This past week, the Las Vegas Raiders’ secondary was put to the test by a lethal air raid offense lead by Patrick Mahomes. Keep in mind cornerback Damon Arnette didn’t play in Week 5 and this is his fifth career start. Meanwhile, Trayvon Mullen is a second-year starter, and Johnathan Abram is playing his 12th career game.Â
The Chiefs quarterback finished with 34 completions for 348 yards and two touchdowns. This pass defense isn’t considered a no fly zone by any means, but the defensive backs accomplished what they set out to do: don’t get beat deep (except for the last play) and tackle.
The Raiders secondary mostly took away the long pass
The Raiders are notorious for their leaky pass defense, so it was imperative to keep the lid on the offense for 60 minutes. The secondary did just that by keeping Mahomes and his track team of wide receivers contained all night long. When the Chiefs’ quarterback threw the ball 10 yards or less, he completed 25 of 27 passes including one touchdown.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill completed the touchdown running a jet sweep. When throwing the ball more than 10 yards downfield, he only completed 9 of 16 passes for one touchdown and one interception. The Mullen interception was well played on a slight miss-throw by Mahomes before the half.
The longest completion for Mahomes was his last one, the dagger to Travis Kelce in the middle of the end zone. Before that touchdown, he was 0-of-4 on throws over 20 yards. If Abram doesn’t come up on that last play, Mahomes wouldn’t have a completion over 20 yards this game. That’s unheard of for this defense. If the Raiders can stop giving up long passing plays, that will be extremely beneficial in the playoffs. Those momentum plays are difference makers in close games.
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This group knows how to tackle
An underrated strength of this young secondary is their ability to tackle. Abram led the team with 10 tackles, seven solo and three assisted. This isn’t surprising, as we’ve quickly grown accustomed to seeing Abram fly around the field. Mullen, Lawson, and Arnette combined for 17 tackles, an impressive feat for a cornerback unit. In total, the Raiders’ secondary combined for 34 of the 66 tackles made on Sunday. It is evident that Gruden loves defensive backs that can tackle. This unit is changing the culture of this defense and the Mississippi State standout is the heartbeat of this team.
This young core played big on prime time and put the league on notice. They will have their hands full next week when they face Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. The Raiders are facing a must win and will have to slow down another arial assault featuring one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. No doubt the Raiders will come prepared and hungry.
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