It is hard to overstate just how huge of a win this was against the Indianapolis Colts. A loss would have been catastrophic, falling to 1-3 on the season is one of the major kisses of death in the NFL. It’s not impossible to overcome, but it is extremely improbable.
When you add in the years of dysfunction for the Raiders, the drama from the receiver who shall not be named, this nearly unprecedented stint between home games and just the general feeling of doom and gloom that surrounds this team year after year...well let’s just say it would not have been good to lose. In fact, it would have been absolutely devastating to lose this game.
It showed a lot of resilience by the Raiders for winning the way they did, though it would have been better if they had dominated the game like they could have. Still, the Colts just kept punching them in the mouth when it seemed like they were defeated and the Raiders never fell to the canvas despite wobbling. That type of victory was exactly what the doctor ordered for them, especially if they can follow that up in London against the Bears next week.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room right away, that would be the hit from Vontaze Burfict on Colts TE Jack Doyle. It was dirty, it was avoidable, and it was completely unacceptable. If that play was done to a Raiders player at their home stadium then the offender would have needed a police escort just to make it out of Oakland.
Seriously, the hit from Burfict was picturesque of exactly what a lowering the helmet penalty and a helmet to helmet penalty on a defenseless receiver looks like. The year long suspension is severe, but you can’t just ignore everything Burfict did with the Bengals now that he is with the Raiders. His long history of atrocities on the football field is well documented and he refuses to change his dirty play.
Now he is going to have to deal with the consequences, and unfortunately so will the Raiders for having signed him to begin with. It sucks because when he isn’t committing absurd penalties that could cripple opponents for life he is a really good football player and the Raiders needed him. However, he is gone now and the Raiders will need to figure out what to do next.
Onto a happier note, Erik Harris’s interception for a touchdown to seal the victory was one of the most exciting plays for the Raiders in years. After the poor play of Curtis Riley in replacing injured starter Johnathan Abram, one has to wonder why Harris wasn’t playing all along. He did miss the tackle on Eric Ebron’s 48 yard touchdown but that interception was a thing of beauty and was an epic way to get the Raiders their first interception of the year.
The Safety that played the best though was Lamarcus Joyner who finally looked comfortable in the Raiders system and was all over the field. He is a very exciting player to watch but even more than that his energy is contagious. He is clearly a valuable leader for the Raiders defense and the team fed off of the energy he brought yesterday.
We already knew that Darren Waller is an absolute boss, but rookie TE Foster Moreau showed what he is capable of too. If Moreau really is the player he was yesterday then the 2 TE sets the Raiders will be able to deploy would be the stuff of nightmares for NFL defensive coordinators. They were both great against the Colts, they looked like a Silver and Black version of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez for the Patriots back in the day.
You just don’t see two young tight ends play that well on the same team very often. We have talked about Darren Waller a ton for good reason, but Foster Moreau’s touchdown catch on the Raiders 1st TD of the game was one of the best in the entire NFL season through week 4. Quite a few LSU Tigers fans had said that he was far more capable than what he did in college, that catch looks like they might very well be right.
Then of course there is bona fide rookie of the year candidate Josh Jacobs who has the entirety of Raider Nation wondering why they bother handing the ball to any other running back on the team. It’s because in today’s NFL you shouldn’t just run a young RB into the ground anymore but man he is exciting.
The one play to really point out just how talented the rookie is came on his longest reception to date, and the most impressive part wasn’t even the catch or wicked juke move he had. It was Jacobs picking up the blitzing linebacker like a boss first, and then still managing to get into the open field for the checkdown pass before sprinting past several defenders for his 20 yard gain.
There is no doubt now that Josh Jacobs has had one hell of a start to his rookie year, team record breaking in fact as Levi Damien pointed out after the game. It’s not just Foster Moreau and Josh Jacobs for rookies that had good games in this one either, DE Maxx Crosby was consistently in the back field and batting down passes too.
Then don’t forget about Trevor Davis, the newly acquired receiver from the Packers who the Raiders just traded a 6th round pick for. His first touch as a Raider went 60 yards for a touchdown on a reverse hand off, that is one hell of a way to say hello to your new team. He also provided some much needed spark in the return game so it was really easy to see why Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock made the move to add him to the roster already.
Lastly, A.J. Cole was a difference maker in this game. He had 5 punts and averaged 50.6 yards per punt, including a long of 59. His kicks were booming and they were very difficult for the Colts to return with them only being able to field 3 of the 5, though they did have one nice return of 19 years to inflate their average to 11.7 yards a return.
Without that performance from A.J. Cole in this game the Raiders probably don’t squeak out a victory. He was that good and the field position difference was that important to this game. The Raiders were consistently starting with good field position and the Colts were not, Cole deserves a lot of credit for his part in that.
Now we focus on a very tough matchup against the Bears in London, another absolutely huge game for the Raiders. It is the first time they will be playing against Khalil Mack and you just know that Mack will be eager to show Oakland what they decided not to pay for.
The news that Mitch Trubisky is likely to miss this game is a boon for Oakland’s chances, along with some mysterious “personal issues” that have another star linebacker for the Bears Roquan Smith as possibly inactive next week as well. Even still, the Bears led by veteran back up Chase Daniel is still a very tough opponent.
Then you add in how unbelievably bad the Raiders have played in their history of London games and you can see why this game is so huge. For one thing, the Raiders have one of the strongest following of fans in England and they have yet to reward that following with even mediocre play.
If they can pull out another victory against a tough opponent in this ridiculous road trip they would be going into their bye week with a 3-2 record. That is an exciting thought but they must take care of business overseas first. After all the drama over the past two months the idea of going into the bye week above .500 is awesome, but first they need to “Bear Down” against Chicago.