’s third play was on third and 6 and he gave up a hard sack on Derek Carr for a loss of 8 yards. Later in the same drive, he gave up a run stuff at the line. On that final interception by Carr in the end zone, he threw the pass with Cameron Wake about to obliterate him after getting around Clemmings.
Tough task for Clemmings to come in against Wake on short notice. But I’ve always said there is no ‘all things considered’ in this list. You can’t give up two big hits on your quarterback like that regardless of your situation.
In every game this season, Townsend has had a dud punt when the Raiders needed him to pin the opponent back. In the opener, he had a 35-yard punt that put the Rams at the 42 and set up the go-ahead touchdown. Last week it was a touchback for a 29-yard net and the Broncos drove for the game-winning field goal. This week it was a 25-yard shank that put the Dolphins near midfield to set up the go-ahead touchdown. He is now 24th in the league in punt average (43.5), 20th in net average (40.3), and 26th in punts inside the 20 (3).