Raiders close out regular season against Chargers at StubHub Center

Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper (89) catches a pass against Philadelphia Eagles’ Corey Graham (24) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — The Raiders will wrap up the 2017 regular season on the road against the Chargers at the StubHub Center. Sunday’s game will also conclude the regular season series between these longtime rivals, who first met back in 1960. Los Angeles defeated the Raiders back in Week 6, 17-16, in Oakland. Raiders lead the all-time series 62-51-2.

Oakland (6-9) dropped their third straight game, losing to the now 13-2 Philadelphia Eagles 19-10 before a national televised audience on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The Raiders’ defense played strong, holding the Eagles to just 216 yards of total offense (138 passing and 78 rushing).

The Silver and Black held the Eagles to just 1-of-14 on third downs. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman led the Raiders with seven tackles, while defensive linemen Denico Autry and Jihad Ward each recording a sack; it was Ward’s first career sack.

Safety Reggie Nelson was around the football the entire night, forcing two turnovers against Philadelphia in the second half. Nelson forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback TJ Carrie, and then registered an interception off Eagles starting quarterback Nick Foles in the fourth quarter. For the game, Nelson finished with six tackles and three pass defensed.

Offensively, Oakland’s running game came alive behind starting running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 95 yards on 25 carries. Starting quarterback Derek Carr threw for 140 yards on 15-of-29 passing with one touchdown and one interception.

After missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, wide receiver Amari Cooper returned to the lineup and finished with three catches for 66 yards and one touchdown. Cooper got great separation from Eagles starting cornerback Jalen Mills running a slant-and-go for a 63-yard score in the first half.

Los Angeles (8-7) enters Week 17 with a shot at making the AFC playoffs. After a slow start to the season, the Chargers have now won five of their last six games after dispatching the New York Jets, 14-7, last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Chargers can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Raiders, coupled with losses by both the Tennessee Titans (8-7) and Buffalo Bills (8-7).

Starting quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 290 yards on 22-of-40 passing with one touchdown against the Jets last week. The 14-year veteran enters the final weekend of the season ranking third in the NFL in passing yards with 4,128 and ninth in touchdown passes with 25 and only 10 interceptions.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen appears to be all the way back from the torn ACL he suffered last season, ranking fourth among wide receivers in the NFL with 1,260 receiving yards to go along with 93 catches–all career-highs for the fifth-year pro. Allen has caught five touchdowns this season.

Running back Melvin Gordon is Los Angeles’s most versatile offensive weapon. Gordon is tied for third in the NFL with 12 touchdowns (eight rushing and four receiving). The third-year pro rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown against the Jets, helping him eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

Gordon enters Sunday’s matchup against Oakland rushing for 1,012 yards on 257 carries, to go along with 52 catches for 445 yards this season.

The Chargers have one of the better defenses in the league, ranking fifth in the NFL with 41 sacks. Second-year defensive end Joey Bosa leads the team with 11.5 sacks, while fellow defensive end Melvin Ingram is close behind with 10 sacks. After finishing tied for the NFL lead in interceptions in 2016, Los Angeles is currently tied for third with 17 interceptions this season.

Safety Tre Boston and cornerback Casey Hayward are tied for the team lead with four picks apiece.

Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT.

Raiders’ offense a no show in Kansas City

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) has works with referee Carl Cheffers (51) and umpire Bill Schuster (129) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. The Kansas City Chiefs won 26-15. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

With the chance to move into sole possession of first-place in the AFC West, the Raiders (6-7) didn’t put up much of a fight against their bitter rival the Kansas City Chiefs (7-6), losing at Arrowhead Stadium 26-15 Sunday afternoon.

The two teams came into the game tied atop of the division with identical 6-6 records, along with the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers, who host Washington Sunday, face the Chiefs in Kansas City next Saturday night.

The Raiders’ defense pressured Chiefs’ starting quarterback Alex Smith all day, sacking him four times, two by linebacker Bruce Irvin. Oakland also recorded just their second interception of the season by safety Karl Joseph, but the unit wore down as the Chiefs controlled the clock for 36:30 of the game. Kansas City racked up 408 yards of total offense, 268 of those yards thrown by Smith, who completed 20-of-34 passes on the day.

Chiefs’ starting running back Kareem Hunt rushed for 116 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown.

Oakland’s offensive unit mustered just 268 yards of total offense Sunday.

Kansas City jumped out to a 26-0 lead before Marshawn Lynch’s 22-yard touchdown run put the Raiders on the board with 8:51 to go in the game. Lynch finished the game with 61 yards on seven carries as the Raiders ran the ball just 11 times in the game.

Starting quarterback Derek Carr completed 24-of-41 passes for 211 yards one touchdown and two interceptions with a 60.1 passer rating for the game. Kansas City sacked Carr three times. In Carr’s last game against Kansas City on Oct. 19, he destroyed the Chiefs passing for 417 yards on 29-of-52 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions and a 101.2 passer rating.

“It sucked,” Carr said via the Raiders’ official website. “It wasn’t good enough. And you put it all on me–don’t you blame one coach, one player.”

Oakland’s loss falls squarely on the offense, not just on Carr.

