Sunday night’s heartbreaking loss to the Dallas Cowboys was the nail in the coffin for the Oakland Raiders 2017 campaign. Despite numerous opportunities, they couldn’t pull off the win, like they’ve done so many times this year. With two weeks of apathy ahead of us, it’s time to look on the positive side of things during this week’s standout performers piece.
5. Michael Crabtree, WR
In an off night overall for Derek Carr, he continually targeted Crabtree during important moments. Their connection was muddled for a good chunk of the game, but both the Raiders touchdowns came from it so that counts for something.
Crabtree was targeted a whopping 19 times and was able to muster 7 catches for 39 yards and the two TDs. Most of the incompletions came as a result of poor Carr throws and great pass breakups from the Cowboys young secondary. Crabtree did draw a 55-yard pass interference on 4th down during the final drive that gave the Raiders a chance, however.
4. Sean Smith, CB
Smith wasn’t perfect, with his biggest mistake coming on the Cowboys go-ahead drive. Dez Bryant reeled in a 40-yard lob to set up an easy deciding field goal, though the coverage for the play on Smith’s end was as close as possible.
Still, it took the Raiders corners 14 games to get an interception, and they were because of Smith. He actually snagged two! The first was due to an off-target pass from Dak Prescott, and the second happened because of a QB hit via Bruce Irvin, but the two plays were by far the highlights of 2017 for Smith, who has mostly struggled at corner.
3. Nicholas Morrow, LB
Morrow officially took over as a starter after Cory James was put on injured reserve this past week, and the undrafted rookie from Greenville impressed in his increased role. He finished with 8 total tackles, a pressure and a beautiful pass breakup early in the first quarter. Morrow’s a great athlete who should be able to carve out a long-term role in the league.
2. NaVorro Bowman, MLB
Bowman has steadily gotten better each week since signing back with the team in October, and he dominated at times as a tackler. He had 7 tackles in the first half alone and ultimately ended up with 9 to lead the Raiders. He’s a guy they need to lockup during the offseason.
1. Khalil Mack, DE/OLB
Who else but Mack? The reigning defensive player of the year had 7 total stops, including 2 sacks, which puts him at 10.5 for the season. He also had 5 pressures and was instrumental during Smith’s second INT, drawing two blockers to allow Irvin to get a hit in on Prescott.