Paul G's Instant Replay: Raiders 34, Steelers 31


Paul G's Instant Replay: Raiders 34, Steelers 31

OAKLAND -- On a day in which Marcus Allen was welcomed back to the Raiders family by lighting the Al Davis flame, the Raiders met an old adversary in the Pittsburgh Steelers.The Raiders also were paid a visit by another welcome guest -- a leaky defense that came through when needed.Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 43-yard field goal as time expired Sunday to beat the Steelers after trailing most of the day. It was rookie coach Dennis Allen's first victory as an NFL head coach.McFadden gets it going, kinda: Darren McFadden entered the game averaging 2.1 yards per carry and all interested were told non-stop that all he needed was to break one run and he'd be back in his comfort zone. Well, early in the first quarter, after an audible at the line by Carson Palmer, McFadden hit it, and 64 yards later he had the second-longest run of his career and a touchdown. Only the 70-yarder he broke last year against the New York Jets was further. Still, on five other carries in the first half, McFadden had all of four yards. He got hot in the second half, though, and finished with 113 yards on 18 carries. It was his 10th career 100-yard rushing game.No pressure, no chance: The Raiders' defensive front four did its duct taped-together cornerbacks no favors as it could get little to no pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, who extended plays with aplomb. And with no sacks, Roethlisberger picked apart the secondary, especially the middle of the field.Hey, a takeaway: The Raiders' first takeaway of the season came in the second quarter, when Desmond Bryant popped Jonathan Dwyer and Joselio Hanson recovered the fumble. It marked the sixth straight season in which Hanson recovered at least one fumble.Fewer penalties: The Raiders did not have a penalty called on them until there was 1:30 left in the third quarter, when Tommy Kelly was flagged for a personal foul for his, ahem involvement in a post-scrum melee on a Steelers touchdown. Oakland finished with three penalties for 25 yards while the Steelers were flagged ten times for 81 yards.Where was the flag here, though?: Darrius Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious on a helmet-to-helmet hit in the end zone by Ryan Munday and carted off the field. His helmet was removed by medical personnel and there seemed to be no movement, until he raised a thumb to the crowd on his way out. He was taken to Eden Medical Center with a neck injury.What another turnover?: Indeed, as the Steelers drove downfield in the fourth quarter, Pat Lee stripped Antonio Brown. And after the ball plopped around a bit, Philip Wheeler recovered it, with 10:45 to play. The Raiders converted the fumble recovery into points as Sebastian Janikowski's 32-yard field goal tied the score at 31-31 with 6:30 to play.

Injury report: Joseph out, Latham questionable for Raiders vs Chiefs

Injury report: Joseph out, Latham questionable for Raiders vs Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph hurt his toe in Sunday’s victory over Buffalo, and was still in pain early the next week.

That gave him virtually no shot to play Kansas City on Thursday night with a short week to recover. The Raiders made his omission official on Wednesday, and ruled the first-round pick out of the AFC West clash at Arrowhead Stadium on their official injury report.

Veteran Nate Allen will take his place in the starting lineup. He played well in Joseph’s stead against the Bills, and has the versatility to play back or closer to the line of scrimmage as Joseph did.

The Raiders defense is still ailing on the interior, with defensive tackle Stacy McGee (ankle) ruled out of his second straight contest.

There is slightly better news for Darius Latham, who was deemed questionable after missing two light practices but returning in time for limited work on Wednesday. Getting him back would help a thinned rotation that heavily features Denico Autry, Dan Williams and Jihad Ward, who has struggled some of late.

The Chiefs have a healthy team despite the short week. Receiver Jeremy Maclin will return from a groin injury. Edge rusher Tamba Hali will play despite limted practice work, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe is questionable with a back issue.

Raiders Status Report

LB Shilique Calhoun (knee), S Karl Joseph (toe), DT Stacy McGee (ankle) Questionable
DT Darius Latham (ankle), LG Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Cory James (shoulder)

Chiefs Status Report

DT Dontari Poe (back), DE Kendall Reyes (knee)

NOTE: Kansas City’s WR Jeremy Maclin, OLB Tamba Hali and CB Phillip Gaines did not receive an injury designation, meaning they will play.


Mack, Irvin feed off each other, form dynamic duo in Raiders pass rush

Mack, Irvin feed off each other, form dynamic duo in Raiders pass rush

The Buffalo Bills were running right through the Oakland Raiders early in Sunday’s contest, a never-ending assault that took its toll on defenders in silver and black.

That was the case for the most optimistic, steadfast member of that unit.

“We were giving up big plays, and I was frustrated,” star edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “Actually, I was pissed off.”

Bruce Irvin sensed a disturbance in the force. The veteran pass rusher knew how to fix it.  A little pep talk would get Mack going again.

“We feed off each other’s energy. … That dude pulls me up. I was feeling a little down towards the middle of the game, and he was like, ‘Come on. We need you. Come on. Let’s go. He pulled me up and kept pushing.”

That wasn’t the turning point in yet another comeback win. It wasn’t the only reason why defense locked Buffalo down during a run of 29 unanswered points.

It showed how strong a friendship Mack and Irvin have formed since the spring, one that helps get the best out of the other. Bonds formed from insatiable work ethic, one evident even in the offseason program.

“We’re both so hungry to be great that it just brought us together,” Irvin said. “When I got here, we talked right away. Khalil and (quarterback Derek Carr) were the first two guys I sat down with, and I told them I was coming over to play with Khalil, to help turn this thing around and become one of the top units in the league. Khalil and I just bonded quickly, and it was like we had been friends forever. It’s like whole thing was meant to be.”

It has turned out to be a productive pairing. There are 15 sacks, 94 other quarterback pressures and eight forced fumbles between Irvin and Mack this season.

Mack has the bulk of those numbers, especially during a second-half run where he has been outright dominant and jumped into the conversation for defensive player of the year. Mack has been involved in four turnovers the last two games, including game-sealing strip sacks while recovering his own fumble in consecutive weeks.

“You all don’t want to talk to Robin,” Irvin quipped. “Batman’s right over there.”

Irvin has used that line after two home victories in a row. The fifth-year pro is more than Mack’s sidekick. He’s on a roll himself, with sacks in three straight games. He uses speed and agility to create pressure off the strongside edge, dealing with left tackles on a consistent basis.

“I’m in a good groove right now,” Irvin said. “Mentality, physically, I’m in a very good place right now. It’s really showing on the field these past couple weeks.”

Irvin has been a productive defender either making plays on his side or driving traffic back towards Mack. It works both ways, with Mack drawing significant attention that often leaves Irvin in more favorable matchups.

The combination has been impactful, especially on a defense that doesn’t’ get pressure from other sources. They’ve been productive in the clutch as well, with six sacks coming in the fourth quarter. Mack has big plays the last two weeks, and Irvin has a big sack late in a victory over Houston in Mexico City.

The Raiders defense is improving, and having Irvin rushing strong recently helps Mack and the entire Raiders defense.

“He’s always been in a good groove, but there are things going well for this defense,” Mack said. “I’m on the other side, and you have coverage going well. (Opponents) try to do all the chipping and those things that play a factor in doing what we do. The fact that he’s rolling right now is not a surprise.”