By Shawn Lealos
After starting the season with two straight wins as one of the favored teams to win the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders have now dropped three consecutive games to fall to 2-5 on the season with their disappointing 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The loss came with E.J. Manuel replacing the injured Derek Carr as the Raiders starting quarterback, and while he played decently, Oakland couldn't overcome the Ravens in this AFC game. Here is a look at the Oakland Raiders team grades for their most recent loss.
The problem wasn't that E.J. Manuel played poorly—because he did better than some critics expected. Manuel completed 13 of 25 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. It wasn't a big-time performance for E.J., but the Raiders were just hoping to ease him into the starting position and were forced to try to play catch up after the Ravens jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Manuel had a chance.
The first Raiders drive of the game saw Manuel throw a complete pass to Michael Crabtree, give to Marshawn Lynch, who ran for seven yards, and then complete a pass to Jared Cook. Things looked positive until Cook fumbled the ball on that third play and Jimmy Smith returned it 47 yards for a Ravens score. With the Raiders down by two touchdowns after four minutes, Manuel wasn't equipped for the come-from-behind effort.
On a positive note, Michael Crabtree returned after missing last week due to injury and caught six balls for 82 yards and a touchdown. Marshawn Lynch is still not paying dividends. He only averaged 3.5 yards-per-carry, but he did score a touchdown in the game. On the other hand, Amari Cooper caught one pass for eight yards and is the most prominent disappointment of this offense so far this season.
The Oakland Raiders' pass rush was nonexistent today. Joe Flacco didn't go down to a sack the entire game, and he completed 73 percent of his passes for 222 yards. The Ravens offense also managed 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Mike Wallace only caught three passes but managed 133 yards. Even with starting Ravens running back Terrance West falling early to injury, Javorius Allen and Alex Collins carried the load for the Ravens offense.
Karl Joseph and Khalil Mack combined for 17 tackles, but they were not enough to stop the Ravens from moving the ball and winning the game. Baltimore controlled the time of possession, 33:43-26:17.
Special Teams: B-
The Oakland Raiders barely relied on their kicking game. Giorgio Tavecchio only attempted one field goal, which he made from 32 yards out. The Raiders also just had four punts, as Marquette King had an off game, averaging 49.25 yards per kick, not putting any inside the 20, and that was with a long punt of 62 yards. The return game for both teams was not a factor at all in this game.
Despite losing Derek Carr to injury last week, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis had a long conversation with head coach Jack Del Rio after the loss. This week, things looked worse. Del Rio didn't seem to have E.J. Manuel ready for the chance he needed to play from behind, and it showed. There were also bad coaching decisions, including punting on a fourth-and-3 from the opposing 44-yard line in the fourth quarter while down by 10. This was despite having a kicker who has proven to have a big-time foot and an offense who was playing better than their defense. The Ravens ran seven minutes off the clock and kicked a field goal. Del Rio has to coach better for the Raiders to win until Derek Carr returns.
The Oakland Raiders (2-3) next play the Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) at home. If the Raiders lose that game, they drop to the last place in the AFC West and face an uphill battle the rest of the season. It is a must-win game and the Raiders faithful have to wonder how much longer Derek Carr will be out.
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