When Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels sits around the Thanksgiving table this week, one name should be atop his list of things to be thankful for: Nathaniel Hackett.
Desperate for a win to break out of a three-game skid, McDaniels’ team was victorious on Sunday, thanks in part to a monumental blunder by his counterpart in the final minutes of Sunday’s game. With two minutes to go and his team up by three, the Broncos were facing third-and-10 on their own side of the field.
The obvious choice was to run the ball, run 40 seconds off the clock, and punt the ball away to an offense that had scored just 13 points — but this is Hackett we’re talking about. Instead, he dialed up a pass play, Russell Wilson threw incomplete (instead of just taking a sack), and the Raiders got the ball back with 1:43 left on the clock and the ball at their own 22.
Three plays later, the Raiders were at the Denver 7 with just 32 seconds left on the clock.
Would have been nice to have run some clock earlier, eh?
(Hackett also called timeout with the Raiders running up to spike the ball, giving them an extra chance at the end zone, which ultimately proved insignificant).
The Raiders would eventually kick a field goal and win in overtime — sparing Josh McDaniels from the ignominy of having lost to Jeff Saturday and Hackett in back-to-back weeks — giving them their third win of the season.
Offensive Headline: Feed Davante
“I have been trying to figure out why you wouldn’t triple cover him ever play.”
That was the quote from Keelan Cole after Adams walked into the end zone for the second time, the latter a walk-off touchdown in overtime. And honestly…Cole is right.
The other pass-catchers are Cole, Mack Hollins, Foster Moreau and Josh Jacobs — so how in the world do you let the best receiver in the world beat you?
Adams finished with 7 catches (on 13 targets) for 141 yards, but the game-winning touchdown was just his second after halftime — an inexcusable fact that nearly cost the Raiders the game.
Defensive Headline: Signs of Life!!
I’ve crapped on the Raiders defense all season, but I have to admit that they deserve most of the credit for the team’s win. To be clear: the Broncos offense isn’t good, but the effort put forth in the second half by Patrick Graham’s unit deserves some credit.
After allowing the Broncos to score on their first two drives of the game (and then march down inside the five on their third before Maxx Crosby blocked a field goal), the defense produced this sequence of results after halftime: punt, punt, field goal, punt, field goal, punt.
The million-dollar question is, can this type of performance be replicated? Or did they get bailed out by a below-average offense? Sunday’s trip to Seattle will offer some insight.
Player of the Game: Maxx Crosby
Are we sure Crosby isn’t the best defensive player in the league?
Through 10 games, he leads the NFL in tackles for loss (16), he’s tied for fifth in sacks (9), he has two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. Among players in the top 40 for sacks, he’s also the only player with 40+ tackles on the season.
Oh, and he’s doing this on a defensive line completely devoid of talent.
On Sunday, Crosby made a mental mistake that resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Denver’s final drive before the half. His response? He forced a fumble that prevented a touchdown and then blocked the ensuing field goal. By the time the final whistle blew, Crosby’s line read: Six tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and the blocked kick.
Odds and Ends
- One area that the Raiders absolutely need to clean up are the penalties — Vegas committed nine for 98 yards on Sunday, many of which seemed to end offensive drives before they began. On all three of their first-half drives, the Raiders faced 2nd or 3rd and more than 15 — none of which were eventually converted for a first down.
- Denver came into the game 14th in rushing yards allowed, but for the second time this season, Josh Jacobs absolutely terrorized the Broncos defense. Jacobs finished with 26 touches for 160 total yards.
- Melvin Gordon, who fumbled while trying to score in the second quarter, was released by the Broncos on Monday.