After an impressive 2-0 start, the Raiders came back home to Las Vegas to take on the Dolphins (1-1) on Sunday. The Dolphins were without starting QB Tua Tagovailoa due to injury, and backup QB Jacoby Brissett started in his absence.
The Raiders were without RB Josh Jacobs and LG Richie Incognito, who was placed on IR, among others.
Raiders Struggle Early On
Things got off to a very ugly start for the Silver and Black. On the second offensive drive, QB Derek Carr and TE Foster Moreau misunderstood each other on a route. That ended up leading to the easiest interception and touchdown of Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts’ career.
On the next drive, The Raiders faced a 4th and 1 at their own 34 yard-line. Head coach Jon Gruden decided to go for it, and RB Peyton Barber failed to get that one yard.
Moments later, Dolphins RB Malcom Brown ran 24 yards untouched into the end zone, and Miami jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
This wasn’t the Raiders’ first time facing a deficit this year.
“We were down 14-0 to Baltimore as well, so that was the first thing we talked about,” WR Hunter Renfrow said after the game. “…I don’t think anybody panicked, because we knew everything we did was self-inflicted… we won the game.”
The Tide Begins to Change
Then, Dolphins CB Byron Jones woke the Raiders up. On the next drive, WR Zay Jones managed to down a punted ball at the 2 yard-line. Then, Byron Jones reacted by trying to push him back into the end zone. The following reaction from the Raiders was one of retaliation, and the team seemed to finally have some emotion.
That rang true, and on the very next play CB Casey Hayward tackled rookie WR Jaylen Waddle in his own end zone for a safety. The Raiders would grab a field goal and a touchdown on their next two drives to make it 14-12.
The Second Half
The Dolphins received the ball to start the second half, and the Raiders defense promptly got a stop. Then, the offense responded with a 10-play, 67-yard drive that was capped off with a classic “third-and-Renfrow” touchdown pass from Carr. Kicker Daniel Carlson followed that with an extra-point and the Raiders took their first lead of the game at 19-14.
The Raiders forced another stop on defense, and the offense went on another long touchdown drive just after. This one was even better, coming in at 12 plays and 84 yards. Peyton Barber flew over the offensive line and into the end zone from one yard out to cap the drive off. The Raiders held a 25-14 lead early in the fourth quarter after a missed PAT attempt from Carlson.
Barber ran for a career-high 111 rushing yards and a TD on 23 carries. He also caught 3 of 5 targets for 31 yards.
“I think [Barber] did more than just run with it,” Gruden said. “We went to him as our third down back… he caught a pass out of the back field, he picked up some blitzes, he didn’t blow any assignments. He ran hard.”
Miami would manage a field goal, and force a three-and-out on the next drive. After getting the ball back, the Dolphins would have been forced to punt, but a late roughing the passer penalty on DE Maxx Crosby extended their drive. It would come down to a 4th and 1, and Vegas’s defense continued to impress as they forced another turnover on downs.
Then, the offense got conservative with the lead. Another three-and-out gave the ball back to Miami.
Jacoby Brissett would go on to lead the best drive of the game. A 14 play, 61 yard drive ended up tying the game, and it ended with a Brisett touchdown run with just two seconds remaining on the clock. The Dolphins proceeded to get the two point conversion, forcing overtime tied at 25.
The Raiders won the coin toss, and a couple of big completions got them down the field quickly. Carr threw the ball away on third down, and Daniel Carlson made the field goal, giving the Raiders a 28-25 lead.
The Dolphins got the ball back, and after a holding call and three incompletions they were forced into a 4th and 20 situation. Then, Brissett fired a 27-yard bullet to TE Mike Gesicki to convert and extend the game. They marched down the field, and a long run from Miles Gaskin put Miami in field goal range. Jason Sanders went on to make a 50-yard field goal to keep the game alive.
On the ensuing drive, Carr threw a bomb to Bryan Edwards, and then a 27-yard run from Barber put the ball at the 19-yard line. Barber got the Raiders a little closer and centered the ball for Daniel Carlson to make a 22-yard field goal with no time remaining. The Raiders beat the Dolphins 31-28.
Derek Carr finished the game 26/43 passing for 386 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. He entered Week 3 leading the NFL in passing yards.
The Raiders are 3-0
This game was eerily reminiscent of the Raiders’ Week 1 victory against Baltimore. In both games, the Raiders came back from a 14-0 deficit, and in each game they had plenty of chances to win late in the game, and missed many of them.
However, a win is a win, and with a 3-0 record, there’s not much to complain about. Today, the Raiders became the first team in NFL history to start the year 3-0 with all three wins coming against teams that had won 10+ games the previous year.
Next week, the Raiders will take on the Chargers, who have been sneakily impressive this year. It should be a good matchup, and it’s the first AFC West opponent the Raiders will play in 2021. The game will take place on Monday Night Football in Los Angeles on ESPN.
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