Best Western

In his first 3 quarters as returning head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jon Gruden’s team had the black Hole roaring. However, it was his younger counterpart Sean McVay who’s star-studded LA Rams showed why they should be considered a Super Bowl contender in the NFL’s first Monday Night showdown of 2018.


Raiders came out guns blazing on their first drive. TE Jared Cook split the Rams defense for an electric 45-yard reception to take his team go down to the Ram’s red zone. The drive was capitalized by a 10-yard shotgun draw where Marshawn Lynch looked as powerful as ever willing his way across the goal-line for a Raiders touchdown.



Sept. 10, 2018 - Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America


The Ram’s started their second drive with great field position at the 50. After a 20-yard reception from Robert Woods, Todd Gurley continued his excellence from the 2017 season rumbling into the end zone on a 19-yard motion sweep to give the Ram’s their first points. The Raiders third drive was jumpstarted by a “roughing the passer” call where Aaron Donald executed a perfect swim move on Kelechi Osemeli to hit Derek Carr in the pocket, continuing the long line of confusing calls seen in the preseason. The team drove to the LA 6-yard line to until the stingy Ram’s defense stopped their drive and the Raider’s settled for a field goal to take a 10-7 lead.


The Ram’s next drive began with a 37-yard pass interference call on Rashan Melvin. The team was forced to attempt a field goal after Bruce Irvin caused a third down fumble, but Greg Zuerlein missed the kick off the dirt maintaining the Raiders 10-7 lead. Derek Carr continued to drive his team down the field on the next drive until he was picked off in the end zone by John Johnson on a pass intended for Jared Cook. On the Ram’s next drive another pass interference was called on the Raiders secondary this time for 50 yards. After a near Jared Goff interception on 2nd and goal, Zuerlein converted a 20-yard field goal attempt to tie the game at 10. Jalen Richard helped move the Raiders down the field on a drive right before halftime which was highlighted by a 3rd and 13 reception where Jared Cook bulldozed Aqib Talib to reach the first down. The Raiders kicked a field goal to take a 13-10 halftime lead.



Sept. 10, 2018 - Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America


On the Rams first drive of the second half, big plays by Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp set the team up for a field goal which tied the game at 13 after another near interception by Jared Goff. Neither team could get anything going on offense for the rest of the third quarter until the Ram’s final drive when Brandin Cooks showed his playmaking ability getting the team into the red zone on two big receptions. Cooper Kupp caught an 8-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a 20-13 lead. The Raiders then went three and out and the Ram’s drove down the field to kick another field goal extending their lead to 23-13. The Raider’s began their next possession on the 9:19 mark of the 4th quarter. With their defense growing tired the team was in desperate need of any kind of score. After a great 32-yard completion to Jared Cook, Derek Carr lobbed up a bewildering interception to Corey Littleton with no receiver anywhere nearby, taking nearly all the wind of out the Raiders sails. Todd Gurley then powered the Ram’s offense down the field, but they were again held up and forced to kick a field goal extending their lead to 26-13 with 3:15 left.


Carr capped off his awful 4th quarter by throwing another interception which Marcus Peter’s returned for a touchdown. Adding insult to injury, Peter fell backward into the end zone a performing his rendition of Marshawn Lynch’s infamous “crotch grab” celebration ending the game on a distasteful note.



Sept. 10, 2018 - Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America


TAKEAWAYS

The Ram’s offense showed its explosiveness with Gurley in mid-season form going for 137 yards on 23 touches and a touchdown. Cooks and Kupp made big plays in the passing game combining for 139 yards. However, with 5 attempted field goals, converting in the end zone proved a major problem for the Ram’s and is alarming against a sub-par Raiders defense. Sean McVay must address this if his team is to be considered a Super Bowl contender. Jared Goff also had several overthrown balls and near interceptions which will be game-changers against more talented secondaries.


With the exodus of Khalil Mack, the pass rush was a problem all night for the Raiders. Surprisingly, the unit played well enough to keep the team in the game and were stingy in the red zone. Jared Cook was a star on the field for the Raiders finishing with 9 receptions for 180 yards, and Marshawn Lynch looked powerful when had to room to run. Unfortunately, Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson were virtually nonexistent combining for 31 yards. Cooper must be the big play threat he has been labeled as in the past for the Raiders to score points. Ultimately, the success of the Raiders is completely predicated on Derek Carr. With bad interceptions in key moments, he let his team down. Gruden must quickly bring Carr back to his 2016 form if this team wants any shot of making the playoffs.

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