Ballers & Busters for Raiders Week 2 vs Cardinals

·9 min read

Hoo boy. It’s safe to say any ideas I had for how this week’s Ballers & Busters would go changed wildly between the end of the first half of this game to the day. That’s because the Raiders made the wrong kind of history, blowing a 20-point lead to lose to the Cardinals in overtime 29-23.

And it wasn’t just a 20-point lead, it was a 20-0 shutout at the half. Completely lopsided in favor of the Raiders. And all that dominance was flipped on its head in the second half.

For that reason, we’re going to start this week’s edition with the Busters, saving the list of those who deserve some credit for the end.

Busters

WR Hunter Renfrow

With the score tied 23-23 in overtime, the Raiders made a stop and were driving to try and escape with a victory. Renfrow ended all that and the game with consecutive fumbles, the second one recovered by the defense and returned for the game-winning touchdown.

In case you need a refresher, that’s both games this season that ended with two fumbles. Last week it was Derek Carr fumbling twice, this week it’s his usually sure-handed receiver who did it. Double woof.

QB Derek Carr, HC Josh McDaniels

In a second half in which the Raiders’ offense was stagnant and the entire team was watching their commanding lead slip away, the ball was not being thrown to their best receiver. How in the world does that happen?

Adams saw exactly one pass in the second half. Carr attempted to throw to Adams twice on their drive in overtime. The first one was short and incomplete. The second was off-target deep and nearly intercepted.

In a game where the Raiders may have needed just one big play in the second half to hold on, they didn’t throw for their big play receiver. McDaniels and Carr were instead too often content with dumps and check-downs without a single completion that traveled more than nine yards through the air.

LB Jayon Brown, LB Divine Deablo

The Raiders missed their middle linebacker in this one. Without Denzel Perryman, Brown and Deablo played nearly every snap and were picked apart, especially in the second half.

On the Cardinals’ first scoring drive, Deablo gave up a catch and missed the tackle while Brown was way out of position on a 29-yard pass play. The second-longest play of the game. On the next play, Brown was blocked onto his back to allow a 13-yard tight end screen. Two plays later, Deablo allowed an eight-yard read-option pitch.

The longest play of the day went for 30 yards on a pitch to open the fourth quarter and, again, Brown was blocked on the play. Then on the next drive, he was mowed over by the running back to give up the touchdown run from one yard out.

The game-tying drive saw Brown give up a 10-yard catch, he and Deablo caught flat-footed on an 11-yard catch. Deablo in particular was brutal on that drive. He was out of position on a nine-yard run, then give up the edge on fourth down to allow Kyler Murray to scramble for the first down, gave up a six-yard catch, and a ten-yard catch that put the Cardinals in first down at the 12-yard-line.

RT Jermaine Eluemunor, RT Thayer Munford, RG Lester Cotton Sr, C Dylan Parham

The entire right side of the Raiders’ offensive line struggled in this game. Their problems didn’t start in the second half, they were evident from the start. For instance, on the second play of the game, Eluemunor gave up the sack. Cotton could’ve helped him out, but didn’t. On the same drive Eluemunor gave up a tackle for a six-yard loss on a blown-up screen play. Parham and Cotton gave up a run stuff for no gain on that drive as well.

In the second possession, as soon as the Raiders got into the red zone, Parham was flagged for holding and Eluemunor gave up a hit on Carr on third down, forcing them to settle for a field goal.

Eluemunor left with an injury in favor of the rookie Munford. On his first play, he was flagged for holding. A few plays later on the same drive, he gave up a run stuff for no gain and on the next play was flagged for illegal formation.

This was all in the first half. And despite all these issues, the Raiders were somehow still up 20-0.

Eluemunor came back in in the third quarter. We know because on first and goal from the seven, he gave up the run stuff for no gain. Two plays later, Cotton gave up a hit on Carr, leading to an incompletion and the Raiders settled for another field goal to go up 23-7.

