Raiders and Dolphins get ready for London

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — At 0-3 in the United States, the Oakland Raiders look to foreign soil to gain their first win of the season when they will “host” the 1-2 Miami Dolphins Sunday at Wembley Stadium in the NFL’s International Series in London, England.

Even after the Raiders 15th consecutive loss in the Eastern time zone, a 16-9 loss to the New England Patriots at Foxborough, Oakland gave New England everything it could handle, according to head coach Dennis Allen following the loss.

“Tough loss. Tough pill to swallow,” Allen said.

“I thought our guys fought their tails off, gave ourselves an opportunity to win. I thought we tied the football game or at least got within an extra point of being able to tie the football game there at the end of the game. Disappointed about that. Still we have to be able to…at the moment of truth, there’s time where we have to be able to make some plays and we didn’t do that enough today and came up on the short end of the stick. But I thought it was a better effort by our team and we get on a long flight and head to London and get ready for the next one.”

Oakland appeared to have tied the game on Darren McFadden’s touchdown run, but the play was nullified by a questionable holding call on rookie guard Gabe Jackson. On the next play, Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr’s pass bounced off the hands of wide receiver Denarius Moore, falling into the waiting arms of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork for the game-ending interception.

“I did not [think that was a holding call on Jackson]” Allen would later say.

Carr completed 21-of-34 passing for 174 yards, with that lone interception. Oakland

“I thought Derek was solid. I thought he was solid. I didn’t think we did anything offensively spectacular, but I thought, especially early in the game, I thought we were able to control the clock a little bit,” said Allen.

Carr will be without one of his favorite targets for the foreseeable as wide receiver Rod Streater was lost for next five-to-six weeks after fracturing his foot Sunday.

With a depleted wide receiver group, Carr is going to have to rely on James Jones, the recently signed Vincent Brown, Andre Holmes, and Moore to improve a Raiders passing game that ranks 31st in passing yards (190 ypg), and dead-last in points per game (12.3 ppg).

Defensively, Oakland played strong, holding quarterback Tom Brady to 234 passing yards and one touchdown on 24-of-37 passing. Strong safety Tyvon Branch led the Raiders with seven tackles (four solo) but just like Streater, Branch fractured his foot as well. Branch was placed on injured reserved, ending his season early again. Branch missed the final 14 games in 2013 with a lis franc injury.

Wednesday, Oakland claimed former Dolphins safety, Brandian Ross off waivers. Ross is expected to see plenty of action Sunday.

Ross played in 30 games for the Raiders from 2012-13, making 14 starts. He started 13 games at safety last year for Oakland, totaling 101 tackles (59 solo) and two sacks. His career totals include 31 games played with 14 starts, 115 tackles (72 solo), two sacks, six passes defensed and one forced fumble.

Miami, is coming off a tough loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs, 34-15 Sunday. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw three touchdowns, but the Dolphins defense sacked Smith five times; linebacker Jelani Jenkins and defensive tackle Randy Starks each recorded 1.5 sacks.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown five touchdowns and two interceptions, but his 5.0 yards per pass attempt ranks near the bottom in the league among the 32 starting quarterbacks. In two of the Dolphins three games this year, Tannehill has been sacked four times. Oakland needs to apply pressure to a Dolphins offensive line that has trouble protecting their third-year quarterback.

The Raiders secondary must have their eyes on Dolphins speedster, wide receiver Mike Wallace the entire game. Wallace is one of the more dangerous wide receivers in the League, and can go off in a hurry.

Wallace leads all Dolphins wide receivers in catches (17), yards (211), and touchdowns (2).

Players to Watch:

Oakland – The running backs. Whether its Maurice Jones-Drew or Darren McFadden, Oakland’s ground game has got to wake up sometime. Opponents have out-rushed the Silver and Black 476 to 193. With MJD sitting out Sunday’s game with a broken hand, McFadden rushed for 59 yards on 18 carries upping his team-leading 111 yards rushing for the season. Carr, not MJD, is the team’s second leading rusher with 57 yards.

Miami – Mike Wallace, wide receiver. As I mentioned before, Wallace is a game changer and Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver better have a great game plan to stop him. Wallace and Tannehill have had their issues connecting on deep passes, but if Tannehill gets the ball in Wallace’s hands, look out. Cornerbacks Terrell Brown and Carlos Rogers could be in for a long day.

 

Oakland welcomes Houston for Home Opener

Photo courtesy of footballsfuture.com

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — After falling to the Jets, 19-14 in New York in Week 1, the Raiders look to rebound Sunday when they host the Houston Texans at O.co Coliseum in Oakland’s home opener at 1:25 p.m.

Making his first career start in the NFL, rookie quarterback Derek Carr played pretty well, but not well enough to help the Raiders start the 2014 season on a winning note.

Carr threw for 151 yards on 20-of-32 passing, with two touchdowns with a passer rating of 94.7. Carr looked poised for much of the game, throwing the ball with no hesitation while making sound decisions.

Oakland may have a rising star in wide receiver Rod Streater.

