Raiders

Raiders move atop AFC West with 24-17 win in San Diego

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Raiders move atop AFC West with 24-17 win in San Diego

BOX SCORE

Got tricks?: Hue Jackson is the one with the bag o' tricks, right? Well, Norv Turner went up his sleeve with a lateral on the Chargers' first punt return of the night. Patrick Crayton fielded the punt and went right before spinning and throwing to Marcus Gilchrist, the ball bouncing on the grass before he fielded it cleanly and took it 40 yards.Lil' Wiz filling big shoes: Samson Satele has a balky left knee and was on the field testing it out before the game. No dice. Rookie Stefen Wisniewski started at center and Stephon Heyer moved in at left guard. Many a hole for Michael Bush came on that side.Speaking of Michael Bush: Starting his second straight game at running back in place of Darren McFadden, Bush responded with 157 yards on 30 carries He also caught three passes for 85 yards. Sure, he had a couple of long plays that McFadden would have taken to the house but, Bush did his job.

Denarius Moore, the playmaker: The training camp revelation came to life, catching five balls for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps no reception more spectacular than the sticky-fingers, shoestring grab he made for a 46-yard pickup in the 2nd quarter. Yes, Carson Palmer likes him. A lot.Ford's foot: Jacoby Ford injured his left foot after making a 41-yard reception in the first quarter. The ball was slightly underthrown and Ford was hurt trying to spin away from Dante Hughes. He was helped off the field and carted to the locker room. He returned to the Raiders sidelines in the second half on crutches and told the NFL Network it was a sprain, and not broken. Still, you have to wonder if recently-cut receiver Derek Hagan is on speed dial. No PI?: Sure, Ford was given the Jake "The Snake" Roberts short-arm clothesline on the fake punt in the end zone. But it was not pass interference because, in a punt formation, anyone lined up wide cannot get the pass interference call because, well, it's supposed to be a punt, so the defender doesn't have to look back at a pass coming their way.No TD? Vincent Brown seemed to beat Lito Sheppard for a 33-yard TD late in the third quarter and the initial signal was touchdown. But the replay assistant overturned the call. The reasoning? Sheppard actually had his hand on the ball and was out of bounds, before Brown secured the play.Homefield advantage?: If you closed your eyes at Qualcomm Stadium and just listened to the collective reactions of the 68,109 in attendance, there were times you could not tell who was actually the home team. The Raiders travel exceptionally well to SoCal, what with their 13-year sojourn in Los Angeles. Truly, San Diego is a capital city of Raider Nation.Hue Jackson finally loses one: Hue Jackson lost his first challenge of his nascent head coaching career when he threw the red flag on a Carson Palmer fumble late in the third quarter. Replays showed that Palmer's arm was still rising, and not in a throwing motion, when he lost control of the ball.Sacks galore: The Raiders had six sacks, none more important than the one that ended the game. Tommy Kelly crushing Philip Rivers ended the game.

Inactives: Raiders without two inside linebackers, Bowman suiting up

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AP

Inactives: Raiders without two inside linebackers, Bowman suiting up

The Raiders are aiming to snap a four-game losing streak as they take on the first-place Chiefs Thursday night under the lights in Oakland. And they will be thin in the middle of their defense. 

Cory James and Marquel Lee are both inactive, but a well-known new face is ready to go.

Oakland will turn to veteran NaVorro Bowman, along with two undrafted rookies, Woodson Luster and Nicholas Morrow, to man the middle. 

The following players have been ruled out tonight vs. the Chiefs: 

Cornerback Gareon Conley

Quarterback Connor Cook

Linebacker Cory James

Linebacker Marquel Lee

Tackle Marshall Newhouse

Defensive End Jihad Ward

Tackle Jylan Ware

Role reversal? Alex Smith currently more of a gunslinger than Derek Carr

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AP

Role reversal? Alex Smith currently more of a gunslinger than Derek Carr

OAKLAND -- Derek Carr is going through a rough patch. The beloved Raiders quarterback is being criticized for his part in this prolonged losing skid, a rarity since his rookie year.

Carr is supposedly playing it safe, getting rid of the ball quick, throwing short and avoiding potentially risky deep shots downfield.

That doesn’t sound like someone who wears No. 4 as homage to Brett Favre. Alex Smith comes to mind instead.

The Kansas City signal caller is notoriously known as a game manager, a cautious leader who rarely lets it rip.

Not this year. The former 49ers No. 1 overall pick is killing it in K.C., with career highs in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. The early MVP candidate has 12 touchdowns and no picks despite the fact he’s throwing deep more than ever.

Now that sounds like the Derek Carr we knew last year.

These quarterbacks seem to have reversed roles heading into Thursday’s clash between AFC West rivals. The Raiders are 2-4 and in desperate need of win against the AFC West-leading Chiefs.

Smith and Carr can be truly dynamic downfield. Only one guy’s found that rhythm lately.

That’s crystal clear when examining their deep throws.

Nobody’s better going yard this year than Smith, per analytics site Pro Football Focus – wrap your head around that – who is 13-of-23 for 526 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions on throws beyond 20 yards in the air. Carr is 17th, completing 3-of-10 deep shots – no starter has fewer attempts -- for 109 yards, three touchdowns and a pick.

Last year, Carr ranked fifth in passes over 20 yards in the air, again, using PFF stats, with a 46-percent completion rate, 858 yards and a 117.6 passer rating. Smith was 20th in that category, completing less than a third of his attempt with a 72.8 passer rating.

The Raiders certainly want to push the ball downfield more. Carr has but four explosive plays in nearly three games of the Raiders’ four game losing streak – he missed the Baltimore loss with a fractured in his back – and hasn’t worked short passes consistently enough to score often.

“We definitely want to be able to (create explosive plays),” Carr said. “Now does that mean we’re going to do anything differently or trying to force things? Absolutely not. That’s where you get in trouble. That’s something that I’ve learned in my career. You can’t force it. You just have to work hard and let it happen.”

Some think Smith is letting it fly with a stoked competitive fire because the Chiefs traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City head coach Andy Reid believes a strong supporting cast led by Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and rookie running back Kareem Hunt allows him to do big things Carr typically does.

There is, however, one constant heading into Thursday’s matchup. Smith has owned the Raiders. The Chiefs have had Carr’s number.

Smith is 9-1 against Oakland. Carr’s 1-5 against K.C.

Smith has 8.3 yards per attempt, 19 touchdowns and just four picks against the Raiders. Carr averages 4.92 yards per attempt, six touchdowns and five interceptions versus the Chiefs.

“These are big games in the division,” Smith said. “You know they’re going to be four quarters. You know they’re going to come down to the end. You just try to go out there every single play and execute. They’re all hard fought and have been close.”

Carr knows Kansas City stands in the way of his ultimate goals. This year, he has to get past them to get the Raiders back on track. That won’t be easy.

“They do a good job of rushing the passer. They do a good job of stopping the run. They do a good job on the coverage end,” Carr said. “They’re sound. They’re really well-coached. (Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton) is a great coach. All the respect for him. So much respect that he even texted me when I got hurt last year. He’s just a good dude. But this week I don’t like him too much. He does a really good job of making sure everyone is locked in. They’re really smart. They’re really smart players. They don’t do a lot so they can see route concepts. They can visualize things and get used to seeing those kind of things.”