Raiders battle Broncos on Christmas Eve in home finale at the Coliseum

Photo credit: broncoswire.usatoday.com

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — The Raiders return to the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in what will be the team’s home finale to a rough 2019 season. The Silver and Black will host the Denver Broncos on Christmas Eve in a AFC West matchup on Monday Night Football with the kickoff set for 5:15 p.m. PT on ESPN.

Oakland holds a 62-52-2 all-time record against the Broncos, with the Raiders looking to make it three in a row over Denver at home.

Last week, the Raiders (3-11) traveled to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals, but lost 30-16 at Paul Brown Stadium in Week 15.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr continued to move up the franchise record book. Carr passed Rich Gannon for the most consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception against the Bengals. Now sitting at 299 attempts, bested Gannon’s mark of 277 set back in 2001.

In fact, Carr hasn’t thrown an interception in nine-straight games after throwing for 263 yards on 21-of-38 passes and one touchdown. Through 14 games, Carr has 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Entering Monday night’s game with 3,697 passing yards, Carr is 303 yards shy from his first 4,000-yard passing season.

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson led the Raiders with six catches for 88 yards.

Lee Smith, who is better known for his blocking, has been more of a scorer in recent weeks, hauling in a touchdown for the third-straight game.

Defensively, safety Karl Joseph led the team with eight tackles (six solo) and his first sack of the season. Fellow safety Erik Harris recorded his first-career interception.

The Broncos (6-8) enter Week 16 losing to the Cleveland Browns 17-16 at home last Saturday. The slim loss eliminated Denver from playoff contention in the AFC, and puts them one loss away from back-to-back losing seasons. Denver finished 5-11 in 2017.

Denver is looking to complete the season sweep over Oakland, after defeating the Raiders 20-19 at Denver Stadium at Mile High in Week 2. The Broncos rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit, capped off by kicker Brandon McManus’ 36-yard game-winning field goal just inside the right upright with 6 seconds to play.

Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay, who was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team on Tuesday, rushed for 107 yards on 14 carries against the Raiders in Week 2.

On the season, Lindsay has rushed for 991 yards to go along with nine touchdowns on 182 carries in 14 games (seven starts) for the Broncos.

Linebacker Von Miller continues to be a terror on defense. The former Defensive Player of the Year leads the the team with 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, and was voted to his eighth Pro Bowl team. Fellow linebacker Bradley Chubb is second on the Broncos with 12.0 sacks and was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl.

Chubb, the Broncos’ top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is 2.5 sacks away from tying Jevon Kearse’s (14.5) NFL record for rookies, set in 1999 with the Tennessee Titans.

Raiders travel to Denver looking to bounce back after home loss

Photo credit: @Raiders

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — After a very poor showing at home against the Los Angeles Rams, the Raiders travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in an AFC West matchup Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PT. The two teams will meet each other later this year on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Christmas Eve in Oakland.

Last season, the two teams split their two-game series winning on their home turf.

The Raiders (0-1) fell flat on their faces to the Rams 33-13 in front of a sold out Raider Nation crowd of 53,857 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on ESPN’s Monday Night Football to closeout Week 1. Oakland held a 13-10 lead at halftime in head coach Jon Gruden’s return to the sidelines after a nine-year hiatus, before the wheels fell off for the Silver and Black in the second half as the Rams scored 23 unanswered points to claim the victory.

In the battle of franchise quarterbacks, Rams signal-caller Jared Goff clearly outplayed Derek Carr in front of a nationally televised audience. Both quarterbacks played a handful of snaps in the preseason and there was bound to be some rust in the first game.

For Goff, he completed 18 of 33 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions picking up right where he left off engineering the NFL’s top scoring offense from a season ago. The Rams averaged 29.9 points per game last year.

Oakland’s defense couldn’t generate a consistent pass rush against Goff, only sacking him once in the game by Bruce Irvin.

Neither could they stop last year’s NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley. The Rams running back looked in midseason form, carrying the ball 20 times for 108 yards. Gurley also hauled in three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.

After a hot start to the game where he completed 20 of 24 passes for 199 yards, Carr played pedestrian finishing 29 of 40 for 303 yards and three interceptions. Carr did have good chemistry with tight end Jared Cook, who caught a game-high nine balls or a league-high 180 yards.

Seven of Cook’s catches went for first downs, which tied for the most in Week 1.

Cook’s 45-yard catch-and-run down the middle of the field in the first quarter on the Raiders’ opening drive did set up Oakland’s first touchdown of the season, a 10-yard powerful run by running back Marshawn Lynch that gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead, but those were the only real highlights for the Raiders offensively as Oakland settled for two Mike Nugent field goals.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, who Gruden said would be a “focal point” to the offense this season, was missing in action as he caught just one pass for nine yards.

Cooper looked out of place on opening night, matched up with cornerback and Oakland native Marcus Peters for most of the night. If you go back and look at the game film, Cooper appeared open down the field on occasions but for some strange reason, Carr couldn’t get him the ball.

Peters would take Carr’s third interception 50 yards for a touchdown that punctuated a night to forget for Carr.

Oakland could find it difficult to get back on track against Denver (1-0), who prevailed over the visiting Seattle Seahawks 27-24 last Sunday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

Broncos starting quarterback Case Keenum completed 25 of 39 passes for 329 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions in his first game with the team.

Keenum enjoyed a career-year last season in Minnesota, throwing for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns to just seven interceptions while leading the Vikings to a 13-3 regular season record, an NFC North title, and appearance in the NFC Championship Game before signing a two-year, $36 million (with $25 million guaranteed) with Denver in the offseason.

