Instant Replay: Raiders down Bolts, tie Broncos for first in West

Instant Replay: Raiders down Bolts, tie Broncos for first in West


OAKLAND – The Raiders spent the season’s first quarter finishing well, with comebacks and defensive stands a regular feature while amassing a 3-1 record.

The San Diego Chargers, by contrast, were kings of collapse. They led at the two-minute warning four times and ended up 1-3.

Sometimes trends change. On Sunday, they stayed exactly the same.

The Chargers were on the comeback trail late in this one but botched a game-tying field goal attempt. The Raiders retained their slim lead and secured a 34-31 victory at Oakland Coliseum.

Missed Raiders opportunities, especially in the first half, kept this game close. Teams with a better roster and a plus-3 turnover ratio, as the Raiders accomplished Sunday, generally win blowouts.

That wasn’t the case here.

This one hung in the balance until the end. Only a disastrous field goal attempt tilted things back in the Raiders’ direction.

They’re now 4-1. That win, in combination with a Denver loss, puts them in a first-place tie in the AFC West through five games.

The Raiders play Kansas City next week at Oakland Coliseum.

A low-scoring affair turned into an offensive showcase in the second half. San Diego scored quickly on its opening series a four-play drive sparked by a long catch-and-run by tight end Hunter Henry. Melvin Gordon finished that series with a touchdown catch.

The Raiders responded with a touchdown. The Chargers fired back with another TD, and the home team responded with a field goal.

Then the Raiders created separation. Head coach Jack Del Rio went for it on 4th-and-2 and Michael Crabtree caught a touchdown. Then the Raiders forced a three-and-out, San Diego’s punter shanked one and Jamize Olawale punched it in from a yard out to give his Raiders a 10-point lead.

The Raiders forced three turnovers in the first half, yet went into the locker room down 10-9. They failed to score touchdowns on two red-zone trips, missing opportunities to capitalize on real chances to go up big in this game.

Sebastian Janikowksi missed from 50 yards out but converted from 56 to end an awkward first half where the Raiders led most every statistical category save the total points.

The biggest disappointment came when a first quarter drive that lasted 16 plays and a full eight minutes ended outside the end zone.

Carr didn’t look right early on, yet hit Amari Cooper twice in the end zone on passes ruled incomplete with the receiver failing to get both feet in bounds.

Filling in or Murray: Latavius Murray was ruled out with a toe injury, leaving rookie runners Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington to shoulder the load. The Raiders split carries early on, and planned to go with a hot hand. They got some important plays from those guys and fullback Jamize Olawale, who had a 17-yard run.

Washington had 23 yards on nine carries, and had five receptions for 29 more yards. Richard was also a dual threat, with eight carries for 31 yards and six receptions for 66 yards.

The Raiders had 89 rushing yards in total, and missed their primary back in key moments.

Sitting it out: The Raiders were thin at a few spots, including linebacker and tight end. They had to get creative making up for Lee Smith’s absence, using offensive lineman Denver Kirkland as an eligible receiver to add heft on rushing downs.

Perry Riley Jr. started next to Cory James at linebacker over Malcolm Smith, who was active – the Raiders had more injuries than allowed on the inactive list – but not ready to play.

Vadal Alexander started his second straight game. Austin Howard was active for the first time since Week 2 but still working his way back to health. Menelik Watson and Matt McCants remain out with injury.

Latavius Murray was ruled out earlier in the week with a toe injury.

What’s next: The Raiders stay home and in the division, with a Week 6 showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Coliseum. That should be a good test of teams expecting to battle for a playoff spot.

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”