In the first half, Oakland had five possessions: four punts and one interception and were shutout through three quarters. The Raiders made just four first downs and were out-gained offensively by Kansas City, 362-110 yards through three quarters. The offense looked unfocused and lacked creativity against the NFL’s 30th-ranked defense in the Chiefs.

Tight end Jared Cook led Oakland with 75 yards on five receptions and a 29-yard touchdown catch down the middle of the field from Carr to trim Kansas City’s lead to 26-13 before Carr found wide receiver Michael Crabtree on a quick-slant route for a two-point conversion late in the game.

Crabtree finished with a team-leading seven receptions for 60 yards. To illustrate the Raiders’ struggles on offense Sunday, can be traced to a play in the third quarter.

On second down from his own 5-yard line, Carr launched a pass deep to Crabtree that fell short of the wide receiver. After diving for the football, Crabtree rolled over and remained seated with his shoulders slumped. It was a play that Carr and Crabtree connected on quite a few times last season.

“We had some opportunities we just didn’t connect on,” Carr said. “And that just can’t happen. There’s no easy way to go through this one. This one sucked.”

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, who missed Oakland’s 24-17 win over the New York Giants last Sunday with a left ankle injury, tried to give it a go Sunday, but didn’t look nowhere near healthy. Cooper re-aggravated the injury after being rolled up from behind on a downfield block for running back DeAndre Washington on a running play in the second quarter.

Cooper finished with zero receptions against Kansas City after posting career-highs in receptions in a game (11) and receiving yards (210) and two touchdowns against the Chiefs on Oct. 19.

This loss greatly hurts Oakland’s chances at making the AFC playoffs in back-to-back seasons. The Raiders finished 12-4 in 2016.

“We obviously came in with high hopes,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said after the game via the San Francisco Chronicle. “Everything we wanted to accomplish in our season was in front of us. It was a big day and a big moment. And we did not play well.”

Next Sunday, the Raiders host the visiting Dallas Cowboys at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in the team’s final home game of 2017. The Cowboys (7-6) kept their playoff chances in the NFC alive with a dominating win over the New York Giants, 30-10, at MetLife Stadium.

Cowboys’ starting quarterback Dak Prescott overwhelmed the Giants, passing for a career-high 332 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions on 20-of-30 passing.

Kickoff for the prime-time game is at 5:25 p.m. PT.

Raiders get set for crucial AFC divisional game with Chiefs in Kansas City

Photo credit: @RAIDERS

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — After back-to-back wins at home over the Broncos and the Giants, the Raiders head on the road to take on the Chiefs in Kansas City Sunday in a critical AFC West matchup. The Raiders are looking to complete the season sweep over the Chiefs after dispatching Kansas City, 31-30, in Week 7 at Oakland that halted Kansas City’s 11-game divisional win streak.

Kickoff is at 10:00 a.m. PT from Arrowhead Stadium. With both teams–along with the Los Angeles Chargers–sporting identical 6-6 records, the winner of this game would be in the driver seat of the division with three games to go in the regular season.

For the second straight week, Oakland’s defense held the opposing team to under 300 yards of total offense in limiting the Giants to 265 yards in Week 13. Defensive lineman Denico Autry recorded one of Oakland’s three sacks, his third in the last two games. Defensive end Khalil Mack and linebacker Bruce Irvin each posted a sack off of Giants starting quarterback Geno Smith.

Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman led the team with eight solo tackles (one assisted).

Running back Marshawn Lynch carried the offensive load for Oakland, running for a 100 yards in a game since October 2015 as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries, including a 51-yard touchdown run on Oakland’s first drive of the game. It was Lynch’s second-straight 100-yard game for Oakland this season.

Lynch owes the Raiders a big performance against the Chiefs, after getting ejected from the previous game for making contact with an official after coming off the bench to aid in defusing an altercation between Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters, and the Raiders offensive line.

Lynch and Peters are “cousins” with the two having close ties from growing up in West Oakland.

With Oakland’s wide receiver corps depleted with Michael Crabtree serving a one-game suspension for fighting with Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, and Amari Cooper out with a concussion/left ankle injury, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson step up for the Silver and Black leading the team with 79 yards receiving on four receptions. Patterson’s 59-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter, helped seal Oakland’s victory over the Giants.

Crabtree is expected to be ready to go against the Chiefs, but Cooper is a different story. Cooper did clear the league’s concussion protocol, the team announced Wednesday, but has yet to practice on the sprained left ankle. If you’re part of Raider Nation, you better take a wait-and-see approach with Cooper.

Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr completed 22-of-36 passing for 287 yards and a touchdown, a nine-yard toss to wide receiver Johnny Holton in the fourth quarter.

Carr’s biggest performance of 2017 came against the Chiefs in front of a national audience on NBC’s Thursday Night Football, throwing for a ridiculous 417 yards on 29-of-52 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Carr and Cooper were in perfect harmony that night, with Cooper having a career night with 11 receptions (on 15 targets) for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper scored on touchdowns of 38- and 45-yards respectively.

In seven career games against Kansas City, Carr is just 2-5 against the Chiefs, his worst record against one team. Carr is just 3-4 against the Broncos in seven career games, his second-worst record against one team.