Even though Streater had 46 yards receiving, I thought the  team-leading five catches and his12-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was most important. Carr seems to trust Streater, which will be important for both Carr’s and Streater’s continued growth.

What Carr didn’t get was help from the running game and against a team that has a stud defensive end like Houston has in J.J. Watt, you are going to need help from your running backs. The running game which was looked upon as a possible strength of the team’s, has got to be a factor on Sunday.

Oakland only mustered 26 rushing yards from the tandem of Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew led the team with nine carries, but injured his hand Sunday and didn’t finish the game. A source told Comcast SportsNet’s Fallon Smith that Jones-Drew underwent a procedure to repair the injury.

According to the Bay Area News Group’s Jerry McDonald, Jones-Drew didn’t practice Wednesday and his status for Sunday’s home opener remains in question.

Defensively, I thought that Oakland played admirably. Outside of Chris Ivory’s back-breaking 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to ice the game, Oakland’s defense played tough on Jets quarterback Geno Smith.

Free safety Charles Woodson recorded an interception that led to an early touchdown, while linebacker Sio Moore was all over the field with a team-leading 15 solo tackles, and one of Oakland’s two sacks. Strong safety Tyvon Branch had the other sack.

But Houston is coming to the Black Hole looking to spoil the home opener, while trying to avenge their  28-23 loss to Oakland last season at Reliant Stadium.

Houston (1-0) won their home opener last week ,14-6 over Washington behind their defense, particularly Watt. The Texans sacked quarterback Robert Griffin three times, and recovered two fumbles. Watt recorded one of each to go along with three tackles.

Cornerback Johnathan Joseph finished with a team-leading 11 solo tackles, while strong safety D.J. Swearinger  (1 sack) and cornerback Kareem Jackson finished tied with six tackles. Linebacker Brooks Reed had five tackles, while recording a sack.

Offensively, Houston has weapons and Raiders defensive guru Jason Tarver is going to have his work cut out for him in slowing down the Texans.

Fitzpatrick threw for 206 yards on 14-of-22 passes (109.3 passer rating), including a 76-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins in the second quarter. Hopkins finished with  four catches and 89 yards receiving, while the ageless wonder Andre Johnson led Houston with six catches and 93 yards receiving (15.5 yards per catch).

Oakland’s cornerbacks Terrell Brown and Carlos Rogers are battle tested, but will need to play smart and aggressive if they are going to slow down Houston’s duo.

Running back Arian Foster appears to be healthy again, after missing the majority of last season with a back injury. Foster rushed for 103 yards on 27 carries against Washington.

Next week, Oakland will pack their bags for 11 days, heading to New England to take on the Patriots, before flying over to London (a home game sadly), to take on the Miami Dolphins the following week.

Houston faces the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 3.

Players to Watch:

Houston: It’s a no brainer that you want to watch Watt. At 6’5″ and 289 lbs, Watt is just a freak of nature that has an active motor on every down.  With 37.5 career sacks, their is no question that Watt gets to the quarterback. Carr must make sure that he knows where No. 99 is at at all times.

Oakland: Streater is the man that Oakland has to get involved early. In last year’s meeting against Houston, Streater had six catches for 84 yards receiving, including an 18-yard touchdown catch.

 

Raiders return home for Week 15 tilt with Chiefs

By. Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — Home is where the heart is and the Oakland Raiders are in dire need of some good fortune.

After a two game road trip, Oakland return to the familiar surroundings of O.co Coliseum when they’ll host their bitter rival the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15 Sunday. Kansas City nipped Oakland, 24-7 at Arrowhead in Week 6 behind a ferocious defense that forced three second-half interceptions and sacked then starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor 10 times.

Oakland (4-9) was dropped by the New York Jets, 37-27, in New York last week.

With running backs Rashad Jennings (concussion) and Darren McFadden (ankle),  fullback Marcel Reece supplied the ground game for Oakland rushing for a career-high 123 yards on 19 carries, including a career-long 63-yard touchdown run on the second play of the third quarter.

Quarterback Matt McGloin finished the game 18 of 31 for 245 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception, while wide receiver Rod Streater had a career-high 130 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Kansas City (10-3) throttled hapless Washington, 45-10, last week in the Nation’s Capital.

The Chiefs jumped on Washington from the start, building a 31-0 lead in the second quarter behind two special teams touchdowns and their running game. Running back Jamaal Charles racked up 151 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Charles leads the AFC in rushing with 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns, and is third overall in the NFL in rushing yards behind Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson (1,221), and Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy (1,3o5).

Raiders unplug the Chargers in late-night contest, win 27-17

628x471

by Kahlil Najar

OAKLAND –

In the latest West Coast game in NFL history the Oakland Raiders (2-3) beat the San Diego Chargers (2-3) 27-17 in what was one of the most dominating performances of the defense in years. The Raiders defense forced the Chargers into five turnovers including three interceptions, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a loose ball recovery on a muffed punt. On offense, Terrelle Pryor threw for 221 yards on 18 for 23 passing including two touchdowns – a 44 yard bomb to Rod Streater to start the game and a two yard pass to Denarius Moore.

