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Josh McDaniels is happy with defensive progress

It helped win in Seattle

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Seattle Seahawks
Andrew Billings, Maxx Crosby
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

While the Las Vegas Raiders’ 40-34 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday will be remembered for the offensive explosion, the much-maligned defense had some big moments in the game as well.

If it weren’t for a couple key contributions by the defense in key moments, the Raiders probably would have lost the game. Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels discussed a couple of key areas:

  • The Raiders got good interior pass-rush from their defensive tackles and it helped edge rushers Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. Crosby had 1.5 sacks and Jones was credited for eight pressures, by far his best outing of a disappointing first season with the Raiders. The Raiders have six sacks total in their past two games after having 10 in their first nine games. The Raiders, of course, won both of those games.

“We kind of talked a lot last week about the pressure in the middle was really going to be important for us in general. And I thought JT [Jerry Tillery] and [Andrew] Billings and [Bilal] Nichol, they all kind of showed up at one point or another in the pass rush,” McDaniels said. ”Everybody focuses so much on our two ends, and deservedly so, but I think the inside guys being able to create some pressure, or even the wall that’s built inside so that the quarterback can go forward and then get out of the way from the two ends, I think it all kind of plays together. As I’ve said before, those guys are all learning how to play with one another, whether it’s the four of them in a pass rush or a game on one side or another. That’s something that we keep working on, because I think we can make progress in that area. Again, JT has only been here a couple weeks. So, he’s working with, whether it’s Chandler [Jones] or Maxx [Crosby] on the edge or Cle [Clelin Ferrell], being able to operate in those types of situations is important. But it definitely showed up on the film; when we got middle pressure on him, those are some of our best plays.”

  • The Raiders’ defense able to get off the field on the Seattle’s final two drives, in the final minute and in overtime. That saved the game.

“We had to tighten the coverage down. I mean, those situations are ones where, if you give up too much, you’re going to give up points,” McDaniels said. “A field goal would have won the game, potentially. So, I thought our guys really did a good job of trying to get on them tight. I thought the rush was really as good as we could ask for it to be under pressure. Maxx [Crosby] obviously stood up in the big situations, which that’s what you need your best players to do. I thought he really did a good job. They were trying to chip him a little bit, and he still worked around that and navigated that too. So, I think anytime you’re in that type of situation, the rush has to give the coverage an opportunity, and the coverage has to give the rush an opportunity. It can’t be one or the other. If the coverage is too soft, the ball’s out and the rush never gets there, and vice versa. So, I thought we played pretty good complementary defense.”

If the Raiders can play this type of complementary football down the stretch, perhaps they can claw their way into playoff contention.