But Sunday’s game is essentially a playoff game for Oakland’s signal-caller, who sports a 0-3 record at Arrowhead Stadium. Carr knows that he must play well in order for the Raiders to leave Kansas City with a win.

Speaking before Wednesday’s practice, Carr acknowledge that the Silver and Black have their work cut out for them facing the Chiefs.

“Definitely number one right now, especially this week,” Carr said via the team’s official website. “It’s definitely up there. It’s something that we have not been able to do since I’ve been here. We have to get on that.

“We have a tough task ahead of us because, although their record is the same as ours, we’re both pretty good football teams. We have to go out there and play hard.”

After starting the season 5-0, including an impressive 42-27 win at New England in Week 1, Kansas City’s season has fallen into a tailspin. The Chiefs are just 1-6 in their last seven games and are currently riding a four-game losing streak after falling to the New York Jets, 38-31, at MetLife Stadium in an offensive shootout last Sunday.

Kansas City’s offense racked up 474 yards of total offense against the Jets, with starting quarterback Alex Smith having a huge day throwing and running the football. Smith threw for 366 yards on 19-of-33 passing, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. The former Utah quarterback also had a 70-yard run in the game.

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill erupted for six receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns, while tight end Travis Kelce finished with four receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Kansas City was shredded by the Jets allowing 488 yards of total offense to Gang Green. Journeyman quarterback Josh McCown threw for 331 yards on 26-of-36 passing and a touchdown. Kansas City’s secondary allowed wide receivers Jermaine Kearse (9 receptions for 157 yards) and Robby Anderson (8 receptions for 107 yards) to run uncovered for most of the game.

The Jets converted 13-of-20 third downs and hogged the time of possession, controlling the clock for 42:49 and didn’t allow the Chiefs to get near McCown. Justin Houston, Kansas City’s most feared pass-rusher, was held to just one tackle for the game.

That won’t cut it for a team who has a rich history of getting to the quarterback with guys named Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Tamba Hali just to name a few.

In Kansas City’s biggest game of the season, the team will play without the aforementioned Peters, who was suspended by the team Wednesday for leaving the field while the game was still being played against the Jets. Peters also threw a penalty flag in the stands after a Jet touchdown.

With Peters out against the Raiders, the Chiefs already leaky secondary has gotten weaker and that could be a place where Oakland could attack. Teams are averaging 252.8 passing yards a game against the Chiefs this season. Kansas City ranks 28th in the league against the pass.

Oakland averages 241.2 passing yards per game this season, good for 15th in the league. Overall, the Silver and Black rank 21st in the league averaging 20.8 points per game.

Following Sunday’s game, the Raiders will host the visiting Dallas Cowboys at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in Oakland’s final home game of the regular season, while Kansas City hosts the Chargers in another pivotal AFC West matchup in Week 15.

Raiders look for second half turnaround after bye week head to Mexico City Nov. 19th

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) signs autographs at the end of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Raiders defeated the Dolphins 27-24. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — With nine games in the books, the Raiders are 4-5 at the bye week. Coming into the 2017 season, not many people had the Silver and Black under .500 especially with the offensive talent the Raiders sport led by starting quarterback Derek Carr.

In eight games (Carr missed Week 5 with a back injury), Oakland’s signal-caller has thrown for 1,954 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Carr is completing a career-high 65.2-percent of his passes this season and is on pace for another 3,000-yard passing season (his fourth-straight).

As much as wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper get most of the praise in the passing game, it has been tight end Jared Cook that has proven to be Carr’s most trusted pass-catcher through the first half of the season.

Cook leads Oakland in receptions (39) and receiving yards (499) this season. The nine-year veteran is just 13 receptions away from tying his career-high of 52 he established in 2014 as a member of the then-St. Louis Rams, and is just 261 receiving yards away of from surpassing his career-high of 759 yards he set in his third season with the Tennessee Titans in 2011.

Cook caught a team-leading eight passes for 128 yards in Oakland’s 27-24 win in Miami last Sunday in prime time on NBC Sunday Night Football.

For Oakland, it was a much needed win coming off a 34-14 loss in Buffalo the previous Sunday, and entering Hard Rock Stadium having lost the previous five straight matchups to the Dolphins.

Despite struggling with dropping the football early in the season, Cooper is second on the team with 38 receptions for 462 yards and three touchdowns. His 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-30 victory over AFC West rival the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7 helped snap Oakland’s four-game losing streak after starting the season 2-0.

Crabtree has 36 receptions for 451 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns, three of those scores came in Oakland 45-20 demolishing over the visiting New York Jets in Week 2.

Running back Marshawn Lynch leads the Raiders ground game with 323 yards rushing and four touchdowns this season. The Oakland-native hasn’t put up big numbers this season in his return to the football field after a year of retirement, but his ability to slow down the game and pick up first-downs could be key for the Raiders down the stretch.

If Oakland is leading in the fourth quarter, the ball should be fed to No. 24. No questions asked. Lynch had a bounce back performance against the Dolphins, rushing for 57 yards on 14 carries for two touchdowns after serving a one-game suspension the previous week for making contact with an official against the Chiefs in Week 7.

The NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year in defensive end Khalil Mack leads Oakland with 4.5 sacks this season and continues to be a terror to opposing offensive linemen, but its been the play of cornerback TJ Carrie that flies under the radar.

