LOL. SMH. ROFL.
Sometimes only acronyms seem to fit the moment, and when the clock hit zero in the Las Vegas Raiders’ game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, it felt like one of those moments.
As I’m sure you know by now, the Raiders’ 30-24 win was clinched on the final play (their third win of the season on the final play) when New England receiver Jakobi Meyers decided that instead of falling down and sending the game into overtime he was going to try and be a hero. That, of course, meant lateraling the ball 15 yards backward — right into the hands of Chandler Jones — who needed only to stiff-arm quarterback Mac Jones before running 48 yards for the touchdown.
All he (or running back Rhamondre Stevenson, who pitched the ball to Meyers in the first place) needed to do was fall down or run out of bounds and live to fight another day.
The truth is, the bone-headed play from Meyers will mask in the minds of many what was almost another disastrous day for the Raiders. Leading 17-3 at halftime (their fifth 10+ point halftime lead of the season), the Raiders trailed 24-17 with 44 seconds left on the clock and were on the verge of yet another epic meltdown.
Then, quarterback Derek Carr — who wasn’t at his best for most of the afternoon — threw his best pass of the game, finding Keelan Cole in the end zone from 30 yards out for the game-tying touchdown. (Of course, whether Cole was actually in is debatable, but the refs determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call on the field).
Regardless of how they got there, the end result was a win over the Patriots — a totally competent (normally) opponent — moving the Raiders to 6-8 on the season and technically keeping their playoff hopes alive.
Offensive Headline: Missing Persons Report – Raiders Offense
Josh Jacobs finished with 110 total yards, and Derek Carr threw for three touchdowns, but the truth is this was a disappointing day for the Raiders offense.
After scoring 10 points on their first three drives, they scored just seven points on their next eight drives — and that touchdown came after a blocked punt was recovered in the red zone. The seven non-scoring drives: three-and-out, pick six, six-and-out, three-and-out, six-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out.
For an offense with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow back (even in a limited capacity), that’s unacceptable — regardless of how good the defense is on the other side of the ball. And the truth is, seeing that series of drives spelled out like that feels accurate. For much of the day, the offense was disjointed and seemingly out-of-rhythm despite their good start.
Yes, the offensive line was a mess — especially after losing left guard Dylan Parham to injury — but it never felt like the Raiders ever adjusted to anything. When the pressure started ramping up, there were no quick routes or screen passes — just more runs right up the middle and long-developing routes.
Ultimately, the offense came up huge when they needed to — mounting a nine-play, 81-yard touchdown in the final two minutes, including a fourth-and-10 from their own 19 — but Sunday was proof there is still work to be done.
Defensive Headline: “Merry Christmas” – sincerely, Mac Jones
Running back Rhamondre Stevenson finished the game with 172 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, but the Patriots’ anemic offense was held back by Jones, whose presence was the difference maker.
Jones finished 13/31 for 112 yards, good for a QBR of 12.2 — missing open receivers in big spots and failing to string together enough throws to make a real dent in a Raiders defense that entered the game dead last in pass defense DVOA. Yikes!
This didn’t help his cause either:
Chandler Jones spiking Mac Jones into the ground 😭 pic.twitter.com/ntEelImUw8
— Pickswise (@Pickswise) December 19, 2022
Merry Christmas, Raiders.
Player of the Game: Chandler Jones
It wasn’t an amazing game for Jones, but he made the play (and stiff-arm) when he needed to — so in a crop of pretty uninspiring options, Jones gets the nod. He finished with two tackles, two passes deflected, two QB hits and a touchdown.
Honorable mention goes to some other guys on the Raiders defense: Luke Masterson and Denzel Perryman combined for 20 tackles, while Maxx Crosby finished with three QB hits and five tackles himself.
Odds and Ends
- Speaking of Crosby, he made a play toward the end of the game that kind of blew my mind. Facing third-and-10 with 3:03 on the clock and the Raiders out of timeouts, the Patriots called a play-action boot for Jones. He faked the hand-off to his left, and then was hoping to trick the entire defense enough to where he’d have daylight ahead of him. Initially, Crosby bit on the fake — but once he realized his mistake, he stuck his foot in the ground and changed direction, running Jones down to the point that he ultimately gave himself up in bounds for no gain. I haven’t seen snap counts yet, but given that this was the 60th offensive play for the Patriots, you can imagine how many plays Crosby had been on the field for — yet for him to have the gas to chase Jones (who, admittedly, isn’t quick) down was impressive.
- Now for the weekly, “WHAT ARE WE DOING?!?!?” Josh McDaniels nugget. The Patriots are facing third-and-11 on their own 42 with 1:23 left on the clock when Jones completes a five-yard pass to tight end Hunter Henry. With two timeouts in his pocket and plenty of time left, McDaniels opts to…let the clock run down? With Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs? Huh?!? By the time the Patriots snap the ball to punt, there is just 35 seconds left. Of course, Malcom Koonce ended up taking advantage of a brain fart from the punt team, blocking the punt — giving the Raiders the ball at the Patriots’ 20. Fortunately, the Raiders ended up scoring a touchdown with four seconds left when Derek Carr made a perfect throw to Mack Hollins, who made an incredible catch — but had that pass fallen incomplete (on first and goal), they would have run out of time and been forced to punt. To make matters worse, the Patriots had no timeouts! Had McDaniels used his timeout to give the Raiders’ offense time to try and score, there was basically no risk. Even if the punt was successful, and even if the Raiders failed to move the ball on their first two downs, they could run the ball one time and drain the clock.
- The Raiders finished the game with thirteen penalties for 90 yards, which is a ridiculous and unacceptable number. I get that the offensive line (who felt like the primary culprit) was banged up and unfamiliar with one another, but still…
- The Raiders’ offense was actually out-gained by the Patriots (318 to 308) and out-rushed (206 to 97). The defense was also held without a sack.
- The key to this game was third down: the Patriots were just 2/13
- Finally: kudos to the Raiders’ defense for preventing a touchdown once a team got inside the five-yard line for the first time all season. Did they get lucky because the Patriots got to the one and called back-to-back pass plays that featured some off-target passes from Jones? You bet. But hey, a win is a win!