Outmanned Raiders outgunned by Ravens

Absent quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders needed a quick start to help back-up EJ Manuel establish comfort.

They got exactly the opposite.

After winning the coin toss, Oakland deferred possessions to second half asking its defense to create some momentum. The unit did not respond, allowing the Ravens (3-2) to march 75 yards down the field for a touchdown on five plays spanning just over two minutes.

Three plays later, tight end Jared Cook fumbled away a first-down reception, scooped by Jimmy Smith and returned 47 yards for a quick second score paving the way to a 30-17 Raven Week 5 trouncing of the wary Raiders (2-3).

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Raiders locker room at the Oakland Coliseum.

Said Cook:

“Self-inflicted wounds is not something we need on this offense. That was a huge mistake that turned in to points for them.”

A visibly frustrated dead coach Jack Del RIo said after the game:

“Pretty disappointing starting the game the way we did — allowing big plays over the top of us with a fumble recovered and run back for a touchdown. Down 14-nothing before the fans are sitting down. … Tough way to start.”

Linebacker Bruce Irvin said that starts like this are part of the game, saying his defense needed to regroup:

“That’s football. You’re going to face adversity, you’re going to face situations like that. You’ve gotta keep fighting, keep fighting and try to overcome it.”

Del Rio’s offense continued to fight, but the inability of his defense to do so resulted in Baltimore’s balanced attack never letting Oakland back into the game.

In the loss, Manuel flashed the athleticism that made him a first-round selection in 2013 and the effort that made him general manager Reggie McKenzie’s selection as Carr’s understudy. Thrice he evaded the Baltimore rush, converting big plays on each.

Down 21-3 with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half, Manuel rolled right out of a crumbling pocket to find a wide open Michael Crabtree in the endzone for a 41-yard touchdown bolt.

Driving early in the third quarter to keep his team within striking distance, Manuel once again escaped the Raven rush, which got to him three times despite his best efforts, moving left before finding Seth Roberts along the sideline for a pick-up of 22. Later in the same drive, Manuel got free of a collapsing pocket, scrambling right for 10 yards to convert a third and nine and set up a Marshawn Lynch three-yard touchdown run on the very next play.

Of the quarterback’s first start in the silver and black, Cook said:

“EJ pulled his heart out of his chest, especially on a few of those scrambles. … He played a heck of a game, in my opinion.”

Before complimenting the veteran’s work, Del RIo put it into perspective:

“We didn’t win so it wasn’t well enough to win. But I thought he did a pretty solid job as a back-up guy coming in to a tough situation. Handled himself well.”

Manuel completed 50 percent of his passes (13-of-26) for a modest 159 yards and one touchdown, but refrained from giving it back to the clicking Ravens. He also ran for 15 yards on two carries, joining Lynch’s 43 yards on 12 totes and another 37 on nine for Jalen Richard. Crabtree paced the Raider receiving corps with six catches for 82 yards.

The admirable efforts of Oakland’s second-string signal caller were for naught as his defense could not contain Joe Flacco, Mike Wallace and the Baltimore offense.

The Ravens answered each Raider score with points of their own — exchanging 10 points apiece after the 14-0 start.

Irvin and the defense had a chance to stand tall for an Oakland offense that had found some rhythm following Lynch’s score to make it a one-score game with nearly four minutes left in the third quarter. But it failed. Flacco drove the Ravens 72 yards for a field goal eating up almost six minutes.

Marquette King punted it away one final time, with 8:50 left in the game, from the Baltimore 44 yard line, with his team down just 10. Asked if he considered going for it in what would appear to be four-down territory, Del RIo said bluntly, the game was not won or lost on a fourth down in the fourth quarter.

This is now three consecutive losses for a Raiders team that was among the pre-season favorites to win the AFC Championship. Three losses in which they have scored 37 total points, and allowed 73; in which they have been outgained 1,135 yards to 623; in which the team that finished tied for first in turnover differential (plus-16) last year has turned it over five times and taken it away just twice.

While Del RIo admitted that his team is likely battling a team-wide lack of confidence, Irvin is sticking with the “it’s early” position:

“I don’t think so. I just think we’re facing a little adversity right now. … It’s not the first time I’ve been in a situation (like this), it’s the fifth game we’ve got time to turn it around.”

Up next

Oakland will host the Chargers (1-4) for a Week 6 Sunday afternoon AFC West showdown, the second of three consecutive home games for the Raiders. Los Angeles claimed its first win of the season Sunday, scoring a touchdown in the closing minutes to seal a 27-22 comeback victory over the New York Giants.

Notes

Amari Cooper continues to be invisible as the Oakland offense looks for consistency. Cooper has caught hauled in just three receptions in the Raiders’ past three games including a catch-less afternoon Sunday. Del RIo said it was not a intentional to have the Pro-Bowl receiver cut out of the offense. … Jamize Olawale (concussion), Antonio Hamilton (knee), Cory James (knee) and Marquel Lee (ankle) each suffered injuries and were unable to return to the game. Lee was unable to put pressure on his right leg while leaving the field in the second half. … Despite the original diagnosis being that he would miss at least two weeks, Carr was a game-time decision and was held out after running drills prior to the opening kickoff. Said Del RIo:

“He was pushing pretty hard to play today.”

Del Rio said he “has a feeling” that Carr will be available against the Chargers in Week 6.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Raiders beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.