Wide receiver Emmauel Sanders led the Broncos with 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown (fellow wide out Demaryius Thomas chipped in with six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown), while Denver’s ground game anchored by rookie running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay (15 carries for 71 each), found holes to run through in Seattle’s defense. Lindsay also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Keenum.

Denver’s defense had a huge day against Seattle forcing three turnovers and sacking Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson six times, three by linebacker Von Miller, who finished with six tackles (one assisted).

Miller also forced two fumbles, one of which where he ripped the ball away from running back Chris Carson for a Broncos takeaway.

Linebacker Todd Davis led Denver with eight tackles.

Following Sunday’s game, both teams head east as the Broncos travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens, while Oakland invades Miami for a matchup with the Dolphins.

Oakland Raiders are off to Denver to open up divisional play against the Broncos this Sunday

Photo credit: Raiders Report (@raiders_fanly)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — The Raiders travel to Denver to take on fellow AFC West rival, the Broncos, Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High to open divisional play for the Silver and Black.

Both teams are looking to get back into the win column after both losing on the road in Week 3.

Oakland (2-1) was humbled by the Redskins 27-10 in Washington on prime-time in a game that the Redskins held quarterback Derek Carr and the high-power Raiders offense to just 128 yards in 48 plays ran. The offense didn’t hit the 100-yard mark in total offense until the fourth quarter.

Carr had a game to forget, completing just 19-of-31 passes for 118 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions with a 52.9 passer rating. Tight end Jared Cook led all Oakland receivers with 43 yards on four receptions. Cook scored his first touchdown in a Raider uniform on a 21-yard pass from Carr.

Carr was also sacked four times, another rarity for the Silver and Black who only surrendered 16 sacks in 2016.  Oakland’s stout offensive line has already gotten Carr sacked six times this season through three games.

Oakland’s defense was paced by linebacker Cory James, who recorded a team-high 12 tackles and one forced fumble. Defensive end Khalil Mack recorded his second sack of the season while finishing with nine tackles on the night for Oakland, who allowed 472 yards offensively to Washington on Sunday night.

Washington starting quarterback Kirk Cousins torched the Raiders, passing for 365 yards and three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Cousins completed 25-of-30 passes and finished with a blistering 150.7 passer rating against Oakland, who couldn’t keep running back Chris Thompson at bay the entire night.

Thompson hauled in six receptions for 150 yards (74 yards coming on an easy pitch-and-catch

But the lack of production from Oakland’s top receivers was the real eye-popping issue from the game.

Washington’s secondary led by the trash-talking Josh Norman, the Redskins’ top cornerback, were in the faces of Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Washington held the duo in check, limiting Cooper and Crabtree to just two receptions for 13 yards on eight targets.

Crabtree and Cooper will have their work cut out for them again Sunday when they have Denver’s stellar pair of cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., lined up against them, especially when  Crabtree and Talib line up.

Who can forget when Talib ripped off Crabtree’s gold chain following a play in last year’s season finale, a 24-6 victory for the Broncos at home?

The Crabtree/Talib matchup could be the best one-on-one matchup within the game, and could prove to be the difference maker in a win for either team.

Denver (2-1) is coming off a 26-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Western New York last week. The Broncos defense recorded four sacks and held Buffalo to 272 yards of total offense. Linebacker Brandon Marshall recorded a team-high 10 tackles and one sack.

Outside linebacker Von Miller also posted a sack, but his 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on third-and-six after not helping up Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, which was an absolute joke, proved to be critical in aiding the Bills to victory.

The Broncos’ defense is one of the best in the league, ranking first in rushing yards per game allowed (59.7), fourth in total yards per game allowed (263), 10th in passing yards per game allowed (203.3) and 16th in points per game allowed (21.3) through three games.

Oakland has the ninth-best offense in the league, averaging 27 points per game.

Offensively, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas led Denver with six receptions for 98 yards, but quarterback Trevor Siemian didn’t pass the ball well, completing 24-for-40 passes for 259 yards and like Carr in Washington, threw two interceptions against the Bills.

Siemian finished with a 58.2 passer rating on the day.

With Kansas City sitting on top of the AFC West at 3-0 and both teams needing to keep pace, Sunday’s game is most certainly a must win.

After the embarrassing showing in Washington where many critics started to question the Raiders’ effort on national television, what team will show up in Denver?

The one that resembled a powerhouse team after vanquishing Tennessee and the New York Jets almost with ease?

Or the team that was hung upside down by their ankles in Washington, watching all of their lunch money spill out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland Raiders report: Khalil Mack named AP Defensive Player of the Year

Houston Texans running back Jonathan Grimes (41) carries the ball as the Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (52) looks to make the tackle during an NFL Wild Card Playoff game between the Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 in Houston. The Texans beat the Raiders 27-14. (Matt Patterson via AP)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

HOUSTON, TX — Oakland Raiders defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack took home the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award at the NFL Honor ceremony on Saturday night.

Mack would win his first career DPOY award over notable stars such as Giants safety Landon Collins, Denver pass rusher Von Miller, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and Seahawks thumping linebacker Bobby Wagner.

After a slow start to the 2016 season with just one sack in his first five games, Mack would go on a frenzy from mid-October through mid-December in which the former Buffalo standout would collect 10 sacks, 13 quarterback hits, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and a pick-six while helping the Silver & Black earn their first playoff berth since 2002.

Mack finished the season with 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, and one interception.

Mack leads the NFL with 11 fourth-quarter sacks since 2015. That season, Mack finished with 15 sacks and became the first player ever in NFL history to be named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team at two different positions.

The straw that stirs the drink for Oakland’s defense was responsible for 44 percent of the Raiders’ sacks, while his 26 quarterback hits were second only to Donald’s 31 this season, per NFL Research.