Enough to cripple a team but kept their focus
Entering any game in the NFL without your starting two wide receivers will hamper any offense. To an offense that has struggled for much of the year, losing your two starting Wide Receivers had the potential to cripple it. The Raiders, despite no Crabtree or Cooper against the Giants took care of business and moved into a tie for first place in the AFC West. Still, in full control of their playoff hopes.
Defense is Tough to assess
Last week the Raiders played the Broncos and this week they played the Giants. Tough to assess whether their offense has improved as well as the defense with such meager competition. However, any win in the NFL is big especially when playoff implications are on the line. The Raiders didn't fold under pressure playing against teams with nothing to play for. That fact alone, says something about this Raiders team.
The Giants came into their game against the Raiders averaging 15.6 points per game. The Giants scored 17 points against the Raiders. Perhaps Geno Smith was an upgrade over Eli Manning? Perhaps it was just a favorable match up against the Raiders. It's difficult to tell.
What isn't hard to assess is when the Raiders defense needed big plays their stars rose to the occasion.
With 9:07 left til half in a tie game and the Giants driving on the Raiders 35 yard line, Bruce Irvin made a big time play. He was able to track down a scrambling Geno for the Strip Sack. Bowman recovered the fumble and the Raiders Defense held.
Not to be outdone, Khalil Mack raised the bar as he usually does. With :42 seconds left til half, Raiders clung to a 10-7 lead with the Giants knocking on the door at the 4 yard line after a Special Teams miscue from the Raiders. Khalil Mack was able to make another Elite level play with a sack, strip and fumble recovery in one fluid motion. It's truly a thing of beauty which reminds us all of his talent level.
Lynch's best game as a Raider
Lynch got things rolling with a 51 yard touchdown run on the opening drive. He was slow going after that but came up with tough yards when the Raiders needed him. Lynch had a monster 21 yard reception on a 3rd and 7 that was all him after he caught the ball. Lynch finished the game with 17 carries for 101 yards. His first 100 yard game on the ground since coming out of retirement. The Raiders will need this and more from Lynch if they desire to keep their playoff hopes alive against the Chiefs, Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers in their upcoming games.
Next Man Up
The Raiders came into their game vs the Giants averaging 20.5 points on offense and ended up scoring 24 points. The Raiders had plenty of miscues throughout the game which is a microcosm of this season; didn't look pretty, but got the job done.
Patterson had 4 receptions on 4 targets none bigger than his 59 yard scamper on a screen pass in the 4th. Walford, often forgotten about, had 4 catches on 4 targets for 57 yards. Roberts had 5 catches on 6 targets for 46 yards.
Holton struggled throughout the game but came up with what would eventually be the game winning touchdown in the 4th. He had 3 receptions on 7 targets, but his last catch was the biggest of the game and perhaps the biggest of the year, as the Raiders are still very much alive in the AFC West title race.
If it wasn't serious before, it's serious now...
The Raiders now play 3 of their last 4 games on the road. They travel to Kansas City next week for a crucial match up against KC. Raiders will be looking for their second win of the season against the Chiefs. The last time this happened was in 2012. If the Raiders keep winning, they'll win the division and ensure their spot in the playoffs. The only thing in the way of this are the Chiefs, Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers. This is what December football is all about. Let's Go!
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