Written for Salute Magazine; original here
When you spot an opponent 14 points after nearly four minutes of football, things usually aren’t going to turn around.
That’s what happened to the Oakland Raiders yesterday in their 30-17 loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens. They were able to play themselves back into the game but ran out of gas by the end.
It all began on the first play from scrimmage with a 52-yard bomb from Joe Flacco to Mike Wallace, who burst by Sean Smith. The Ravens would score three plays later on an end-around run from Vince Mayle
The Raiders got a first down in two plays, but then disaster struck. Jared Cook got stripped on a short pass by Patrick Onwuasor, and Jimmy Smith was able to take the recovery back 47 yards for the touchdown.
3 minutes and 50 seconds had gone by, and the Raiders were down 14-0.
The Raiders admirably tried to get back into the game afterward. Substitute QB EJ Manuel marched the offense down the field for a chip shot Giorgio Tavecchio field goal with a nice mix of run and pass. However, the Ravens responded with a similar drive, which ended in a short TD for Javorius Allen. Manuel tossed a 41-yard TD pass to Michael Crabtree on the next series, and the defense got a goalline stand to save for a Justin Tucker field goal before halftime.
24-10 after two quarters was a miracle considering how the game started. However, the Raiders wouldn’t get within 7 points for the rest of the game. Marshawn Lynch got a 3-yard TD run late in the third, but the Ravens did an excellent job of clock management, getting two field goals late to ice the game. The last one was especially vexing for Oakland’s defense; Baltimore took over six minutes off the clock with some runs from Allen and Alex Collins.
Manuel drew the start in place of the injured Derek Carr, playing a mostly clean but lowkey game. He finished with 159 yards and a TD on 13 for 26 passing, along with 15 rushing yards on two scrambles. The aforementioned TD went to Crabtree, who led the way with 6 catches for 82 yards. Amari Cooper got shut down once again, only getting one solitary catch for 8 yards.
Lynch and Jalen Richard teamed up in the rushing attack. They were productive but uninspiring. The former had 12 carries for 43 yards and a TD, while the latter rushed 9 times for 37 yards.
Flacco also played an understated game, going 19 for 26 and 222 yards. 133 of those went to Wallace, who had 3 catches of 54, 52 and 27. The first two came from blown Sean Smith coverages. Jeremy Maclin put up 43 yards on 6 grabs.
Starting running back Terrance West went down with a calf injury on the first drive for the Ravens, so Allen and Collins had to carry the load on the ground. The former rushed 21 times for 73 yards and a score, while the latter got 55 yards on 12 carries.
Now at 2-3, the Raiders will stay at home for a divisional outing versus the Los Angeles Chargers. The Ravens will head back to Baltimore to host the Chicago Bears.