NFL 2018 Preseason Week 2 Raiders Recap

NFL 2018 Preseason Week 2 Raiders Recap

Many leatherheads have come to see the preseason as pointless. If ever there was a game to validate that view, this was it. Blame the NFL schedule makers. 

The Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Rams played in Week 2 of the preaseason. They also play on Week 1 of the regular season. That meant this game was going to be pure vanilla. 

Normally the starters barely play in Week 1 if at all. Then they play more in Week 2. This was the reverse. The starters did not play at all. That happens in the first and sometimes the fourth and last preseason game. For the second preseason game, that is unheard of. 

Derek Carr and Marshawn Lynch took the night off. So did Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. Jon Gruden and Sean McVay were not going to give the slightest hint of what they will do when the game actually counts. So rather than quickly devolve into a battle of backups, this game simply started that way. 

Connor Cook started for the Raiders. On the very first play from scrimmage, a high snap sailed over Cook’s head. The Raiders were lucky to escape with only a 10 yard loss. The drive was dead at the start. Sean Mannion was the Rams starter as they also ran 3 plays and punted. Both teams went 3 and out on their first two drives. 

The Raiders third drive began with offensive holding. Repeating first down allowed them to go four and out instead of three and out. They still did not have a first down. 

The Rams finally got going on their third drive. They moved from their own 28 to a 2nd and 8 at the Oakland 24. After an incomplete pass, Mannion threw a swing pass that was blown up in the backfield for a 6 yard loss. Greg “the leg” Zuerlein’s 48 yard field goal try was no good as the game remained scoreless. The Rams held the ball for 6 minutes but came up empty. 

On the next series the Raiders did not go 3 and out or 4 and out. They were worse. Only 2 plays were needed. After an incompletion, Cook fumbled at the Oakland 38. Wilson returned it 23 yards for the Rams to the Oakland 15. 

Early in the second quarter, The Rams faced 3rd and goal at the one. Mannion kept it himself and lost a yard. Sean McVay decided to go for it, which would never happen in the regular season. On 4th and goal at the 2, Kelly got the carry up the middle for the touchdown and the 7-0 Rams lead. 

With 0 first downs, Chucky had seen enough. EJ Manuel was brought in the game. Cook was out. Manuel did hook up with Jalen Richard for a 29 yard gain to the Rams 47, but on 3rd and 10, a West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass gained 3 yards. After the Rams went 3 and out, the Raiders did the same. On 3rd and 7 from their own 37, Manuel threw a 3 yard West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass. 

While Manuel was dinking and dunking, Mannion was airing it out from the Rams 22 to Hodge for a 47 yard gain. That was enough for Zuerlein to connect from 42 to make it 10-0 Rams just before the 2 minute warning. 

The Raiders could not even make it to the half without more self-inflicted wounds. From their own 25, Manuel was sacked for a 7 yard loss. Then on 3rd and 13 he was sacked for a 6 yard loss and fumbled. The Rams took over at the Oakland 25. Despite 1st and goal at the 9 with 35 seconds left, the Rams were kept out of the end zone. Zuerlein hit from 28 to end the half with the Rams up 13-0. 

In the third quarter a punt pinned the Raiders at their own 6 yard line. The Raiders punted it back to set the Rams up at midfield. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Hamilton made it easy for the Rams. Yet from the Oakland 14, third string quarterback Allen threw a pair of incompletions. backup kicker Fickens hit a field goal to make it 16-0 Rams midway through the third quarter.

Although preseason games don’t count, the Raiders finally decided to make a game of it. Chris Warren carried for straight times for a total of 25 yards to midfield Cook found Butler for 24 yards and Yurachek for 10 more. Warren ran for 9 yards and then the 3 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed when Cook threw incomplete, but at least the Raiders were on the board down 16-6 late in the third quarter.

Despite the scoring drive, when the Raiders got it back, Manuel was again in for Cook. Gruden was giving them both plenty of chances to earn the backup spot to Carr. A shanked 29 yard punt had the Raiders at their own 40. On 3rd and 11 from their own 44, Manuel threw incomplete but illegal contact gave the Silver and Black new life. Warren ran for a 23 yard gain to the Rams 16, but that was about it. Backup kicker Mike Nugent hit the 31 yard field goal. With 12 minutes left in regulation, the Raiders were within 16-9.

After a touchback, Allen was quickly intercepted by Cowser, who returned it 15 yards to the Rams 21. On 3rd and 15 Manuel went deep incomplete but the Raiders were again bailed out by the refs. A defensive penalty for using the head to initiate contact meant 1st and goal at the 13. Manuel hit Greg Whalen for a 10 yard touchdown with 10 minutes to play. In a regular season game, the coach opts to kick the extra point every time. In preseason, nobody wants overtime. Gruden went for 2, and Warren failed to run it in. However, the Raiders had all the momentum down 16-15.

Momentum quickly shifted with the Rams facing 3rd and 2 at their own 32. Allen went deep to Krieger-Coble for a 35 yard gain. Despite 1st and 10 at the Oakland 16, the Rams again failed to finish a drive. Fickens hit a 32 yard field goal as the Rams led by 4 points with 5:45 to play.

On 3rd and 7 from their own 28, Manuel hooked up with Ateman for a 25 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Rams 44, Manuel was sacked for a 10 yard loss. After 3 straight scoring drives, the Raiders came up empty. With 3 minutes left, Gruden decided to punt and rely on the defense.

A perfect punt had the Rams pinned at their own 6. A run lost 3 yards and it looked like the Raiders would get the ball back. However, a defensive facemark penalty gave the Rams an automatic first down at the 2 minute warning. With Oakland out of timeouts, Allen took 3 knees to end things.

Both teams are 1-1 in the preseason. While the Raiders showed resilience in coming back, let’s be honest. A game without Carr, Goff, Lynch, and Gurley tells us nothing. The two best pass rushers are holding out, each one waiting on the other one to get their contract done. Without Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald on the field, it is hard to judge either defense. For the second week in a row, this preseason game left us without the slightest clue of what will happen in the regular season. Given that these teams play on Monday Night Football to kick off the season in only 3 weeks, that is exactly how Jon Gruden and Sean McVay wanted it. 19-15 Rams


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