The game saw eight lead changes in total. Raider just had to make sure that the final lead change was his. It came on former Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead for an accidental pass interference penalty that kept the Raiders alive a late scoring drive, and a well-timed play was played on defense to stop the Panthers on fourth-and-one. And the Raiders ran away with a 34–30 victory.
Now let’s go to the top performers.
The man who should have been named Rookie of the Year came out last season. After a three-and-out by the Raiders to start the game, Jacobs was the force that inspired him to drive even after that. He scored his first touchdown one-yard touchdown run in the Raiders’ second campaign. But he also had a huge hand in getting him there, starting with a run of eight yards, then a big pass block to allow a down catch first, and then a run of five yards on third and one.
It was the first of three touchdowns for Jacobs in this game. His second TD came in the third quarter and gave the Raiders a 27-15 lead. And as before, he gave himself an assist with a catch as he hampered a keeper for 29 yards.
All told, Jacobs had 139 yards from scrimmage (93 rushing) on 29 touches (4 catches). He rode his karmakshetra to achieve victory.
Those holes in the line were not opening themselves. At least not most of the time. The first play of the game was a five-yard run in which Jacobs led Incognito. And for the first time Jacobs converted to a third down, Incognito was among those paving the way for him.
The second touch of the day came on a long bomb out of short-yardage. That play was set up by a screen for Darren Waller with Hudson downfield to pick up eight yards.
Jacobs’ second touchdown of the day, he ran in the gut through a big hole that was opened by Gupt and Hudson. And, of course, neither of them allowed any pressure, let alone sacks.
His longest reception was just eight yards away, which is somewhat unusual for Waller. He is usually basically a big receiver. But he is not a receiver, he is a tight end, meaning his duties extend past a receiver.
On the Raiders’ second possession, they were seeking their first third-down conversion. And they got it on third-and-two with a seven-yard pass to Waller. The drive ended with a touchdown by Jacob, made possible by Waller in part by a seal block.
Waller’s next catch came in Raider’s next third over. It went eight yards on third and two. He gained 6 yards after two plays. That drive ended with a field goal to take a 10-9 lead. The Voller would end up with a team-leading six catches for 45 yards.
This is one of the examples in which some players are honorary ballers based on a game. To be fair, Littleton made some great plays in this game, but one play was above all else.
The Panthers got the ball just over four minutes into the game, down 34–30. He re-entered the Raiders field and found himself in fourth-and-46. The clock had 1:23 left at this point, which meant that he would have to first turn it down to hit any shot to win.
The Panthers stood in an i-formation with Christian McCaffrey behind fullback Alex Armah. Teddy Bridgwater took the snap and quickly handed it to Armah, hoping to catch the Raiders off guard by not giving in to their star McCaffrey. The problem was, he used this play in the game to set up his touchdowns in the third and already fourth quarters. This time the Raiders were ready for it.
Armah gets the ball and Ferrell lands the crash to crash, while Rakwon McMillan comes up and joins him. Armah was lined up, but collected his legs and made another attempt. That’s why Littleton hit him, driving his knee over the turf to no avail. The Raiders handled it and won it.
Talking of each wonder. Aghori played just 12 slaps in the game. He was sitting behind two rogues, Henry Ruggs III and Brian Edwards. Raggas would lime the field in the second quarter which meant it was Aghor time.
On his fourth snap, he told Derek Carr that he had to throw the ball in the final zone and he would score. Carr said that’s fine and threw one of the best passes he had thrown. Aghoral ran under it and caught him on his shoulder for a 23-yard touchdown. It was a thing of beauty. And it trailed the Raiders 17-12 just before the half.
The veteran receiver gave Josh Jacobs a block in the pitch playing game that allowed Jacob to break for 14 yards. That drive led to a field goal.
Trent Brown left the game after three snacks with a calf injury. He was replaced by Sam Young, who left with a groin after 15 snaps. That left the attackers in a pickle. They had no tackle left. Therefore, he called his utility backup guard.
If it had been good and seen in service, its work would have been well appreciated. But he seemed outstanding. He played 45 slaps and did not spare a sack or any pressure that I could see. Not only that, but he put in a big block for Josh Jacobs to score the team’s final touchdown.
Upon further review, it became clear why Abrams was not ready to accept much praise for the game after the game. As he said, it was sloppy, and he was right. Overall a lot was desired about him and his game of defense. So much to clean up.
That being said, he helped all the Raiders’ defenders deal with a wide margin. More than twice as many tackles as the next man. Abram’s 13 tackles were impressive, although this is rarely a good sign when your safety is leading the team in tackles as it means plays are taking place at another level.
Abram’s biggest play came late in the third quarter when Christian McCaffrey tried to bounce to the right and Abram came up and charged him. You can hear the pad pop and McCaffrey was sent back for the loss. Unfortunately, the Panthers were able to sustain that drive and McCoffrey would eventually get the final laugh as he got around that right edge, dropping Abrams on his way into the end zone.
What we can say about Abram’s day is that he was productive and was all over the field, making his presence felt. He brings an energy to this defense that it lacks. Other stuff could be taught and Kink worked.
Last season, Carlson made just two attempts outside of 50 yards and missed both. More than half of football in the 2020 season and he was already being asked to try his first field goal outside of 50 yards.
On the Raiders’ first possession of the third quarter, their drive halted at 36. Carlson is called upon to prove that he deserves to keep his job. He lined up for a 54-yard effort and printed it, extending the Raiders lead to 20-15.
He also connected on a 20-yard field goal and four extra points for a perfect day.
QB Derek Care
As noted, for Aghor the touch of 23 yards was an object of beauty. Also Carr did not do a single thing that stood out. He attempted a pair of deep balls to Henry Ruggs III that did not connect and Ruggs broke wide open on a deep crossing route. What Carr did was run the Raiders’ offense with efficiency and allow Josh Jacobs to speak his way. He finished 22 of 30 for 239 yards with one touchdown and any interception. A solid day worthy of mention.
WR Henry Rugs III
Ruggs led the team with 55 yards, 45 of which came on a game in which he was awkwardly left open in the middle of the field. He was impossible to miss, and Carr didn’t. Ruggs would be stopped at the one-yard-line and Jacobs would punch it for a score on the next play.