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 Instant Report Card: Carr and Crabtree lead Oakland past Baltimore

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.