Carrie is tied with fellow secondary mates Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph for the team-lead with 50 tackles and has four passes defensed in eight games. The in-season pickup of inside linebacker NaVarro Bowman, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers after seven seasons on Oct. 13, has added a veteran presence and leader with big-game experience to the locker room.

In three games with the Raiders, Bowman has registered 32 tackles (11 tackles in back-to-back games and 10 tackles against the Dolphins), immediately paying dividends for Oakland.

But the fact that the Raiders haven’t recorded an interception through the team’s first nine games (an NFL record), is still a problem. The team’s top pick in last April’s NFL Draft  in cornerback Gareon Conley was expected to be a big part of the defense, but has only played in a handful of plays this year while battling shin splints.

For those of you who are wondering, the 1982 Houston Oilers own the record for fewest interceptions recorded by a defense in a season with three, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Along with the then-1982 Baltimore Colts, the 2005 edition of the Raiders are tied for second in NFL history recording just five interceptions.

When Oakland returns from the bye week, they will have to prepare for quarterback Tom Brady and the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in Mexico City on Nov. 19.

The 40-year-old Brady is still going strong in his 18th season in the league, second among passers in yards (2,541) and touchdowns (16). His two interceptions are the second-fewest thrown by starting quarterbacks behind Kansas City’s Alex Smith, (league-high 18 touchdowns) who threw his first interception of the season in Week 9.

Before Oakland plays New England, the Raiders will be rooting for the Patriots (6-2) in Week 10, who travel to Denver to take on the Broncos (3-5) Sunday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in prime time.

 

Oak Raiders face Dolphins in Miami on Sunday Night Football

Photo credit: @zesty_raiders

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — The Raiders conclude a two-game road trip with a visit to the Sunshine State when they face the Miami Dolphins in prime-time on Sunday Night Football at Hard Rock Stadium. This is the first matchup between Oakland and Miami since 2014 with the Dolphins routing the Raiders 38-14 at Wembley Stadium in London.

The Raiders haven’t played in Miami since 2012 and are currently riding a five-game losing streak to the Dolphins since 2008, with the all-time series tied 16-16-1.

Oakland (3-5) fell to the Buffalo Bills 34-14 in Orchard Park last Sunday. Instead of flying across country to Oakland to prepare for the Dolphins, the Raiders opted to travel to Sarasota, Fla. and stay at the IMG Academy for the second straight year.

Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr threw for 313 yards on 31-of-49 passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. Carr took the offense on the opening drive of the game 81 yards in 13 plays that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by fullback Jamize Olawale, but didn’t score their second touchdown of the game until the fourth quarter.

Running back DeAndre Washington led the team in rushing with 26 yards, but also was the leading receiver with eight receptions for 62 yards and a 4-yard touchdown catch from Carr. Washington was Oakland’s bellcow Sunday due to the absence of starting running back Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch was suspended for one game after making contact with an official in Oakland’s win over their arch rival, the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7, didn’t play Sunday against the Bills, who drafted Lynch in 2007 out of California.

Lynch is expected to play Sunday.

Wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper combined for 10 receptions for 131 yards, but didn’t find the end zone. Crabtree led Oakland with 83 yards, while Cooper totaled just 48 yards after exploding for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 11 receptions against Kansas City.

After posting 505 yards of total offense in Week 7, Oakland had just 331 yards of total offense in Week 8.

Bills running back LeSean McCoy ran all over Oakland’s defense, rushing for 151 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. McCoy’s 48-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter proved to be the death-blow for Oakland in rainy Western New York on Sunday.

Miami (4-3) were pummeled 40-0 by the Ravens, in prime-time, on Thursday Night Football in Baltimore. Quarterback Matt Moore who started in place of Jay Cutler, who was out with cracked ribs, looked shell-shocked against an aggressive Ravens’ defense.

Moore threw for 176 yards on 25-of-44 passes and two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns by the Ravens. The Dolphins were held to just 196 yards of total offense in Baltimore. Miami enters Week 9 game against Oakland with the NFL’s worse scoring offense, averaging just 13.1 points per game and the 31st ranked rushing offense averaging a ghastly 76.4 yards per game.

Cutler is expected to suit up against Oakland Sunday. On the season, Cutler has thrown for 995 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions with a 78.8 passer rating. Now in his 12th season, the veteran signal-caller actually retired prior to this season and was set to work in the broadcast booth for FOX television, but was persuaded by Dolphins head coach Adam Gase to return to football.

With Gase as his offensive coordinator, Cutler enjoyed one of his best seasons of his career in 2015 while with the Chicago Bears, throwing for 3.659 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 games.

The trading of starting running back Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles at the trade deadline Tuesday for a fourth-round pick was head-scratching.

2016 was the third-year running back’s best season, rushing for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns on 260 carries for the playoff-bound Dolphins. Ajayi had three games in which he rushed for at least 200 yards last season and was the heartbeat for Miami’s offense.

This season, Ajayi has rushed for 465 yards on 138 carries, but zero touchdowns. The Dolphins will look to give more opportunities to second-year running back Kenyan Drake and fourth-year pro Damien Williams, who have accounted for just 57 yards on 22 carries.

