It’s just like the Oakland Raiders to win another road game in typical down to wire, stress filled RAIDERS Fashion. Their Week #4 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens was slated to be a physical, intense game between a team with plenty of buzz versus a team trying to go to 4-0 in the Baltimore Ravens. Coming off a nail biting finish in the previous week against the Tennessee Titans, it was imperative that the Raiders come out fast, hungry & ready to against a good Ravens Team and we did just that.
The biggest concern for me going into this game was depth within our offensive interior. Unfortunately, we came into the game missing tackles Menelik Watson & Austin Howard due to injury. With significant players on our front line that are out, Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave has done a stellar job mixing around our O-line to create successful combinations. Despite injuries hurting us early in the season and going against the front of the ravens which feature a revived Terrell Suggs & Elvis Dumervil, the ravens defensive line allowed Derek Carr to play with a clean jersey for the day. For the first time this season we were unable to register a TD on the ground. Latavius Murray was unable to score after scoring a TD in the first 3 games but with the carries being shared between Deandre Washington & Jalen Richard; we were able to keep the Ravens defense honest. Derek Carr is improving every week and is keeping his play at a High level just like he did in his 2015 pro bowl season. Carr finished the day with 4 Touchdown passes on 25 for 35 attempts for 199 yards. Although being overlooked, underrated, whatever phrase you choose you use he clearly is a top QB in this league. Three of Carr’s 4 TD passes went too veteran Wide Michael Crabtree who had himself a day. Crisp route running, burst in & out of routes + the strongest hands in the NFL were all on display Sunday morning in Baltimore. Crabtree recorded his first 3 TD performance of his career on this day but the best thing he did was give this quote to the media postgame. “DC kind of coached me on that last play. He just told me DON’T STOP RUNNING and I went out and executed the play”. When a 1st down needs to be made, Crabtree is Carr’s go to target & their connection is becoming one of the best in the league. WR Amari Cooper didn’t have an off day but an average day finishing with 5 receptions for 48 yards. Nothing to brag about with those numbers but with Crabtree playing at an extremely high level, it will only spread defenses out. Thus; giving Cooper more opportunities.
Defense has not put out two solid efforts in back to back road games. Rookie Linebacker Cory James led the team for the second straight game with 15 total tackles (12 solo) and a forced fumble. Once labeled as undersized to play Middle Linebacker is now looking real comfortable on this defense and it’s important that as fans we see this kind of play from our young backer because we unfortunately lost Malcolm Smith & Ben Heeney due to injury. Malcolm Smith is expected to miss some time but Heeney is gone for the year. Veteran LB Darren Bates came in and was productive in limited action following all the injuries that took place. He may not be a household name but his play may warrant that soon. Rookie Karl Joseph made the most again with his second start of the year totaling 12 tackles and 2 BIG HITS. Cornerback DJ Hayden bounced back with a solid performance after his poor outing in Tennessee. All-Pro Khalil Mack recorded his first sack of the season in this game but he was a one man wrecking crew all day!
All in all, we got the Win. A game winning drive at the end closed the door on the Ravens perfect season. At the quarter mark of the season we are 3-1 and ready to continue to build on what we are building. GO RAIDERS!!!