Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens Full Report Card Grades for Oakland
In another seesaw road matchup, the Oakland Raiders pulled out a third consecutive road victory for the season. We should address this team as the Road Raiders due to their exceptional play, despite traveling more miles than some teams will venture all year.
Nonetheless, the Silver and Black matched offensive scoring onslaughts and droughts with a previously undefeated Baltimore Ravens team. Both clubs started with senseless penalties, but the Raiders broke the ice after Jalen Richard’s 47-yard punt return.
Similar to the previous week against the Tennessee Titans, the Raiders went into the locker room at halftime with a comfortable lead and returned out of sync. Oakland gained five total yards in the third quarter, which suggests the offense took its feet off the pedal.
Down the stretch, the Raiders defense started to fissure in the fourth quarter. Wideout Steve Smith Sr. secured critical catches, including a 52-yard touchdown reception, to keep his team alive.
Nonetheless, the Raiders thwarted the Ravens’ bid for a comeback with a stop on their final offensive drive, a few yards outside kicker Justin Tucker’s range. Oakland didn’t paint a perfect picture but provided enough strokes to put the finishing touches on a victory.
We’ll go through each positional unit and the coaching staff with final grades.
Once again, Derek Carr finished with a near-squeaky-clean road test. He didn’t load the box score with passing yards but completed big throws in critical moments. He drilled wideout Michael Crabtree between the numbers on three occasions for touchdowns in some tight windows.
Despite a sluggish start on the first couple of drives, he went 25-of-35 passing for 199 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 71 percent of his passes and willed the Raiders to victory with his arm against a top-five defense.
However, someone must tell Carr to slide feet first, not head on. He’s too valuable to risk in potential head-on collisions.
The running backs failed to supplement the offense and fell short at pivotal points throughout the game. Latavius Murray averaged 2.3 yards per carry on eight rushing attempts and 19 yards. He also chose the wrong lane on a few carries, which led to minimal gain.
The Ravens stuffed Jamize Olawale on 3rd-and-1 for his only carry in the contest. Rookie DeAndre Washington broke loose for a 28-yard run to set up a touchdown. However, he fumbled on his own 17-yard line, which put the Ravens in the position to score four plays later.
Richard’s major contribution happened on special teams, which has its own category.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
Wideout Amari Cooper has yet to score a touchdown this season. The Ravens did a good job at keeping him in check on Sunday; he finished with 48 receiving yards. Tight end Clive Walford flashed his 50-50 hands again with an open-field drop and a much-needed catch at the Ravens’ 23-yard line. Seth Roberts put the Raiders on the scoreboard first with his touchdown reception.
Oakland activated tight end Mychal Rivera, but he only logged one catch for one yard, despite Lee Smith’s early absence and Walford's late exit.
Crabtree lifts this unit to a solid B grade. He logged his first three-touchdown performance of his eight-year career. The Ravens didn’t have an answer for the savvy vet, and he made them pay at every turn.
The offensive line kept Carr off the ground and shielded him from a re-energized defense. Defensive linemen Terrell Suggs and Timmy Jernigan came into the contest with three sacks apiece, but the Raiders paid their Carr insurance. Four of the five players across the line turned in grade-A performances.
The fifth lineman, rookie Vadal Alexander, didn’t allow a sack, but he committed four infractions which drops the grade to a B-plus. The LSU product couldn’t follow up last week’s solid performance with another gem. He held defenders, and the crowd seemed to take him off his game as shown on his false start infractions.
Denico Autry couldn’t wrap up quarterback Joe Flacco for a sack, but he pressured the pocket on multiple occasions. Second-round pick Jihad Ward still plays as a nondescript defender without much impact on the final outcome.
The Ravens benched running back Justin Forsett and listed him inactive. Terrance West handled the load and poked holes in the defensive line through four quarters. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry with 21 rush attempts for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Khalil Mack logged his first sack for the season and could’ve dropped Flacco on two or three more snaps without offensive tackle James Hurst literally holding him back. It’s a good sign to see the Raiders’ best defender draw penalties and force the opposing quarterback to run for his life.
Prior to this contest, we looked for Mack to flash as a ferocious pass-rusher, and he dominated his matchup against a backup left tackle.
At one point, sixth-round pick Cory James handled green dot responsibilities with the communication device in his helmet. Malcolm Smith hobbled off the field with a groin injury, which caused shifting among the linebackers. Ben Heeney and Daren Bates saw extra snaps at weak-side linebacker.
James outperformed his counterparts at the position. He covered the middle of the field as a run and pass defender with 15 tackles (12 solo), a tackle for a loss and a forced fumble. His play also contributed to containing the Ravens' leading receiver coming into the game, tight end Dennis Pitta.
James deserves the spotlight among the linebackers, but Bruce Irvin also clobbered Flacco for a strip sack in Ravens’ territory.
Why’s there a minus next a sparkling linebackers performance? Fullback Justin Juszczyk leaked out of the backfield for six receptions and 56 yards.
The cornerbacks allowed Smith to score a crucial 52-yard touchdown which kept the Ravens alive. Overall, he logged eight catches for 111 yards and a score.
James deserves ample praise for his play in the middle of the field, but rookie safety Karl Joseph covered the Ravens sideline to sideline and shadowed the tight end on occasion down the seam. His numbers don’t jump off the page, but he’s part of the remedy to contain receiving tight ends once they dig into the secondary.
Aside from a two-point conversion, the defensive backs didn’t allow wide receiver Mike Wallace to beat the defense with chunk yards. Sean Smith also logged an interception on another two-point conversion attempt.
Among the running backs, Richard provided the most impact on the game, which happened in the first quarter. He returned a punt into Ravens’ territory and Carr proceeded to march downfield for the score.
Punter Marquette King entertained the fans with his rendition of the Ray Lewis dance. More importantly, he pinned the Ravens offense inside the 20-yard line on four out of eight punts. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski converted on all four extra-point attempts.
Devin Hester returned a punt for 60 yards, but the advantageous positioning only led to a field goal.
No one calls a perfect game, and the Raiders finished with a victory.
However, between offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and head coach Jack Del Rio, someone has to keep the offense rolling after halftime. Similar to last week, the Raiders came out of the locker room sluggish and disoriented for the third quarter. Overall, the team accumulated five yards in their first 15 minutes in the second half.
Defensively, the Raiders gave up too much ground before halftime. The Ravens took advantage and scored a field goal. In the fourth quarter, the back end of the defense seemed to fall apart but managed to regroup on the final drive.
It’s not all bad for the coaching staff, but the Raiders can’t continue to switch from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde depending on the quarter. It’s all about consistency with playoff-caliber teams.
On a brighter note, Carr looks comfortable in Musgrave’s system. His nine touchdowns and one interception show proof of continuity between the quarterback and coordinator. Say what you want about Musgrave’s missteps, but he’s tailoring an effective design for an ascending quarterback in this league.
The fire Ken Norton Jr. campaign takes another hit as the defense stifled the tight ends and finished the game with a stop while the Ravens held momentum. Despite surrendering yards late, it’s a step in the right direction for Norton’s defense.
Box score stats provided by NFL.com.
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