The Oakland Raiders looked to maintain sole possession of first place Sunday when they hosted the reigning NFC Champions, the Carolina Panthers.
While it wasn’t easy, the Raiders were able to earn another comeback victory, defeating the Panthers 35-32 for their fifth straight win, improving to 9-2 on the season.
The Raiders got the scoring started in the first quarter, as Derek Carr connected with wide receiver Seth Roberts from two yards out to complete a five-play, 62-yard drive and give the Raiders a 7-0 lead.
Carolina immediately answered back though as after a 47-yard run by Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven.
Carr and the Raiders offense responded though on the ensuing drive, as running back Latavius Murray finished off a 10-play drive by scoring a touchdown from four yards out and Oakland regained the lead at 14-7.
Their next drive stalled in the red zone, but Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 23-yard field goal and the lead was extended to 17-7.
With less than two minutes before the end of the first half, the Panthers were attempting to put some points on the board, but All-Pro defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack intercepted a pass from Newton and returned it for a touchdown to give the Raiders a commanding 24-7 halftime lead.
Carolina came out looking like a different team in the second half though, as they recovered a fumble by Carr and turned it into a touchdown by Stewart. When the extra point was blocked the Raiders lead sat at 24-13.
Carr dislocated his finger on the play, and needed to sit out the next series before returning. Matt McGloin took Carr’s place while he was out, although the Raiders had a three-and-out in his lone series.
Newton found the speedy Ted Ginn Jr. for an 88-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to cut into the deficit even more, making it 24-19.
In Carr’s first series back he threw a poor pass that was intercepted by Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, setting up Newton with good field position. The Panthers offense took advantage of that as Stewart found pay dirt once again to give Carolina its first lead of the game at 25-24.
After another three-and-out by the Raiders, Newton found wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin who made an excellent juggling catch for a 44-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 32-24.
Carr continued his fourth quarter magic, as he orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard drive, finding tight end Clvie Walford for a 12-yard touchdown. He then connected with Roberts for the two-point conversation to tie the game at 32 with just under nine minutes remaining in the game.
The Raiders defense then came up with a big stop, as Benjamin was stopped just short of a first down on a 3rd-and-10 reception, forcing Carolina to punt with just over five minutes remaining.
On a 3rd-and-9 play, Carr connected with Michael Crabtree on a deep ball. Crabtree came down with the ball despite being interfered with for a 49-yard reception.
Oakland failed to find the end zone though as they had to settle for another Janikowski field goal, taking a 35-32 lead with just under two minutes remaining.
The Raiders defense came up with a huge stop as Mack stripped Newton on a fourth down play to seal the victory for the Raiders.
Oakland will host the Buffalo Bills next Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Pacific time, as they look to go for their sixth straight win.