THE DARK SIDE: "Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes."

OUR RAIDERS ARE 2 AND F$$%$%%ing 0, BABY!!! JACKPOT!!! chingchingchingchingching!!

I have to be honest. There were times I thought I had FINALLY entered a different reality with Loki and and the Avengers.
Maybe I thought I was still dreaming… after about a 100 pinches, I thought "OK MAYBE THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING?!?".
I’m still not convinced. Can someone fire a blaster at me? Han Solo perhaps?…..

Now someone explain to the Lord of the Sith why we are winning in such dynamic fashion.

"I’m not going to get all philosophical about things and be Socrates up here," said coach Jon Gruden, who looks nothing like a teacher of philosophy. "We have a confident group. We were confident last year and lost some heartbreaking wins — gut-wrenching, disgusting losses at the end of football games."We have a long ways to go. We are nowhere near perfect."
Our QB also had an interesting take on the new course of the team.
"We haven’t done what we’ve wanted to do for the last couple of years," Carr said. "We haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016. I don’t blame that thought process. But at the same time, just as a competitor, you’re just like, I don’t care about any of that. Let’s just put the ball down and see if we can turn these into wins."
Well said, Captain. Others expressed the shift of the team..
"It’s an attitude thing," said tight end Foster Moreau, who caught an equally important 9-yard touchdown pass from Carr in the third quarter. "There’s an air of confidence walking onto the field from every unit we have."

Keep that air flowing, big guy!

Henry Ruggs, thank you for making it to the party. After witnessing only 2 touches for 46 yards last Week, I thought " Here we go again.. every game will follow me cursing out Mike Mayock for not signing CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy..WONDERFUL!"

Today is a new day...

Ruggs finished with five catches for 113 yards and a BEAUTIFUL 61 yard touchdown. Glad I picked you up on my Fantasy team! (now, I just have to start you).
"It’s one of the reasons why we took Ruggs," said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. "Not many guys can run that fast and track the ball." Carr also added: "Speed kills."
"It’s still an iffy decision," Carr concedes. "But I can throw it past the coverage in some instances, and there’s a fine line there, but he goes and gets it. It’s unbelievable."
Henry's head was a little cluttered as he began tracking the ball.
"Don’t drop it," he said. "Other than that, when I saw that one, it was run. He threw it up. It was just like, go get it. That’s all I could think of. Go get it and don’t drop it."
Thankfully, he did not! Coach Jon Gruden was very pleased with his 2nd year player.

"It was certainly a big play," Gruden said. "The protection — that’s a revolving door we’ve had up front — in a critical moment, and the throw from a quarterback that’s hurting. That was a lot of good stuff there to go around."

Keep up the good work, Speed Demon.

Carr was magnificent once again by throwing for 382 yards passing and grabbing two touchdowns. Haters beware..he remembers your criticism from Weeks ago.
"The absolute worst thing in the world are preseason rankings and talk shows and all that stuff," Carr said. "None of it matters. You still have to put the ball down and play and whatever team put in the work and is on their stuff hopefully wins. Just put the ball down and let’s see." I think his play of the day was also that 61 yard TD. If you look close enough, you’ll notice Derek hit Ruggs the same time the Steelers blitzed a Defensive Back. I always knew this kid had the juice. He just needed the right kind of talent around him.

