Five plays that decided the Raiders' fate against the Lions

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Five plays that decided the Raiders' fate against the Lions

OAKLAND -- Still looking for something, anything on which to focus your rage, Raider Nation, after the Raiders' kick-in-the-teeth 28-27 loss to Detroit?Look no further.Sunday's white-knuckle defeat could be traced to five game-turning plays, in which the Raiders came up empty and could not close the door on the Lions. With hindsight always being 2020 and everyone a revisionist historian, a look back, then, at what could have been, what, in the Raiders' view, should have been

Play 1: Going for it on 4th and 1 in the first quarterThe Raiders had driven with seeming ease from their own 31-yard line to the Lions' 24 on their first possession but faced a 4th-and-1 with 9:01 to play in the first quarter.Knowing the importance of getting off to a quick start and getting on the scoreboard early after falling behind by a cumulative 68-0 in his last two games, at Miami and at Green Bay, Raiders coach Hue Jackson, ahem, lived on the edge and went for it. Carson Palmer dropped back and tried to hit rookie receiver Denarius Moore in the end zone. But Moore was held up by cornerback Chris Houston as he ran down field (no, there was no flag) and Palmer put just a little too much on the ball as it fell incomplete."The guy grabbed him early," Palmer said. "I don't know, that's a tough call to make. But that's completely on me. I need to give them a chance to score a touchdown there."Jackson defended his play call."I thought that was a penalty," Jackson said. "Obviously, they didn't call it. What I saw, from what my vantage point is, I seen the guy grab, kind of hook Denarius, and to me you have to take that shot. It looked and the guy was wide open. If you're going to do it, it's good to do it early in the game so it doesn't determine the outcome of the game."Obviously every play now will get questioned that is the reason why we did or didn't win, but we're going to stay aggressive. We took a shot there, I thought we had a good chance at it but we didn't hit it. We came up short."True, but had the Raiders kicked the relatively chip-shot 41-yard field goal, they would have had 30 points, or, two points more than the Lions finished with on the day.Play 2: DHB getting strippedA week after dropping three passes in the first quarter against the Packers, Darrius Heyward-Bey had the game of his life in catching a career-high eight passes for a career-best 155 yards.He streaked by Houston for a 43-yard touchdown catch and run when Houston made like it was a friendly game of two-hand touch in the second quarter. But in the third quarter, in hauling in a deep pass and taking off for the races, Heyward-Bey was caught from behind by linebacker Justin Durant, who stripped the ball loose at the Lions' 15-yard line.The football bounded about and was recovered at the Detroit 8-yard line by cornerback Alphonso Smith.So what, exactly happened on the fumble?"You saw it," Heyward-Bey said.If the Raiders don't lose the ball there, they are sitting pretty near the Lions' 10-yard line. And at the very least, a chippy Janikowski field goal gives Oakland another three points.It all made for a bittersweet day for Heyward-Bey."I don't think about what kind of game I played," he said. "I just think about how we lost."And his fumble contributed mightily.Play 3: Not going for '2' following Curry's touchdownTommy Kelly's strip-sack of Matthew Stafford at the Detroit 5-yard line preceded Aaron Curry's recovery and six-yard return for a touchdown that seemed to seal the game with 7:47 to play.But with the Raiders up by 12 points, 26-14, Jackson declined to go for the two-point conversion that, if successful, would have given the Raiders the true two-touchdown lead and, would have probably led to overtime.Kicking the extra-point was the same difference as missing the two-point attempt."Yup, you just kick it, you go for one," Jackson insisted. "There's a time to go for 'two' and there's a timeto me, I thought going for 'one' in that situation is the right thing to do, O.K.?"WellPlay 4: Carson Palmer throws deep incompletion on 3rd and 3 late in the fourth quarterIt worked to perfection against Chicago four weeks earlier.This time? Not so much.Needing three yards to salt the game away from the Lions' 48-yard line with 3:32 to play and nursing the six-point lead, Palmer tried to hit a streaking and wide open Chaz Schilens down the right sideline. Schilens got a hand on it, but the ball was a tad flat and just missed Schilens by half a step."I put too much on the ball," Palmer said. "I need to give him a better chance to make a play on it. That's a game-changing play."Against the Bears, the Raiders were facing 3rd-and-4 at the 50 with 3:59 to play when Palmer threw the ball to the same spot. That time, though, the ball was delivered perfectly and Louis Murphy hauled it in at the 3-yard line and one play later, Michael Bush plunged in for the game-winning score.Play 5: Um, Rolando McClain in deep coverage on Megatron. Seriously?I'll admit it: I Tweeted a Joe Montana reference as the Lions set up shop on their own 2-yard line with 2:14 to play and no timeouts left needing a touchdown to win -- isthatjohncandyinthestands?It could have been worse, I suppose. I could have made a John Elway reference.In any event, the Raiders middle linebacker finding himself in deep coverage on Calvin Johnson was a thing of beautyfor the Lions.On 1st and 10 from his own 39-yard line, Matthew Stafford lofted a high ball in the general vicinity of Johnson. The throw was short, but with McClain looking lost and oncoming safety Jerome Boyd not looking back at the ball, Johnson came back to it and easily caught it for a 48-yard gain to the Raiders' 13-yard line.So again, yes, McClain was in deep coverage on the most physically imposing and gifted receiver in the NFL."Go make that play," Jackson huffed. "It isn't a scheme issue. The ball's laying up in the air, you've got to go make that play when you've got an opportunity. Their guy made it and we didn't, so they won the game."
OK, but McClain, running 40-plus yards downfield?"Yeah, that's called the 2 Tampa," Jackson insisted. "That's what the middle linebacker does -- he runs right down the middle of the field. They made the play and we didn't."Two plays later, Stafford hit Johnson from six yards out for the game-tying score before Jason Hanson's PAT proved to be the winning point.Boyd had a similar experience on a hanging pass in Houston on Oct. 9.On 3rd and 23 from the Raiders 39-yard line, Matt Schaub floated a pass downfield and rather than make a play on the ball, Boyd made a play on Joel Dreessen, who hauled the ball in at the 5-yard line. That time, though, Michael Huff stepped up and made the play for the Raiders, intercepting Schaub in the end zone to end the game.Oh yeah, Huff was inactive with a strained hamstring against the Lions.

