Derek Carr vowed early this week to continue winning and further breaking up the NFL draft order.
He and the Raiders (2-9) showed the necessary effort Sunday in Baltimore, and started the fourth quarter within a score of knocking off the playoff hopeful Ravens (6-5). But with the game in the balance late, the injury-riddled Oakland offensive line was unable to keep its quarterback out of the hands of Matt Judon.
Starting with a strip-sack, turned into a defensive touchdown by Terrell Suggs, on a fourth and eight, Judon sacked Carr on three consecutive Raider snaps effectively icing a 34-17 Baltimore victory with 5:25 left.
As it has done very well this season, the Oakland offense came out of the gate steaming, converting on a fourth and 1 and turning their first possession into a Doug Martin one-yard touchdown run. A score, though, that required a replay review after Martin was ruled to have lost control of the ball before crossing the goalline. The call on the field was quickly overturned.
The Raiders didn’t find their way back into the endzone until their first possession in the second half.
While Baltimore moved the ball well in the first half, finding pay dirt proved to be an issue against the revitalized Raider secondary.
The Ravens answered Oakland’s opening touchdown with a field goal. But the Raider defense wasn’t on the field to stop Cyrus Jones, who took a Johnny Townsend punt 70 yards for the first touchdown of his career.
Take away the 14 points scored by Baltimore’s defense and special teams and the Raider showed a solid defensive effort.
Yards were easier to come by than points for the Ravens. Their 416 yards of total offense — Oakland entered allowing a seventh-most 387.4 per game — yielded just two offensive touchdowns.
Tahir Whitehead and company were unable to wrangle the shifty Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 71 yards on 11 carries in his second NFL start, but they stunted his ability to move the ball through the air, surrendering just 174 passing yards and matching their season-best effort of a week ago with a pair of picks.
Jackson also accounted for both of Baltimore’s offensive scores, one on the ground and the other through the air.
But the bend-don’t-break approach kept Carr and the offensive within striking distance against the NFL’s top yardage defense (300.0 yards per game).
The Raider efforts were rejuvenated early in the second half, on a 16-yard strike from Carr to Jared Cook near the right goalline pylon. The throw was there, beating the poor coverage of safety Chuck Clark. But the play was once again made by Cook, who continues to be the lone reliable target in the Oakland passing game.
lunging to the sideline, while simultaneously keeping his left foot inside the sideline and reaching back with his left hand, Cook plucked the pass and kept his body from sliding onto the chalk before crossing into the endzone.
It was the type of play that could have triggered a momentum swing. But the offensive line didn’t get the memo, and friend turned foe Michael Crabtree matched Cook’s heroics with his first touchdown catch in five weeks and third since being cut by Oakland and signing with the Ravens.
The Raiders will return to Oakland where they will host the Super Bowl contending Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) next Sunday.