Sunday Night wrap-up: Raiders win, showing what could have been

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There were impressive elements about the Raiders Sunday.

But as much as anything, their 27-24 win over the Dolphins cemented the fact their season so far has been a disappointment, and that they’ve either underachieved or we all overvalued them last year.

They managed to overcome a hail of dropped passes, mental mistakes, and errors the likes of which we didn’t expect from the team that showed such promise last year.

They were able to put the Dolphins away to improve to 4-5, but it’s hard to know if a team that was looking for its mojo found it.

Their star receivers (Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree) drop too many passes, and their defense has plenty of issues, especially when you consider the fact they were playing the league’s worst statistical offense.

But when the game was on the line, they were at least able to rely on an offensive line that can overpower opponents, and they did just that late, paving the way for Marshawn Lynch‘s game-sealing second touchdown. (Right tackle Marshall Newhouse also gets points for effort and gracefully flying through the air, after he gave up a strip-sack late.)

Coupled with an efficient quarterback and a tight end who is a major weapon (Jared Cook), you can understand why they feel so frustrated. They should be so much better than they have been this year.

But after losing five of their previous six games, they’re not looking for an artistic success, and will be content to take a win any way they can get it and hope they get back to playing the way we anticipated.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. The fact they Dolphins traded running back Jay Ajayi last week made it clear they thought they could do without him. But you have to wonder if they just hated being around the guy.

The Dolphins averaged 4.8 per carry (though that was inflated by Kenyan Drake‘s 42-yarder), and showed there might be something to their committee approach in the backfield.

It was as good as they’ve looked offensively, and that’s not what you expect when you give away a Pro Bowler.

And while he’s an easy punchline and has struggled this year, Jay Cutler was actually just fine, finishing 34-of-42 for 311 yards and three touchdowns. That’s an impressive night for anyone, much less a guy coming off a rib injury.

2. The Lynch-back-to-Oakland story is excellent.

And for a change, he did something on the field to go with it.

Lynch had just five carries for 8 yards in the first half, but finished with 57 yards on 14 carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run. That was his longest run of the year, and he broke out in the third quarter after a slow start.

He showed a Wildcat Cutler-esque lack of effort when he was split wide as a receiver, failing to flinch or move an inch off the line on the snap. But they didn’t bring him there to catch passes.

He’s a great ambassador for the Raiders while they try to keep their current home fans happy, and there’s a very limited ceiling on what he offers on the field, averaging 3.7 yards per carry this season.

But he’s still capable of having some moments, which makes him worth having around, as long as he’s not the foundation of the offense.

3. Meanwhile, the Dolphins haven’t really embraced Jarvis Landry as late, but he keeps making plays.

The league announced that Landry’s third-quarter touchdown grab allowed him to surpass Anquan Boldin for the most receptions in a players’ first four years in the league.

Landry has 344 receptions so far, after catching six for 32 yards and the score Sunday.

That’s a lot for a guy who the team doesn’t seem quite sure what to do with. But his production so far makes it clear he won’t lack for options if he hits the market after this season.

4. Raiders wide receiver Johnny Holton doesn’t get many snaps. But when he gets them, he makes them count.

Holton’s only play in the first half resulted in a 44-yard touchdown reception.

It was just his second catch of the season, but the other one was a 64-yard touchdown earlier this year against the Broncos.

He had two catches last season (for a measly 34 yards), but the Raiders might want to look his way a little more often as they try to energize their offense. He doesn’t have the classic Raiders sprinter-speed, but the former undrafted rookie from Cincinnati has made big plays when he’s given chances.

5. The Lee Smith “I was just kidding around” penalty in the first half was ridiculous.

The Raiders tight end was clearly goofing around when he jumped in the air and play-headbutted a Dolphins defender in the first half.

But like when Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller gave Tyrod Taylor the fake handshake earlier this year, some official who lacks a sense of humor (or context) threw the flag.

The league can relax the celebration rules to account for human emotion, but they apparently can’t enforce common sense.

