By Shawn Lealos
The Oakland Raiders opened the 2017 NFL season as one of the favorites to go all the way to the Super Bowl in the AFC, behind the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. However, after four games, the Raiders are now 2-2 and in third place in the AFC West. The loss in Week 4 was even tougher since the Raiders lost to their AFC West division rival Denver Broncos, 16-10. Oakland is off to a tough start in their divisional battles early in the season.
Here is a look at the Raiders’ team grades following their loss to the Broncos.
A lot of things went wrong for the Raiders offense this game, but the worst came when quarterback Derek Carr went down with a back injury in the third quarter. Broncos defender Adam Gotsis chased down Carr, who was scrambling when a play broke down, and Carr ended up bending his upper body in an awkward position. The fall caused back spasms, and Carr was unable to return in the game.
Before his injury, Carr was 10-of-18 passing for 143 yards and a touchdown pass to Johnny Holton. That pass was a beautiful play, and one of the only highlights for the Raiders offense as Holton raced down the field unopposed and outraced a safety to the end zone for a 64-yard score. E.J. Manuel took over and completed 11 of 17 passes for 106 yards and an interception.
Marshawn Lynch, who the Raiders thought would be a huge addition to their lineup, had his second terrible game. After carrying the ball six times for 18 yards in the loss to the Washington Redskins, he ran for just 12 yards on nine carries against the tough Broncos defense. Michael Crabtree missed the game with a chest injury. Cordarrelle Patterson led the team with six receptions, but only for 33 yards.
For the second game in a row, the Broncos managed only 16 points, however, while they lost to the Buffalo Bills last week, they were able to win this week over the Raiders with the same score. The Raiders limited Trevor Siemian to 179 passing yards and sacked him four times. Khalil Mack, last year’s sack leader, finished the game with two sacks and seven tackles, three for a loss.
Cory James led the team with 10 tackles, two for a loss, while Mario Edwards Jr. and Bruce Irvin each recorded a sack as well. The Raiders were not able to force a turnover in the game.
Special Teams: A
Giorgio Tavecchio remains perfect for the season, playing in place of the injured Sebastian Janikowski. He hit his only field goal attempt and his only point after attempt. Tavecchio is now six-for-six on the season in field goals and nine-for-nine on extra points. Marquette King was called on to punt six times, averaging an impressive 51 yards a punt and pinning the Broncos behind their own 20 twice.
The Raiders special teams coverage did well, limiting the Broncos to one 12-yard kick return and an average of 7.6 yards per punt return. On the other hand, Cordarrelle Patterson continues to be a huge weapon on kick returns, with a long return of 49 yards and a second return that went for 21 yards.
This was just a bad game for the Oakland Raiders. Even before Carr left injured, Oakland was losing 16-7 and couldn’t seem to move the ball at all. Outside of the one big pass play to Holton, there was nothing good about the Raiders offense in this game. The defense played much better but gave up 143 rushing yards. Oakland just didn’t seem ready to play the Broncos in Denver.
The Raiders play the Baltimore Ravens (2-2) next week in another afternoon game. The game returns to Oakland, where the Raiders are 1-0 on the season. It is also the first of three consecutive home games, which is important to note as the Raiders attempt to get their momentum back.