Posted on September 24, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the season started, many had the Oakland Raiders as the team to beat in the AFC and a Super Bowl favorite. At the same time, many didn’t pick the Redskins to do much of anything. So, when the two met on Sunday Night Football, many expected Derek Carr and the Raiders to run away with the game.
But that was not the case at all. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
For Raiders fans, this one was ugly. Derek Carr struggled to open the same book as his receivers let alone get on the same page with them. He couldn’t connect with his receivers downfield, was sacked four times, and didn’t clear 100 yards passing until the fourth quarter.
“I’ve got to take care of the ball better and I will,” Carr said after the game (ESPN). “This isn’t alarming, but we did get punched in the mouth, and it’s all about how we respond.”
Carr ended up completing 19 of 31 pass attempts for 118 yards and a touchdown along with two interceptions. He only completed one each to his top two receivers, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, for a total of 13 yards.
Part of the problem was a lack of protection. Oakland’s offensive line struggled to keep the Washington pass rush at bay. By the end of the night, the Redskins recorded six hits on Carr and sacked him four times.
It would have helped if the running game could have taken some pressure off. But Marshawn Lynch couldn’t break free and only had 18 yards on six carries (as a team they ran the ball 13 times for 32 yards).
“Days like this can happen,” coach Jack Del Rio said (ESPN). “You just don’t want it to happen very often.”
While the Raiders did play a terrible game, the Redskins deserve a ton of credit for everything they did right. Washington’s offensive line and defensive front dominated the line of scrimmage.
“We pride ourselves on being a physical group on offense and defense,” rookie defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said (ESPN). “To go out there and have a team performance like we did is something special.”
The longest run they had was just an 11-yard dash by Chris Thompson. With Rob Kelley out with an injury, Samaje Perine led the way with 19 carries for 49 yards. As a unit, they generated 116 yards on the ground. But the real contribution from the running backs came in the passing game. Thompson caught six of the seven balls thrown his way for 150 yards and a touchdown.
The star of the night was easily Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. After so-so outings against the Eagles (23-40 for 240 yards, one touchdown, and one interception) and the Rams (18-27 for 179 yards and a touchdown), he turned in a stellar one in prime time against the Raiders (25-30 for 365 yards and three touchdowns).
The Redskins took a 14-0 lead into halftime and extended it to 21-0 early in the third quarter. Derek Carr finally got the Raiders in the end zone late in the third, but never got Oakland any closer than 14-points. Washington tacked on two field goals in the fourth and Oakland added another to make the final score 27-10.
Washington fans have to be happy with what they saw. The defense put a ton of pressure on and dominated a good, young quarterback. It would have been nice to see a more balanced, complete effort by the offense. But with Rob Kelley out, it was nice to see Cousins was able to pick up the slack.
So—with Kelley in the lineup, does this mean Washington could have a balanced offense? Whether that is the case will likely depend on if the defense is taking care of its responsibilities as well.
Oakland played well enough (but not great) against the Titans. It isn’t hard for anyone (except Miami) to look good against the Jets. But against a real test in the Washington Redskins, they looked terrible. So—who are these guys? A lot was made of Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement, but he hasn’t done much.
Kirk Cousins will have a chance to prove this game wasn’t a fluke next week. The Redskins will be heading to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Derek Carr and the Raiders will have a tough one on their hands. They head to Denver for a crucial division game against the Broncos.