With an evening game scheduled at the Oakland Coliseum, under the spotlight of primetime football, the Oakland Raiders understood the importance of Week 9. In an anticipated battle between the Denver Broncos, the Raiders defense, led by Khalil Mack, kept the damage at a minimum and earned a 30-20 victory.
Mack led the defense and has turned into the vocal leader of Ken Norton Jr.’s unit, alongside fellow defensive end Bruce Irvin. Mack’s dominant performance in Week 9 earned him the Defensive Player of the Week Award.
After a slow start to the season, the 25-year-old is steadily gaining a footing in each game and his confidence is beginning to show.
Against the Broncos, he snatched two sacks, three tackles (two solo), a quarterback hit and a forced fumble (which he recovered). While Mack’s sacks were the only ones recorded for the game, the team also caught an interception.
He now has gotten two sacks in consecutive contests, with at least a sack in four straight games. With seven on the season, he heads into the bye week with a chance to surpass his record set from last season (15), with seven games left in the season.
Aside from the 69-yard garbage-time touchdown at the end of the game by Kapri Bibbs, the Raiders only allowed the Broncos offense 13 points. Bibbs and DeVante Booker only amounted 33 yards rushing in the contest on 12 carries.
After allowing an average of over 400 yards per game on defense, head coach Jack Del Rio and his unit only gave up 299 total net yards to the Broncos.
While quarterback Trevor Siemian didn’t have a subpar game, the elite receivers were kept in check. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas each hauled in five receptions, but only got a total of 103 yards. Bibbs’ lone reception of 69 yards actually led the Broncos in receiving.
Mack and his play along the line has garnered a lot of double teams this season, but it seems as though he is beginning to find a rhythm, to be able to be effective against his opponents.
In nine games played this season, Mack has seven sacks, 29 tackles, 13 assisted tackles and two forced fumbles.