It was closer than it should have been, and there were a ton of mistakes in the process, but the Oakland Raiders were able to resuscitate their season for the second time in three weeks.
The Silver and Black came away with a 27-24 over the Miami Dolphins on a rainy Sunday night. There were plenty of moments where the Raiders could have lost momentum, but the Dolphins earned their loss with mental-error after mental-error.
There were a total of 21 penalties for 212 yards in this contest, split evenly between the two team (Dolphins: 11 for 107 yards, Raiders: 10 for 105 yards). However, the Dolphins’ hurt just a bit more; three of them overturned 10+ yard plays.
The Raiders led things off with a 12 play drive that took exactly half of the clock off in the first quarter, ending in a short Giorgio Tavecchio field goal. The Dolphins were able to take their only lead of the night with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Damien Williams. Cody Parkey doinked the ensuing extra point off the left upright, keeping things at 6-3.
Parkey redeemed himself somewhat, executing a perfect surprise onside kick that he recovered himself. However, the Dolphins couldn’t capitalize, with the drive ending on a Kenyan Drake fumble that was forced by Bruce Irvin and recovered by T.J. Carrie. The Raiders would score on a 44-yard TD bomb from Derek Carr to Johnny Holton.
The Dolphins seemingly took the rest of the second quarter up with an 8-play drive, cumulating in a Parkey field goal with 32 seconds to go. Carr responded by getting the Raiders into long field goal position with two long passes to Amari Cooper and Jared Cook. With a second to spare, Tavecchio nailed a 53-yarder to send the Raiders to halftime with a 13-9 lead.
After a Dolphins punt to lead off the second half, the Raiders quickly drove down the field and got a touchdown on a nifty 22-yard run from Marshawn Lynch. The Dolphins answered with a fast drive of their own, finishing with a 6-yard Cutler toss to Jarvis Landry.
Two traded punts later, the Raiders made their first huge mistake. Carr was strip-sacked from behind by Ndamukong Suh. Right tackle Marshall Newhouse recovered the ball but lost it himself on a beautiful hit from Kiko Alonso. Unlike the Raiders earlier score, the Dolphins couldn’t convert the turnover into points.
Following three more punts, the Raiders looked to have iced the game on another Lynch touchdown from 3 yards out. The Dolphins turned the ball over on downs on their next series. All the Raiders had to do was get a first down, and the Phins wouldn’t have enough time to get the ball back.
Things didn’t go as planned. Carr threw a puzzling interception that was tipped by Cordrea Tankersley and hauled in by Reshad Jones, giving the Dolphins new life. They drove for a 15-yard Julius Thomas TD, preceded by an amazing one-handed catch by DeVante Parker. Drake converted the two-point try to cut the Raiders lead to 3 with a minute and a half to go.
A second Parkey onside kick didn’t go like the first. Cooper recovered for the Raiders, who kneeled down to close out the game.
Strip sack and INT aside, Carr played extremely well, going 21 for 30, 300 yards and the TD to Holton, the latter’s lone catch of the night. Cook was a monster, exploding for 8 catches and 126 yards. He had 6 for 113 yards in the first half alone. Cooper (4 catches for 58 yards) and Michael Crabtree (3 catches for 40 yards) played their sidekick roles well.
Lynch had his best game of the season by far, carrying the ball 14 times for 57 yards and 2 TDs. His first half numbers, (7 carries for 8 yards), were atrocious, so it was nice to see him rebound after halftime.
Cutler was efficient overall, though the majority of his passes were of the dink-and-dunk variety. He finished with 311 yards and 3 TDs off of 34 for 42 passing. His main receiving trio of Thomas (6 catches, 84 yards, TD), Landry (6 catches, 32 yards, TD) and Parker (5 catches, 76 yards) thrashed a depleted Raiders secondary.
The Raiders actually held the Dolphins ground game in check, save for a 42-yard scamper from Drake (9 carries, 67 yards). He and Williams (7 carries, 14 yards) got a lot of check-downs from Cutler (Drake: 6 catches, 35 yards; Williams: 6 catches, 47 yards, TD). They may regret trading Jay Ajayi away.
Defensively, Irvin (4 tackles, a split sack, and a forced fumble) and Khalil Mack (4 tackles, 5 pressures) took the lead up front. Jones (9 tackles and an INT) and Alonso (5 tackles and a forced fumble) played well for the Dolphins.
The Raiders head to their bye week at 4-5, second in the AFC West. The Dolphins, now 4-4, will visit the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football.