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Raiders Week 1 Ballers and Busters vs. Panthers – Raiders Wire

September 16, 2020

Sunday the Raiders took care of their business and beat a team they should beat. They went into Carolina and came out with a “W”. In the grand scheme of things, that’s all that matters because each week we start anew. Though in the making of that win, the Raiders blew the lead several times, including midway through the fourth quarter.

The game featured eight lead changes overall. The Raider just had to make sure the last lead change was theirs. It came down to a fortuitous pass interference penalty on former Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead that kept the Raiders late scoring drive alive, and a well-called play on defense to stop the Panthers on fourth and one. And the Raiders escaped with the 34-30 victory.

Now let’s get to the top performers.

The man who should’ve been named Rookie of the Year last season, came out swinging. After a three-and-out by the Raiders to begin the game, Jacobs was the force that kept them driving after that. He scored his first touchdown on the Raiders’ second drive on a one-yard touchdown run. But he also had a huge hand in getting them there, beginning with an eight-yard run, then a big pass block to allow for a first down catch, and then a five-yard run on third and one.

That was the first of three touchdowns for Jacobs in this game. His second TD came in the third quarter and extended the Raiders lead to 27-15. And just as before, he gave himself an assist with a catch along the way in which he hurdled a defender to pick up 29 yards.

All told, Jacobs had 139 yards from scrimmage (93 rushing) on 29 touches (4 catches). They rode their workhorse to victory.

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Those holes in the line weren’t opening themselves. At least not most of the time. The first play of the game was a five-yard run by Jacobs with Incognito leading the way. And the first time Jacobs converted on third down, Incognito was among those clearing the way for him. 

The second touchdown of the day came on a long bomb out of short-yardage. That play was set up by a screen to Darren Waller with Hudson downfield blocking so he could pick up eight yards.

Jacobs’ second touchdown of the day, he ran up the gut through a huge hole that was opened by Incognito and Hudson. And, of course, neither of them allowed any pressures either, let alone sacks.

His longest reception went for just eight yards, which is somewhat unusual for Waller. He is usually basically a big receiver out there. But he’s not a receiver, he’s a tight end, which means his duties extend past those of a receiver.

On the Raiders’ second possession, they were looking for their first third-down conversion. And they got it on a seven-yard pass to Waller on third and two. That drive ended with a touchdown by Jacobs made possible in part by a seal block by Waller.

Waller’s next catch came on the Raiders’ very next third down. It went for eight yards on third and two. Two plays later he had a 6-yard grab. That drive ended with a field goal to re-take the lead 10-9. Waller would finish with a team-leading six catches for 45 yards.

This is one of those instances in which a few players are honorary Ballers based on one play. To be fair, Littleton had a few great plays in this game, but one play stood out above all others.

The Panthers got the ball with just over four minutes left in the game, down 34-30. They drove into Raiders territory once again and found themselves in fourth and one at the 46. There was 1:23 left on the clock at this point, which meant they must convert this first down to have any shot to win. 

The Panthers lined up in an I-formation with Christian McCaffrey behind fullback Alex Armah. Teddy Bridgewater took the snap and quickly handed it off to Armah, hoping the catch the Raiders off guard by not giving it to their star McCaffrey. The problem was, they had used this play in the game already on third and one to set up their touchdown early in the fourth quarter. This time the Raiders were ready for it. 

Armah got the ball and Ferrell came over to crash the gap while Raekwon McMillan came up and joined him. Armah was stonewalled at the line, but he gathered his feet and made a second effort. That’s where Littleton hit him, driving his knee to the turf for no gain. The Raiders took over and went on to win it.

Speaking of one-play wonders. Agholor played just 12 snaps in the game. He was taking a backseat to the two rookie starters, Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. Ruggs would limp off the field in the second quarter which meant it was Agholor time.

On his fourth snap, he told Derek Carr to throw him the ball in the end zone and he would score. Carr said ok and he threw one of the nicest passes he’s ever thrown. Agholor ran under it and caught it over his shoulder for a 23-yard touchdown. It was a thing of beauty. And it put the Raiders back ahead 17-12 just before the half.

The veteran receiver also had a block in the game on a pitch play to Josh Jacobs that allowed Jacobs to break off 14 yards. That drive led to a field goal.

Trent Brown left the game after three snaps with a calf injury. He was replaced by Sam Young who then left with a groin after 15 snaps. That left the Raiders in a pickle. They had no tackles left. So, they called upon their utility backup guard.

Had Good come in and looked serviceable, his work would have been worthy of praise. But he looked outstanding. He played 45 snaps and didn’t give up a sack or even any pressures that I could see. Not only that, but he laid a big block for Josh Jacobs to score the team’s final touchdown.

Upon further review, it became apparent why after the game Abram was not very willing to accept much praise for the game. As he said, it was sloppy, and he was right. There was a lot to be desired about his and the defense’s play overall. A lot to clean up.

That being said, he led all Raiders defenders in tackles by a wide margin. More than twice as many tackles as the next guy. Abram’s 13 tackles were impressive, though it’s rarely a good sign when your safety is leading the team in tackles because it often means plays are getting to the second level.

Abram’s biggest play came late in the third quarter when Christian McCaffrey tried to bounce out right and Abram came up and put a charge into him. You could hear the pads pop and McCaffrey was driven back for a loss. Unfortunately, the Panthers were able to sustain that drive and eventually McCaffrey would get the last laugh as he got around that right edge, staring down Abram on his way into the end zone.

What we can say about Abram’s day was that he was productive and he was all over the field, making his presence felt. He brings an energy to this defense it has sorely lacked. The other stuff can be taught and the kinks worked out.

Last season Carlson had just two attempts outside 50 yards and missed both of them. Just over a half of football into the 2020 season and he was already being asked to attempt his first field goal outside 50 yards.

On the Raiders’ first possession of the third quarter, their drive stalled at the 36. Carlson was called upon to prove he deserved to keep his job. He lined up for a 54-yard attempt and nailed it, extending the Raiders’ lead to 20-15. 

He also connected on a 20-yard field goal and four extra points for a perfect day.

QB Derek Carr

As mentioned, that 23-yard touchdown to Agholor was a thing of beauty. Other than that Carr didn’t do a whole lot that stood out. He attempted a couple of deep balls to Henry Ruggs III that didn’t connect and one in which Ruggs broke wide open on a deep crossing route. What Carr did was run the Raiders’ offense with efficiency and allowed Josh Jacobs to do his thing. He finished 22 of 30 for 239 yards with the one touchdown and no interceptions. A solid day that is worthy of mention.

WR Henry Ruggs III

Ruggs led the team with 55 yards receiving, 45 of which came on one play in which he was strangely left wide open over the middle of the field. He was impossible to miss, and Carr didn’t. Ruggs would be stopped at the one-yard-line and Jacobs would punch it through for the score on the next play. 

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