It should’ve been a simple matter for the Las Vegas Raiders to take care of business against the New York Jets. However, this team doesn’t like to make things easy and needed an epic collapse by the Jets to win. This meltdown’s so epic, it would lead one to believe the Jets lost on purpose. It certainly looks that way, but this one goes in the win column nonetheless. Chalk one up for the good guys.
Still, the Silver and Black had their share of trouble with the Jets, who played hard and certainly wouldn’t be winless with a more competent coaching staff. What positional groups for the Raiders shined, and which ones were simply dull?
The Raiders on Offense
Derek Carr had a terrific game, going 28-of-47 yards for 381 yards and three touchdowns. His lone interception was a ball that wide receiver Henry Ruggs should’ve caught, but bounced off his hands into the chest of a Jets defender. On the other hand, the quarterback went to tight end Darren Waller early and often.
Also, Carr threw a dart of a touchdown to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow with under two minutes left. The referees wiped it out but it was a heck of a pass. Despite a few overthrows late in the game, the quarterback then capped off the Raiders’ comeback win with a drop-in-the-bucket throw to ’11’ he couldn’t have placed better. The Raiders had no running game on Sunday, and they leaned heavily on Carr, who came up big.
The Raiders were without Josh Jacobs today, and boy did they miss him. Devontae Booker was stopped at the line over and over by the stout Jets front seven, which is very good against the run. He ended the game with 50 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, running back Jalen Richard had a few nice runs, and Carr himself ran for a short touchdown. Nevertheless, this was not a great game for the rushers overall.
Of Carr’s 381 passing yards, over half of them went to Waller. The tight end hauled 13 passes for an even 200 yards and two touchdowns. That is the sixth-best single-game receiving total for a tight end in NFL history, and it’s a shame his massive achievement will be drowned out by the hubbub over the finish to this game. Waller is an amazing talent and the Jets had no answer for him in this game. Put some respect on his name.
Ruggs also finished with a respectable stat line of three catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, the game-winner. He could have had a much better day if his hands were more reliable. Instead, he had to redeem himself for causing two turnovers by burning undrafted corner Lamar Jackson (no relation) to a crisp. Nelson Agholor and Hunter Renfrow were their normal reliable selves, and the Raiders are lucky to have them both.
As mentioned previously, the Jets have a very good front seven. Quinnen Williams, the hulking defensive tackle, is showing why the Jets took him so highly in the 2019 Draft. The Raiders’ line couldn’t open up many holes for the running game today and allowed a pair of sacks. Carr mostly had plenty of time to throw, and the Raiders used several long-developing routes to great effect against the Jets.
Gregg Williams sent the house on the Raiders’ last play, with eight men blitzing and three covering. It did not work, because none of those eight blitzers managed to get pressure on Carr, who was able to step up and make a great throw. For that alone, the line deserves some kudos.
The Raiders defense
This was something of a coming-out party for Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell. The Clemson standout has become an indispensable part of the defensive line. He had two strip-sacks of Sam Darnold to go with six tackles, three hits, and a pass deflection. He was an absolute monster in Week 13 and even Jets’ first-round tackle Mekhi Becton, who has been terrific this year, couldn’t handle him.
Maxx Crosby also had a good game and got plenty of pressure on Darnold with his hustle and high motor. Raiders defensive tackles Maurice Hurst, Kendall Vickers, and Jonathan Hankins had trouble with the Jets’ rushing attack, but the offense did them no favors with a few short drives in a row, allowing the defense to wear down and get tired. That very nearly led to a Jets win.
It was a rough day for the Raiders’ linebackers all around, as they struggled against the run and the pass. The Jets ran for over 200 yards, mostly because of bad linebacker and safety play. Also, Darnold picked the unit apart with short passes. One bright spot was Nicholas Morrow’s sack on the Jets quarterback, but this group must figure some things out before the Indianapolis Colts game.
It seems like every week this is a tough unit to grade because they are always missing someone. In Week 13, they were without safety Johnathan Abram. Then, cornerback Damon Arnette got hurt on the first play after a helmet-to-helmet collision with running back Frank Gore. Cornerback Trayvon Mullen was his usual fantastic self, pulling in a one-handed interception which led to a Raiders field goal, but the lack of Abram was a serious problem for the Raiders and Darnold had very little resistance on most of his passes.
Daniel Carlson was good as always and Hunter Renfrow had some solid punt returns. The Raiders’ kick coverage could have been better, but it was solid enough.
The Raiders simply need to get healthy on both sides of the ball, as this is not the same team without Johnathan Abram, Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown, or Damon Arnette starting. They got a win against the Jets, which is all that matters, but there are tougher challenges ahead.
Overall Team Grade: C+
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Top Photo: Noah K. Murray/Associated Press