Raiders-Lions: Matchups to watch


Raiders-Lions: Matchups to watch

ALAMEDA -- The last time the Raiders suffered a pair of disheartening defeats it appeared as though they were circling the drain -- home losses to Kansas City and Denver by a cumulative 66-24. However, they responded by winning three straight games.Do they have it in them again, after getting pummeled at Miami and Green by by a combined 80-30 and with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread?We should know right away as the Raiders (7-6) face a near mirror-image in the Detroit Lions (8-5) as both compete for playoff spots.Both are penalty-prone teams who have athletes up and down their respective rosters but share issues in stopping the run. The Raiders are allowing an NFL-worst 5.2 yards per carry; the Lions, 5.1 yards per carry. Only eight teams have allowed more than five yards per carry since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.A look, then, at some key on-field matchups to watch Sunday afternoon from the Coliseum:Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt (26) vs. Lions receiver Calvin Johnson (81).TALE OF THE TAPERoutt: 6-1, 195, Houston, seventh season
Johnson: 6-5, 236, Georgia Tech, fifth seasonSuch an integral part of the Lions offense is Johnson, that alarm bells have started to sound in the Motor City over his relative lack of production over the last three games. Of course, grabbing 13 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown in a three-game stretch would make for a good season in some parts.Just not in a town where the game-changing pass catcher is known as "Megatron."And therein lies the challenge for Routt.Johnson might be the most physically gifted receiver in the NFL, so rarely do teams rely on one-on-one coverage to limit the damage caused by him. Rather, they slide a safety over to help out said cornerback."I just play whatever is called," Routt said. "Whatever the D-coordinator wants to do, I'm fine with it. It's not my defense. I always play what is called. As far as help, if I got it I got it, if I don't I don't. I still have to make the play no matter what. I don't really get into all that. I just play football."Routt has three interceptions this season, which is tied for the team lead with safety Matt Giordano.Johnson has 72 catches (sixth-most in the NFL) for 1,121 yards (fourth-most) and 12 touchdowns (second-most). So it's not as if Johnson is having a down year."Whatever the definition of a diva wide receiver is, Calvin's the opposite of that," said Lions coach Jim Schwartz. "He's a team-first guy, he's sort of a mild-mannered guy off the field. But the one thing is, we don't have any Randy (Moss)-ratios or anything like that as far as getting Calvin Johnson the ball. We obviously want to get him the ball; he's one of our better players. We have other good players around him and sometimes defenses will take the approach of trying to take Calvin completely out of the game."With that being said, even with their gameplans, he's still been able to get the ball. Nobody's shut him out...Calvin's having a great year."The Raiders, then, need Routt to have a great game."I don't think he's really bothered by much," Routt said of Johnson. "I don't think any receiver likes being hit. Hell, I don't like being hit. I don't really see too many weaknesses in his game. He definitely has a lot to bring to the tablehis speed, obviously, his height. When you combine those together, it's a tough matchup for most corners."Other matchups worth watching:
Raiders right guard Cooper Carlisle (66) vs. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) -- Carlisle just might be the most laid back of the Raiders offensive linemen.He's going to have to kick it up against the 6-feet-4, 307-pound Suh, who was voted the NFL's third-meanest player in a Sports Illustrated players poll last month and who is coming off his two-game suspension for stomping Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving."He's obviously a good player, had a lot of success in a short period of time in the NFL," Carlisle said of Suh. "I think his greatest attribute is probably his power. He does a lot with his strength and his power."As a rookie, Suh had 10 sacks and was named defensive rookie of the year, as well as All-Pro. This season, Suh has just three sacks while being, as his supporters claim, targeted by the referees."His penalty on Thanksgiving was the first penalty that he's gotten that's been truly an after-the-whistle penalty, where he lost his composure," Schwartz said of Suh."Other than that, I really can't speak on what his perception is. I know he's a good football player, he's a good teammate, and we're glad to have him on our team."Which is why the 6-5, 295-pound Carlisle laughed when asked if he'd antagonize a player with such a purported hair-trigger temper."I don't think so," Carlisle said. "I don't think so."Then again, the best way for Carlisle and the Raiders to neutralize Suh as a pass rusher would be to establish the run, so that quarterback Carson Palmer is not dropping back and becoming even more of a target. Otherwise, center Samson Satele is going to have to slide over and help Carlisle."The position (Suh) plays allows for some double-teams because he's kind of in the middle there and not necessarily on the edge in one-on-one situations a lot," Palmer said. "He splits double-teams, he pushes double-teams out of the way. He's a guy that we're very focused on, and we're going to understand where he's at at all times. And you have to because he's a heck of a player."Raiders and Lions vs referees -- In leading the NFL in penalties (130) and penalty yards (1,116), the Raiders remain on pace to set new league records for both (160 for 1,374, which would eclipse the 1998 Kansas City Chiefs' mark of 158 for 1,304).The Lions are not far behind, having been flagged 105 times for 894 yards.The interesting nugget, though, comes courtesy of STATS Inc. -- the Raiders and Lions are tied for the league lead in personal fouls with 27.So the refs are certainly going to be busy in a game that promises to resemble an old-school WWF battle royal, no?"Hopefully not," Raiders strong safety Tyvon Branch said with a laugh. "Hopefully just for them."We're walking a thin line here, man. Our aggressive play seems to be too aggressive, it seems like. They always seem to flag us for them but hey, man, that's the nature of the game."It's well-documented that both of these teams are physical teams and we walk that thin line. But it is what it is, man. It's not going to change the way we play."Then there's this: the Raiders have given opponents 45 first downs via penalty, 11 off the record set by those 1998 Chiefs. And of those free first downs, 16 have led to scores.