The Raiders would get a total of eight plays in the fourth quarter. In part because Parham gave up a hit on Carr to lead out a three-and-out, and gave up a tackle for a loss of four on a run on the other possession.

Those quick possessions gave the Cardinals plenty of time to drive for two touchdowns with successful two-point conversions to tie it up and send the game to overtime.

DE Chandler Jones

Through two games, Jones has been a non-factor. He’s been seemingly downright non-existent at times. And this was against his former team, so he had plenty of motivation.

I spotted him a couple of times in this game. When he missed the tackle on first and goal from the ten to give up a five-yard run. That ultimately led to the Cardinals’ first touchdown. That was one.

A couple of other times came on the final drive of the game when he didn’t keep containment to allow Murray to scramble for a five-yard first down. Or when he whiffed on that sack on fourth down that Murray kept alive long enough to garner a holding penalty in the secondary. That put them in first and goal.

Jones played 78 snaps (90%). He finished with three tackles and the only play he made was getting second pressure after Maxx Crosby which led to an intentional grounding penalty.

Ballers

S Duron Harmon

Believe it or not, this could’ve been worse if not for Harmon’s heroics. The Cardinals didn’t simply flip a switch at halftime and become great. They started the second half with a four-play drive. And on third and nine, Harmon and Johnathan Abram came around each side on the blitz to force Kyler Murray to throw the ball away.

Fast forward to the first drive of overtime. The Cardinals drove into Vegas territory and on third and five, Harmon made a big stop on a catch to stop it short of the sticks, forcing the Cardinals to make a decision. They decided to go for it on fourth down and went big. Marquise Brown looked to have made the catch deep up the left sideline, but Harmon flew over and hit him right after the ball arrived, knocking it out for a turnover on downs.

Had Brown made that catch, the Cardinals likely score on that drive. Instead, the Raiders got a shot with a still-tied game. And Harmon was only starting because Tre’von Moehrig was out injured.

WR Mack Hollins

Somebody had to get the targets and catches Adams wasn’t getting. Hollins got the first target of the day, catching a pass for 20 yards on third and 11. Later in the first drive, he had a nine-yard catch to set up third and 12 and then made the catch for 23 yards to put the Raiders in first and goal at the six. They would end up scoring the touchdown a few plays later.

Hollins would make two more catches on the Raiders’ second scoring drive, one for nine yards and the other for seven yards, putting up 66 yards on five catches in the first half alone.

The biggest play of the second half for the Raiders was one on which Hollins got past his man on a deep route up the middle of the field, and his man grabbed him to keep from giving up the touchdown. That’s how the Raiders got their lone score in the second half.

Then to top it off, Hollins made the gunner tackle on a punt return too.

RB Josh Jacobs

His 3.6 yards per carry may not make it look like he had a good day, but he was running quite well, especially considering the Raiders’ Oline issues. On the first drive alone, Jacobs had runs of 13 yards, seven yards, six yards, and a two-yard run on third and one to keep the drive alive.

The second drive went for a score and featured a 12-yard screen by Jacobs.

On the Raiders’ lone scoring drive of the second half, he had runs of six and nine yards in which he broke several tackles to make something out of what looked to be less than nothing at first. Then he got them their only first down of the fourth quarter when he ran for seven yards and three yards.

TE Darren Waller

On third and goal from the four on the Raiders’ first drive, Waller drew a pass interference call, giving the team first and goal at the one. Two plays later, they scored the touchdown.

The second drive began with Waller catching a 19-yard pass. That drive ended with a field goal.

The third scoring drive began with Waller making a 13-yard catch and ended with Waller making a tough leaping grab for the touchdown. He finished with six catches for 50 yards and a TD.

Honorable Mention

Foster Moreau — Made a couple of long catches for 19 and 17 yards on scoring drives in the first half, but his biggest play was when he recovered the first Renfrow fumble to give the Raiders another shot in overtime.

Story originally appeared on Raiders Wire