MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The AFC was kind to the Raiders Sunday afternoon.
Denver and Kansas City lost. So did several others above them in the wild card race. A 27-24 victory over Miami vaulted them right back in the playoff picture. A great second-half run is required, but they need more luck to turn things around.
Sunday’s events put the Raiders in a tie for eighth in the conference. They started the day in 14th.
The Raiders are, somehow, right back in it.
They’re two games back in the AFC West, and 1.5 behind the second wild card spot.
A victory made that happen. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Raiders got the job done. They head home from a two-game road trip with a split that sets their record at 4-5.
They head into a bye before playing New England in Mexico City.
That game means something because the Raiders found a way to beat the Dolphins.
Marshawn Lynch played his best game as a Raider, with 57 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. That included a 22-yard scoring jaunt and a 14-yard rumble on a key second-half drive.
He got in again in the fourth quarter to put the Raiders up two scores with 4 minutes, 37 seconds left.
Quarterback Derek Carr found Johnny Holton deep for a 44-yard touchdown that was the team’s only first-half touchdown.
The Miami native beat his man deep and Carr gave him room to run under the pass.
Holton’s reception was one of a few not directed to Jared Cook. The veteran tight end had eight receptions for 126 yards, including six for 113 yards in the first half.
Cook has exceeded 100 receiving yards for the second time in his last three games.
Cook and Carr have found a nice rhythm in recent weeks, especially working through the middle of the field. It took some time to get going, but Cook has become a real asset in the offense.
Getting Cook and Lynch active should supplement an offense that has been inconsistent all season.