Oakland Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans: Oakland Grades, Notes and Quotes

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2015

Oakland Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans: Oakland Grades, Notes and Quotes

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    The Oakland Raiders nearly blew their playoff hopes away, but they recovered in a resilient victory over the Tennessee Titans in a sloppy game at Nissan Stadium on Sunday.

    Raider Nation shouldn’t pound their chests in triumph, but let out a sigh of relief in a game that could’ve sent the team home with a 4-7 record.

    The first half ended with very little fireworks, but the drama increased with the rainfall in the second half.

    Oakland hung on to a slight lead over a hard-nosed defense and dominated time of possession throughout the contest. However, penalties and a wet football helped a late fourth-quarter surge for the Titans.

    After Tennessee took the lead with approximately four minutes and 13 seconds left in the game, quarterback Derek Carr faced a 90-yard drive for a score. He marched the offense down the field, and Titans’ cornerback B.W. Webb committed a defensive holding penalty on fourth down to extend the drive.

    Carr then capitalized with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts on a crisp route toward the end zone. Safety Nate Allen sealed the victory with an interception on the Titans’ final drive.

Position Grades for Raiders

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    Quarterbacks: A- 

    Statistically, Carr put together a solid passing performance. He went 24-of-37 for 330 yards and three touchdowns against the league’s No. 3 pass defense. However, he almost literally and figuratively allowed the game to slip through his hands. He fumbled a snap that put the Titans in good field position in the fourth quarter. 

    Running Backs: C-

    Latavius Murray helped grind the clock in the fourth quarter, but he averaged 2.6 yards per carry on 22 runs for 59 yards. The conditions on the field might have factored into a poor performance, but this is a production-based business—no room for excuses. He also dropped a pinpoint pass in the flat. 

    Wide Receivers: A

    Amari Cooper and Roberts eclipsed 100 receiving yards as Carr’s favorite targets. Michael Crabtree scored the Raiders' first touchdown on a corner route. The trio held on to the ball and made plays against a top-three secondary in less than ideal conditions.

    Tight Ends: C+

    Two out of three catches for the tight ends resulted in first downs. The tight ends didn’t present a huge factor as receivers but made plays when targeted.

    Offensive Line: A-

    The Titans only sacked Carr once in the pocket when he held on to the ball too long. Some spectators will also attribute blame to center Tony Bergstrom for two bobbled snaps. 

    In the beginning of the second quarter on a fourth down, Bergstrom’s snap wasn’t perfect, but what center hikes the ball with precise perfection on every down? In a critical fourth-quarter moment, Carr clearly mishandled the exchange.

    Defensive Line: A

    Khalil Mack played with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end and earned the name Mack Attack on Sunday, recording two sacks. The front four also took a stand in run defense, holding the Titans to fewer than 50 rushing yards and keeping Titans' mobile quarterback Marcus Mariota contained.

    Linebackers: B-

    Mariota targeted the Raiders linebackers in coverage as expected, but the group improved its play as the game progressed. Malcolm Smith led the team with 10 tackles.

    Defensive Backs: B-

    Cornerback T.J. Carrie committed two uncharacteristic penalties that resulted in first downs on the Titans’ final successful scoring drive.

    Cornerback Neiko Thorpe surrendered a touchdown and committed a costly penalty that pushed Tennessee to the one-yard line on a separate drive.

    On the other hand, cornerback David Amerson played his best game in a Raiders uniform. Safety Nate Allen closed the game with an interception.

    Special Teams: B 

    The Raiders blocked an extra point attempt on the Titans’ first score. Unfortunately Denico Autry's touchdown return was negated by Carrie’s illegal forward pass.

    Oakland’s new return specialist, Jeremy Ross, fumbled a kick return in the third quarter. Nonetheless, Marquette King’s punts forced the Titans into long drives for scores. 

    Coaching Staff: A-

    Many complained about the Raiders offense going conservative with more run plays and a three-point lead. However, in sloppy conditions against a top-three defense, it’s not a poor decision. 

    In the fourth quarter, the Raiders ran the ball four consecutive plays and were successfully grinding the clock as the Titans’ gift-wrapped first downs with penalties. On the fifth play, Carr’s mishandled snap gave Tennessee life with good field position.

    Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave also devised an effective passing attack to dissect a stingy secondary. 

    The coaching staff also deserves credit for starting Amerson over Hayden in pass defense. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. also made adjustments to tight end coverage, which forced Mariota to target his wideouts. 

Seth Roberts Best Performance

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    For the second time this season, Roberts scored the game-winning touchdown. Carr will receive a lot of credit for tossing the pass, but Roberts ran a crisp route to break free for the touchdown.

    He caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns in his most complete performance of the season.

    The Raiders continue to show faith in the young wideout over veteran wideout Rod Streater, and it paid off against a top-tier pass defense.

    Roberts shows exceptional talent as a dynamic offensive skill player, capable of blocking downfield and stretching the defense. 

Winning with More Penalties

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    Raider Nation should hold their gripes about referees and penalty calls.

    According to Associated Press writer Josh Dubow, the Raiders are 4-0 when committing 10 or more penalties.

    There’s no justification for undisciplined football, but penalties haven’t definitively affected the Raiders in terms of winning and losing games.

    Oakland finds ways to overcome sloppy play marred with fouls. The team committed 11 penalties for 94 yards on Sunday.

Amari Cooper Breaks Franchise Rookie Record

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    Cooper continues to rewrite history books with another 100-yard performance on Sunday. He broke the franchise record for most receiving yards by a rookie since James Jett (771 yards) in 1993, per the Raiders’ official Twitter handle.

    Cooper’s 115 receiving yards elevates him to 851 in total for the season. He logged his first 100-yard game since Week 7 against the San Diego Chargers. He should easily surpass 1,000 yards this season.

Del Rio on Amerson Starting over Hayden

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    Head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters he rewarded Amerson with a bigger role on Sunday due to his solid play, per San Jose Mercury News writer Jimmy Durkin.

    That’s a fair stance, but how about benching players who underperform? Cornerback D.J. Hayden has struggled for the majority of the season, and it just dawned on the coaching staff to limit his reps on pass defense 12 weeks into the season? 

    Personally, it seems Hayden’s first-round pick status kept him on the field in a prominent role, but Amerson shined on Sunday opposite Carrie as the best cornerback on the field. There’s no way Hayden should start over Amerson against the Kansas City Chiefs next week.

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    All statistics are provided by Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus and Team Rankings unless otherwise noted. 

    Oakland Raiders Week 12 play-by-play and statistics courtesy of NFL.com.