The 2016 Oakland Raiders may have won 12 games, but they weren’t exactly dominant. Nine of those wins were decided by less than eight points, including five by three or less and an overtime victory.
They won often, but they were squeaking those wins out, and often needed herculean efforts from Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to do so.
To beat the Panthers they needed a Mack pick-six, a strip sack on the final play of the game and Derek returning with a broken hand to orchestrate two 80-yard, 4th quarter drives and convert a 2-pt. conversion. To beat the Bucs Carr needed a Raider-record 513 yards passing, 173 yards receiving from Amari Cooper and an absurd tackle breaking 4th down touchdown from Seth Roberts.
It was fun, but it was maddening and it signaled just how vulnerable the Raiders truly were in an otherwise spectacular return to excellence for the organization.
On Sunday against the Titans, the Raiders needed no such heroics. All they needed was a solid performance to claim a decisive and even dominant 26-16 victory over a potential playoff team, on the road. Carr threw for less than 300 yards, there were no 100 yard rushers, no 100 yard receivers, no takeaways, no special teams scores and just one sack.
The Derek Carr and Amari Cooper mishaps on the goal line in the 1st quarter marred an otherwise spectacular drive. The defense couldn’t get a 3rd-down stop in the first half. Carr misfired on a few throws that could have been huge gains, including an incomplete pass to Marshawn Lynch that could have resulted in such a big play, Lynch front-flipped onto the field in frustration over what could have been.
A catch here, or a tipped pass there and the Raiders could have pushed the score up even more, and been truly dominant.
Still, that solid, even mundane performance is more impressive than any of the explosions that resulted in skin of the teeth victories in 2016, and it’s not even close.
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