OAKLAND -- The Raiders were happy to be home for the first time since Sept. 15. The prolonged five-game road trip finally came to an end last week in Houston, setting up the Raiders with a three-game homestand and a real chance to build some positive momentum.
The Detroit Lions, L.A. Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals offered a golden opportunity to surge up the standings after a 2-3 road swing against powerful teams.
They took full advantage and earned a 31-24 victory over the Lions on Sunday at Oakland Coliseum.
The game went back and forth as both defenses struggled to get stops, but the Raiders had a seven-point lead with 5 minutes, 30 seconds left and couldn’t hold it. The Lions tied it 24-24 at that point, leaving the game in balance down the stretch.
The Raiders responded well, with an efficient march deep into Lions territory that decided it.
Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s crucial victory:
Carr comes through in the clutch (again)
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has plenty of experience generating game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. He has 18 of them now after an expertly navigated seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a touchdown strike to Hunter Renfrow on 3rd-and-goal.
Renfrow secures the lead 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/AItaYrPRqS— Raiders on NBCS (@NBCSRaiders) November 3, 2019
His best throw might’ve been the drive’s first, as he arched a perfect throw to Jalen Richard down the field while throwing off one foot.
Just perfect 🤩 pic.twitter.com/cVak3lJAF3— Raiders on NBCS (@NBCSRaiders) November 3, 2019
That gave the efficient drive momentum, though the Raiders defense made it stand over a tense Lions two-minute drill and comeback attempt.
Carr was cool, calm and collected and came through when his team needed it. He has been solid most of the year, and got the Raiders a crucial home win that brings them to 4-4 at the halfway point.
Raiders pass defense a big problem
Stopping the run has been the Raiders' defensive strength and emphasis all season. Both aspects of the pass defense has struggled this season, especially against top-flight quarterbacks. The Raiders can’t seem to generate steady pressure, nor can they consistently defend well on the back end against the very best. They have played four of the top signal callers in terms of passer rating this season (entering Sunday) and lost to each guy.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was ranked sixth, and the Raiders couldn’t slow him down. Stafford’s a statue, but the Raiders couldn't generate pressure off either edge. The Lions routinely picked on Daryl Worley, who had a clutch pick in the end zone but was beaten routinely downfield.
Stafford had 406 yards on 26-of-41 passing, a whopping 9.9 yards per pass attempt. While they survived this air attack, improved pass defense will be required for the Raiders to remain competitive down the stretch.
But ... the Raiders came through when it mattered most. Karl Joseph’s pass defensed on 3rd-and-goal with three seconds left sealed victory. But ... overall, the Lions did whatever they wanted through the air.
The Raiders have to do better in this area, and they have to get better fast with Philip Rivers coming to town on Thursday.
Josh Jacobs a perfect fit
Jon Gruden loves smart, do-everything running backs. There might not be anyone better for his scheme than the Alabama product he selected No. 24 overall, who must be the frontrunner for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Josh Jacobs has the patience, smarts and burst to execute the zone runs frequently called and blocked well up front. Jacobs is good for every situation, stellar battling for extra yards even on essentially busted plays.
2 TDs in the first half for the rook 👀 pic.twitter.com/gHLZTqUw0f— Raiders on NBCS (@NBCSRaiders) November 3, 2019
The reigning Rookie of the Month finished his first November contest with 28 carries for 120 yards. He has 740 on the season, eclipsing Marcus Allen’s Raiders rookie rushing record from a strike-shortened 1982 season. He’s on a torrid pace, rapidly becoming one of the league’s best runners.
He’d be good regardless of scheme, but Jacobs’ perfect fit into what Gruden does on the ground accentuates his strengths. He has become the offensive focal point, and he paces the offense with both steady and dynamic production.