The Oakland Raiders went into Sunday’s matchup against the Baltimore Ravens opening to end a two-game skid, but they’d have to do it without some key pieces on both sides of the ball.
On defense, Ken Norton, Jr. was without cornerbacks Gareon Conley and David Amerson, forcing Sean Smith into a starting role and Dexter McDonald into an expanded role. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders were without right guard Gabe Jackson and their star quarterback Derek Carr, who practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.
The team’s absences were made apparent from the very beginning when Ravens quarterback used the opening snap to throw a ball over the top to Mike Wallace, who streaked past Smith for a 52-yard reception down the left sideline. It would take Baltimore just four more plays to score, getting into the end zone with an end-around to Northern California native Vince Mayle, giving them the early lead.
Things didn’t get any better on the offensive side with backup quarterback E.J. Manuel getting his first start of the season. Manuel found tight end Jared Cook, who fumbled the ball to have it scooped up by Jimmy Smith. Smith scampered down the sideline 47 yards to give the Ravens the early 14-0 lead just under four minutes into the game.
With Carr out, offensive coordinator Todd Downing would rely on the rushing attack to get the Raiders back into the game. The Raiders drive stalled in the red zone though, having to settle for a field goal for their first score.
The Raiders defense couldn’t stop the Ravens offense. It looked as if they’d get a much-needed sack when Flacco tripped over himself, only to get up and complete a wobbly pass to Jeremy Maclin for the first down. The Ravens would capitalize with a one-yard touchdown run by Javorius Allen to extend their lead.
Oakland finally got into the end zone in the second quarter when Manuel escaped the pressure to find wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a 41-yard touchdown.
Every time the Raiders added points, the Ravens had the answer. Flacco went back to what worked on the first play of the game and found Wallace for a 54-yard reception, again getting past Smith and safety Reggie Nelson. Ken Norton, Jr.’s squad would keep the Ravens out of the end zone, but they’d tack on another field goal to extend their lead to 24-10 heading into the end zone.
The Raiders defense came out of the locker room a different squad, starting out the half with two-straight three-and-outs to give the offense a chance to get the team back in the game. Manuel did his best late in the third quarter when he scrambled and dove for a first down on 3rd and 8, giving his offense first-and-goal from the 5. Running back Marshawn Lynch punched it in from 3 yards out to give bring it to just a one-score game at 24-17.
But again, it was the speedster Wallace that beat the Raiders. Facing a 3rd and 8, Flacco found Wallace for a 27 yard completion to put the Ravens in field goal range to extend their lead to a two-score game at 27-17. Wallace finished the game with three receptions for 133 yards.
Down 27-17 and the ball on the Ravens 44-yard line, head coach Jack Del Rio elected to punt the ball on 4th and 3 with 8:50 left on the clock. The Raiders defense couldn’t come up with the stop they needed, as they drove down the field and ran the clock out to tack on another field goal to extend the lead 30-17. That was all the Ravens needed to hand the Raiders the loss, giving them a 2-3 record.
The Raiders continue their three-game homestand as they host the Los Angeles Chargers, before an important Thursday Night Football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 7.