Oakland’s shaky secondary must find ways to slow down Miami’s wide receivers in Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills.

Landry is one the league’s most explosive play-makers, leading the Dolphins with 50 receptions for 398 yards. Landry’s 50 receptions ranks second in the NFL behind Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown’s 57, while his three touchdown catches ranks second on the Dolphins.

Stills leads Miami with four touchdowns on 25 receptions for 313 yards.

Miami have one of the league’s best defenses, ranking seventh in the league in total yards surrendering just 306.3 yards per game. The Dolphins have given up just 27 third-down conversions, which are the second-fewest in the NFL. They also make it hard for opposing offenses to pick up first downs, allowing just 130 first downs this season, good for eighth-fewest in the league.

Cameron Wake is the Dolphins top pass rusher, registering six of Miami’s 15 sacks this season.

Following Sunday night’s game, the Raiders return to the Bay Area for their bye week. After the Silver and Black’s bye week, Oakland travels to Mexico City for a “home” game against the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca in Week 11.

The Dolphins will be on prime-time again next week when they head to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football on Nov. 13.

Raiders travel to Buffalo for Week 8 matchup with Bills Sunday

Photo credit: @BNBlitzNow

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — After having 10 days off, the Raiders get back on the football field this Sunday as they travel east to take on the Buffalo Bills in a key matchup for Week 8.

Kickoff is at 1:00 p.m. ET or 10:00 a.m. PT for all you (including me) west coasters.

Last Thursday night, the Silver and Black got back into the win column with a 31-30 comeback victory over their bitter rival, the Kansas City Chiefs. Oakland (3-4) were down six late in the fourth quarter before starting quarterback Derek Carr engineered an 11-play, 85-yard drive in 2:25 that resulted on a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree as time expired.

Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio’s PAT on the next play proved to be the difference maker, snapping Oakland’s four-game losing streak following a 2-0 start.

In the process, Carr earned his NFL-leading 12th comeback victory since 2015. Carr completed 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns with 101.2 passer rating.

Amari Cooper had a career-night, hauling in 11 receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns of 38 and 45 yards. Cooper’s 210 yards ranked second in single-game franchise history to Art Powell’s 247 yards in 1963.

Cooper was named the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week for his offensive outburst against the Chiefs.

Just to put Cooper’s performance in a bigger perspective: after recording five catches for 62 yards and one touchdown in Oakland’s 26-16 victory in Tennessee in Week 1, Cooper struggled, recording just 13 catches for 84 yards and no touchdowns in Weeks 2-6.

Tight end Jared Cook made big plays also against a good Chiefs defense, catching six passes for 107 yards, including a 27-yard reception on the Raiders’ final drive to setup Oakland at the Kansas City 1-yard line.

On defense, newly signed middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman led Oakland with 11 tackles on the night.

During pregame introductions, Bowman was greeted with a loud ovation from Raider Nation. Bowman spent his first seven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers where he was voted to three Pro Bowl teams (in 2012, ’13, ’15) and four All-Pro teams (in 2011-13, ’15).

Oakland will head into Buffalo without the services for starting running back Marshawn Lynch, who has been suspended by the NFL for one game after making contact with an official during Thursday’s contest.

Lynch was ejected in the first half after he ran onto the field and made contact with an official after trying to separate Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters from a scrum that broke out. The Raiders starting running back was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and ejected.

Lynch and Peters are cousins from West Oakland. Peters actually testified on Lynch’s behalf at his appeal hearing, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Buffalo (4-2) is coming off a 30-27 victory at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7.

Bills starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 20-of-33 passes for 268 yards and one touchdown with a 98.5 passer rating. Taylor is a mobile quarterback that can give the Raiders problems as he can make plays in the running game too.

Running back LeSean McCoy racked up 91 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns against Tampa Bay. Not only does McCoy lead the Bills with 370 yards rushing on 110 carries this season, but he’s Buffalo’s top receiver, leading the team with 32 catches and his second behind tight end Charles Clay with 220 yards receiving through six games.

Clay leads Buffalo with 258 yards receiving.

Defensively, Buffalo ranks fourth in the NFL in points surrendered, allowing just 16.8 points per game. Oakland’s offense ranks 15th in the league, scoring 22.1 points per game.

Buffalo ranks seventh in the league in stopping the run, allowing just 84.5 yards rushing per game.

Buffalo’s secondary is one of the strongest in the league, led by safety Micah Hyde who is tied for the league lead with four interceptions. Hyde signed a five-year, $30.5 million deal with Buffalo in the offseason after spending his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

Sunday’s game in Buffalo marks the first of a two-game swing through the AFC East for Oakland. The Raiders travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins in Week 9.

Oakland is already 1-0 against the AFC East this year, after blasting the New York Jets 45-20 in Week 2 in the Raiders’ home opener.

The Raiders have won two of the last three meetings with Buffalo (in 2014 and ’16), while the Bills last defeated Oakland in 2011.

