The Oakland Raiders went back out on the road to travel to the east coast for the first time this year, taking on the Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders didn't look bothered by all the travel, coming out energized as they handed the Ravens their first loss of the season, winning the game 28-27.
Both defenses started out the game strong, but it was the Raiders who got on the board quickly thanks to a 41-yard punt return by undrafted rookie Jalen Richard that gave Derek Carr a short field. It took Carr just one play to find wide receiver Seth Roberts in the end zone for the early 7-0 lead.
With the rushing attack struggling to find any room against a stout Ravens defense, Carr continued to find the advantage throughout the day. For third-year quarterback found his veteran receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone for the next score, giving the Raiders the 14-3 lead.
Ken Norton, Jr.'s defense built on a solid game last week by holding the Ravens to just two field goals in the first half as head coach Jack Del Rio went into the locker room up 14-to-6 at the half.
But the Ravens weren't going to go down easy, always a dangerous team after the half because of the job their coaching staff does making adjustments. The Ravens kept the Raiders offense off of the field for much of the third quarter thanks to stout defense forcing three-and-outs while quarterback Joe Flacco produced long drives.
Flacco used a 13-play drive to go 72 yards that ended up with a one-yard touchdown pass to bring the Ravens just a two-point conversion away from tying the game, but cornerback Sean Smith intercepted the ball preserving the Raiders 14-to-12 lead.
After producing three turnovers last week, the Raiders were the first to get a takeaway on Sunday. Linebackers Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack were too much for the Ravens offensive line to handle as Mack recorded his first sack of the year, and Irvin got to Flacco for a strip sack to give the offense an added possession.
Carr capitalized on the possession by going back to his trusty receiver, finding Crabtree in the end zone again to put the Raiders up 21-12.
After containing him for much of the day, 37-year-old wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. broke away from a tackle to scamper 52 yards for the touchdown to bring the Ravens to just a two-point deficit again.
Looking to build on to the lead, running back DeAndre Washington had a costly rookie mistake when he coughed the ball up on a short run. The Ravens took advantage of the fumble by scoring their first rushing touchdown of the year by a player not named Flacco. Running back Terrance West went in untouched from three yards out to give the Ravens their first lead of the day, at 27-to-21.
But Carr still had 3:36 left in the game and two timeouts to retake the lead, as he had done six times before. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave attacked the Ravens quickly as Carr found his grove, going 66 yards in just six plays and scoring almost too quickly. Carr made his prettiest throw of the day for the final score, finding Crabtree in the back of the end zone for his third touchdown of the day that gave the Raiders the 28-27 lead.
But there was still plenty of time for Flacco, who has 26 career game-winning drives. With 2:28 left, Flacco caught the Raiders defense by surprise with a run up the middle by West for a quick 18 yards and getting to the two-minute warning. The Raiders defense force a 4th and 10 after allowing the Ravens to get to midfield, when Flacco looked for Kamar Aiken who got hit hard by safety Reggie Nelson, forcing the incompletion and giving the Raiders the victory.
Carr threw for just 199 yards, but was efficient in the red zone with four touchdowns, three of which went to Crabtree. Crabtree had a total of seven receptions for 88 yards.
The Raiders are now 3-1 on the season and heading home for a two-week homestand starting with the San Diego Chargers next week.null