It’s the day after and I’m still trying to figure out what happened at the end of the Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots game. Between a game-tying touchdown that looked like it was going to get overturned but didn’t and probably the worst decision on the last play of a game in NFL history, yesterday’s bout in Las Vegas had plenty of drama.
The Raiders certainly saw their fair share of ups and downs which gives us plenty of guys to talk about for this week’s winners and losers.
WINNER: Luke Masterson
With Jayon Brown on injured reserve for the rest of the regular season, Luke Masterson gets an opportunity to prove his worth down the stretch and he made the most of it against the Patriots.
Masterson stood out the most in coverage, allowing three catches for just 10 yards and picking up a couple of defensive stops. Those two stops came on a couple of nice open-field tackles to help force a third and long, and he currently sits as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-highest graded linebacker in coverage (73.9) for the week.
Against the run, the undrafted rookie added one more defensive stop, bringing his total up to three for the game and eight in the last three weeks. These are the type of performances that you’re hoping to see from a young player on the roster this time of year.
LOSER: Derek Carr
To Derek Carr’s credit, he did lead the team down the field for a game-tying touchdown on a two-minute drive but the rest of the game was pretty ugly. He finished the game with a modest 231 yards in total and 81 yards or about 35 percent came on that last drive.
The offense was stagnant for most of the afternoon while Carr finished the game with no big-time throws to two turnover-worthy plays, per PFF. He also finished as PFF’s fifth-lowest graded quarterback (47.6) for the week — pre-Monday Night Football — and as the Raiders’ second-worst offensive player. This was also his lowest grade since the season opener.
WINNERS: Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby
I’m combining Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby as winners this week because they’re receiving the very prestigious honor for basically the same reason, they were essentially the only two defenders to get pressure on the quarterback.
PFF credited the Raiders with eight pressures as a team yesterday, four came from Jones and Crosby picked up three QB hits. They were the only pass-rushers to even touch Mac Jones as Chandler had two hits on Mac and Bilal Nichols registered a hurry as the remaining pressure for the Silver and Black.
The old veteran even ended the game by making New England’s quarterback feel his presence with a nasty stiff arm en route to scoring the game-winning touchdown on that wild final play. Jones also added a batted pass to his stat line and Crosby picked up three defensive stops as a run defender, currently tied for the fourth-most among edge defenders for the week.
LOSERS: Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery
I’m lumping Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery in together for the opposite reason as Jones and Crosby. Outside of Tillery’s lone pressure, neither of the starting defensive tackles made much of an impact and they had more negative plays than positive ones.
Removing Jakobi Meyers’ lateral that cost the Patriots 20 rushing yards on the stat sheet, the Pats rushed for 226 yards on 32 carries, or about 7.1 per attempt as a team. Rhamondre Stevenson accounted for 172 yards on the ground or 9.1 yards per clip alone, and the Raiders’ defensive tackles were a big reason why.
Nichols and Tillery were getting pushed around by New Englands’ offensive line as the former ranks 65th out of 94 qualifying defensive tackles with a 53.3 mark against the run from PFF, and the latter is dead last at 28.4. It was pretty clear that the team was missing Andrew Billings and it’s disappointing that neither of those two could step up.
WINNER: Keelan Cole
One could argue that the real winner here is Nike for making a cleat that was just short enough in the toe to at least keep the call from being overturned by replay but regardless, it was one impressive, acrobatic touchdown catch for Keelan Cole.
That’s the play that everyone will remember but he also had a nice 20-yard catch for a third-down conversion to help set up the Raiders’ first touchdown of the game. Cole finished with 50 yards on the day, his most as a Raider, and was incredibly efficient with limited playing time, averaging 4.55 yards per route run.
LOSER: Sidney Jones
Truth be told, Sidney Jones was close to landing on the losers’ list last week too, there were just other people who were more deserving of mention after that debacle in Los Angeles. So, his mentioning today is kind of a culmination of the last two games.
Jones has been targeted four times in the team’s last two contests, allowing two completions for 43 yards. That alone doesn't seem so bad, but factoring in that he’s only taken 11 snaps in coverage adds more context to those numbers, as he’s giving up a catch about once every 5.5 snaps and averages about 3.9 yards allowed every time he drops into coverage. For comparison’s sake, Sam Webb is averaging 14.3 coverage snaps per catch surrendered and about 0.8 yards per coverage snap during the same timeframe.
It’s starting to feel like the Raiders are finding out why Jones is on his third team in as many years.