There were more than a few people who were surprised at how the Raiders hung around with the Dolphins the entire game in Miami. Many thought the Raiders would get their doors blown off and that isn’t so much disrespect for the Raiders as much as it is respect for the Dolphins.
But Antonio Pierce has the Raiders playing inspired football. Even if, at times, it isn’t great football — at least not on the offensive side of the ball — it’s inspired. And that’s all you can really hope for if you hope to get the most out of the talent you have available.
Hence the reason this game was never more than a one-score difference for either team and went down to the wire before the Dolphins won it 20-13.
DE Maxx Crosby, DE Malcolm Koonce
In a game of defensive heroics, Maxx was still the heroic-est. But this time he got a little help from the other side of the line.
We pick things up in the third quarter. That’s when the Raiders stopped letting the Dolphins get to the end zone. Crosby stopped their second drive almost single-handedly. They moved to first down at the Vegas 36. Then Crosy got in the backfield to make the stop on run stuff for one yard. Next play he helped make a tackle on a two-yard catch. And on third down, got pressure to force a bad throw. The Dolphins attempted a 50-yard field goal and missed.
The next drive ended when Koonce got pressure up the middle on a stunt to force an incompletion, leading to another field goal attempt. This one connected from 41 yards out. Koonce would get pressure to help end the next drive as well with the Dolphins again settling for a field goal.
The fourth quarter saw three possessions by the Dolphins for a total of 19 yards of offense. The first had Koonce made a run stuff, then ended with a vicious tackle by Crosby to make the stop well shy of the sticks. The second was upended with Koonce forcing a holding penalty that the Dolphins couldn’t overcome. The final possession, they got their only first down on the fourth quarter, but it still ended three plays later with Crosby getting a pressure to force an incompletion. That defensive stand gave the Raiders offense one more shot with just under two minutes remaining.
CB Nate Hobbs, S Isaiah Pola-Mao
After the Raiders went up 10-7 in the first quarter, the Dolphins led out the second quarter looking like they might respond with a touchdown to retake the lead. Hobbs saw to it that didn’t happen. Once they got to the 30-yard-line, Hobbs made two tackles on short catches. The Dolphins would still drive to inside the five-yard-line. They would go for it on fourth-and-one from the three-yard-line and it was Hobbs who came up to make the initial hit behind the line and Pola-Mao finished it off for the turnover on downs.
In the final seconds of the second quarter, the Dolphins were up 14-10 and driving. That was until Hobbs punched the ball out to force a fumble and give the Raiders the ball at the Miami 32-yard-line. The ensuing field goal made it a one-point game at the half.
First play of the third quarter, Pola-Mao picked off a deep Tua Tagovailoa pass. He later teamed up on a stop on third down.
Hobbs and Pola-Mao finished third and fourth on the team in tackles respectively. And they combined for two of the Raiders’ three takeaways in the game.
P AJ Cole
Cole was launching some punts into orbit in this game. His first punt went 50 yards with an illegal blindside block at the end of it to start the Dolphins’ drive at the 14-yard-line.
He added a 53-yard punt in the second quarter that was fair caught. And later in the quarter broke off a beauty that traveled 61 yards and bounced out of bounds at the 12-yard-line.
Then in the third quarter he booted a 51-yard punt the was fair caught at the 15. And, finally, he kicked another 53-yarder with an illegal block on the return that started the Dolphins possession at their own 10.
A couple weeks ago against the Giants, Cole had four punts of 63 yards or more, which set a record. But this game was better in some regards, because of those big punts, only one was stopped inside the 20-yard-line. And two of them went for touchbacks. In fact, in Sunday’s game in Miami, on six punts, Cole had zero touchbacks and the Dolphins started their drive inside the 20 four times. That usually means better hang time and better placement. Which is preferable to just simple punt distance.
LB Robert Spillane
It might not surprise you to learn that Spillane led the Raiders in tackles (13). He also had a tackle for loss and a pass breakup that was very nearly an interception. Because of course he did. He’s become quite the ball hawk this season.
His first tackle of the game went for a loss. Then on the Dolphins’ first drive of the second quarter, he had three run stops, including a stop on third and ten just short of the sticks. The Dolphins went for it on fourth-and-one from the three and couldn’t convert.
Spillane was a big factor in stopping the Dolphins on their final two drives, thus giving the Raiders offense two more shots at tying the game late. He was in on the tackle on third-and-15 to force the first punt. Then he was in on the run stop on their second to last play as well.
WR Davante Adams — Got open a lot in this game. It wasn’t his fault Aidan O’Connell only connected with him on one deep shot. But it was the Raiders’ one TD in the game.
LB Luke Masterson — Forced the fumble on the Dolphins’ first drive to start the Raiders second possession already in scoring range.
DC Patrick Graham — While Antonio Pierce gets credit for this team playing inspired football, Graham should get some love for his work as well.
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Author: Levi Damien