Instant Analysis: In wild fashion, Raiders end losing streak with no time left


Instant Analysis: In wild fashion, Raiders end losing streak with no time left


OAKLAND – The Raiders were desperate for a win and played like it.

The offense woke from the dead. The defense showed energy and life.

Had they played like this recently, they would’ve been far better than 2-4. But they got what they earned, as head coach Jack Del Rio likes to say, and faced a virtual must win against the AFC’s finest.

It would take a Herculean effort from quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders got that. He was nothing short of awesome.

The Chiefs don’t roll over for anyone. Some 2016 magic was required.

They got some, and plenty of it.

The Raiders beat Kansas City 31-30. Carr to Crabtree on an untimed down. And it kept their season alive.

They were so close to 2-5. They walked off the field 3-4, re-energized and in far better shape to face the rest of their season.

That result was earned with an excellent two-minute drill that featured some big moments, including a 39-yard catch and run by Amari Cooper. That was topped a short while later by a 13-yard pass to Jared Cook on 4th-and-11.

The Raiders worked it down to the 1-yard line on a 29-yard strike to Jared Cook. It was called a touchdown on the field, but ruled short of the goal line. That caused a 10-second runoff – Cook was in bounds -- that left eight seconds on the clock. Then Michael Crabtree pushed off. They the Chiefs were called for defensive holding, resulting in one untimed down. Holding gave the Raiders another.

That’s when Carr found Michael Crabtree for a game-tying touchdown. Girgio Tavecchio’s extra point won it.

The Raiders were down nine points to start the fourth quarter, but Tavecchio’s 26-yard field goal a few minutes in made it a one-score game.

The defense got a stop with six minutes left, and gave the offense a chance to win it.

The Raiders went three and out.

So did the Chiefs, courtesy of solid run defense and a Denico Autry/Khalil Mack sack.

The Silver and Black regained possession with 2:25 left and a timeout remaining.

You already know what happened next.

The Raiders offense came back to life Thursday night. Quarterback Derek Carr paced a frenzied attack, as you’d expect, sparked by deep plays missing in recent weeks.

Carr’s rare combination of zip and touch was back on display. He was nothing short of awesome, completing 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns, in his best game of the season.

Previously slumping receiver Amari Cooper was active early, with touchdown catches on his team’s first two drives.

The home team’s total was hindered by a pair of missed field goals, though yards came in bunches all night.

Even so, it proved tough to compete with Kansas City’s high-powered offense. The Raiders defense created pressure and did some nice things, but gave up too many explosive plays on the night.

Smith hit speedster Tyreek Hill on a 64-yard catch and run for touchdown to cap a three-play, 99-yard drive. Albert Wilson scored from 63 yards out, thanks to a ball tipped back by Keith McGill – it should’ve been intercepted – that went right to Wilson for an easy score.

Welcome back, Amari: Top Raiders receiver Amari Cooper broke out of a prolonged slump with a dynamite performance. He had two huge catches early in the game, and finished with 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He also drew a pass interference inside the Kansas City 5-yard line that set up another score.

Report: Penn and Crabtree argue on sideline: Raiders left tackle Donald Penn and receiver Michael Crabtree got into a shoving match on the sideline, according to CBS on-field reporter Tracy Wolfson.

Wolfson said offensive line coach Mike Tice had to break up the exchange. It’s uncertain why the incident began.

Marshawn gets ejected: Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch got ejected for making contact with an official in the second quarter. He came in from the sideline to protect Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters, who was being confronted for a late hit on quarterback Derek Carr.

Lynch tried to get in the middle of teammates and his good friend and Oakland native, and ended up pushing an official. He will get fined and possibly suspended for the act.

Donald Penn has looked 'very natural' in week after position switch

Donald Penn has looked 'very natural' in week after position switch

ALAMEDA – Donald Penn has been a right tackle for a week now, longer than any other point in his professional career.

The two-time Pro Bowler has anchored the left side for a successful career, but was asked to make the position switch after being activated off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 14.

That came after restructuring his contract, and Penn went along with the switch when he could’ve been militant about it. The Raiders prefer to leave first-round pick Kolton Miller on the left side, to continue developing the young talent at his preferred spot.

That left Penn to make the switch, as he did in the 2016 regular-season opener while playing the only 24 snaps at right tackle in his NFL career.

Going from left to right isn’t easy, but Penn has fared well in the early going.

“He has had a good week,” Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “He really looked very natural from the first day we put him out there. That was extremely encouraging because he hasn’t played that position much throughout his career. I think we still have to get him in shape. He’s working after practice and the conditioning staff has done a good job with that.”

Penn hasn’t played a game since the switch, meaning it remains in the experimental stage and that could continue into the early regular season. His debut will come on Friday against Green Bay, when he’ll get acclimated to the position at full speed.

Penn’s working to learn new footwork and free himself from instincts and routines built over a career on the left side. He’s also working back into shape following Dec. 2017 Lisfranc foot surgery. That’s a tough two-step, but Penn has a few weeks to show he can play right tackle when the games count.

“It’s about getting game ready,” Olson said. “It’s been a long time since Donald has played in a game, and it’s been a long time since he has gone through full practice. He is having to play himself into shape. … As far as playing the position, he has looked very comfortable there.”

Penn’s trying to help Miller gain comfort playing at the professional level. He didn’t play last week’s preseason game at the L.A. Rams – most offensive starters sat – and has little experience to rely upon. Enter Penn, who has been helped Miller along the way, willingly passing on tricks of the trade.

“It’s a credit to Donald Penn for how he has approached this chance,” Olson said. “We talked with him about it, and has been on board with it since the move was made. It says a lot about the man and the player.”

Raiders WR Jordy Nelson has an answer for critics who think he's lost a step

Raiders WR Jordy Nelson has an answer for critics who think he's lost a step

ALAMEDA – Jordy Nelson plans to return to his family farm after his playing days are done. The Nelson clan has operated Nelson Angus Farms for generations, and Jordy will return to help run the family business.

Not anytime soon. There’s a lot of good football left to play, despite what detractors believe is the start of his decline. The 33-year old Raiders receiver is fresh off his worst season in years, where he saw a production dip and Green Bay’s offense struggled while Aaron Rodgers was hurt.

That prompted many to believe he’s lost a step, a concept Raiders players, coaches and brass have brushed off, a notion Nelson himself finds comical.

“It’s a simple answer for people who don’t know football,” Nelson said on the Raiders Insider Podcast. “People take a look at your age and, for some reason when you have an ACL tear (he missed all of 2015 with a knee ailment), the injury lingers on forever. Then it’s a week-by-week basis. If you don’t play well then you’ve lost a step. If you have 100 yards and two touchdowns, then you’ve got it back. Then the next week you’re just as capable of losing a step again. That’s why you can’t live the roller coaster.”

Nelson believes the East Bay will be fruitful for his career and his family. He chose Oakland thanks in large part to Derek Carr’s East Bay tour, where the Raiders quarterback showed the potential target more rural areas that fit the family well.

Carr and Nelson hit it off quickly, and have developed a solid on-field rapport they believe will translate to steady production.

Nelson has worked with Rodgers most of his career, and while few compare to one of the best passers in NFL history, Nelson says Rodgers and Carr share some similar traits.

“Their mindset, the details they focus on in game prep and within a play separates some of the best who play the game,” Nelson said. Aaron was definitely that way. He was incredible detailed about what he wanted to do and what he wanted his receivers to do. I can see that already in Derek so far. That’s where it starts. They also throw great passes and everything else is football.”

The Packers wanted Nelson to take a big pay cut, and ultimately let him walk shortly after free agency began.

“Anytime you spend 10 years somewhere and it abruptly ends, it is a shock to the system,” Nelson said. “You quickly move on. We had phone calls declaring interest an hour later and I was on a plane 12 hours later. It was a great experience, and now I’m glad I went through it and have seen the other side of football. It has been a great experience, a smooth transition, and we’re looking forward to spending our next couple years here.”

He’ll spend Friday night against his old team, with the Raiders hosting a preseason game against Green Bay. Nelson admits it’ll be weird seeing green on the other sideline, but will be all business after kick off. He and the starters should see extended reps, with some time to find a rhythm in a game setting.

And yeah, that rhythm will be fast.

“He’s faster than I thought, and I thought he could already run,” Carr said. “I knew he could go, but nothing has really surprised me. I mean, everything that you hear about him is what you get. He helps the receiver room raise their level, whether you’re the second guy, third guy or you’re just trying to make the team, he raises the level for others.

“It’s not only with the way that he practices and works out and the way he takes care of his body and those things, but the way he goes after it mentally. He wants to think like the quarterback. If we throw a ball, we’re always communicating. We’ll say, ‘Hey, if they play it this way, I like it like this.’ Just the way he communicates, it rubs off on those young guys too.”