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game


Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch watched most of Thursday night’s game versus Kansas City from the stands after getting ejected for making contact with an official.

He’ll also be a spectator next week.

The NFL suspended him one game for unsportsmanlike conduct stemming from an incident where left the sidelines to join an on-field scuffle and ended up pushing an official.

The league announced the suspension Friday afternoon. Lynch has already appealed the suspension, per multiple reports.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and automatically ejected by rule.

Punishment after the fact has gotten expensive.

By rule, Lynch will be fined $30,387 for making contact with an official. He could get hit with other penalties, including entering a fight unnecessarily.

Lynch is also suspended without pay, meaning he’ll forfeit a $79,411 game check and a $31,250 per-game roster bonus.

The Cal alum won’t play a Week 8 contest in Buffalo, against a Bills team that drafted him No. 12 overall in 2007.

Lynch was on the sidelines during a third down draw play where quarterback Derek Carr incurred what officials called a late hit from Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters.

The Raiders offensive line took offense, and came after Peters in a scrum. Lynch and Peters, both Oakland natives, are extremely close. Lynch ran on the field to get between his teammates and his friend, but ended up inadvertently pushing an official. The league has zero tolerance for that, and sent him off the field.

Lynch watched a dramatic 31-30 victory over Kansas City from the stands and screens near the field, and congratulated his teammates after a big win.

Lynch did not explain why he entered the fray, though he seemed to be trying to get Peters out of harm’s way.

“They can say what they want but one thing’s for certain: Family do come first,” Peters told Bay Area News Group’s Logan Murdock.

His Raiders teammates and coaches must carry on without the 31-year old power back. They’ll roll with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and fullback Jamize Olawale against the Bills, as they did against the Chiefs.

Lynch had two carries for nine yards before getting tossed. He has just 266 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries through seven games.

If the suspension is upheld, Lynch will be eligible to return in Week 9 against Miami.

Snap count: Bowman worked overtime to be 'hunting dog' in Raiders' defense


Snap count: Bowman worked overtime to be 'hunting dog' in Raiders' defense

OAKLAND – NaVorro Bowman would’ve been forgiven for skipping Thursday’s game. The veteran inside linebacker signed with the Raiders, and had one practice and a pair of walk-throughs before facing Kansas City.

