Raiders

Raiders report card: Grades on offense, defense in 31-24 win over Lions

Raiders report card: Grades on offense, defense in 31-24 win over Lions

OAKLAND – The Raiders snapped a two-game losing streak on Sunday with a 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions. It was an important win, one that started a three-game home stand off well. They have a chance to get hot, with winnable games against the L.A. Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals coming up here in Oakland.

This one hung in the balance all afternoon, until the Raiders surged ahead on Derek Carr’s touchdown strike to Hunter Renfrow. Defense made it stick, with a Karl Joseph pass breakup keeping Detroit from tying it with three seconds left.

The Raiders moved to 4-4 on the season thanks to a gritty performance that was far from perfect but just good enough to come away with a win.

Here’s how they graded out in this week’s Raiders report card.

Rushing offense

Josh Jacobs had another banner day at the office, totaling 120 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie running back was awesome while breaking Marcus Allen’s Raiders rookie rushing record, making excellent runs seem ho-hum with their frequency.

Jacobs should be recognized among the NFL’s best backs, even at this early stage in his career. He paced a balanced attack where the Raiders ran more than passed, working behind a line that remained productive without Rodney Hudson or Trent Brown.

Alec Ingold had another good day. Jalen Richard had some big runs on the game-winning drive. The Raiders totaled 171 yards on 36 carries. Another excellent showing for a consistently strong ground game.

Grade: A

Passing offense

Carr was awesome in the clutch, as he has been so many times in his career. He completed his 18th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to beat the Lions but was solid all day. He connected with nine different receivers, including touchdown strikes to rookies Renfrow and tight end Foster Moreau.

Richard made two key catches on the final drive. Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams were active. Zay Jones is starting to make plays. Carr was sacked for the first time since Week 4, but the offensive line generally held strong. The air attack has struggled at times, but Carr has clearly found a rhythm in recent weeks that was evident throughout this game.

Grade: A-minus

Rushing defense

The Lions are committed to the run game even though they aren’t very good at it. They were OK on Sunday, averaging 4.5 yards per carry despite having little talent in the backfield with Kerryon Johnson on injured reserve. The Raiders defense has to be better up front, but 90 yards on 20 carries wasn’t a killer by any stretch.\

Grade: C

Passing defense

The whole operation is a team weakness and a real liability, from the Raiders pass rush to the secondary. The Silver and Black gave up 406 yards to Lions quarterback Matt Stafford, a pocket passer rarely under pressure who was able to pick the Raiders secondary apart. Kenny Golladay had 132 yards and a touchdown and Marvin Jones Jr. had 126 and a score, dominating Raiders defensive backs.

The Lions picked on Daryl Worley in particular, though the cornerback made an excellent interception that kept points off the board. And, when it mattered most, the second came through. Karl Joseph’s pass defensed in the end zone with three seconds left, on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line sealed a Raiders victory.

Grade: D

Special teams

The Raiders successfully dialed up another fake punt, a run from Dallin Leavitt and handed quickly to Derek Carrier for a 27-yard gain. That didn’t produce points, however, as Daniel Carlson missed his field-goal attempt just wide left. A.J. Cole barely punted. Trevor Davis added some juice to the return game, but never broke a big one.

Grade: C

[RELATED: Gruden feels Warriors' pain]

Overall

The Raiders missed a golden opportunity to beat the Houston Texans last week. They didn’t let the same thing happen Sunday against Detroit. They kept the points coming and did just enough on defense to hold their lead late. This was game wasn’t pretty, but it was hard-fought.

The Raiders proved resilient yet again and showed that they are making significant progress this season under Jon Gruden. This was a big moment in the season, and the Raiders gutted out a win. Impressive stuff.

Grade: A

Raiders' boss feeling emotions as team nears end of an era in Oakland

Raiders' boss feeling emotions as team nears end of an era in Oakland

Growing up around the franchise his father, the legendary Al Davis, controlled for a half century, Mark Davis is never far from the memories that come when sifting through history. Which has made this year, the team’s last in Oakland, so fraught with emotion.

But not for the obvious reason, the team leaving its ancestral home.

Oh, sure, there is regret about how the return of the Raiders to Oakland unfolded, the team coming back in 1995, after 13 years in Los Angeles, hoping but failing to regain the football dominance and local devotion that defined it from the mid-1960s through 1980. Pt. II never reached the heights of Pt. I, with Super Bowl victories, and the team and community forming a bond so tight that, to many, their 1982 departure was not unlike losing a family member.

That precise feeling has landed upon Davis this year. He is operating beneath a shroud of sorrow not because the team has all but extinguished its hopes for the postseason or because the last game in the faded, fabled Oakland Coliseum, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, will signal the end an era.

It’s because the Raiders are family to Davis, and many of his family members have left over the past 12 months.

Josh Atkinson, son of former Raider George Atkinson, passed away last December. His service in January was the beginning. In the months since, the Raiders have lost, to name a few, former running back Clem Daniels (March), former linebacker Dan Connors (April), former assistant coach Gunther Cunningham (May), Hall of Fame semifinalist Cliff Branch (August), former linebacker Neiron Ball (September) and Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown (October).

