The Las Vegas Raiders are still in the playoff race thanks to Chandler Jones and Jakobi Meyers. They are hanging by a thread and are still alive. Coming into the game, we knew that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots defense were going to focus on Davante Adams, so who picked up the slack? Let’s analyze the Raiders’ receiving performance in their Week 15 matchup with the Patriots.
Where were Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow?Â
The Patriots’ defense did its job, keeping Adams in check on the day. Adams had a measly total of four catches for 28 yards. Give credit where credit is due, though; even on Adams’ targets, the Patriots’ defensive backsÂ did a good job of containing him. Adams was not allowed any separation because the Patriots were playing him as well as anyone could. Adams, however, had other effects on the game. The other receivers were able to match up to get desirable matchups, and they ultimately capitalized. Josh McDaniels needs to come up with more ways to feed him because four catches for him is still too few.
After being out for a few weeks, Hunter Renfrow returned to action. He played limited snaps, as he only had one reception for 14 yards. Renfrow wasn’t going to come in and play well right away, but there is one thing I would like to rant about. McDaniels rather than Renfrow is to blame for this, but why was he returning punts? Renfrow was McDaniels’ primary returner despite being fragile and coming off of an injury. This is absurd because doing so increases his vulnerability to injury. The Raiders must acquire a punt returner in the offseason; otherwise, they run the possibility of injuring one of their top players.
Mack Hollins, Keelan Cole, and Darren Waller had solid outings for the Raiders
For the Raiders’ receiving game, the trio of Mack Hollins, Keelan Cole, and Darren Waller looked solid. They were involved in all three of the Raiders’ offensive touchdowns and had a combined 10 catches for 138 yards. Waller was the first to score, receiving a 25-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to spark the Raiders’ offense. Waller’s best moment of the evening was that, but he ended up making a few more catches. Unfortunately, Waller did have a low point when he collided with Adams and disrupted Carr’s throw attempt. There was some obvious rust, but it was nice to see No. 83 healthy.
The attention Adams was receiving gave Hollins and Cole the opportunity to make some plays. As the second quarter was nearing its end, Hollins caught Carr’s second touchdown pass. In the Raiders’ two-minute drive that ended with the game-tying score, he also had a significant impact. Hollins helped the Raiders move the chains and advance down the field by making significant catches.
And if it wasn’t for Jones’ miraculous touchdown, Cole might have been the hero of the game. Cole was tied for the fewest targets among Raiders players who caught a ball, but he led the team in receiving yards. Cole’s final catch was definitely the biggest in his career thus far. With about 30 seconds left in the game, Carr threw a beautiful ball, and Cole caught it in the left corner of the end zone. The most impressive thing was that Cole was able to stay in bounds to secure the touchdown. And we don’t care if it was a catch and a touchdown. At this point, the NFL owes the Raiders a few calls. On a personal note, the catch reminded me of Michael Crabtree’s infamous â€œslice of blue” catch against the then San Diego Chargers.
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*Top Photo: AP Photo/David Becker