What a difference per week makes in the NFL. Fresh off a 52-0 thrashing by the St. Louis Rams – their worst beatdown in over fifty percent a century – the Oakland Raiders took to the field on Sunday against their cross-bay rivalSan Francisco 49ers.
Despite the fact that the 49ers were the people fighting for their playoff lives, it had been Oakland that appeared as if they had something to play for – rather than team merely playing out the string. As really have nothing going for them but pride to play for, the Raiders were playing the spoiler roll, and killedSan Francisco from the start of the game all the way to the end.
Given their 1-11 record, and the sound humbling the Raiders received last weekend, nobody gave them a puncher’s chance in this game. Some thought it will be understandable if they simply rolled over, let the 49ers have their way and mailed it set for the remaining portion of the season. In the end, another loss would put them one step nearer to the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft, right?
Instead, the Raiders dialed up what’s to be their best game of the year. Derek Carr had the best game of his career, finishing the day 22-28 for 254 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 140.2 QB rating. Carr appeared as if anything but a rookie against San Francisco, methodically carving up a 49ers defense that entered the overall game ranked fifth contrary to the pass in the NFL, yielding an average of just 208 yards per game.
On the other side of the ball, the much-maligned Raiders defense held Colin Kaepernick to just 174 yards on 18-33 passing, one touchdown and two interceptions – the final one by future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson to ice the overall game for Oakland. The Raiders defense added five total sacks, two by rookie standout Khalil Mack, and limited San Francisco to just 248 yards of total offense, well below their 325 yards per game average.
Unlike a week ago, the Raiders were firing on all cylinders from the get-go, with Brandian Ross picking off Kaepernick’s first pass attempt of the overall game, and Carr spreading the ball around the field for the offense. Tight end Mychal Rivera is living up to the promise he’s shown in notching the first 100-yard game of his career (seven receptions, 109 yards, one TD).
While he didn’t put up the eye-popping numbers, he did contrary to the Kansas City Chiefs, Latavius Murray was solid from the backfield in gaining 76 yards on his 23 carries. Murray ran hard and acquired crucial yards once the Raiders needed them the most while they nailed down their second win of the season.
While Carr and the offense were in rhythm from the start of the overall game, the defense did an excellent job of making sure Kaepernick and the 49ers’offense never established a rhythm of the own. They certainly were constantly in the backfield, in his face and blowing up plays all day long long. It was as complete a game on both parties of the ball because the Raiders have had all season.
Carr thoroughly outplayed Kaepernick, the Raiders’defense dominated the San Francisco offense and, in this season’s edition of the Battle of the Bay, Oakland humbled the 49ers, leaving them at 7-6 and potentially killing their playoff aspirations. With the win, the Raiders may have put a nail in the coffin of Jim Harbaugh‘s tenure in San Francisco – while perhaps launching his tenure in Oakland.
It may have been just the second win of the season for the Raiders, but it had been their first truly dominant victory in more years than most in the Raider Nation can remember. It was an overall total team win, and something Oakland can build upon moving forward. They might be playing out the string in 2014, but at least for per day, the Raiders played like champions.