The Oakland Raiders took on the Miami Dolphins Sunday night looking to bounce back from a rough loss to the Buffalo Bills.
A week after struggling against the Bills defense, quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders offense got the first opportunity to put some points on the board. Unable to run the ball, Carr found a chemistry with tight end Jared Cook who hauled in three passes for 59 yards and three first downs on the opening drive. Unfortunately, the Raiders’ drive would stall and they’d have to settle for a Giorgio Tavecchio field goal to give them the 3-0 lead.
The Raiders were once again thin at the cornerback position with Gareon Conley and David Amerson once again missing the game due to injuries. The lack of depth showed as Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler found both Jarvis Landry and DaVante Parker wide open on the opening drive. Luckily for the Raiders, penalties would stall the drive as the Raiders would force a punt to begin the game.
After trading Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi at the trade deadline this week, it was one of his replacements that got the Dolphins on the board first. Cutler connected with Damian Williams who broke a couple of tackles for a touchdown. A missed extra point and the Raiders would be down 6-3.
The Raiders special teams would be caught napping on the ensuing kickoff as kicker Cody Parkey recovered his own onside kick. Needing a turnover, veteran Bruce Irvin forced a fumble on running back Kenyan Drake to give the ball back to Carr.
Carr took advantage of the added possession with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Holton, who has just two catches on the season, both of which were touchdowns.
The Raiders defense struggled to slow down Cutler, who started the game completing his first 16 pass attempts. The veteran quarterbacks first incompletion didn’t come until under the two-minute warning when Denico Autry batted down his pass.
Tavecchio would nail a 53-yard field goal as the first half came to an end as the Raiders held a 13-9 lead heading into the locker room.
Jack Del Rio’s team started the second half the way they needed to, forcing and three-and-out and getting the ball back into the hands of Carr and the offense, which was finally able to establish the rushing attack. Marshawn Lynch finished the six-play drive with a 22-yard touchdown run, his longest of the season.
But the Dolphins would bounce back, largely due to a big 42-yard run by Drake that put the Raiders defense back in their own territory. Cutler would finish off the drive with a touchdown pass to Landry, drawing the score to 20-16.
Looking to answer the Dolphins score, Carr and the Raiders offense faced a 3rd and 14 after a costly holding penalty pushed them outside of field goal range. Star defensive lineman Ndamakong Suh got around Marshall Newhouse to strip Carr of the ball. Newhouse picked up the fumble and tried to run with the ball, but also fumbled the ball as the Dolphins recovered.
But the Raiders defense stepped up again, forcing another three and out. Needing to get some first downs and run some time off the clock, both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree dropped passes that would have extended the drive. Instead, the Raiders would have to punt the ball back to the Dolphins.
The Raiders defense would come up big again when they finally recorded their first sack of the game. Khalil Mack came around the left side and forced Cutler up while Bruce Irvin and Mario Edwards, Jr. recorded the sack to force another punt by the Dolphins.
Facing a 3rd and 5 with just over 5 minutes remaining, Carr found Seth Roberts for a big 29-yard gain that extended the drive. On the very next play, Crabtree drew a pass interference call giving the Raiders first and goal from the 3. Lynch punched it in on the next play, giving the Raiders the 27-16 lead with just over four minutes left in the game.
It won’t show up in the stat sheet, but Mack came up big in the Dolphins’ final drive of the game by applying pressure on Cutler and drawing a holding call to force a 4th and 19. With just one last chance, Mack almost got to Cutler as the pass fell incomplete.
Miami intercepted Carr with 2-minutes remaining giving them one last opportunity. Cutler drove the offense back down the field and hit tight end Julius Thomas for a late touchdown. Needing a two-point conversion, Drake pounded the ball up the middle to bring the deficit to just a field goal at 27-24.
Cooper came up with the big onside kick recovery, securing the Raiders fourth win of the season.
The Raiders ran the clock out, securing the 27-24 win over the Dolphins heading into their bye-week. The Raiders will fly to Mexico City where they will host the New England Patriots on Nov. 19th.