40 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: Raiders win, showing what could have been

  1. If officials are really “graded on performance” as the league says, or should I say LIES, then the official who threw a flag on that should be fired. It’s completely ridiculous and inexcusable. The ONLY story tonight, once again, was the refs. A grotesque mixture of incompetence and over officiating. WHY does the league continue to force flag fests down our throat??? You want ratings? KEEP THE REFS OUT OF THE GAMES. 25 penalties, or whatever it was, half of them were ticky tacky or non calls. ENOUGH. I’m tired of it.

  2. They managed to overcome a hail of dropped passes, mental mistakes, and errors

    Of course it also helped that Everytime Miami had a big play on offense it got negated due to a dumb holding penalty.

  3. Our Raiders need to cut Dexter McDonald, we have to have someone better then this guy, he can’t cover, he can’t tackle, he can’t even stay on his feet half the time! We need to bring in somebody, if he is all we got!

  4. The offense was clearly moving the ball better without Ajayi. Having two RB’s who are running and catching threats opens up this offense and it showed tonight.

    Unfortunately, Miami still can’t get out of their own way with all those penalties.

  5. Raiders dug themselves a hole but are still alive at 4-5.

    It will take going 5-2 to get to 9-7 which gives you a solid chance to get the #6 seed in a weak AFC.

  6. Calling BS on your Point #1. WHy are you throwing shade on Ajayi
    You allude that the dolphins did okay rushing the ball without Ajayi
    Really? You mentioned Drakes Run… Stats if you take out that one run

    Dolphin Runners
    17 carries for 44 Yards
    2.6yds per carry

    I think they got big problems

    Oh and Ajayi in his first game with the eagles
    8 Carries for 77 yds
    9.6yds per carry

    If you take out his 36 yd TD Run
    7 Carries for 31 yds
    4.4 yd per carry

  7. 6. 300 penalty flags made this game unwatchable.

    Don’t believe me, check the stands – they were emptied by the end of the 3rd qtr. It’s getting to the point of overtly obvious that the stripes are having way too much influence on the games. EVERY GAME.

  8. First, OAK is right in the thick the AFC West race despite what worried KC fandom tries to deny (I’m a Chiefs fan.) Raiders have already shown head to head they were better, thus an mere two game difference with the advantage to OAK, and still half an season’s worth games to go, affirms nothing has been or will be settled at the halfway point.

    Second, an word all the ‘entertainers’: just play football, cease & desist with theatrics. Whether “kidding around”, dancin’/prancin’/associated nonsense, remember: it’s football is the draw. Worst thing NFL did was allow leniency ‘celebrations’, which is bad enough. What happened tonight affirms the adage – ‘give an inch they’ll take a mile’.

    When in doubt, don’t act out – no excuses. ‘Gee ref, I didn’t know the gum was loaded?’ Lose the juvenile hijinks, act like a pro.

  9. Sadly, the Raiders is what always happens to Jack Del Rio led teams. The offense is a mess and he wouldn’t dare bring in an up-start OC to fix it for fear of losing his job to said up start. Yet he has nothing to build on on defense.

  10. jjfootball says:
    November 5, 2017 at 11:55 pm
    Our Raiders need to cut Dexter McDonald, we have to have someone better then this guy, he can’t cover, he can’t tackle, he can’t even stay on his feet half the time! We need to bring in somebody, if he is all we got!
    The Raiders do have better but they’re all injured, they should get a couple of them back for the next game.

  11. Yes I think Ajayi was the problem for Miami. Now he’s Philly’s problem. We hate him too!! 77 yards and a TD against the leagues #1 defense yesterday. It was painful to watch. I think your coach is good for college kids that he can bully around. We used to have one too (chip kelly) and he’s now coaching for ummmmm oh right NOBODY! The Dolphins will get this turned around after they fire him. The Raiders and these receivers that they have a lot invested in will not.

  12. They beat a team the ravens just beat 40-0. Hardly showing us “what could have been”. That was a typical win for a team with a losing record.

