Oakland Raiders Week 12 Takeaways

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Via Last Word On Pro Football, by Ryan Smith

In a tale of two halves, the Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers faced off in a nightmare of a showdown. The Raiders were up 24-7 at halftime, but eventually, a single field goal decided the outcome as Oakland won 35-32 in the final minutes.

Oakland Raiders Week 12 Takeaways

Fantastic First Half

Reading the Defense

For the majority of the first half, the Oakland Raiders attacked the Carolina Panthers with screens and underneath passes. They did this because the Panthers were playing so far back, attempting to take the deep ball away. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has been highly criticized this season, but it’s important to see how he’s improved the offense.

While the offense tends to get boring or conservative, they’ve been nothing but efficient. Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback of all time, and he didn’t get that way by throwing the deep ball better than anyone else. Brady and the New England Patriots have dominated by taking what the defense has given them.

The Raiders have started following that same strategy, and it’s working wonders. Carr only has interceptions so far this season, and he’s having arguably the greatest passing season in franchise history. They were able to have great success against the vaunted Panthers defense by taking what they were given and making the most of it.

Super Secondary

Many people have called the off-season signing of corner Sean Smith as a bust. He hasn’t been the Richard Sherman clone that many believed he could be in Oakland’s defense. However, in the first half against Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin, Smith was flawless. And even with David Amerson sidelined by injuries, former first round pick D.J. Hayden played well.

At halftime, Cam Newton had 18 yards passing and a pick six. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year and MVP had 18 yards against the worst pass defense in the NFL. The Raiders simply beat up the Panthers, and it showed. With the exception of one blown run and some questionable officiating, the Raiders defense dominated. If only they knew what was to come.

Carr’s Injury

On the first drive of the second half, something went terrible wrong on a snap. Carr’s finger was caught on a snap and he immediately went to the locker room. The Raiders lost possession on the play, and the Panthers quickly scored a touchdown. Long-time backup Matt McGloin came into the game. The crowd, as well as the team, was largely deflated by the injury and it showed.

The Panthers quickly scored two touchdowns, but missed an extra point and failed to convert a two point attempt. McGloin did attempt one pass but the Panthers blitzed and the Penn State alum just held onto the ball too long. Carr left the game with a 24-7 lead and came back with only a 24-19 lead.

Carr threw a couple of good passes, but then the pocket collapsed and he forced a pass that was intercepted. The Panthers quickly went down the field and scored, and in a game where the Raiders were once dominating, they gave up 18 unanswered points in the third quarter.

The Fourth Quarter

The Raiders went three and out in the fourth quarter, and Sean Smith gave up a huge touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin. Whether they got cocky at halftime or they were just deflated by Carr’s injury, this game was a tale of two Raiders. One team absolutely decimated the defending NFC Champions, and the other couldn’t move or stop the ball.

They gave up 25 unanswered points to start the second half, and it was absolutely embarrassing. With 13:26 left in the game, Carr and the offense took the field, surprisingly only down eight points. There were so many questions.

Would Derek Carr be able to carry the offense? Could they run out of the shotgun? And would the defense be able to keep points off the board if Oakland did score?

Resilient Raiders

The Raiders effortlessly moved the ball down the field, and Clive Walford caught an amazing touchdown pass. On the next play, Carr found Seth Roberts for the two-point conversion, and the Raiders kicked the ball off. Miraculously, the Raiders got a stop and the Panthers punted.

With 5:05 left on the clock, Derek Carr and the Raiders walked back out onto the field, all tied up. They moved down the field, helped by an incredible 49-yard completion from Carr to Michael Crabtree to give the Raiders excellent field position.

With the occasional handoff to Latavius Murray and a couple of passes, the Raiders marched down to the seven yard line. After two incomplete passes in the red zone, Oakland had to settle for a Sebastian Janikowski field goal.

Up three, Oakland kicked off with 1:45 left in the game. The Panthers got a couple of big plays, but when it mattered, the Raiders came up big. Specifically, Khalil Mack was huge, forcing the strip sack on a crucial fourth down.

The Raiders won their ninth game this season with spit and grit, and an MVP candidate. It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but they managed to make plays when it counted. The Raiders just won, baby.