Oakland Raiders: An Ugly Win Still Counts As A Win


The Oakland Raiders played a sloppy game, on a sloppy field, in sloppy conditions and came out with a win to keep their thin postseason hopes alive.

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In the end, a win is a win and in the NFL, you don’t get style points. Which is a good thing for the Raiders because they put together a fairly ugly performance against the Titans yet still managed to come away with the win.

The conditions certainly played a part in the near fiasco as a driving rain led to some less than stellar play. Fumble snaps, dropped passes, players slipping on the turf, fumbles – there were a comedy of errors in this game. But mixed in with all of the zaniness, there was also some really beautiful football played out there.

Most people will write off Oakland’s win as being insignificant. A win over a bottom feeding now 2-9 Titans team. It was a game most people would say the Raiders “should” have won. But week after week, we see teams lose games that they “should have won”. Any given Sunday and all that.

No victory is too small in the NFL where the line between making the postseason and not making the postseason can sometimes be razor thin. And for the Raiders, thanks in large part to a three game losing streak, that margin for error is even thinner.

But when they needed it most, the team found a way to rise up and get the job done.

David Amerson, starting in place of a benched D.J. Hayden – FINALLY – had an amazing game. A week after doing a good job against Detroit’s Calvin Johnson in which he had four passes defensed, Amerson upped his game and defensed six passes, had a key interception, and locked down the Titan receivers. By the way, Amerson’s six passes defensed are a team record.

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Overall, the defense held Tennessee to 249 yards of total offense and just three of 12 third down conversions. They limited Marcus Mariota to 218 passing yards on 17 of 37 passing. They also sacked Mariota twice, picked him off twice, and held him to a QB rating of 69.4 on the day.

It was arguably, the best, most complete performance the defense has had all season long.

The offense did a much better job than they have over the last two weeks. Coming into the game, the Raiders scored just 27 points the previous two weeks. Being able to put up 24 against the Titans, while not exactly a nuclear explosion of offense, was enough to get the job done.

Despite the terrible weather conditions, Derek Carr was 24/37 for 330 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a pretty sparkling QB rating of 120.3. A week after his worst game as a pro, Amari Cooper hauled in seven catches for 115 yards. Relatively unheralded Seth Roberts came up big again, catching six balls for 113 yards and two scores. On the day, Carr spread the ball around, hitting nine different receivers.

The big area of concern where the offense was still lacking was the run game. Latavius Murray, looking anything but like a guy who once led the AFC in rushing gained just 59 yards on 22 carries – a dismal average of 2.9 yards per carry. Jamize Olawale continued to be a nice surprise this season though, chipping in 17 yards on a pair of carries. It wasn’t much, but on a day like today, every little bit helped.

It wasn’t the same overpowering sort of win they posted against the Jets seemingly a lifetime ago. It was a hard fought, scrappy, dogfight of a game. They had to battle and scratch for every yard and every point. And they had to find a way to overcome adversity.

With nine minutes to go and Oakland clinging to a three point lead, Carr fumbled the ball and Tennessee recovered the ball deep in Raiders territory. Nine plays, about five minutes later, and a couple of dumb penalties by the Raiders the Titans punched it in to take a 21-17 lead.

You could almost hear the collective scream of frustration from the Raider Nation around the world. It was a script we’ve seen from the Raiders before.

But there was still four and a half minutes left in the ballgame. And just like the Raiders’ postseason hopes this season, there was the barest spark of hope left alive – but there was still a spark. And amazingly, the Raiders nurtured that hope and grew it into a bonfire.

Carr led the Raiders on a nine play, 90 yard drive, connecting with Seth Roberts for a 12 yard touchdown with a minute twenty left. An interception by Nate Allen sealed the game, ended the Raiders’ three game skid, and kept that small, flickering spark of hope for a postseason berth alive in Oakland.

Raiders tackled Austin Howard summed it the best when after the game he Tweeted out:

No, it wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t a dominating performance. But it doesn’t have to be. And it was just enough. The Raiders got key contributions from a lot of different guys when they absolutely, positively had to have it. And instead of going into next week’s showdown with the Chiefs knowing they’re doing nothing more than playing out the string, the Raiders will head into next week’s game against the Chiefs looking to build on the momentum they built today and to continue nurturing those postseason hopes.

Next: Raiders vs. Titans Game Day Open Thread

Oakland’s postseason hopes hang by the thinnest of threads. The specter of elimination hangs over their heads like the Sword of Damocles. But they gave a gutty, gritty performance, and found a way to get it done today. And that counts for something.

Just Win, Baby.