That isn’t much time to absorb a new scheme. No matter. As he said Monday, Bowman wanted to show you something.

The former 49er certainly did, even more than Bowman expected. He played 60 of 62 defensive snaps in a crucial 31-30 victory over the Chiefs.

He didn’t just play. He performed. Bowman led the Raiders with 11 tackles, including one for a loss and a crucial hit on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on a crucial third-down stop in the fourth quarter.

He wore the green dot – play calls were relayed to his helmet speaker -- and helped get the defense lined up.

“I just absolutely love the football player in him. He’s a hunting dog,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He loves to play. He brought experience during the week. He was a settling influence, kind of a determined influence on the sideline. I thought he did a remarkable job.”

That’s the result. The process of getting there was remarkable. He put in 40 hours of work in three days, memorizing terminology and defensive concepts specific to the game plan. He bunkered down and ignored the world during his acclimation process, and came out a functional member of the Raiders defense.

“Everyone knows I’ve only been here for three days and must be wondering how I did it,” Bowman said. “It was my commitment to the game, and my family understanding how much I love the work and giving me that peace and quiet time in hours away from them to really get everything down. This is why you want to come out so well and execute. So many people are sacrificing so you can play the game.”

Bowman helped keep the Raiders close down the stretch, and had key stops in a pair of defensive stops that allowed quarterback Derek Carr to orchestrate a successful two-minute drill.

"I was on the sidelines with my back turned, saying ‘I can’t watch, I can’t watch,’” Bowman said. “They all looked at me funny like, ‘This is what we do.’ They went out and won, and acted all normal. I guess that’s how we roll. It was a great game, and I enjoyed it.”

That was clear after the game. There was a good reason for it. Bowman hadn’t won a game since September 2016. Bowman lost most of last season recovering from an Achilles’ tendon injury, meaning he last tasted victory in Week 2 last season.

“I’ve worked my way back from the Achilles injury, and to have a shot to better and get better and possibly win a division is huge,” Bowman said. “We just beat a really good team. I think this will propel us and get us going.”

Quarterback –
Derek Carr 82
Running back – Jalen Richard 26, DeAndre Washington 25, Jamize Olawale 11, Marshawn Lynch 10
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 78, Seth Roberts 72, Michael Crabtree 72, Cordarelle Patterson 18, Johnny Holton 6
Tight end – Jared Cook 67, Lee Smith 17, Clive Walford 8
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 82, Rodney Hudson 82, Donald Penn 82, Vadal Alexander 82, Gabe Jackson 82

Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 62, Denico Autry 46, Justin Ellis 44, Treyvon Hester 32, Mario Edwards 28, Eddie Vanderdoes 19, James Cowser 3
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 60, Bruce Irvin 59, Nicholas Morrow 38,
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 62, Dexter McDonald 50, David Amerson 28, Sean Smith 19
Safety – Reggie Nelson 62, Karl Joseph 62, Keith McGill 7, Shalom Luani 1

Keith McGill 25, James Cowser 25, Shalom Luani 21, Xavier Woodson-Luster 19, Erik Harris 19, Jamize Olawale 19, Shlique Calhoun 16, Jon Feliciano 14, Lee Smith 14, Giorgio Tavecchio 12, Johnny Holton 12, Marquette King 11, Jon Condo 11, Cordarrelle Patterson 11, Jalen Richard 10, Nicholas Morrow 10, Darius McCray 8, Kelechi Osemele 7, Gabe Jackson 7, Vadal Alexander 7, Clive Walford 7, Justin Ellis 7, David Sharpe 7, Khalil Mack 6, TJ Carrie 6, Denico Autry 6, Treyvon Hester 6, Eddie Vanderdoes 6, Mario Edwards Jr. 5, Karl Joseph 5, DeAndre Washington 4,

QB EJ Manuel

CB Gareon Conley, QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, LB Marquel Lee, LB Cory James, DL Jihad Ward, RT Marshall Newhouse