 

 

 

 

Oakland Raiders host Los Angeles Chargers Sunday in first of two meetings for this season

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) greets injured Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr after an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. The Ravens won 30-17. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — Looking to get back into the win column and avoid their first four-game losing streak since losing 16-straight regular season games from Nov. 24, 2013 to Nov. 16, 2014, the Raiders welcome one of their AFC West rivals in the Los Angeles Chargers for an important matchup in Week 5.

Oakland (2-3) is currently in the middle of a three-game home stand at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, having lost in Week 5 to the Baltimore Ravens 30-17 and host their most bitter rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, on Oct. 19 in prime-time on Thursday Night Football.

Kickoff for Sunday’s game is at 1:25 p.m. PT.

With starting quarterback Derek Carr sidelined for the game with a traverse process fracture in his back, backup quarterback EJ Manuel filled in admirably for Carr completing 13-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in his first start for the Silver and Black. Manuel found a comfort level with wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the game, connecting with Crabtree for a 41-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter.

Crabtree finished as the Raiders’ top receiver for the day, collecting six catches for 82 yards to go along with the aforementioned touchdown after missing Oakland’s 16-10 loss Week 3 loss in Denver.

Oakland’s other starting wide receiver Amari Cooper was again a no-show, recording just one catch for eight yards on two targets. The ground game was paced by running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries and his second touchdown of the year (all at home). Backup running back Jalen Richard contributed to the offense as well, rushing for 37 yards on nine carries.

The Raiders do expect Carr to start Sunday and hope to rejuvenate an offense that ranks in the middle of the league in points per game (21.6), which is good for 16th, but rank 23rd in rushing yards per game (90.6), 26th in passing yards (188.6), and 30th in total yards per game (279.2) through the first five games of the season.

Carr has thrown for 753 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions this year.

Last year through five games, Oakland ranked sixth in total offense scoring just a shade under 28 points per game.

Oakland’s offensive line, which was a pillar of strength for the team last year after only giving up 18 sacks in 16 games, have already surrendered 12 sacks this season through five games.

With the Chargers ranking third in the NFL with 17 sacks this season, the offensive line will have their work cut out for them. Defensive end Melvin Ingram leads the Chargers and the AFC in sacks with 7.5, while fellow defensive end Joey Bosa is not far off with 4.5 sacks.

Bosa made an immediate impact in his first pro game last year against the Raiders, sacking Carr twice en route to 10.5 sacks and being named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year after missing the first four games of the season in a contract dispute.

Second-year outside linebacker Jatavis Brown has become one of the league’s surest tacklers, leading the Chargers with 46 tackles (32 solo) this season. Last year when the Chargers called San Diego home, they finished tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions.

This season, the Chargers have recorded just two picks and have been bludgeoned by opposing teams on the ground. Los Angeles ranks dead-last in stopping the run, allowing 161.2 yards rushing per game.

In Week 2, the Chargers allowed 122 yards to Jay Ajayi, 172 yards to Kareem Hunt in Week 3, and 136 yards to LeGarrette Blount in Week 4.

That should bode well for Oakland, who still has yet to have a running back crack 100 yards rushing in a game this season. Lynch leads the Raiders with 57 carries for 194 yards and two touchdowns, while Richard is second on the team in rushing with 24 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown.

But the second-year Richard leads Oakland with 5.3 yards per carry this season, not the 10-year veteran in Lynch, who is second with 3.4 yards per carry.

Los Angeles (1-4) picked up their first win of the 2017 season, winning 27-22 against the winless New York Giants (0-5) at MetLife Stadium last Sunday. Starting quarterback Philip Rivers completed 21-of-44 passes for 254 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Now in his 14th season, Rivers ranks in the top-10 among all starting quarterbacks this year, pacing fifth in passing yards (1,365) and seventh in touchdown passes (9). His 266.8 passing yards per game ranks sixth among passers. Rivers has only thrown five interceptions this season and has been sacked just six times, a testament to the Chargers much improved offensive line.

The Chargers average 19.8 points per game, ranking 19th in the league, but can put up yards offensively, ranking 11th averaging 345.6 yards per game.

Running back Melvin Gordon was unstoppable running the ball and catching the ball against the Giants. Gordon carried the ball 20 times for 105 yards and led the Chargers with a game-high six catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

Gordon is tied for fourth in the NFL with five total touchdowns (two rushing, three receiving) this season.

The third-year running back from Wisconsin caught the game-winning touchdown from Rivers with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter to cement the Chargers’ victory.

Rivers is 14-8 in 22 career games against the Silver and Black, throwing for 37 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. His 37 touchdowns against the Raiders are the most that Rivers has thrown against any team in the NFL in his career.

Former California wide receiver Keenan Allen is the Chargers’ best wide receiver, leading the team with 28 catches for 401 yards and a touchdown.

Oakland has won the last four-straight meetings against the Chargers after sweeping both games in 2015 and 2016.

Los Angeles will host Oakland in Week 17 at the StubHub Center in Carson.

 

 

Oakland Raiders: Another disappearing act from Amari Cooper

Oakland Raiders quarterback EJ Manuel speaks at a news conference after an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — The season is starting to look grim for the Raiders, who lost for the third-straight week losing to the Baltimore Ravens 30-17 at home in Week 5 following a 2-0 start.

Coming into the game, Oakland had “W” written on paper, seeing that Baltimore was outscored 70-17 by their opponents in their last two losses following a 2-0 start of their own.

