Raiders

Inactives: Raiders rule CB Sean Smith out vs Broncos

Inactives: Raiders rule CB Sean Smith out vs Broncos

OAKLAND – Raiders cornerback Sean Smith really wanted to play Sunday night’s game against the Denver Broncos. A shoulder injury called that into question.

He tested the injury twice during the practice week, and believed a harness could help him play well. Smith declared himself ready to play on Friday, and hoped to convince coaches to let him play this primetime game.

“Any true competitor would want that spotlight,” Smith said Friday. “At the cornerback position, we have the target on our back. To go out there and hold it down and win in front of our home fans and a national television audience, that’s what you work for.”

The coaching staff didn’t budge. Smith was declared inactive against Denver, giving him two more weeks to heal with a bye between Sunday’s game and a Monday night affair versus Houston in Mexico City.

TJ Carrie will see more snaps in this one as the third cornerback, with DJ Hayden expected to move outside in the base defense and inside in sub packages.

Offensive tackle Menelik Watson is active for the first time since Week 3, though Austin Howard is still expected to start on the right side. Watson and Denver Kirkland should see snaps as extra blockers in certain formations.

The Denver Broncos have cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Kayvon Webster inactive with injury, leaving youth to play with Bradley Roby and Chris Harris Jr. when extra receivers take the field.

In addition to Smith, quarterback Connor Cook, cornerback Dexter McDonald, offensive linemen Matt McCants and Vadal Alexander, tight end Ryan O’Malley and defensive tackle Stacy McGee were ruled inactive. McGee was ruled out earlier in the week.

Raiders report card after Sunday's 23-13 victory over Cardinals

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Raiders report card after Sunday's 23-13 victory over Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Raiders have lost five straight by at least 14 points heading into Sunday’s game against Arizona.

They snapped that streak, and not just with a close loss.

The Raiders actually won. For real.

Derek Carr orchestrated his 15th career fourth-quarter comeback to help the Raiders beat the Cardinals 23-21 at State Farm Stadium.

We typically hand out Fs by the bushel in this space, but not tonight my friends. Not tonight.

The Raiders were far from perfect, but did several things well in this win. Here’s the report card from the Valley of the Sun.

Rushing offense

The Raiders were committed to the run against the Cardinals, and it paid off in spades. Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Doug Martin ran 33 times for 152 yards. That’s 4.6 yards per carry, a strong effort that gave the Raiders a balanced offense for once. The offensive line opened holes and the backs burst right through them to keep the offense moving. Good job all around by the ground game.
Grade: A

Passing offense

Derek Carr didn’t piled up stats, but he completed passes at critical times. That was especially true on the game-deciding field goal drive. He was working with the bottom of the depth chart, but managed to make plays with Marcell Ateman, Seth Roberts and Jared Cook. Pass protection was spotty at best, and the entire operation needs to be cleaner, but these guys got the job done.
Grade: B-minus

Rushing defense

After a terrible first drive, the Raiders did a solid job corralling star Cardinals rusher David Johnson. All it takes, however, is one bad play to ruin a day. That came on a 55 yard run by Johnson that set up a go-ahead score with five minutes left. They allowed 154 yards on 31 carries, which will get you beat in most scenarios.
Grade:D

Pass defense

The Raiders secondary delivered on Sunday with interceptions from Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph. Both takeaways created great field position and resulted in Raiders touchdowns. Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was awful, but completed 9-of-20 passes for 136 yards thanks to errant throws and some solid coverage from the Raiders secondary.
Grade: A-minus

Special teams

Daniel Carlson nailed the first game-winning field goal of his career as time expired. That’s all you need to get an ‘A.’ The rookie from Auburn is coming on strong the past few weeks. He could be a long-term answer at kicker if he keeps this up.
Grade: A

Overall

A cynic would say the Raiders blew it by winning, hurting their draft position in an already lost season. That’s not how the players and coaches think. They wanted to win and were able to. It might not happen much the rest of the year, so they have to bask in this victory.
Grade: A

Inside the Raiders' final drive to complete comeback vs. Cardinals

Inside the Raiders' final drive to complete comeback vs. Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Arizona Cardinals took a fourth-quarter lead with roughly five minutes left Sunday. Then, they couldn’t do anything else offensively.

That gave the Raiders three cracks at a comeback. The first two attempts went nowhere, as a bad, ailing offense continued to sputter in crunch time.

No matter. The offense took the field considering the third time a charm.

Quarterback Derek Carr tried to ease tension before that must-win series, telling center Rodney Hudson to “protect it up. We’re just going to go play catch outside.”

The Raiders played pitch and catch well into field-goal range. where Daniel Carlson secured a 23-21 victory at State Farm Stadium.

That's what they expected before the final drive started. Despite failing to consistently perform under pressure, the Raiders believed they would get the job done.

“We believed the outcome was never in doubt,” Carr said after his 15th career fourth-quarter comeback. “There have been times where we believed but didn’t win. … Everyone had that look in their eye, though it was a little different because, ‘Hey, this is probably our last chance.’”

Carr made it worthwhile.

He completed two short passes to get a 1st down, then spiked it to stop the clock. Carr saw rookie Marcell Ateman break free down the left sideline on the next snap and, with no regard for his rookie status, sent the ball deep.

Ateman came up with a huge, 32-yard catch that worked into Cardinals territory -- in his NFL debut, no less.

“He made one heck of a catch, keeping his feet in,” Carr said. “For him to do that in his first start, his first game, with everything going against him. … He did his job, got to his landmark when I wanted him to be there, and it was all him. He made an excellent play, and got a game ball for it. It was awesome.”

[BAIR: Jon Gruden, Derek Carr not sweating their argument after Raiders' win]

An incompletion and a sack left Carr only 25 seconds to work with. He then correctly identified the defensive back covering Seth Roberts ready to blitz, and quickly got the ball out to his veteran receiver. Ateman and fellow rookie Saeed Blacknall blocked their cover guys well, allowing Roberts to zip 20 yards upfield.

He didn’t get out of bounds and the Raiders had zero timeouts, meaning Carr had to spike it quickly to set up Carlson’s kick with two seconds left.

The rookie kicker nailed it, giving his team a much-needed win after five straight losses.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Carlson told reporters. “We kept chipping away, knowing eventually the rock was going to crack. It felt really good, really sweet to help make it happen.”