Not every win is pretty.
The Oakland Raiders came away victorious yesterday, beating the New York Giants 24-17 in an overall ugly contest. There were 11 punts between the two teams, along with numerous mental errors on both sides.
It’s amazing that the Raiders were able to win despite the variety of mistakes they made. Jalen Richard fumbled three times on punt returns, all of which were recovered by the Raiders. Derek Carr had a couple of throws that should have been intercepted. The offense couldn’t convert a 4th-and-short. The punt unit allowed Marquette King to get blown up inside their own 10-yard line. Johnny Holton got stripped by Brandon Dixon after a third-down conversion.
Yet somehow, the Raiders persevered. It helped that the Giants offense was lethargic for most of the game, killing themselves with mistakes when they had successful drives. Geno Smith got strip-sacked twice in Raiders territory, the second one following the turnover on downs caused by the King play. Khalil Mack literally stole the ball right out of Smith’s hands. Bruce Irvin forced the first one.
The Raiders defense began strong, holding the Giants to three 3-and-outs to begin the game. Smith was able to find some holes as the game went on, however. Outside of the two strip-sacks, he played fairly well in his first game taking over for Eli Manning, finishing with 212 yards and a touchdown on 21 for 34 passing.
Rookie tight end Evan Engram carried the passing game on his shoulders, catching 7 passes for 99 yards to go with Smith’s lone scoring throw. He had a terrific one-handed catch on their final drive. Sterling Shepard chipped in with 56 yards on 3 receptions.
Orleans Darkwa was able to score on a run from 1-yard out, but the Raiders stifled him and the rest of the Giants backfield for the most part. He ran 14 times for just 32 yards. Mack and Irvin were fantastic in this regard, along with NaVorro Bowman.
Without an injured Amari Cooper and a suspended Michael Crabtree, Carr’s weapons through the air seemed to be limited entering the game. However, they played admirably, especially Cordarrelle Patterson (4 catches, 97 yards) who was a threat every time he touched the ball. Seth Roberts (5 catches, 46 yards) was steady, and Clive Walford (4 catches, 57 yards) made an impact for the first time all season after Jared Cook was limited early on with an injury.
Carr’s final totals were 287 yards and a TD on 22 for 36 passing. The TD went to Holton (3 catches, 39 yards). DeAndre Washington (6 carries, 16 yards) found the end-zone in the third quarter.
The game began with a bang when Marshawn Lynch took off on a 51-yard run for a TD. The Giants front-seven stiffened up after that, especially Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson, but Lynch was able to carve out some nice runs in spite of that, ultimately ending up at 101 yards on 17 carries. He also caught 2 passes for 20 yards.
Two weeks ago, the Raiders seemed dead in the water. Now, they’re tied for the lead at 6-6 in the AFC West with the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, with a huge game on tap against the latter next week. Whoever wins will temporarily seize control of the division. The 2-10 Giants will limp back to East Rutherford to host the Dallas Cowboys.