  13. “He’s a great ambassador for the Raiders while they try to keep their current home fans happy”

    WHAT????? This is a guy who ran on to the field to defend opposing team’s player????

  14. While I agree a couple of the calls on the Dolphins were bogus and feel free to be upset about them, far more often I saw legitimate ones where the Miami player let his discipline slip. Its ok to hold a few against the refs but this team really needs to work on that in practice. Perhaps if the legimate penalties weren’t so common the bogus ones would be easier to overcome.

  15. A decent effort by the Raiders. However I think it’s too late to salvage the season and I see the Raiders finishing with 6 to 8 wins.

  16. This game left a bad taste in my mouth. Until the league puts an emphasis on actually getting the calls right, you have to believe there’s a rea$on as to why they want to give the refs a chance to influence the game. They need to make at least some penalties reviewable.

    Watching the Oklahoma/Oklahoma State game this weekend they reviewed a targeting call and overturned an interception because it was an “egregious error”. Granted NFL games would take at least an hour longer to correct all of the egregious errors the refs make but at least it wouldn’t seem like the fix is in in some of these games.

  17. Dolphin Runners
    17 carries for 44 Yards
    2.6yds per carry

    I think they got big problems

    Oh and Ajayi in his first game with the eagles
    8 Carries for 77 yds
    9.6yds per carry

    So I guess the whole receiving aspect has nothing to do with it then?

    Dolphins backfield-165 yards of TOTAL offense and a TD.

    It’s ok, you don’t know how football works. It’s no big deal. Ajayi is a good runner, nobody ever questioned that. He was traded because he didn’t fit the offense (clearly) and his attitude stinks… Plus, the whole knee issue.

    Ajayi made the offense one dimensional. When he was in the defense knew he was running and wasn’t a threat to catch the ball. Miami has bigger things to worry about now but they put on their best offensive performance without Ajayi.

    Philly was going to be good with or without Ajayi. He’ll get out into that rotation of RB’s and contribute.

  18. Good win raiders. you finally beat a team you should beat. Sadly there are only a couple more wins on the schedule.

  19. Hamish1314 says:
    November 6, 2017 at 7:42 am
    Patsies going down next, book it

    Its not impossible but I wouldn’t advise just booking it.

  20. Raiders can forget it with Of-The-River coaching all that talent. Snapping the ball repeatedly with time on the play clock and throwing a pick on a needless pass with the game won to let them back in it!? Belichick must have been shaking his head and wearing out his pencil watching that display of mismanagement!

  21. the Raiders were the luckiest team in the league last year and that luck is not always going their way this year. I can count about 4 games they should’ve lost last year that they won due to lucky bounces or refs help. Back to reality

  22. troubledoneswhobathe says:
    November 6, 2017 at 5:22 am
    Can’t wait for the off-season when yet again the Nayshun will be crowing about their density, err, dynasty.
    – – — – – – – – — – –
    I just keep wondering gaga how many in a row is it going to be- enjoy the whine in the afc cellar.

  23. ninerdynasty says:
    November 6, 2017 at 10:46 am
    refs help. Back to reality
    – – – – – — – – – — –
    refs help, the team that has led the league in penalties for well over 20 years…much like the help last night. If not for the refs, the dolphins would have had only 7 points on that final drive when raiders went total prevent defense.

    Back to reality is your 0-9 niners trying to get the first pick so they can draft a qb, even though they just traded away the first pick in the 2nd rd for one…Rookie GM, Rookie head coach,nuff said..been there and done that….never again.

    Go Raiders!!!! Just Win Baby!!!

  24. One of the bigger notes from that poorly played/officiated game is the fact that the Dolphins lost a 1 possession game. Believe it or not, that had not happened in quite a while and were close to the best in the league in that regard the last couple years.

  25. The pay where Lynch flagged out wide and didn’t move wasn’t a lack of effort. The Raiders always ran this play with Murray when Musgrave came aboard. They do it so they can find out what player is covering him to understand what kind of coveragee the team is playing.

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