Raiders

Instant Analysis: Carr goes for it all, final-minute fumble dooms Raiders

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AP

Instant Analysis: Carr goes for it all, final-minute fumble dooms Raiders

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OAKLAND – The Raiders have taken first-round uppercuts several times this season. They typically have a glass jaw, dropping without much resistance or ability to recover.

That happened at Washington, against Baltimore, New England and last week’s gotta-have-it game at Kansas City.

Dallas delivered another haymaker Sunday night. This time, in a virtual elimination game for both teams, the Raiders didn’t drop.

The Raiders bit and scratched and scrapped and clawed back from a double-digit deficit, and were within field goal range when a random rule ended an unlikely comeback try.

The Raiders were down three points with roughly 30 seconds left when quarterback Derek Carr took off running on 3rd and 3 from the Cowboys’ 8-yard line and dove for the goal line. He got hit during the dive and lost control, fumbling the ball through the end zone.

By rule, that’s a touchback.

It was confirmed upon review. The Raiders lost 20-17 on Sunday night at Oakland Coliseum, taking playoff hopes down with them.

Carr’s effort gone awry ended a crazy game full of ups, downs and wild rulings.

The Raiders needed help to reach the playoffs and didn’t get much from the weekend slate, but aid only gains power with Raiders victories. They didn’t uphold their end, falling to 6-8 and well behind in the AFC wild card hunt. The Raiders technically aren’t eliminated -- they advance with certain four-way ties at 8-8 or a five-way tie that includes the Chargers -- but it’s virtually certain their season ends with the regular season.

Carr’s gutsy play for the end zone decided the game, but it swung on a 4th-and-inches near the Dallas’ 40 midway through the fourth quarter, when Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott’s sneak was so close officials had to slide a folded piece of paper between the ball and the first-down marker to determine the result.

It was called a first down, Dallas. That, and a 40-yard reception by Dez Bryant paved the way for a Dan Bailey’s deciding 19-yard field goal.

Carr’s passing totals weren’t pretty and he was anything but perfect, but he got by. This ranks among the grittiest performances of his career. That stands, even in a losing effort.

He found a way to make plays, often throwing off balance, on the run or while being tackled. He kept the ball moving and the Raiders alive after a terrible start for the entire offense. He ended up with 218 total yards, and needed but a few more to complete a comeback.

He fell just short going for the end zone.

Running back Marsahwn Lynch was equally tough, with 76 yards on 16 carries, and a significant portion after contact.

Carr’s second touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree tied it 17-17 early in the fourth quarter, completing a 10-play, 53-yard drive. Dak Prescott’s 5-yard touchdown run came a series prior, making the response vital to the Raiders’ efforts.

The Raiders were shut out in the first half for the fourth time this season – the fourth time! – and hit halftime down 10-0, though it could’ve been a little better. Smith’s first interception cut off a strong Cowboys drive. Then a controversial offensive pass interference call negated a Raiders touchdown and Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 39-yard field foal attempt to close the half.

A foot injury removed left tackle Donald Penn early on, but the offensive line held tough. Right tackle Marshall Newhouse took over Penn’s spot and Vadal Alexander filled switch’s vacancy, but didn’t miss much.

That was important as the Raiders mounted a third-quarter comeback. It momentarily seemed like a lead, when Smith returned his second pick for a touchdown. He was ruled down at the 22-yard line upon review; the offense couldn’t move and left with a field goal.

Raiders confirm Greg Papa out as team's radio voice after two decades

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AP

Raiders confirm Greg Papa out as team's radio voice after two decades

The Raiders made it official Thursday. Legendary broadcaster Greg Papa, who also serves as an analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, no longer will be the radio voice of the team.

[RAY RATTO: Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap]

Raiders owner Mark Davis made the following statement Thursday: 

The Raiders organization would like to thank Greg Papa for his two decades of service to the Silver and Black.. He wasn’t just given the job.. He earned it.. With intense preparation Greg was always ready for the call.. Just as my generation remembers Bill King and “Holy Toledo”.. The Raider Nation will remember Greg Papa and “Touchdown Raiders”.. We wish Greg and his family the best in whatever the future brings..
-Mark Davis-

Brent Musburger reportedly will replace Papa in the booth. That hasn't been made official, however. 

Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season

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USATSI

Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season

The Raiders are taking some time off during the dead period of the NFL offseason. Even early bird Jon Gruden is slapping the snooze button these days, spending some quality time with family before training camp cranks up later this month.

Coaches and players are still finding time for work, sometimes while they’re on vacation. The Raiders want to hit the ground running this preseason, with many motivated to show well in silver and black. That’s especially true for a large class of new Raiders, many of whom hope to silence detractors.

Here are five newcomers with plenty to prove in 2018:

5. CB Rashaan Melvin

Lists like this are normally reserved for guys coming off injuries or down years. Melvin doesn’t fit that mold. The 28-year old had his best year in 2017, often shutting down top receivers as Indy’s top cornerback. He allowed a paltry 60.3 passer rating when targeted, with three picks, 10 passes defensed and just two touchdowns allowed.

Those stats didn’t produce a robust free-agent market. Melvin ended up signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Oakland, and is now working to show he’s not a one-year wonder and can stay healthy for 16 games. An ovation-worthy encore would surely earn a long-term, bigger-money deal.

Melvin made his motivation clear on Twitter a few weeks back.

4. WR Jordy Nelson

Nelson had a down year in 2017. It started well, with six touchdowns in the first four games he played. Then all-world Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down, and things hit the skids. He averaged just 9.1 yards per reception, and didn’t score after that early flurry.

That led some to say Nelson lost a step at age 32 he would not recover. The Packers asked him to take a massive pay cut, and ended up releasing him in March. The Raiders swooped in quickly with a two-year deal and plenty of guaranteed money.

Nelson has been praised for his attention to detail and position-group leadership, and will fit into the starting lineup with Amari Cooper and Martavis Bryant. He had four straight 1,000-yard seasons prior to last year. His worth won’t be defined by a monster statistical year. Reliability, leadership and red-zone performance will show if Nelson’s still got it.

3. RB Doug Martin

The veteran rusher has had an uneven career. Excellent production has come in spurts, with dominance in 2012 and 2015. The last 1,400-plus yard season was followed by two seasons of 2.9 yards per carry, which led Tampa Bay to cut his this winter.

He met Gruden for lunch at a Florida golf course, and the exchange convinced Gruden the 29-year old was ready to work and prove he had plenty left in the tank. His work was praised during the offseason program, though practice in pads and preseason play will offer stronger evidence of 2018 effectiveness. Showing well in camp could lead to an increased role behind starter Marshawn Lynch. Gruden likes using multiple backs in his offense, and could make steady contributions in the run game.

2. MLB Derrick Johnson

The longtime Kansas City Chief was let go by the team that drafted him in 2005, but it was not the end of his NFL journey. Some thought he’d call it a career at age 35, especially after suffering an Achilles’ tendon tear in Dec. 2016, but he found a new home in Oakland and a strong bond with Gruden. The Raiders need stability in the middle, and Johnson will provide on-field leadership. There’s no doubt about that.

Johnson must prove capable of being a three-down linebacker effective against the run and pass. Marquel Lee is available should the Raiders require a platoon, but Johnson doesn’t want that. The Raiders need his expertise inside at all times.

1. Head coach Jon Gruden

Gruden isn’t a newcomer, but it’s been nearly two decades since he roamed the silver and black sidelines. He hasn’t coached since 2008, but returned to the Raiders in January after nine years in the broadcast booth.

Gruden has said several times he has something to prove to his critics. That might be a self-motivational tool. There aren’t many in the East Bay, where the fan base as rallied behind him and players have loved the intensity and passion he brings to practice and meetings.

Some assume his old school tendencies and his “bringing it back to 1998” comment this offseason implies he is resistant to change or offensive innovation. That’s not the case, not by a long shot. We’ll see lots modern offense Gruden studied as an ESPN broadcaster and in his downtime at his Tampa offices, with new wrinkles unveiled as game plans dictate.

Gruden has made a solid impression in his return to coaching but, as it always is in his line of work, effectiveness will be determined by wins and losses. He won’t be graded off one-year alone, especially without solid roster depth, but Gruden wants to start fast and re-establish Raiders winning ways.