Oakland (2-3) did start backup quarterback EJ Manuel for the injured Derek Carr and Manuel did a good job, completing 13-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Manuel stepped in a ran the Raiders’ offense as best as he could on Sunday, finding a connection with wide receiver Michael Crabtree early and often.

Crabtree finished with team-highs in catches (6), targets (8) and receiving yards (82), most of those yards coming on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Manuel in the second quarter after Baltimore was already leading 21-3.

Crabtree leads Oakland with four touchdown catches this season after today’s game.

But where was fellow wide receiver Amari Cooper today? In fact, where has Cooper been this entire season?

Cooper didn’t record his first and only catch of the game until 12:35 in the fourth quarter, for eight yards. He had just two targets on the day.

After recording nine catches on 18 targets for 95 yards and a touchdown in Oakland’s first two wins of the season, Cooper has just four catches on 15 targets for 23 yards and zero touchdowns in the last three losses for the Silver and Black.

Cooper has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his first two years in the Bay Area and is considered to be Oakland’s best play-maker, but he has looked nothing like it or the ‘superstar’ every Raider fan believes he is this season.

Is it a mental thing?

Leading the league with seven drop passes according to Pro Football Focus can have that affect on a wide receiver. Maybe the drops are becoming a mental block for No. 89?

Oakland has played teams with good secondaries in recent weeks like Washington and AFC West rival Denver and better wide receivers than Cooper have had trouble this season finding success against those teams, but Cooper has to perform better if the Raiders have any chance of winning football games and making a run at the Super Bowl this year.

The Raiders are expected to get back Carr from his transverse process fracture he suffered in Denver (possibly as early as next week with the visiting 1-4 L.A. Chargers coming to town) and Cooper could reignite his season with Carr’s return.

If Carr and Cooper are on the same page, Oakland’s offense will take off without an issue.

For Oakland’s sake and their season, will the real Amari Cooper please stand up?

Oakland Raiders welcome Ravens to Oakland for key Week 5 tilt

Photo credit: OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — After playing three of their first four games of the season on the road, the Raiders begin a three-game home stand when they host the visiting Baltimore Ravens at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Sunday’s matchup will mark the third-straight season that the Raiders and Ravens have hooked up, in 2015 and in Baltimore last season, with Oakland winning the previous two meetings by one-score each.

Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. PT.

Oakland (2-2) is lost to the Denver Broncos 16-10 last week on the road in the Mile High City.

Defensively, Oakland limited the Broncos to just 298 yards of total offense and 155 net passing yards. Defensive end Khalil Mack registered two of Oakland’s four sacks on Denver starting quarterback Trevor Siemian, with defensive tackle Mario Edwards Jr. and linebacker Bruce Irvin collecting a sack a piece.

Mack also recorded seven tackles in the game and with his two sacks, now has four sacks on the season, the most he’s had through the season’s first quarter.

Through four games, the Raiders rank 13th in the NFL on defense, limiting opponents to 19.8 points per game. Opponents have only scored seven touchdowns against the Raiders so far this season.

Not only was the loss to their bitter AFC West rival stinging, but the lost of starting quarterback Derek Carr to a traverse process fracture in his lower back in the process is even a bigger loss. Carr was injured late in the third quarter after taking a knee in the back by defensive end Adam Gotsis, while being sacked by Shelby Harris and Derek Wolfe.

Backup quarterback EJ Manuel came in relief of Carr, completing 11-of-17 passes for 106 yards, but threw an interception in the final minutes that ended Oakland’s chances of a comeback.

With Carr shelved for the next 2-6 weeks after a CAT scan revealed the fracture on Monday morning, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio named Manuel the starter against Baltimore.

A former first-round pick in 2013 by the Buffalo Bills out of Florida State, Manuel has thrown for 3,608 yards with 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Manuel has completed 58-percent of his passes in 29 career games played, with 17 career starts.

For the second-straight week, Oakland’s offense sputtered racking up just 258 yards total, but converted just 2-of-12 on third down after going 0-for-11 on third down in the Silver and Black’s 27-10 loss in Washington back in Week 3.

Oakland was missing starting wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who sat out Week 4 with a chest injury suffered in the Washington game, and the Broncos were double-teaming Amari Cooper with a safety helping over the top of the offense.

Crabtree remains questionable for Sunday’s game and has been Oakland’s top playmaker with a team-leading three touchdowns receiving, but the aforementioned Cooper has been a no-show the past two weeks.

In both of Oakland’s recent losses, Cooper has registered just three catches for 15 yards and zero touchdowns and a slew of drops. Cooper leads the NFL with seven-on-target drops according to ESPN Stats and Information.  The former Alabama wide receiver has to step up and regain the form that led him to back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in two of his first four seasons in the NFL.

The offense, which ranks 17th in the NFL averaging 22.8 points per game, has to find better ways of moving the football and getting running back Marshawn Lynch involved more. Lynch, who only has 45 rushes for 151 yards and one touchdown, is part of a ground-attack that only averages 86.2 rushing yards per game, 24th in the NFL out of 32 teams.

Baltimore (2-2) is in a similar place as the Raiders are entering Sunday’s game.