Now…I ask you all again. Raider Nation, do we have the right kind of talent on the Offensive Line?
I can hear the Crickets too. We’re hoping for the best. Especially after witnessing another bad performance by the rushing unit. The high man? Peyton Barber with 32 yards…ouch. The 1k yard rusher Kenyan Drake signed a 11 million//2 year contract with us only to add NINE rushing yards. Sure, these last 2 teams have ABOVE AVERAGE Defenses and we’re also without premiere star Josh Jacobs... but camon mayne! We Expect more!
I witnessed the following horrific plays during 1st quarter with 5 minutes left:
-Tackle Alex Leatherwood beat by TJ Watt for a sack.
-Center Andre James fumbles a play later
-Alex is off sides the play after that (in which Darth immediately throws his TV out of the Death Star window)
In the 2nd Quarter, with about 20 seconds left, Alex grabs a holding penalty which cancels a Bryan Edwards TD. Kolton Miller also receives an illegal man downfield call the play right after that. In the 2nd, Brandon Parker got some time after Leatherwood is out with a oblique injury (whatever that is? Sounds like a Beatles song)
Parker played better than years past.
I also saw some good blocks on TJ Watt by Leatherwood before TJ was taken out of the game (groin injury). Andre James had a great block for Carr during a QB sneak in the 2nd Quarter.
The positives do outweigh the negative currently, but it is something we should ALL keep an eye on. FOOTBALL STARTS NEAR THE TRENCHES!

Defense? You have to give it to them again. Yannick Ngakoue was pressuring big Ben all damn day like he was an angry Cop. He also was the cause of Roethlisberger's Interception in the 1st Quarter (Trayvon Mullen benefited). Maxx Crosby also had 2 tackles and an equal amount of pressures. Denzel Perryman lead the D with 6 tackles and 6 assists. Dallin Leavitt had a good cover on Chase Claypool near the 4th to stop a Touchdown drive. Starter Najee Harris was held to 38 rushing yards.
Coach had nothing but good things to say about the Grinders:
"I thought we flew around and made some tremendous plays," Gruden said. "The rush was pretty good. For the most part, we got them off the field in key moments."

The new spark is still alive. We can only hope for added fire…

"It feels good, but we know we have to keep going and finish and just keep getting better," said cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who had six tackles and an interception Sunday. "We have guys who love the game and have a sense of urgency.."
He continued..
"Guys who show up at 5 a.m. every day when practice begins at 7:30."

To be honest? Maybe this is the MAIN REASON we’re doing so well. We now have players that are doing a bit extra to bring a new kind of commitment to the team (dare I say COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE? O: ).

Soloman Thomas also had TWO sacks on brittle Ben."It felt amazing and good to be back coming off the ACL," Thomas said. "I think we have been moving toward. since OTAs — grinding away, getting close to each other, building things up. Starting a season 2-0 is huge. Just want to keep stacking those wins."
PLEASE DO! Even the TEs had complimentary words to say about the improved Defense.

"I love when our defense is on the field," said Raiders tight end Foster Moreau. "Rally tackling, and a trust and belief in each other. I’ve played with some good defenses in college (at Louisiana State) and we’ve had some good spots here. But it’s awesome to see these guys right now. They come out and shine."
Ben stated that the 2021 Defense is the real deal.
"They’re a good defense. They got after us like we anticipated," he said. "We tried to take advantage of some single-coverage on the outside, and we were just a little bit off. So that’s what’s frustrating."



PITTSBURGH -- The ball was just coming down from its 9-yard arc toward Foster Moreau in the left corner of the end zone when Derek Carr felt his surgically repaired right ankle give way.

The Las Vegas Raiders quarterback, whose 2016 season came to a painful Christmas Eve end with that fractured fibula, went down on the Heinz Field grass and was suddenly surrounded by teammates."There's 30 people -- oh, my gosh," Carr recalled. "First thing I asked was, 'Did he catch it?' No one answered me. 'Did he freaking catch it?'"

"Yeah, he caught it," came the reply.

"All right," Carr responded. "Get me up."

Carr's touchdown pass to Moreau with 5 minutes, 2 seconds to play in the third quarter Sunday gave the Raiders a nine-point lead en route to a surprising 26-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. But it was Carr needing medical attention that gave the Raiders and their fans heart palpitations and memories of that season-ending injury five winters ago.

"You just pray to the football gods upstairs that everything's going to be all right," said Raiders coach Jon Gruden. "That's about all you can do."

Because in one moment, Moreau is celebrating his first TD catch of the year. And in the next ...

"I just saw [No.] 4 down on the ground," Moreau said. "That's just an awesome quarterback. I love the guy to death and out [of] the huddle he's kind of letting you know, 'Yeah, go get it.' We know the play and we know the matchup.

