Last Sunday, the Oakland Raiders not only beat the Steelers, but also gave a big boost to their playoffs hopes. This time, the offense was the one who kept the team in the game and eventually put the Silver&Black in the lead. Here are this week’s offensive grades:
Carson Palmer had his best performance of the year so far and was conceivably the MVP of this game. After starting the contest with an interception, Palmer kept his poise and got better as the game went on. And even on that turnover, we must remember that it looked like the ball was going to be a catchable one to Denarius Moore, but the wide out slipped and went to the ground, making things easy for Steelers’ safety Ryan Clark. After starting the game with 3 completions out of 7 attempts for 18 yards, Palmer stepped up after the fumble recovered by Joselio Hanson (with 4:20 to go in the 2nd quarter), completing 21 passes on 27 attempts, for 191 yards and 3 TDs, improving his YPA (yards per attempt) from 2.6 to 7. Palmer was on the money for the most part of the game and led the team to victory with a 1:43 minute, 49 yard drive to set up Janikowski’s field goal. On that series, Carson, after starting the drive with 2 incompletions, went for a perfect 4 completions on 4 attempts, including a clutch 15-yard dart to Brandon Myers on a 3rd down. Palmer’s accuracy and poise was the main reason the Raiders offense was able to come from behind and get the win.
QB Rating: A
It was the first big game for Darren McFadden this year, as the runningback gained 113 yards on 18 carries (6.3 YPC) and 1 TD. His 64 yard home run proved once again that, when he gets a good hole by the OL, he’s a threat to taking it to the house every time. He almost had another TD on the game, getting a few inches shy of the endzone on a run that also reminds everyone that he can go as physical as anyone when its needed. There were still plenty of problems with the zone blocking scheme being able to create gaps for him, and for the most part of the game he didn’t get many room to run, but he capitalized on the opportunity. And once again he did almost all the work out of the backfield for the Raiders: only one rush attempt wasn’t made by DMC (a one yard gain by Mike Goodson). Marcel Reece had his most active game so far in the season, catching 4 passes for 27 yards and should be envolved more often in the playcalling in the upcoming games.
RBs Grade: B
Once again, the receivers didn’t have many drops in the game. Aside from a dropped pass by Denarius Moore early in the contest, the wide outs were there for Carson Palmer. But this time, they not only did what they were supposed to do, but also made a few greats plays for their QB, which was one thing lacking in comparison to the previous games. Darrius Heyward-Bey contributed with 2 hard catches along the sideline, including the TD reception. Denarius Moore showed great body control and hands on his diving grab, also for a TD. Rod Streater had the most difficult catch of the day, even getting poked in the eye in the process, and it was a clutch one: a 4th quarter, 17 yard gain on a 3rd&9 situation. Derek Hagan came up with 3 important catches late in the game, including the one that put the Raiders in good field goal range. Moore was the leader of the pack with 5 receptions for 45 yards.
WRs Grade: A
Brandon Myers once again had a very solid performance, catching all the passes thrown his way (4) for 55 yards, including a clutch first down on the game-winning drive. In fact, Myers has caught all the 15 balls thrown at him so far this season, a pretty impressive stat considering that is unparalleled with any receiver with at least 10 catches this year. He must continue to be more and more envolved in this offense. David Ausberry contributed with a 13-yard reception. Richard Gordon also had 1 catch and it went for the first touchdown of his career.
TEs Grade: B
The OL finally was able to create a big hole for Darren McFadden, and it payed off as the play resulted in a score. But take away that 64 yard TD and DMC was only able to have 2.9 yards per carry. So it’s clear that the running game issues are still there. In other hand, the OL did a very good job protecting Carson Palmer. Even though they conceded one sack (on Willie Smith), Palmer had time to throw on the vast majority of his dropbacks and that was crucial to the offense moving the chains and eventually winning the game. They almost went penalty-free as well, if it wasn’t for a false start on Mike Brisiel.
OL Grade: B
Greg Knapp’s offense started the game slowly and at one point it looked like they weren’t going to be able to keep up with the Steelers, and the Raiders would drop to 0-3 in the season. But after Joselio Hanson recovered the fumble forced by Desmond Bryant, the offense was able to score on every possession, including 3 consecutive touchdowns and 2 clutch field goals, to tie and win the game. The Raiders outscored the Steelers by 13×0 on the 4th quarter and were able to convert 7 out of 8 3rd downs in the game. Regarding that last accomplishment, one important thing was Knapp calling passes that were actually designed to be completed beyond the first down line, differently from the previous games when the Raiders were often forced to punt after short completions. The designed formation shift on a 4th&2 at the Steelers 6 yard line worked perfectly, drawing a neutral zone infraction and, therefore, a first down, which led to a touchdown. For the first time this season, Knapp’s zone blocking scheme was able to set Darren McFadden free on one play, and although it is still far from being effective, it’s good to see it finally working. The Raiders could still use a little more creativity and aggressiveness on the playcalling to take advantage of their players’ speed.
Coaching Grade: B
The Raiders offense scored on 5 consecutive possessions, including the game-winning field goal. Take away the interception due to a slip in their first snap of the game and the offense didn’t commit any turnovers. After suffering from the same mistakes that haunted them on the previous games, the Raiders were able to use the momentum swing on the first recovered fumble to turn their performance around and looked solid from that play on. The offense was able to get the Raiders back in the game and, when the defense finally was able to stop the Steelers offense, doing so in a crucial moment of the contest, the Raiders got the first lead of the game and the most important one, because it meant victory since the Sebastian Janikowski field goal split the uprights as the gameclock hit zeros. A inspiring performance, specially by the passing game, and the Raiders offense must build on it and keep it up.
Overall Offensive Grade: A
The Raiders will now face the Broncos in Denver on September 30th at 1:05 P.M. (PDT).