On his deep pass on the first play from scrimmage, Terrelle Pryor said, “We practiced that play a lot in practice this week. In week one against the Colts I was picked off but me and Coach Olson talked about it last night and he said if I saw him (Streater) get open I should try and get him the ball.”

Pryor’s confidence was obvious to other teammates before but now it was on display for everyone to see. “You can just see his swag back there, he’s playing with a lot of confidence” said Rod Streater who ended the night with three catches for 56 yards including the 44-yard pass to start the game. Pryor completed ten straight passes and said that it “builds (my) confidence and my tempo is right. I’m excited when we start fast.” In face, that touchdown was the first time the Raiders have scored in the first two minutes of a game since week 3 of 2011 against the Jets.

“It’s exciting to see Pryor out there,” said Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen, “He can create those plays and it gives the team confidence.”

The Raiders defense got the game started for the Raiders when on the third play of the game for San Diego, Philip Rivers threw a high floating pass that looked like a punt and landed in the hands of Usama Young for his first interception of the year. On the Raiders very first play from scrimmage, Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson dialed up the 44-yard deep pass to Rod Streater that got the Raiders on the board 7-0. The Raiders next drive saw them go 88 yards in 8 minutes on a nifty play from Pryor who rolled out to the right after his initial check downs were covered and found Denarious Moore in back of the end zone after he stopped on a dime and Chargers Corner Richard Marshall fell out of bounds to give the Raiders a 14-0 lead with a little over a minute left in the first quarter.

The Chargers started the second quarter with the ball on their side of the field and matriculated the ball all the way down to the Raiders ten yard line. After a a run and a passing play, the Chargers decided to go for it on a fourth and one on the goal line and linebacker Kevin Burnett stuffed Danny Woodhead to turn the ball over to the Raiders in their own zone. After a couple first downs the Raiders were forced to punt to the usually reliable Eddie Royal but he muffed the punt and the Raiders special team recovered the ball and gave the Raiders a first down on the Chargers 37-yard line where Sebastian Janikowski was able to convert on a 47-yard field goal attempt to give the Raiders a 17-0 lead into the half.

The third quarter saw Charles Woodson join the ranks of the elite safeties in the NFL.

After a lengthy drive by the Chargers and a field goal by Nick Novak to put them on the board and a quick three-and-out by the Raiders, the Chargers handed history to Woodson in a bag. On second-and-five from the San Diego 35 yard line, Kevin Burnett caused Danny Woodhead to fumble to ball and it landed in Charles Woodson’s hands. With the ball in hand and only Rivers to beat, Woodson leaped into the end zone to give the Raiders a 24-3 lead but also gave him a career total of 13 defensive touchdowns to tie him for the most defensive touchdowns in a career in the history of the NFL with the great Darren Sharper and former Oakland Raider Rod Woodson.

When learning of him tying Rod’s record, Woodson said, “Cousin Rod, I’m coming for you! Nah, it just means that I’m on e of the greatest to ever play the game but the win was what’s most important.”

Philip Rivers, who ended the night with 411 yards passing and two touchdowns, got hot late in the game with touchdown passes to Woodhead and Cal alum Keenan Allen was then stifled again when D.J. Hayden had his first pick of his career in the end zone which looked to seal the deal for the Raiders. However after another quick three-and-out from the Raiders, the Chargers got the ball back with 1:16 left in the game losing by only 10.  After a deep pass to Allen for 30 yards, Rivers threw deep again this time in the middle of the field looking for Eddie Royal but Charles Woodson was able to get in front of the ball and get his first interception of the game to lock it up and put the Raiders into Victory formation.

“It was a great team win. All three phases contributed,” said Allen. “It was outstanding the way we started, and we kept competing all the way to the end. The goal line stand was a critical point in the game.”

The love for Pyror could be heard in the stands as well in the locker room. On his roll out capabilities and extending broken plays, Allen said, “That’s what that kid brings to us. When things aren’t right, he has the ability to make plays.” Charles Woodson echoed the Coaches sentiments saying that, “He’s showing his progress and he can lead this team.”

Terrelle Pryor and Raiders head to Kansas City next week to take on the undefeated Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium. It’ll be a tough game for the Raiders however if they are able to bring this momentum from the game into Arrowhead, the Raiders can prove that they shouldn’t be a forgotten team in the AFC West.

Game Notes:

  • The Chargers, who ranked No. 2 in the NFL in third down efficiency (50%), were 4-for-11 tonight. San Diego also came into the game averaging 27.0 points per game, seventh in the league, and was held to 17.
  • The Raiders continue to not have allowed a first half rushing touchdown, stopping the Chargers on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter. With 27 rushing yards in the first half, the defense is equally stringent, allowing (204) rushing yards in the first half this season, an average of 40.8 (No. 11 in the NFL prior to tonight)
  • It was the second-straight week that the Raiders have not allowed a first-half touchdown.
  • QB Terrelle Pryor is still No. 2 in rushing among quarterbacks behind Michael Vick following 31 yards tonight. He now has 228 on the season.