JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Raiders defense got embarrassed by Kansas City last week, in front of home fans. That loss to the Chiefs was a boiling point for the NFL’s worst defense, which came under scrutiny for a string of poor performances.
Players weren’t happy allowing yards and points by the bushel, playing in contrast to what they considered great potential.
“Everybody had a bad taste in their mouth,” Khalil Mack said.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were cool mint Scope.
The Raiders defense got right in Sunday’s 33-16 victory at EverBank Field against an offense unable to move the ball downfield. Their 344 yards allowed, while not great, was a season low. Most of that sum came in garbage time, with just 201 yards allowed through three quarters.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was sacked once, hit five times and flustered most of the afternoon.
“You could see him smacking his thighs, throwing his head down and his hands up,” cornerback David Amerson said. “I could see that the front seven did a good job harassing him the whole time, getting him out of the pocket. I think we did a good against him.”
While Raiders gave up chunk yards on the ground, they stood tall at important times.
They had two interceptions. The Jaguars were 4-for-13 on third down, just 1-for-4 in the red zone and didn’t cross the goal line for roughly 54 minutes.
“It was huge for us to come out and hold it down on defense,” Mack said. “It was huge for us to get the win.”
Mack came up with a big third-down sack. David Amerson intercepted a pass in the end zone and former Jaguars draft pick Reggie Nelson got Bortles late in the fourth quarter with an opportunistic pick.
“We definitely made him move around a little bit and brought him down a couple times,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I thought the coverage was a lot better. We gave up some yards in garbage time late, but we were pretty solid throughout the day. I thought the defense played better.”
Detractors will say the Raiders defense looked better against a moribund Jaguars attack ranked low in scoring, total offense and rushing yards. That unit can only play the next opponent on the schedule, and they looked better than in recent weeks in key areas where the Raiders struggled in recent weeks.
They didn’t leave Jacksonville acting like every problem has been fixed. “We came out and played aggressive football on defense,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “Guys were in their gaps, communicated and it really showed today.”
“It’s a step. It wasn’t perfect,” Amerson said. “There are definitely things we can work on and improve, but we moved in the right direction. We got the win and we limited their offense from what they wanted to do. It’s something we can grow from.”