Arden Key

Raiders frustrated, drained after failing to corral Deshaun Watson

Raiders frustrated, drained after failing to corral Deshaun Watson

HOUSTON – Arden Key came screaming into the Houston backfield, charging hard off the Raiders right edge. He cut inside and had Deshaun Watson dead to rights, wrapping him up with both hands. The Texans quarterback somehow escaped the alligator roll, ran to his right and completed a touchdown pass that decided Sunday’s 27-24 Week 8 loss to Houston at NRG Stadium.

Key couldn’t believe what happened. He though the biggest sack of his young career was done, that the Raiders held strong in an important moment. Instead, Watson got loose, avoided the brunt of a sack attempt by Maxx Crosby and threw a touchdown strike despite not being able to see out of one eye.

“It’s still on me,” Key said. “That’s a sack, and they kick a field goal and it’s a tie game. Then we go to overtime and we score. It’s tough. We made some bad plays on that drive. We shouldn’t have been down there in the first place, but it’s on me. I should’ve made that play.”

It was one of several dramatic turns in a second half Watson dominated. All told, he was 27-for-39 for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

The Raiders were applying steady pressure in the backfield so the Texans sent Watson out of the pocket on bootlegs and rollouts that kept the chains moving.

“They did a great job attacking holes in our zone,” Raiders defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said. “They were dinking and dunking, frustrating us a little bit. They were taking 2 yards here, 3 yards there, after a 12-yard play where somebody slipped and missed a tackle, just annoying s--t like that. It wasn’t anything explosive. They weren’t out there beating us physically.”

They were wearing the Raiders down psychologically with extended drives and excellent third-down play that kept the scoring coming. The Texans scored on four consecutive drives and didn’t punt after the second quarter.

Houston maintained possession most of the second half, including 12:25 of the third quarter. The Raiders only had three second-half possession, scoring on quicker strikes but unable to keep up with the Texans steady drives.

“We got the rush going several times, but he finds a way out of trouble and completes a pass over and over again,” Key said. “Mentally, it drains you.”

That was a cause for frustration and the main reason why the Raiders lost a winnable game.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden pointed a finger and tipped a cap to Watson for an excellent game.

“He was awesome today. Doggone Watson,” Gruden said. “We had the ball three times in the second half. It was very unfortunate.

“… If you’ve watched Watson play, we’re not the first team he has gotten. He’s a spectacular player. He wills it out of his team, makes something out of nothing. He did that a lot today. It’s a credit to him.”

[RELATED: Williams disappointed in his miscues in loss vs. Texans]

The Raiders defense also took some blame for the effort. They had plenty of opportunities to shut second-half drives down and put the Texans star quarterback down. They couldn’t do it enough.

“We were getting pressure,” Raiders edge rusher Clelin Ferrell said. “I just feel like the issues were on the bootlegs and scramble plays. It’s about getting pressure, but you have to get the guy on the ground. He’ll burn you if you don’t.”

NFL rumors: Raiders DE Arden Key out multiple weeks with knee injury

NFL rumors: Raiders DE Arden Key out multiple weeks with knee injury

The Raiders left London with a big 24-21 Week 5 win over the Bears, but lost one of their young defensive players while doing so. 

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Raiders defensive end Arden Key strained his patellar tendon Sunday and is expected to miss a couple of weeks. The team is expected to work out players at his position this week during their bye. 

Key, a third-round draft pick last year, has had a slow start to the season. He has played in all five games for the 3-2 Raiders, but only has one assisted tackle and two quarterback hits.

Coach Jon Gruden called for more production from the second-year pro a few weeks ago. 

“We have got to get more out of Arden. I’ve said that for long enough,” Gruden said after the Raiders' Week 2 loss to the Chiefs. “Arden, if you are listening, we got to get you going."

[RELATED: Raiders rookies shine bright in wild London win over Bears]

If Key is to step it up this season for the Silver and Black, it won't be for quite some time.

Source: Raiders' Arden Key fined $21K for roughing passer in Week 3

Source: Raiders' Arden Key fined $21K for roughing passer in Week 3

Raiders edge rusher Arden Key just picked up the first fine of his two-year NFL career. 

The NFL fined Key $21,056 for a roughing the passer penalty against Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in Week 3, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area's Scott Bair. 

Key, 23, played in just 18 percent of the Raiders' defensive snaps in Week 3. His snap count has decreased in each of the last two weeks, and the 2018 third-round draft pick has just one assisted tackle and two QB hits through three weeks this season. 

[RELATED: Why Raiders rookie Ferrell is one to watch Sunday vs. Colts]

While his pockets are lighter, Key could play more in Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts. The Vikings largely worked out of their base package in Week 3, thanks in part to the presence of NFL-leading rusher Dalvin Cook in their backfield. Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has attempted at least 27 passes in each of his three starts this season, meaning Key should have more pass-rushing opportunities. 

When Key does, he'll want to put the fine and his slow start behind him.