Notes: In-game adjustments help Raiders slow Bills run game late

Notes: In-game adjustments help Raiders slow Bills run game late

OAKLAND – It’s impossible to say the Raiders stopped LeSean McCoy. The Buffalo Bills running back had 130 yards on just 17 carries, averaging 7.6 yards per rush.

He was shifty as advertised, hard to bring down especially in open space. He killed the Raiders early on, suffocating them with a steady dose of his rushing style.

They couldn’t stop him at all. Until they made some changes that put more bodies around the ball, dared the Bills to throw deep and came at McCoy in waves.

“We saw how they were trying to attack us,” linebacker Malcolm Smith said. “We found a way to protect ourselves and be in better position to make plays.”

It took some time to figure out, but McCoy started slowing down late in the third quarter. He had 14 carries for 127 yards until he cramped up later in the third quarter, and didn’t do much on the ground after that.

“He’s one of the best in the business,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He made life difficult for us, but we settled in and got the stops we needed to get a nice victory.”

Stopping the run was key to it. Stopping, of course, remains a relative term. Buffalo ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns and, at times didn’t need to pass to move downfield and score.

The Bills offense got bottled up in the third quarter, with three straight three-and-outs that put Buffalo into passing situations where they struggle and the Raiders pass rush can make a profound effect.

“They showed what type of team they are,” McCoy said. “They got stops when they needed stops and scored when they needed to. …I just felt like this is a game we had in our hands that we let slip away.

Carr’s pinky is fine, thank you: Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was taken off the injury report after this practice week. He wasn’t questionable or doubtful after dislocating his pinky in two spots last week versus Carolina. He was going to play.

He didn’t wear a glove on his ailing digit, though he sported a splint of some sort during the game. He had his throwing hand’s pinky and ring fingers taped together in a postgame press conference – it’s that way much of the time – but insisted it caused zero issues during Sunday’s game. The Raiders played all but one snap from the shotgun and pistol, but Carr bristled at questions whether his finger limited the offense in any way.