Like Oakland, Baltimore has lost two-straight games following a 2-0 start and are looking to rebound after losing to a fellow rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-9 at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 4. The Ravens at one point, found themselves down 19-0 midway through the AFC North battle.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed 31-of-49 passes for 235 yards, a touchdown and two back-breaking interceptions in the fourth quarter. For the season, Flacco has completed 73-of-118 passes (61.9-pct) for 601 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions for a Ravens’ offense that ranks 31st in the league, averaging just 15.0 points per game.

Baltimore’s rushing attack could be key against Oakland Sunday, as the Ravens average 127.3 yards rushing per game, which ranks ninth in the NFL. Running back Alex Collins, who the Ravens activated from their practice squad in September, has gained 206 yards rushing on 25 attempts (8.2 avg) in three games this season.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Collins is one of three NFL running backs to gain over 200 rushing yards on fewer than 45 carries this season, joining Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray (42 for 215) and Philadelphia’s LaGarrette Blount (42 for 249).

Tight end Benjamin Watson and running back Javorius Allen leads Baltimore with 16 catches a piece, while Watson leads the team with 146 receiving yards. Jeremy Maclin is a chain-moving wide receiver for the Ravens, but Mike Wallace is Baltimore’s best deep threat.

Oakland is thin at cornerback with David Amerson (concussion) and rookie Gareon Conley (shin) both questionable for Sunday’s game.

But Baltimore’s defense, which has been suspect at times this season, can still cause headaches for opposing offenses. Through four games this season, the Ravens have registered an NFL-best nine interceptions.

Safety Eric Weddle, and cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Brandon Carr each have two interceptions a piece, making the Ravens the only team in the league with three players with at least two interceptions through Week 5.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs leads the Ravens with three sacks this season, while inside linebacker C.J. Mosley leads Baltimore with 38 tackles.

Raiders lose to Broncos 16-10 as Carr leaves game with back spasms

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr lays the field after being injured during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

DENVER — Another Sunday and another loss for the Silver and Black, but this loss hurts a bit more.

Oakland (2-2) loss to 16-10 to the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in a game that the Raiders saw their franchise player, quarterback Derek Carr, leave the game in the third quarter with reported back spasms after getting kneed in the back after being sacked by Shelby Harris and Derek Wolfe.

Carr completed 10-of-18 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown before being replaced by backup quarterback EJ Manuel.

With Oakland trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, Carr hooked up with reserve wide receiver Johnny Holton for a 64-yard touchdown that capped a five-play, 99-yard drive for the Silver and Black that had cut Denver’s lead to 10-7. The 99-yard drive was Oakland’s first drive of 90-plus yards since Oct. 2, 2011 against New England according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Following Riley Dixon’s punt that sailed 37 yards before settling at the Oakland 42-yard line with 4:16 left in the fourth quarter, Manuel got Oakland to the Broncos’ own 42-yard line with 1:46 left following series of completions.

On the ensuing play, Manuel threw a high pass intended for wide receiver Amari Cooper that was intercepted by Denver safety Justin Simmons to stick the fork in Oakland. Oakland trailed by six with 5:23 left after kicker Girogio Tavecchio nailed a 38-yard field goal.

In relief of Carr, Manuel completed 11-of-17 passes for 106 yards.

For the second straight week, Cooper was a no-show for Oakland, finishing with just two catches for nine yards and his NFL-leading seventh dropped pass of the season. To Cooper’s credit, the Broncos double-teamed him for the most of the game since fellow wide receiver Michael Crabtree missed the game with a chest injury.

It was Crabtree’s first missed game since 2013 when he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

Denver’s top-ranked defense against the run was on full display Sunday, bottling up running back Marshawn Lynch and Oakland’s ground game to just 24 yards rushing.

Lynch finished with just nine carries for 12 yards. For the season, Lynch has just 45 carries for 151 yards and one touchdown through four games.

Oakland recorded 258 yards of total offense, but was 2-of-12 on third downs against the Broncos after going 0-for-11 on third downs in Washington last Sunday.

Simply put, the Broncos kept Oakland out of sync the entire game.

Defensively, Oakland held Denver to 298 yards of total offense, but were gashed on the ground by the Broncos for 143 yards rushing. Running back CJ Anderson gave Oakland’s defense fits, carrying the ball 20 times for 95 yards, including a 40-yard run down the heart of the Raiders defense in the third quarter.

Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack registered two of Oakland’s four sacks on the day. After recording 11 tackles (five assisted) in Washington last week to lead all Oakland defenders, linebacker Cory James led the team again with 10 tackles against the Broncos.

As stated earlier, this loss hurts for the Silver and Black.

Not only do you sit in third-place in the tough AFC West behind 3-0 Kansas City and the now 3-1 Broncos, but your franchise quarterback is getting sacked at an alarming rate.

After just allowing 18 sacks last season in 16 games last season, Oakland’s high-priced offensive line have allowed nine sacks through four games this season.

Carr is expected to be fine for Oakland’s next game, but if you’re a Raiders fan, you got to be concerned that your signal-caller is getting beat up early in the season.

Oakland after playing three of their first four games on the road, the Raiders are home for three straight weeks as they will host Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.