Photo credit: wsj.com
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Raiders are seeking back-to-back wins for the first time this season, as they prepare to head East where they will face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15 action. The contest will conclude the Raiders’ regular season schedule against the AFC North, as they are 2-1 against the division in 2018.
Sunday will mark just the first meeting between the two teams since 2015, and Oakland’s first visit to Paul Brown Stadium since 2012. In 28 meetings, the Raiders are 18-10 against the Bengals all-time, with Cincinnati winning the last two encounters.
Kickoff is at 10:00 a.m. PT.
Last week, the Raiders improved to 3-10 on the season, knocking off the Pittsburgh Steelers from the AFC North, 24-21 in come-from-behind fashion in front of a frenzy crowd at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Raiders wouldn’t be denied the victory as quarterback Derek Carr engineered an 8-play, 75-yard drive that was punctuated by touchdown pass to tight end Derek Carrier for the eventual game-winner after the Steelers missed a potential game-tying field goal from 39 yards away as time expired.
Carr finished the game with a blistering 122.4 passer rating after completing 25-of-34 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. It was Carr’s 16th comeback victory in his career. No other player has more comebacks since 2014, Carr’s rookie season.
After a rocky start to the season in which he threw 10 touchdowns and a eight interceptions through Weeks 1-8, Carr has rebounded tremendously since throwing eight touchdowns and no interceptions since. Carr hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 261 attempts, the second most by a quarterback this season.
Tight end Jared Cook has been the Raiders most trusted playmaker this season.
Against the Steelers, Cook recorded his second-straight 100-yard receiving day, tallying 116 yards on seven catches. It was Cook’s fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season, which is second-most by a tight end this season.
In his second season with Oakland, the nine-year veteran is having his most productive season, with career-highs in catches (61), yards (825), and touchdowns (six). With three games left in the season, Cook has a chance to challenge Todd Christensen’s club record of 1,153 receiving yards by a tight end set in 1986.
Defensively, linebacker Tahir Whitehead recorded his first interception of the season for the Raiders and finished with 10 tackles (six solo). Whitehead now has 103 tackles for the season, giving him his third-straight season of at least 100 tackles.
With season-ending injuries to franchise quarterback Andy Dalton (hand) and superstar wide receiver A.J. Green (foot), the Bengals (5-8), are a shell of themselves and currently are riding a five-game losing streak.
Cincinnati fell to the Los Angeles Chargers 26-21 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. in Week 14. Second-year running back Joe Mixon has been one of the lone bright spots for the Bengals this season and his game against the Chargers proved that.
Against the Chargers, Mixon carried the ball 26 times for 111 yards and a touchdown, giving him 866 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season. Barring major injury the rest of the season, Mixon should record his first 1,000-yard rushing season.
Following Sunday’s game, the Raiders will return home to take on their AFC West rival, the Denver Broncos on Christmas Eve in what could be the final home game in Oakland for the Raiders.
The City of Oakland filed a lawsuit against the franchise this week for their move to Las Vegas in 2020. The Raiders don’t have a lease signed to play at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for 2019.
Sunday’s game against the Raiders will the Bengals’ home-finale, as they will finish up on the road in Week’s 16 and 17 against the Cleveland Browns and Steelers, respectively.