Raiders defense showing penchant for late-game heroics

Raiders defense showing penchant for late-game heroics

Raiders defensive stats don’t look great. They’ve allowed 376 yards per game. Only two teams provide more. They give up 24 points per game, a sum ranked 21st in the NFL.

They’re No. 25 against the run and pass and dead last allowing 6.1 yards per play.

Those stats could be damning. Not for this group. The Raiders defense knows how to buckle down and perform in the clutch.

That’s especially true of late. The Raiders have allowed just 10 fourth-quarter points since the bye week. That’s a five-game stretch that includes three straight shut outs in the final period.

They’ve been good at the tail end of games all season. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Raiders have outscored opponents 42-0 in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter. ESPN also reports that the 2006 New England Patriots and 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers went the whole season without allowing a point over the final three minutes, and both reached at least a conference title game.

That, as much as anything else, helps facilitate all these Raiders fourth-quarter comebacks. That’s complimentary football at its finest, and Raiders defenders know offense alone won’t cut it.

“We feel like it’s on us, that we have to close games out,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “If we don’t, it feels like we personally lost that game. Our guys do a great job of blowing up in key situations, getting off the field and sealing victories for us.”

The Raiders defense is especially good at holding late leads. Other teams get in obvious passing situations where Irvin and Khalil Mack can get after the quarterback and create impact plays. Irvin and Mack have combined for seven sacks and four forced fumbles in the fourth quarter. Safety Reggie Nelson also has three interceptions in the final period.

Clutch performance is obviously key, actions made easier because the Raiders remain fresh enough to remain impactful at the end.

“I think that the conditioning, the whole staff has done a great job of having the guys ready to finish strong,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. “There’s a rotation that they’re on to make sure that their legs are really good toward the end of the game. The guys are really working well together as far as different guys playing. Then at the same time, execution; guys wanting to win, really putting it together and playing well as a team. I think the execution part of it, the communication part of it, guys really putting their will together to really finish strong has really been impressive.”

The Raiders have punctuated games well. They have 10 takeaways in the fourth quarter, and eight have resulted in points or a victory formation to help the Raiders consistently win games.

“The urgency picks up,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We’re looking to play complementary football throughout 60 minutes, all three phases, but I think the key is to make the plays you need to make. Have situational awareness and make the plays you need to make in order to win the game. I feel like we’ve embraced that and have been successful with that.”


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.

Raiders restructure Marshawn Lynch's contract


Raiders restructure Marshawn Lynch's contract

Marshawn Lynch restructured his contract this week, virtually locking him in for the 2018 Raiders season.

The veteran exchanged some base salary for guaranteed funds and an increased incentive package, according to contract details obtained Wednesday by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

His base salary drops from $4 million to $2.5 million, but becomes guaranteed. None of the funds Lynch had coming in his previous deal were guaranteed. He has a $1 million roster bonus coming on Saturday, just six days after receiving a $1 million roster bonus as required in his old contract.

That essentially guarantees him $4.5 million, as sure a sign as any he’ll be the Raiders feature back. Lynch will lead his position group, with support from veteran addition Doug Martin. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are also on the roster, though it’s uncertain if both guys will remain there this fall.

Lynch can also earn $3.75 million in incentives, a significant increase from the $2 million available in the previous deal.

The Raiders saved $500,000 in salary cap space with the new deal.