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.