The Oakland Raiders couldn’t stop the Ravens. However, the offense was so good that it didn’t matter as the Raiders won in a shootout, 37-33. One week removed from a performance where no one could do anything right on either side of the ball, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave did a very good job of picking the Ravens defense apart. Meanwhile, Oakland’s defense did everything it could to ensure that the Ravens remained in the game.
To start the game and then again to start the second half, the Raiders jumped out to a 10-point lead. Both times, the defense allowed the Ravens to answer and tie or take the lead. Early in the second half it became clear that this might be one of those games where whoever had the ball last would get the win. On this Sunday, it was the Raiders who had the last bite at the apple and Derek Carr did not disappoint.
Trailing 33-30 with just over two minutes left in the game, Carr led the Raiders on a nine-play, 80-yard drive to score a touchdown with less than 30 seconds left. Aside from an interception Carr should learn from, the second-year quarterback had a very good game. Carr completed 65% of his passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns, and he looked pretty good doing so. Unlike last week, when Carr stared down his targets and looked jittery in the pocket, this week he went through his progressions and stood tall in the face of the rush.
The Raiders also had a big game from their two newest receivers, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Cooper caught seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown while Crabtree caught nine passes for 111 yards and a touchdown of his own. Carr leaned hard on both of these guys and both responded.
The offense rebounded from a poor showing against Cincinnati, but their counterparts on defense failed to answer the call themselves. The defense still failed to get any pressure on the opposing quarterback and now have two games in the books with zero sacks tallied. The Raiders have done a decent job of stopping other teams from running the ball up the gut, but that’s about all they’ve done. They still let running backs bounce outside for big gains, and far too many receivers are getting wide open.
When he was hired, some worried that Ken Norton Jr. was good at motivating players but not so good at creating a defensive scheme and calling plays. Through two weeks, those concerns are beginning to look justified. Norton has done nothing to make adjustments to his game plan and the defense still looks totally lost at times. Twice the Raiders were flagged for having 12 defenders on the field and continued to ignore the fact that yes, the tight end is eligible to catch the ball. That’s a sign of a team that is lacking solid direction from their defensive coordinator.
A record of 1-1 after taking on two teams that — theoretically — are competitors for playoff spots is probably the best one could have hoped for going into the season. The defense clearly has a lot to work on, but if the offense continues to play the way they did today, this team should at least be competitive.