What many chalked up as an easy win before the season turned into a losing battle for the Las Vegas Raiders in New York on Sunday, as anything that could go wrong for Las Vegas did go wrong, and the New York Giants played arguably their best game of the year.
Extenuating circumstances aside, there were some pretty clear winners and losers from this game. So who took advantage of the spotlight, and who wasn’t ready for prime time?
While Jones didn’t put up massive numbers against the Raiders defense, he was efficient with his opportunities. Jones went 15 of 20 for 110 yards and New York’s only offensive score of the game, a 30-yard strike to tight end Evan Engram. Jones did not make the big mistakes he typically does, which could have swung the game to the Raiders.
There was one reason that Jones didn’t put up massive numbers on Sunday. That was becauseÂ BookerÂ and the Giants’ running game shredded the Raiders, which made passing unnecessary. Booker, who served admirably during his Raiders stint, rushed 21 times for 99 yards and added 23 yards on three catches. The Raiders defense had no answer for him, and one wonders how much worse it could have been if a healthy Saquon Barkley had played.
Andre James/Alex LeatherwoodÂ
Until the final play of the game, Derek Carr kept a clean jersey as he was able to look downfield from a clean pocket. Early in the season, James and Leatherwood proved to be serious liabilities, making the front office’s choice to dismantle the Raiders’ vaunted offensive line look like a foolish decision. But halfway through the season, James is playing at a high level (he was PFF’s top-rated center on Sunday), and Leatherwood is coming into his own at guard. O-line was a huge concern early in the year, but at this point, it’s the least of the Raiders’ concerns as Tom Cable works his magic yet again.
With Henry Ruggs III out of the picture, someone has to get those extra targets, and Renfrow seems to be the receiver that Carr trusts the most. Renfrow caught seven passes for 49 yards and a score. While he won’t be able to replace Ruggs, he is the reason the Raiders don’t usually bog down on third and long. Renfrow is a legitimate fantasy option and a fan favorite for his efforts on the field despite looking like an encyclopedia salesman.
Carr said after the game that this loss was on him, and he was right. Carr threw two back-breaking interceptions and also overthrew Darren Waller for a sure touchdown before halftime in New York. It’s clear that Carr missed having a true deep threat on the field, but he was off all day, misfiring on throws he normally makes. His head was not in the game.
It would have been a great time for Bryan Edwards to step up and assume the role of the alpha receiver on the Raiders team against the Giants, but instead, he failed to catch any of the four passes thrown his way and failed to make an impact. His lack of ability to separate from defensive backs is a problem.
Had the Raiders been able to punch it in on more of the six red zone visits they had, they would have been victorious in the game. Instead, they had to keep settling for field goals, one of which was a missed chip shot. Greg Olson’s offense has been effective this season. However, red zone difficulties will turn wins into losses. Olson must find a way to make the Raiders more dangerous close to the goal line.
AFC Playoff Contenders
It was a crazy day for many of the teams looking to make the AFC Playoff bracket. The Bills lost to the Jaguars, the Bengals were blown out by the Browns, and the Chiefs barely held on against a Rodgers-less Packers. The Titans, despite the loss of Derrick Henry, blew out the Rams on the road and might be the best team in the AFC until they lose inexplicably to some bottom-feeder again. TheÂ AFC is as wide openÂ as it’s ever been.
*Top Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images