Proof is in a 97.3 passer rating, 260 yards passing, two touchdown and no picks. He was rarely inaccurate, and played well throughout the game.

Carr had his left hand examined after a planned run, but never missed a snap and came out of the game just fine.

“It really didn’t (impact me),” Carr said. “If I missed a throw it was just because of me to be honest. They took me off the injury report for a reason. It was not affecting me at all. Just leaving it taped for precautionary, just to be safe.”

Marquette gets flagged: Raiders punt Marquette King feels so good after a punt goes well that he just has to dance. That’s why he busted out the Pee Wee Herman “Tequila” dance after pinning Buffalo at their 4-yard line.

A rusher hit him in the leg and was called for roughing the kicker, and King went a smidge too far. He picked up the flag – you can’t do that – did a jig as he waved it in the air, and then spiked it to the ground.

It was entertaining, sure. But it also drew another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“It’s definitely a teachable moment,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s not mean spirit in what he’s doing. He’s having fun. He enjoys himself. He had the Pee Wee Herman out there today. I saw that. I got a giggle.

“He’s enjoying himself. Now, right there, he just didn’t realize you can’t do that. He was like, ‘Really? I couldn’t do that? Oh man. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Mr. Ref.’ It really was innocent and obviously, we’ll make sure we don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to teaching to make sure we understand what we need to do there. That should never happen again.”

Cowser’s first sack: Undrafted free agent James Cowser is popular among his teammates. The edge rusher was well liked during his time in the preseason, and was welcomed back when signed to the practice squad near midseason.

He was added to the active roster last week, made his professional debut on special teams against Carolina and made a big impact on defense Sunday afternoon.

He sacked Tyrod Taylor for a 10-yard loss in the second quarter to help force the Bills’ first punt. It was his first as a pro, though the action is old hat for the all-time FCS leader in sacks.

It was a big moment for Cowser and those around him.

“Cowser stepped up and got a big sack at an important time,” fellow edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “We knew he could step in and play well and do some things. It’s key for us that the young guys step up.”

This ‘n that: RB Latavius Murray scored his 10th and 11th rushing touchdowns of the season on Sunday night, the largest total since Marcus Allen had 12 in 1990. That’s the fifth-highest total in franchise history. … S Karl Joseph suffered a foot/toe injury and did not return. … The Raiders have won six straight games, and haven't allowed a 100 passer rating in that stretch. …Khalil Mack has had a sack in seven straight games. Bruce Irvin has had a sack in three straight.

Raiders 'continue to fight,' score 29 unanswered points in latest comeback

Raiders 'continue to fight,' score 29 unanswered points in latest comeback

ALAMEDA – The Buffalo Bills were in firm control of the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. That was the case well into the third quarter.

Then this game turned upside down.

The Raiders scored 29 unanswered points in just over 15 minutes. They erased a two-score Buffalo lead in the second half by doing everything they couldn’t do at the start.

The 34-28 victory was the Raiders’ sixth fourth-quarter comeback of the season, but this one was special. They went from 0 to 60 in a snap.

The Raiders were down 24-9 before that big surge, but the mood was hardly somber.

“We don’t dwell too much on the score,” receiver Michael Crabtree said. “We don’t say, ‘We’re down 15 and we need this.’ We don’t panic. We don’t sweat. We just go out and play ball.”

The Raiders played some of their best ball this season during that stretch.

They consistently halted drives on defense, including three straight three-and-outs to start the surge. They created turnovers in key moments. Special teams tightened up. And, of course, the offense got rolling after playing with pace.

“It felt like everything was smooth and working out,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “The confidence keeps building on this team.”

During that blitzkrieg, the Raiders out-gained Buffalo 212-8. It was all out dominance, the Raiders have been looking to play for four full quarters. That’s been largely elusive, but they’ve learned to clamp down and execute when it matters most.

Several Raiders were asked what was more impressive: The 29, or the 0.

Picking wasn’t a common response. Most focused on why this team is able to rally, and why they did so against Buffalo.

“We just continue to fight, continue to believe,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “29 unanswered is hard to do in this league. Buffalo has an explosive offense. Hats off to us and to Derek Carr for continuing to believe in us, continuing to battle and put points on the board.”