George Atkinson III, twin brother of Josh, died Nov. 29, three days before what would have been his 27th birthday.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Davis said Friday. “To lose Cliff and Willie, so close together . . . Willie was one of my mom’s best friends. And Cliff was my best friend. Those were really tough.

“It started with Josh. That was the early bookend. And now George, two weeks ago, is the other bookend. I hope. We still have another three weeks to go.”

Davis copes with the grief, he says, by compartmentalizing everything. There is an NFL team to run, meetings to attend – such as two days in Dallas earlier this week – and decisions to make that could affect the lives of thousands of people.

He understands there will be broken hearts, once more, when the team packs up and heads to Las Vegas. He also hopes fans will continue to support the team that in many ways gave Oakland an identity that spread around the globe.

“There’s no question about it,” Davis said. “The Raiders and Oakland grew up together. We were the stepchild of San Francisco. We were just Oakland. And I believe my dad took special pride in that and in building it up.

“The Raiders were born in Oakland, and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. There’s no doubt about that.”

The magic that made the Raiders special beyond the confines of the NFL was built in the 1960s and 1970s, behind stars such as Ken Stabler, Jack Tatum, Gene Upshaw, Lester Hayes, Jim Plunkett, Brown and Branch. They were high-profile, near-mythic figures, none more than Al Davis, the swaggering brash man at the top, taking no prisoners.

Part. II in Oakland was mostly a disaster. The finances pleased no one. The team floundered through its worst of times. When Al Davis died in 2011, the Raiders had not had a winning season in eight years.

[RELATED: Derek Carr's special bond with Coliseum]

Which is why Mark Davis spent six years, beginning shortly after his father’s death, chasing Jon Gruden, whose culture change in 1998 pushed the team to three consecutive postseasons. Gruden finally relented in January 2018, lured back by a 10-year contract worth $100 million.

“We’re in a better place now,” Davis said. “We’ve got stability for the next 10 years.”

As the team goes to Vegas, the memories, good and bad, remain mostly in Oakland. Still, Davis’ fondest recall of Raiders in Oakland, Pt. II, is rather surprising inasmuch it did not occur in Gruden’s first term as coach or in any of the four playoff seasons over the past 24 years.

No, it came during the unremarkable two years during which Dennis Allen was the coach.

“The most memorable night, to me, was that Thursday Night game against the Chiefs,” Davis said of a game played in 2014. “We were 0-10. It was pouring rain. The place was sold out and crazy. The crowd filled it up. We beat them (24-20) and got our first win of the season.

“That night was a reminder of what the Raider Nation is all about, and how they’ve supported the team and, hopefully, will continue to support the team in the future.”

That future will take place in Las Vegas, where $2-billion-dollar 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium, with a retractable dome, reportedly is 75 percent complete and expected to be ready to open before the 2020 season. It will have grass turf on a field that can be slid into and out of the stadium, as is the case with University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals.

This, Davis insists, is the result of failed negotiations to keep the team in Oakland. After numerous attempts over the past decade to strike a deal that would allow the team to remain in place, it reached a point where it became clear to Davis and his fellow NFL that the bargaining would not reach a satisfactory conclusion.

[RELATED: Raiders legends will struggle with Coliseum goodbye]

Vegas was waiting. The desert mecca flashed wads of cash and acres of land and, well, Davis and his group decided to jump.

“The Oakland Raiders were established in 1960,” Davis said. “The Los Angeles Raiders were established in 1982. And the Las Vegas Raiders are being established in 2020. It’s new era, and we’ve got a new residence.”

Davis said he’s not particularly nostalgic about Pt. II in Oakland. He went through all of that back in 1982. It’s about business now, and cherishing memories created by years of football but ultimately populated by people within the Raiders family.

Tyrell Williams' early-season bout of plantar fasciitis 'never really healed'

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AP

Tyrell Williams' early-season bout of plantar fasciitis 'never really healed'

ALAMEDA – Tyrell Williams scored four touchdowns in his first four games as a Raider, with 216 receiving yards to boot. The veteran receiver seemed to be integrating himself well into a new offense, but he was already battling a nasty bout of plantar fasciitis.

The nagging, extremely painful foot ailment that struck in Week 2 but he didn’t bow out until Week 4. He missed two games before coming back into the fray to help a weakened and floundering Raiders receiver corps.

He has had some good moments and some pretty bad ones since his return, with lower efficiency than he’s used to. While Williams won’t excuse lackluster play, Raiders coaches have coming to his defense when asked about his health.

Williams’ plantar fasciitis is still bugging him. Pretty bad, as a matter of fact, despite him practicing fully on a consistent basis.

“Yeah, it’s been a real challenge,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Friday. “We’ve had a lot of foot problems around here this year. He’s been dealing with it really since the second week of the season and he missed a few games. He came back and hasn’t really healed. He’s managed it. We try to manage him on the practice field, but give him credit, he’s playing through pain and we thank him for that.”

It’s something Williams will continue to fight through as we head toward this season’s end. Rest is the best medicine, and he won’t be able to do that for a few more weeks.

“it’s a pretty significant injury, but he’s battling through it,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “He’s taking medication before every game trying to manage the pain, but certainly every week that’s something he’s had to deal with.”