NaVorro Bowman is so good in coverage, he can pick a pass off lying down.
Yes, that’s said in jest.
But that’s exactly how the Oakland Raiders’ first interception occurred this past Sunday against the Denver Broncos. It was the most Raider-like pick — ever.
With Denver a mere yard from paydirt, Bowman diagnosed a play-action pass and his diving effort on Paxton Lynch’s dart to tight end Virgil Green missed. Safety Reggie Nelson got his mitts on the ball and the pigskin ricocheted towards the turf.
And there was the former San Francisco 49er linebacker — once lauded for supreme pass coverage skills — lying on is back in the end zone. One outstretched big left paw shot out and secured the ball — interception No. 1 for the Raiders.
“I was 0-for-0 in that column, too, so to bring the morale to the defense, I’m sure all the veteran guys were trying to get an interception too since the season started. It was great to knock that one down,” Bowman said after the game. “I was in panic mode. The play-fake that came up, I realized it was a pass, so I used a guard to push out of there and run and find the guy that was open. That wasn’t my man. I just dove to break it up and landed on my back and the ball was there.”
How bad was the interception drought? Oakland had gone 357 pass attempts before snatching their first pick of the season.
Let’s hit those quick slants with lightning speed:
Cordarrelle Patterson channeling Beast Mode to clinch the game was eye-opening. The wide receiver scampered expertly underneath a Derek Carr ‘desperation’ toss on 3rd-and-8, broke several tackles and rumbled 54 yards. It allowed the two-minute warning to hit and sealed the game for Oakland.
Denico Autry’s fake-out for a sack was sick. The defensive lineman feigned a rush to confuse a Denver guard before Autry pushed him aside to get his second sack of the game. Autry’s first sack was a display of brute power as he discarded a Broncos lineman like trash. Some nice film for a player hitting the unrestricted free agency market this offseason.
Bruce Irvin got after it. The two-sack afternoon was an effort Oakland expects every game day when it inked the linebacker in free agency. The speedy edge rusher used his athleticism and straight-line wheels to overwhelm blockers.
Is John Pagano the defensive fixer? Paxton Lynch’s ineffectiveness made the Raiders defense appear stout. But as soon as Siemian entered the game, it was a different story as he finished 11 for 21 for 149 yards and two touchdowns. The performance against Siemian was the same Ken Norton Jr. headed. Still, Oakland did have five sacks and a pick.
Jack Del Rio should have thrown the challenge flag in the fourth quarter. The play in question was Jamaal Charles’ fumble on 2nd-and-10 with Denver on their own 36. Nicholas Morrow’s sound tackle jarred the ball loose with Bowman recovering. It appeared Charles made a football move despite the official’s original call. Eight plays later, Denver scored a touchdown.
Karl Joseph let interception No. 2 go right through his fingers. The second-year safety could have driven a stake right through the Broncos’ heart if he had come up with the pick in the fourth quarter. Instead, Trevor Siemian kept Denver’s hopes alive.
Giorgio Tavecchio’s miss made the score a little too close for comfort. The Italian southpaw kicker was off the mark on a 35-yard boot and Denver scored on the ensuing drive to make it 21-14.
Marquette King continues to flip the field. The Raiders’ big-boomer of a punter dropped four of his six punts inside the 20-yard line to pin Denver. Compare that to Broncos’ boot specialist Riley Dixon’s eight punts, none of which fell inside the Raiders’ 20.
Scary hit on Amari Cooper. But it’s difficult to pin the blame solely on Denver safety Darian Stewart. Yes, Stewart laid the hit — a shoulder blow — to Coop. But it was Cooper who lowered his head and Carr throwing the ball high and outside.
My thoughts on the Michael Crabtree-Aqib Talib skirmish? The Broncos corner again yanked the Raiders wide out’s chain off and all hell broke loose. Talib’s whiff on a punch attempt was comical though. Not the first time a Talib “shot” was off the mark, if you catch my drift.
Johnny Holton says FU to the No Fly Zone. The speedster once again torched the vaunted Broncos secondary for a 47-yard bomb from Carr. Holton did have to slow on his route to jump and haul in the pass, but the damage had been done.
Quotes Of Note:
“It was a vicious hit, the kind we’re trying to remove from our game, quite frankly. You see less and less of those. I’m sure the league will take a hard look at it. Those are the kinds of impact hits that don’t need to be a part of our game right now. The guy is clearly defenseless and got targeted right in the head. There’s a chance to hit in the strike zone and be somewhere else and not be there like that.”
— Head Coach Jack Del Rio on the hit to wide receiver Amari Cooper
“The way the linebacker played it, I had to throw it where I had to throw it. But anytime he gets hit, I feel terrible. Rodney (Hudson) saw it on my face and said, ‘Hey man, shake it off. We gotta win this game.’ I was like, ‘You’re right, I’ll be good.’ But that’s my brother. I hope that he will be okay, I know he will – I talked to him.”
— Quarterback Derek Carr on his throw to wide receiver Amari Cooper
“All we can control is to go out there and practice our butts off and come out there and get this win. You win, it takes care of everything.”
— Linebacker Bruce Irvin