Raiders

Raiders takeaways: What we learned from 31-24 Week 9 win over Lions

Raiders takeaways: What we learned from 31-24 Week 9 win over Lions

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

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AP

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

While Derek Carr was in Las Vegas for the Raiders' official rebranding this week, speculation about Tom Brady joining the Silver and Black continues to simmer.

Two weeks ago, The Athletic's Jay Glazer said that Brady to the Raiders is a "no-brainer" because it would help with ticket sales, among other things.

On Friday, Glazer added a bit more context when asked again about where Brady will play next season.

"I said it last week, the Chargers or the Raiders," Glazer wrote. "I spoke about the business side of things. You guys kind of jumped on me talking about how great ticket sales are for the Raiders. I don’t know if I said ticket sales or not but there’s way more than ticket sales when you’re building up a business. They can use Tom Brady to build the business of the Raiders, which will now be an international team. I say that because of all the big business whales from all over the world who are going to come to Las Vegas and now be exposed to the Raiders."

"That’s going to be a hot ticket. The international marketing will be huge. The Raiders are going to be big players internationally with that. That’s why I would think it’s a brilliant move to go to Vegas."

Brady, who will turn 43 years old before the start of the 2020 NFL season, is a free agent and could move on the Patriots, the only franchise he has ever known.

Carr is under contract with the Raiders for three more seasons, and recently said he is "looking forward" to being under center for the first snap in Las Vegas. But head coach Jon Gruden didn't give the most glowing endorsement of Carr after the regular-season finale in December.

All of this has fueled chatter that the Raiders could bring in Brady to help open their first season in Sin City.

[RELATED: Kiper has Raiders taking two Sooners]

While Brady led the Patriots to a 12-4 record this past season, his numbers declined, suggesting that his best days are behind him.

If owner Mark Davis and Gruden want to win games and continue to build a solid foundation for the future, they'll stick with Carr. If they are more concerned with making a sexy splash, they'll make the change to Brady.

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Out of a possible 96 starts since being drafted by the Raiders in 2014, quarterback Derek Carr has been under center for 94 of them.

But after a disappointing 7-9 season, many Raiders fans have clamored for a change at the game’s most important position.

Carr, however, hasn’t paid the rumors or social media fodder too much attention.

“But I'll say it this way,” Carr said (h/t ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez). “I look forward to taking the first snap in that stadium, and I look forward to taking every snap from here on out -- until I'm done."

The 28-year-old had a career year in 2019, setting career-highs in passing yards (4,054), yards per attempt (7.9), and quarterback rating (100.8).

But coach Jon Gruden grew frustrated with Carr’s inability to throw the ball downfield consistently, and some potential free agent quarterbacks reportedly have caught the Raiders’ eye.

[RELATED: Raiders should pay attention to these 10 Senior Bowl stars]

As the team re-brands and moves into its new home in Sin City, some believe the team will bring on a new starting signal-caller to usher in the Las Vegas Raiders era.

Just don’t count Carr among them.