GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Raiders lost five straight by at least 14 points heading into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
They snapped that streak, and not just with a close loss.
The Raiders actually won. For real.
We typically hand out Fs by the bushel in this space, but not tonight, my friends. Not tonight.
The Raiders were far from perfect, but still did several things well in this win. Here’s the report card from the Valley of the Sun.
The Raiders were committed to the run against the Cardinals, and it paid off in spades. Running backs Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Doug Martin rushed 33 times for 152 yards. That’s 4.6 yards per carry, a strong effort that gave the Raiders a balanced offense for once.
The offensive line opened holes and the backs burst right through them to keep the offense moving. Good job all around by the ground game.
Derek Carr didn’t pile up stats, but he completed passes at critical times. That was especially true on the game-winning field goal drive. He worked with the bottom of the depth chart, but still made plays with depth receivers Marcell Ateman and Seth Roberts, as well as Jared Cook.
The pass protection was spotty at best, and the entire operation needs to be cleaner. But, these guys got the job done when it counted Sunday.
After a terrible first drive, the Raiders did a solid job corralling star Cardinals running back David Johnson. All it takes, however, is one bad play to ruin a day. That came on a 55-yard run by Johnson that set up a go-ahead score with five minutes left.
In all, the Raiders allowed 154 yards on 31 carries, which will get you beat in most scenarios. Just not Sunday.
The Raiders secondary delivered on Sunday with interceptions from defensive backs Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph. Both takeaways created great field position and resulted in Raiders touchdowns.
Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was awful, and completed only 9-of-20 passes for 136 yards thanks to errant throws and some solid coverage from the Raiders secondary.
Daniel Carlson nailed the first game-winning field goal of his career as time expired. That’s all you need to get an ‘A.’
The rookie from Auburn is coming on strong the past few weeks. He could be a long-term answer at kicker if he keeps this up.
A cynic would say the Raiders blew it by winning, hurting their draft position in an already lost season. That’s not how the players and coaches think. They wanted to win and were able to.
It might not happen much the rest of the year, so they have to bask in this victory.