Photo by Twitter/Raiders
Oakland, CA – No bigger stage than the one set tonight. Jon Gruden’s debut as the Raiders head coach could not be more fitting than a Monday Night game viewed on ESPN. Gruden retired as a ESPN analyst and held that career for ten years. Now, he’s back on the field for his first football game in 10 years.
Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Rams got the best of the Oakland 33-13 in an embarrassing display of poor football in the second half. It was the worst offensive performance by Derek Carr and the Raiders to date. When Marcus Peters returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown that was the nail in the coffin.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Gruden. “And indeed, it was.”
Oakland was successful in using their running game in their first series. Derek Carr connected with Jared Cook for a 45 yard pass and found Amari Cooper for a 9 yard gain. Marshawn Lynch powered through the Rams defense for his 10-yard rushing touchdown dragging players into the end zone for the 7-0 lead.
Jared Goff led his team down field on the next series with a few deep passes of his own. He went back-to-back with a 40 yard pass to Cooper Kupp and a 19 yard pass to Todd Gurley. That setup Gurley’s 19-yard touchdown pass from Goff to tie the game 7-7.
The penalties seem to still be the achilles heel for the Raiders. They committed 10 for 145 yards in the first half and two pass interference calls on deep pass from Goff didn’t help. Flags were thrown on Rashaan Melvin for 37 yard pass interference and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was hit on a 50 yard pass.
By the second Mike Nugent’s 24-yard field goal made it a 10-7 game. Oakland’s defense did a good job of holding the Rams in the red zone. Bruce Irvin stripped Goff’s pass and Greg Zuerlein 46-yard field goal attempt was no good. But after the Raiders moved the ball down field, Carr’s pass intended for Cook was intercepted in the end zone by John Johnson III.
Both Zuerlein kicked a 20-yard field goal to tie the game again 10-10. Oakland caught a break when LA committed a penalty moving the Raiders at the 30. Nugent kicked a 48-yard field goal to end the first half with Oakland leading 13-10. That would be the last time the Raiders scored again.
“Our execution as an offense – whether it’s bad throws, miscommunication, all that kind of stuff, stuff that usually happens in a first game, but you don’t really pay the consequence for them all the time,” Carr said. “But we did today. And that’s my fault. I have to do a better job for my team and I will.”
The Rams took over the game from here. After Zuerlein tied the game 13-13 with a 28-yard field goal, Goff found Kupp for the 8-yard touchdown pass to end the third quarter. Another 55-yard and 20-yard field goal by Zuerlein extended LA’s lead 26-13. But Peters pick 6 with 1:16 left in the game was the nail in the coffin.
“They were impressive,” said Gruden. “They had balance today, they could run it and throw it. They proved their stuff tonight in the second half. Offensively, we just couldn’t get anything going. We turned the ball over, we failed to pick up a blitz one time. It was very disappointing.”