Do you remember the last time the Las Vegas Raiders were 3-0? I’m not surprised if many of you answered no because you have to go back to 2002. For those that couldn’t say yes, congratulations on finally getting to see it happen!
That’s right, folks! Your Raiders are still undefeated entering Week 4. It certainly has not been without its fair share of tribulations. The beginning of the game against the Miami Dolphins was downright ugly. The Raiders got themselves in a 14-0 deficit real quick. It is pretty easy to do when your quarterback throws a pick-six in the first quarter, the only blemish on another stellar day from Derek Carr.
The shock and awe of it all wore off quickly for Vegas, thanks to one of the most bizarre play calls you will ever see. The Dolphins backed up at their one decided to throw a screen at the Raiders’ best secondary player, Casey Hayward. Hayward torpedoed in and made the tackle in their own endzone for a safety.
Hayward’s veteran presence on this team has been crucial; he’s been one of the best cornerbacks in the league so far. Though most people knew Hayward was a good player when he signed with Vegas, apparently enough didn’t that someone asked him how he felt about proving people wrong. His answer was about as Raider as it gets with him saying he didn’t even know people were having that conversation at all.
Perryman has been a steal for the Raiders
The other defensive acquisition that is continuing to pay dividends is Denzel Perryman. In this game, he had ten solo tackles along with four assisted tackles for a ridiculous total of 14. At this point, it simply makes zero sense that anyone was willing to trade him. Chalk that up as a mistake that the Raiders are cashing in on.
Perryman’s game was great, but it wasn’t flawless. He had an unnecessary roughness penalty that extended a drive and missed a chance to seal the win in regulation. He gave up the game-tying touchdown when he got juked by a heck of a move from Jacoby Brissett. It was a reasonable whiff on Perryman despite the quarterback’s speed being the human equivalent of a snail.
Johnathan Abram was the second leading tackler behind Perryman and also was flying all over the field. Both players were physical intimidators all game long and set the tone for another bruising performance from the Vegas defense. Abram is possibly the most improved player on the team; Gus Bradley’s system is doing wonders for him.
Mistakes were made…
The one horrible defensive play to highlight was actually from Maxx Crosby, surprisingly. He had a roughing-the-passer penalty for which there is no excuse. Crosby took two steps after the ball was gone and fully extended his arms on the quarterback hit.
Mistakes will happen, especially from someone who’s spending so much time in the backfield, but that drive extending penalty was easily avoidable.
What about Derek Carr?
As for the offense, Derek Carr is playing like an MVP candidate yet again. In this game, he had 386 yards passing and two more touchdowns. Most importantly, he was clutch, leading the Raiders to the overtime victory.
Carr has been simply incredible this year. His 400 yards-a-game average pace is unlikely to continue, but Carr has been terrific at spreading the ball around in this offense. If you can get open, he will find you; even his detractors are quiet at this point.
He’s been getting a ton of help as well. Henry Ruggs III (four for 78 yards) and Bryan Edwards (three for 89 yards) have both been excellent late in games. They are one and two in the NFL for receptions after the third quarter.
Bryan Edwards leads the NFL with 163 receiving yards (on seven catches) in the fourth quarter and OT of games this season.— Jimmy Durkin (@Jimmy_Durkin) September 27, 2021
Second in the NFL?
Henry Ruggs III with 130 yards (on five catches). #Raiders
Both made clutch receptions late in this one. However, all of the jumping catches by Ruggs were straight-up spectacular. His sideline awareness has improved this year, and he’s learned how to high point his jump ball receptions. As for Edwards, he had the most important catch of the overtime period. The 34-yard reception got Vegas into Dolphins territory and helped set up the game-winning field goal.
That game-winning field goal more than made up for Daniel Carlson missing a crucial extra point attempt. It was hard not to complain about that miss, but Carlson has just been too good to get angry at him.
What about the rest of the offense?
That’s not even mentioning Hunter Renfrow with his nose for the end zone or Peyton Barber having a gigantic second half. This offense is seriously potent when the third-string running back can go over 100 yards rushing.
Barber is lucky to have Alec Ingold as his fullback, though. If it had not been for Ingold’s quick hands catching Barber’s goal-line fumble, who knows how this game would have ended up. It was great coaching to go right back to Ingold afterward for the touchdown reception.
Next up are the Los Angeles Chargers with the Raiders’ home away from home game. They will need Raider Nation to show up in droves because the Chargers are a legitimate team this year. They also are coming off a big-time upset of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Justin Herbert is looking like he will be an elite quarterback for the next decade, so there is no room for error for Vegas next week. If they can pull off the “away” game win and be 4-0, there may very well be an earthquake caused by the celebrating Raiders fans.
*Top Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images