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Team Grades: Raiders Pull Off Big Upset, Prove They Don't Need Harbaugh

By Sam McPherson

Now we can use the cliché that on any given Sunday in the NFL, one team can rise up and beat another. The Oakland Raiders have proven this now, after their 24-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers at the Coliseum in Week 14.

That's two straight wins at home over playoff-contending teams, although the Kansas City Chiefs and the 49ers may not be contending much longer thanks to their losses in Oakland. Meanwhile, the Raiders improve to 2-11 in 2014, and there is hope and promise for the future.

Oh, and they don't need Jim Harbaugh as their coach, either: Evidently, Tony Sparano is better than Harbaugh at preparing his team to win on any given Sunday.


Derek Carr was brilliant in this game, completing 22 of 28 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns. There were no interceptions and no fumbles. He looked like a veteran out there, slicing up a vulnerable 49ers secondary like Peyton Manning.

Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but Carr was great. And actually, he completed 14 of those passes to fullback Marcel Reece and tight end Mychal Rivera. But Carr took what was there, and this may have been his best game as a professional quarterback—with a lot on the line. GRADE: A


The Raiders put up 330 yards on one of the better NFL defenses this year, including 85 yards on the ground. Running back Latavius Murray had only 76 yards on 23 carries, but it was enough to keep the chains moving often enough: Oakland made rushing first downs five times in this game.

But Carr did a lot of the damage himself, with the help of Reece and Rivera. His 140.2 QB rating for the game was stellar. Rivera's 109 yards receiving certainly helped, and Reece managed 64 yards on his receptions. Overall, the Raiders made 13 first downs through the air and gained 5.5 yards per play overall. GRADE: A


The 49ers gained only 248 yards, and the Oakland defense forced two turnovers—both interceptions off S.F. QB Colin Kaepernick. The Raiders run defense wasn't great, but for some reason, Harbaugh didn't call for more running plays despite gaining 5.1 yards per carry on Sunday.

In fact, San Francisco threw the ball 33 times and gained only 174 yards through the air—while getting sacked five times in the process. The Oakland defense was on the field for only 27 minutes in this game, and they stayed fresh until the end. GRADE: A

Special Teams

Marquette King helped the cause with a 46.8 average on five punts, while Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 57-yard field goal to open the scoring. What a great contribution from the Oakland special teams right there. GRADE: A

The Sky Is the Limit for Oakland Now?

The Raiders are suddenly a threat to win every game at home now, after these two wins over the Chiefs and the 49ers in the last three weeks. Forget that ugly road loss in St. Louis last week: These "new" Raiders know how to play football.

Unfortunately, the team goes to Kansas City next week, and the Chiefs need a win. The only home game left is the one against Buffalo on December 21, and the Bills will be in the playoff hunt, too, perhaps.

But maybe that doesn't matter, as we saw in Oakland on Sunday. These Raiders have arrived, and the future is bright. This was the best game they've played all year, and now they have Bay Area bragging rights for the next couple of years.

For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A's. His work can be found on a

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