"My mood definitely switched. Oh, man. Sunk down. Just way down."

But after Carr was helped up, he walked off the field under his own power and went into the blue medical tent on the Raiders' sideline before emerging with his right ankle heavily taped.

And he never missed a snap.

In fact, Carr is not just answering his harshest critics. He is also winning games for the Raiders, who have opened 2-0 with both wins coming against playoff teams from the previous season for the first time in franchise history, per ESPN Stats & Information research. It is also the second time since 1966 the Raiders have opened 2-0 with both wins coming as an underdog.

"The absolute worst thing in the world are the preseason rankings and talk shows and all that stuff," Carr said. "All of that preseason stuff, none of that matters.

"You've still got to put the ball down. You've still got to play. And whatever team put the work in and is on their stuff, on their details, that's the team that ultimately, hopefully, will end up winning ... We've started 2-0 before, but we've got to keep going. We can't let this thing go downhill."

Carr's Raiders won their first two games twice before, in 2017 (who can forget Marshawn Lynch's Hyphy Dance Party on the sidelines?) and last year, only to finish 6-10 and 8-8, respectively.

What Carr did not do in either of those seasons was be as productive as he is now throwing the ball.

Consider: Carr is just the fourth quarterback in NFL history with at least 380 passing yards and multiple TDs in each of his first two games of a season, joining Drew Bledsoe (2004), Tom Brady (2011) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (2018).

Plus, Carr's 817 passing yards through his first two games are the most in Raiders franchise history.

A chunk of his 382 yards in Pittsburgh, where he completed 28 of 37 passes, came on a 61-yard bomb to speedster Henry Ruggs III that gave Las Vegas a 23-14 lead with 9:35 to play.

"That," Ruggs said, "was a moon ball."

"Don't drop it. When I saw that one, run. He threw it up and was just like, 'Go get it. Go get it and don't drop it.'"

Indeed, per NFL NextGen Stats, the throw went 46 yards downfield, tied for the longest pass TD via air yards of Carr's eight-year career. And the air distance on the pass was 55.4 yards, the third-longest completion for Carr since it was first tracked in 2017 (air yards = yards past the line of scrimmage; air distance = yards thrown as the crow flies).

And this happened well after Carr had his right leg rolled up on by Steelers outside linebacker Jamir Jones.

Carr found inspiration from a close source -- his teammates who huddled around him.

"It was an amazing moment," Carr said. "I try to be someone who gives so much, and in that moment, they all came over and they all started praying for me. And it was just this beautiful moment, my teammates looking out for me. That, right there, is family to me. I love the touchdown, but that moment right there, I was like, 'Man, I just want to win this game for this team.' That was a beautiful, beautiful thing that happened."

Carr, it should be noted, attended his postgame media conference in slides, with a slight limp but sans any brace or tape on his right ankle.

"Oh," he laughed, "it will be ... I'll be fine."

And after a short week and a cross-country trip to play in the NFL's early window, regular rest and a home game against the Miami Dolphins (1-1) should be a balm for Carr.

After all, when he faced the Dolphins last year, he was recovering from a strained groin.

"I'll just let his performance speak for itself," Gruden said. "I've been clamoring for Derek Carr since I've been here. So, hopefully he gets some recognition for doing what he did today. He had some long drives. He was big again at the end of the game, against two great defenses two weeks in a row, and it's a big reason we've been able to win."

That’s it for this Week, Raider Nation! Thank you for reading my beautiful banter! Join me next week when I will break down our game against the hated Miami Dolphins! Revenge time!!! Sick...I’m returning back to the Death Star! Prepare my ship! Hope to see you all there! Let’s put down Jacoby Brissett or Tua like they were furry Ewoks near a campfire! I want our 3rd win and I want it now!!! NO disintegrations! (Ok maybe a few). Have a great Week!
Lord of the Sith, Master of all Evil,
Darth Raider