By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer
AP photo: The Oakland Raiders wide receiver looks relieved, cool and collected after a narrow win against the Baltimore Ravens at the post game press conference on Sunday for the Raiders third straight road win
BALTIMORE, MD — Winning on the road in the NFL is a tough feat for any team to accomplish.
The Oakland Raiders are demonstrating that they have no problems winning on the road, after picking up their third win of the season with a 28-27 nail-biting win over the Ravens in Baltimore. Oakland won in New Orleans (Week 1) and in Tennessee (Week 3).
The Silver & Black (3-1), are off to their best start since 2000.
Checkout each unit’s grade following Oakland’s (3-1) road victory Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium:
Quarterback (A+) – What more can you ask Derek Carr to do on Sunday?
The Raiders starting quarterback played quite well, tying a career-high with four touchdown passes on 25-of-35 passes for 199 yards. But the game was not for the faint of heart, as Oakland couldn’t maintain a nine-point fourth quarter lead.
With Baltimore now clinging to a 27-21 lead in the fourth quarter, Carr engineered a 6-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a 23-yard strike to wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the back of the end zone with 2:12 left.
For the season, Carr has thrown for 1,078 yards, nine touchdowns, and just one interception, giving Raider Nation confidence that Carr is the real deal.
In 11 red zone possessions this season, Oakland has scored 10 touchdowns which leads the league.
Running Backs (C) – Oakland’s ground attack mustered up just 62 yards, 28 of those by rookie DeAndre Washington who led all Raider rushers with 30 yards.
Washington’s fumble in the fourth quarter almost proved costly for the Raiders, after the fumble would set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Ravens’ running back Terrence West.
Starter Latavius Murray (eight carries for 19 yards) and rookie Jalen Richard (two carries for 15 yards), rounded out the rushing yards for Oakland.
Richard did factor in on Oakland’s first score of the day, returning a 47-yard punt to the Ravens’ six-yard line. Carr would find wide receiver Seth Roberts for the touchdown on the next play, giving Oakland a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Offensive line (B) – A group that was missing left tackle Menelik Watson, the offensive line kept Carr up right for the majority of the day, yielding no sacks to a vaunted Ravens defensive front anchored by linebacker Terrell Suggs and defensive lineman, Timmy Jerningan. Both Suggs and Jerningan entered Sunday’s contest tied for the team lead with three sacks each.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends (A-) – Crabtree has turned into Carr’s favorite target, as evident of the 12 times the Raider signal-caller target the talented wide receiver.
Crabtree was unstoppable against Baltimore, hauling in seven passes for 88 yards and three touchdowns and looking more and more like a game-changer the Raiders envisioned. With seven catches Sunday, Crabtree has gone 21 straight games where he’s caught at least three passes in a game.
The two-time Fred Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver in 2007 and ’08 out of Texas Tech, leads all Oakland wide receivers in catches (26) and touchdowns (4), and is second behind fellow wide receiver Amari Cooper’s 318 yards with 308.
Cooper finished with five catches (six targets) for 48 yards, and is still looking for his first receiving touchdown of the season after catching six in his rookie campaign last season.
Seth Roberts is second among Raider wide receivers with three touchdowns catches this season.
Starting tight end Lee Smith (right ankle) left the game in the second quarter and didn’t return, while backup Clive Walford came in and caught two passes for five yards.
Defensively, Oakland yielded 412 total yards and 25 first downs to Baltimore. Oakland’s defense did slow down Baltimore in the first half, surrendering just six points on seven offensive drives for Baltimore and forcing the Ravens to punt five times.
Defensive Line (C+) – The defensive line allowed running back Terrence West to rush for 113 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown Sunday. Oakland is still allowing physical running backs to run right through them, even though having defensive tackle Mario Edwards out does hurt stopping the run.
But seeing defensive end Khalil Mack record his first sack of the season in the fourth quarter off Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco was a tremendous site for Oakland. Mack was having trouble getting to the opposing quarterback this season as he finish with 15 sacks, second in the NFL to J.J. Watt’s 17.
Linebackers (B-) – Bruce Irvin recorded his third forced fumble in the fourth quarter (one of two off Flacco in Ravens’ territory was a huge turning point for Oakland, who was holding on to a 14-12 lead.
Irvin, who also recorded his second sack of the season, has been a nice addition for Oakland this season after spending his first four seasons in the NFL in Seattle and was part of the Seahawks team that won Super Bowl XLVIII.
Rookie linebacker Corey James led all Raider defenders in tackles with 12 (three assisted).
Secondary (B) – Things got dicey for the Raiders in the fourth quarter, trying to maintain a nine-point lead at 21-12, especially trying to stop Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.
Smith Sr. took a Flacco slant pass 52 yards for his first score of the season, cutting Oakland’s lead to 21-19 following the extra point. The 16-year vet finished with eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.
The secondary held Flacco to 298 yards on 32-of-52 passes. On 30 dropbacks in the first half, the Raiders harassed Flacco, hurrying him seven times, and hitting the Super Bowl winning quarterback four times.
The Raiders now head home for a date with their AFC West rival, the San Diego Chargers next Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum.
Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT.