LONDON – The Raiders are 3-2 despite a brutal start to a schedule loaded with legitimate playoff contenders. Yeah, you read that right.
The Silver and Black have won two straight games away from home, a big win over Indianapolis last week followed up with a 24-21 victory over Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears.
The Raiders were awesome in the first half and weathered a disastrous third quarter with enough heart and drive to pull out a fourth-quarter comeback.
This team is mentally tough and plays hard together, often above their cumulative talent level.
They certainly did so on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, quieting Khalil Mack and an intimidating Bears defense.
There should be several high marks on this week’s report card, coming after an impressive, impressive win.
The Bears entered Sunday as the third-ranked rushing defense. That didn’t change the Raiders' approach one bit. They wanted to run the football and did so effectively all night long. Kudos go to the offensive line, fullback Alec Ingold and running back Josh Jacobs, who fought through an elbow injury to produce a career day. Jacobs had 123 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, including the game-deciding score late in the fourth quarter.
DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard were also impactful running the ball, as the Raiders are establishing themselves as a quality running team. They had more runs than passes in this day thanks to steady production that kept the chains moving.
The Raiders needed a mistake-free day from Derek Carr, one loaded with accurate short and intermediate passes. He provided exactly that, giving skill players room to run and make plays after the catch. He did that despite being without Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson.
The quarterback was the leader the Raiders needed, but tackles Kolton Miller and Trent Brown were the real stars of the day. They held Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd sackless in this one, leaving Carr with plenty of time to throw. Trevor Davis’ fumble near the goal line was a real negative. Those things can’t happen in tight games, even though the ball got hit with a perfect punch.
David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen are a solid rushing tandem. They weren’t able to do much against a Raiders run defense that has been solid, save a Week 3 gashing from Dalvin Cook. The Bears averaged just 2.5 yards per carry in this game, putting a ton on backup quarterback Chase Daniel. Let’s not forget the Raiders did all that without Vontaze Burfict, who was suspended Monday for an illegal hit the previous week.
Linebacker Nicholas Morrow was solid playing next to Tahir Whitehead. Corey Liuget and P.J Hall were tough inside, complimenting Johnathan Hankins. The Bears' run game was a non-factor in this one, an underrated aspect of the game that played a huge role in a huge win.
Gareon Conley iced this game with an interception, and Morrow had one early that lead to an easy touchdown. That was huge, as was the defensive line’s ability to rattle Chase Daniel. The Bears backup quarterback made some mistakes that were key to the Raiders' victory.
Maxx Crosby and Benson Mayowa had sacks. Maurice Hurst had two in an energizing effort for an improving defensive line operating without rookie Clelin Ferrell. The group gave up some big plays to Allen Robinson during the Bears' third-quarter push, but made enough plays to let the offense surge from behind.
The Raiders gave up a huge punt return to Tarik Cohen that put the Bears back in the game, and A.J. Cole was just okay punting the ball. A fake punt worked out well, despite Erik Harris losing control of the ball after getting the first down. That play was vital to the Raiders' victory, but giving up that punt return to Cohen simply is unacceptable. Bears returner Cordarrelle Patterson had a 39-yard kickoff return, too.
Giving up those chunks will often get you beat.
Coach Jon Gruden came up with a great game plan to get his offense going right from the start. That 17-point halftime lead was lost, yet important in the grand scheme. The Raiders clearly made the right choice to stay in London all week, and showed no ill effects of playing so far from home.
The team weathered that third-quarter storm and emerged victorious. Last year’s team would’ve folded. This one has now won back-to-back games away from home and enter the bye week at 3-2. That's an excellent mark considering how hard their schedule has been.