On Sunday, the Raiders took care of their business and beat a team they were to beat. They went into Carolina and came out with a “W”. In the big system of things, that’s all that matters, because every week we start over. Although this victory was created, the Raiders jumped the lead several times, including midway through the fourth quarter.
The game contained eight lead changes in total. Raiders just had to make sure the last lead change was theirs. It came down to a random penalty interference penalty on former Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead that kept the Raiders̵
Now let’s get to the best artists.
The man who should have been named Rookie of the Year last season came out swinging. After a three-and-out by the Raiders to start the game, Jacobs was the force that kept them running after that. He scored his first touchdown on the Raiders’ second drive in a one-yard touchdown run. But he also had a huge hand in getting them there, starting with an eight-yard run, then a big pass block to allow for a first down catch, and then a five-yard run on third and one.
It was the first of three touchdowns for Jacobs in this game. His second TD came in the third quarter, extending the Raiders lead to 27-15. And just like before, he gave himself an assist with a catch along the way, preventing a defender from picking up 29 yards.
In all, Jacobs had 139 yards from scrimmage (93 rushing) on 29 hands (4 catches). They rode their workhorse to victory.
These holes in the line did not open. At least not most of the time. The first game of the game was a five-yard run by Jacobs with Incognito leading. And the first time Jacobs converted on the third down, Incognito was among those clearing the way for him.
The second touchdown of the day came on a long bomb out of short yardage. This game was created by a screen for Darren Waller with Hudson downfield blocking so he could pick up eight yards.
Jacobs’ second touchdown of the day, he ran up his gut through a large hole opened by Incognito and Hudson. And of course, none of them allowed any pressure either, let alone sacks.
His longest reception went just eight yards, which is somewhat unusual for Waller. He’s usually basically a big receiver out there. But he is not the recipient, he is a tight end, which means that his duties extend beyond a recipient.
On Raiders’ second possession, they were looking for their first third-down conversion. And they got it on a seven-yard pass to Waller on third and second. This drive ended with a touchdown by Jacobs made possible in part by a sealing block from Waller.
Waller’s next catch came on the Raiders’ very next third down. It went for eight yards on third and two. Two pieces later, he got a 6-yard grab. This drive ended with a field goal to take the lead again 10-9. Waller would finish with a team-leading six catches in 45 yards.
This is one of those cases where a few players are honor ballers based on a game. To be fair, Littleton had a couple of good games in this game, but one game stands out above all others.
The Panthers got the ball with just over four minutes left of the game, down 34-30. They drove into Raider’s territory again and were in fourth and one at 46. There was 1:23 left on the clock at this point, which meant they had to first convert this down to get a shot to win.
The Panthers lined up in an I-formation with Christian McCaffrey behind fullback Alex Armah. Teddy Bridgewater took the snap and quickly handed it to Armah in hopes that the Raiders would be caught by not giving it to their star McCaffrey. The problem was that they had used this game in the game already in the third and one to put their touchdown early in the fourth quarter. This time, the Raiders were ready for it.
Armah got the ball and Ferrell came over to break the hole while Raekwon McMillan came up and joined him. Armah was stoned at the line, but he gathered his feet and made another effort. It was here that Littleton hit him and drove his knee to the grass with no gain. The Raiders took over and went on to win it.
Talking about wonderful games. Agholor played only 12 snaps in the game. He took the back seat to the two rookies, Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. The Ruggs would limp off the field in the second quarter, which meant it was Agholor time.
On his fourth snap, he told Derek Carr to throw him the ball in the end zone and he would score. Carr said ok and he threw one of the best passes he has ever thrown. Agholor ran under it and caught it over the shoulder for a 23-yard touchdown. It was a beauty. And that put the Raiders back in front 17-12 just before halftime.
The veteran receiver also had a block in the game on a pitch game to Josh Jacobs that allowed Jacobs to break 14 yards. That drive led to a field goal.
Trent Brown left the game after three snaps with a calf injury. He was replaced by Sam Young, who then left a groin after 15 snaps. That left the Raiders in a pickle. They had no tackles left. So they called for their backup tool.
Had Good come in and appeared to be useful, his work would have been worthy of praise. But he looked excellent. He played 45 snaps and didn’t give up a sack or even any pressure that I could see. Not only that, but he put a big block for Josh Jacobs to score the team’s final touchdown.
After further review, it became clear why Abram after the game was not very willing to accept much praise for the game. As he said, it was sloppy and he was right. There was a lot to be desired for his and the defense’s overall play. Lots to clean up.
That said, he led all Raiders defenders in tackles by a large margin. More than twice as many tackles as the next guy. Abram’s 13 tackles were impressive, though it’s rarely a good sign when your safety leads the team to tackles, because it often means players get to the second level.
Abram’s biggest game came late in the third quarter when Christian McCaffrey tried to jump out to the right and Abram came up and put a charge on him. You could hear the electrodes bouncing and McCaffrey was driven back for a loss. Unfortunately, the Panthers were unable to maintain that drive, and eventually McCaffrey would get the last laugh as he came around the right edge and stared down at Abram on his way into the final zone.
What we can say about Abram’s time was that he was productive and that he was all over the field and made his presence felt. He brings an energy to this defense, which it has much lacked. The other things can be learned and kinks worked.
Last season, Carlson had just two attempts outside of 50 yards and missed them both. Just over half of football in the 2020 season and he was already asked to try his first field goal outside of 50 yards.
At the Raiders’ first possession of the third quarter, their run stopped at 36. Carlson was asked to prove he deserved to keep his job. He lined up for a 54-yard try and nailed it, extending the Raiders’ lead to 20-15.
He also connected on a 20-yard field goal and four extra points for a perfect day.
QB Derek Carr
As mentioned, the 23-yard touchdown to Agholor was a beauty. Other than that, Carr did not do much that stood out. He tried a couple of deep balls for Henry Ruggs III that did not connect, and one where Ruggs broke wide open on a deep crossing route. What Carr did was run the Raiders’ offense with efficiency and allowed Josh Jacobs to do his thing. He finished 22 of 30 in 239 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. A solid day worth mentioning.
WR Henry Ruggs III
Ruggs led the team with 55 yards reception, of which 45 came on a game in which he was strangely left wide open across the middle of the pitch. He was impossible to miss, and Carr did not. The Ruggs would be stopped at the one-yard line and Jacobs would break through to score on the next game.