Raiders show 'tremendous grit,' find way to win another close game

Raiders show 'tremendous grit,' find way to win another close game

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders spent three quarters on Monday night trying to find a rhythm. Never did. They were losing battles up front, failing to generate a running attack and struggling to keep pace with the Houston Texans.

No matter. Derek Carr knew they were going to win.

It wasn’t blind faith. The Raiders are closers, with several comeback wins on their resume. Add another one to the list.

The Raiders scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Texans 27-20 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

“We got punched in the mouth, for lack of a better word, and we were throwing them back,” Carr said. “It was 10-10, tie game, tough game at half. We weren't doing things the way we usually want to do things, execution-wise. But there was no doubt in anybody's mind that we were going to come back and win the football game.”

Carr threw two touchdown passes down the stretch, accurate balls that allowed his skill players to make magic. Jamize Olawale tied the game on a 75-yard touchdown where he got lost in a coverage shuffle. Carr hit Amari Cooper on a 35-yard scoring strike where Cooper caught the ball, made a great cut and zoomed through traffic en route to the end zone.

The defense held strong down the stretch and the Raiders milked the clock with a long drive that killed the final three minutes.

It brought the Raiders to 8-2 and atop the AFC West. They’ve won four straight, and have supreme confidence in their ability to compete with anyone, even when things aren’t going great.

“That wasn’t a clean game, but our guys showed tremendous grit,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We got an opportunity to seize control and were able to do that. We made the plays we need to make to get a hard-earned win.”

These comebacks have become a Raiders signature, after so many dramatic wins. They came back and bit New Orleans, Baltimore and Tampa Bay that way. Houston is the latest victim.

“We had to come up with some big plays there at the end, and we were able to get that job done,” running back Latavius Murray said. “It gave us the chance to get this win. The defense played great, and the offense had go to out there and get a lead late.

“It really feels good. What’s special about this team is that we keep finding ways to win. We have to continue to work and continue to get better as we move forward.”

Reports: Marshawn Lynch to remain with Raiders in 2018


Reports: Marshawn Lynch to remain with Raiders in 2018

The Raiders signed veteran running back Doug Martin on Thursday, prompting many to believe the move meant the end of Marshawn Lynch's time in Oakland.

But as it has been expected, Martin is just another piece to go along with Lynch in the Raiders' backfield. According to multiple national reports, Lynch will remain in Silver and Black this upcoming season. 

The news will become official when the Raiders pay Lynch his $1 million roster bonus on Sunday. 

“One of the reasons I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch. We’ll see what happens," Jon Gruden told Insider Scott Bair at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We have to take a look at the entire roster, but I’m counting on him. I’m counting on him being a big part of this football team.”

Lynch, 31, rushed for 891 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and scored seven touchdowns for the Raiders in 2017. 

New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'


New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'

Rashaan Melvin has the supreme confidence of a No. 1 cornerback, with none of the pedigree. Top cover men are often drafted high, paid well or both, with a steady ascent to elite status.

This undrafted talent bounced around the league without job security, trying and often failing to find NFL footing.

Melvin spent time with Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, New England and Miami again before establishing himself in Indianapolis. The Colts gave him a real shot and he took advantage, evolving into the team’s top cornerback. Last year was Melvin’s best, but it didn’t provide a long-term contract despite a bull market for cover men.

Melvin signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Raiders on Friday, the type of prove-it deal that could establish a big payday down this time next year. The 28-year old doesn’t consider that pressure. Melvin knowns another big year's on the way, one that proves he's an elite cornerback

"I’m here to dominate the league," Melvin said Friday in a conference call. "It might be time for some new faces at the cornerback position. That’s my take on that. I’m excited for it.”

Melvin wouldn’t trade his long road for a conventional path, and believes experience both good and bad has prepared him for a pivotal season.

“I’ve been cut four times,” Melvin said. “I’ve been in four different locker rooms, and I was able to gain my teammates’ trust, my coaches’ trust and the organization’s trust as well. My confidence just grows over time. There are not a lot of players that can say they’ve been cut four times and end up in a situation where I’m at today. Like I said, it’s perfect timing. My work ethic, my style of play and the way I approach the game and the way I approach my job, my business, it speaks for itself.”

Melvin’s work ethic is unquestioned. His reputation as a grinder is well documented, especially after establishing himself in Indianapolis. Commitment to a craft has created a player with consistent coverage and ball skills.

Melvin was excellent last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Melvin created an incomplete pass (combining passes defensed and interceptions) on 23.6 percent of his targets.

Passers had a 60.3 passer rating against him in 2017, with just 29 completions for 328 yards on 55 targets. The passer rating was 86.6 in 2016, his only other season as a regular starter.

The Raiders need that type of player on the outside. They’ve had inconsistent cornerback play (that’s being kind) in recent seasons, and are hoping Melvin provides stability at a key position. The Northern Illinois alum has loftier aspirations, individually and as the leader of a young position group.

“The goal is to be the best player I can be, first-team All-Pro,” Melvin said. “I’m going to show my leadership, help these young guys out this year. They have tons of potential to be successful in their own careers. For me coming in here and being the leader and showing that, hey, this is what it takes to be successful in this football league, that’s what I’m willing to do. That’s what I’m willing to bring to the table. On the football field, but outside as well.”

Paying $6.5 million for all that would be a bargain. Melvin’s the key acquisition in a secondary built around 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and 2017 first-round cornerback Gareon Conley. This secondary can be solid if those guys can realize potential and Melvin’s a true No. 1 cornerback.

He considers that title appropriate, and is ready to show he’s more that a one-year wonder. The Raiders have great confidence in Melvin, something clear after targeting him early in the free-agent process. Financing’s always a big factor, but Friday’s meeting with head coach Jon Gruden, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Derrick Ansley convinced Melvin that Oakland’s a proper fit.

“I can relate to these guys,” Melvin said. “They have big plans for me, big plans for the organization. I was born to be a part of something special; that’s happening in Oakland. It was a good thing. We were able to get everything done, a deal done. I’m just excited to be here and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a team and me as a player.”