After the Raiders handled business on the road once again, this time in Baltimore, where they beat the Ravens 28-27, the Silver and Black are now 3-1 for the first time since 2002.
Next up on the agenda is a home date with the San Diego Chargers, but before we look ahead to next week, here are five takeaways from Sunday’s win over the Ravens.
1. Michael Crabtree is as good as they come
Have a day, Michael Crabtree.
The veteran wide receiver finished the Week 4 matchup against the Ravens with seven catches for 88 yards, and a trio of touchdowns, including what would be the eventual game winner with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter.
When Derek Carr and the Raiders needed a big play, Crabtree answered the call, securing his first three-touchdown day as a professional, and becoming the first Raider to hit the mark since Jerry Porter in 2004.
“I’ve been a big fan of ‘Crab’s’ since he was at Texas Tech,” said Carr postgame. “I was so thankful that he came to Oakland. When he came here as a free agent, I did my best to keep him from leaving before he signed a contract. When I talked to him, I told him that we could do something really special here in Oakland. He’s a game changer, but what has surprised me is how much we have in common. We think alike, and we are both very competitive. I know I can always count on him.”
Carr’s words ring true, especially after the career day that Crabtree put together at M&T Bank Stadium. Crabtree was sensational against the Ravens, simple as that, and in the biggest moments, when the team needed him, the veteran wide receiver rose up, and snatched opportunity out of the air.
2. These Raiders are road warriors
For the past several years, much has been made, time and time again, about the Raiders inability to win at 10:00 a.m. in the Eastern Time zone.
Well, Head Coach Jack Del Rio thinks it’s about time to stop talking about playing east of the Mississippi River, and after Sunday’s result, I don’t blame him.
The Raiders opened 2016 with three of their first four games on the road, and as they now prepare for back-to-back games at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, they boast an impressive 3-0 road record.
“Good football teams find a way to win where they are,” Head Coach Del Rio said. “There are some things that you have to do as a team, and we’ve embraced that. As far as traveling, and being able to cross time zones like we do, we play in the early time zone like we’re asked to do. For whatever reason, the league likes to put in that window, and we’re going to need to do well. I think we’ve learned how to travel well. Our guys are taking on that challenge.”
Winning on the road in the NFL is no easy task, but to open the season 3-0 away from home is huge, especially for a team made up of predominately younger players.
3. The team’s depth was tested against the Ravens
It seems like the Raiders have had their team depth tested consistently since the start of the season, and Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium was no exception.
Tight end Mychal Rivera was active for the first time in the 2016 regular season Sunday, and it was a good thing too, because by the end of the game he was the only healthy tight end available.
Lee Smith left in the first half with an ankle injury, and then after being on the receiving end of a big hit, Clive Walford was also forced to exit the game early as well. Head Coach Del Rio said that Walford would have been available to return in a pinch, but the fact remains Rivera was the last man standing, ready to go at 100 percent.
The point remains that team depth is an oftentimes underrated aspect of constructing a roster, but because of the way General Manager Reggie McKenzie has built up the Silver and Black, the Raiders were able to make their adjustments, and fly back to Northern California with a win under their belt.
4. Marquette King has emerged as a legitimate weapon
King made the rounds on the highlight shows Sunday afternoon for the myriad dances he executed throughout the day, but dance moves aside, the fifth-year punter put together an impressive day at the office against the Ravens.
In total, King punted the ball eight times for 414 yards, but more impressively, four of those punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, and his seven punts inside the 10-yard line now leads the NFL.
Throughout the first quarter of 2016, King has shown more finesse with his kicks, which has proven to be a deadly combination paired with his already thunderous leg.
The self-proclaimed “Kick Squad President” is certainly one of the more colorful characters the Raiders boast, but don’t be fooled by his jovial demeanor, and on-field celebrations; he’s quickly becoming one of the more proficient punters in the NFL, and his ability to flip the field, regardless of where he punts from, is a luxury that few teams are afforded.
5. Third down efficiency was a tad problematic
Look, if you win, or if you lose, there are always things that can be improved upon after a game, that’s just the nature of the NFL.
For the Raiders, one of the areas that I’m sure will be discussed tomorrow is the team’s third down efficiency. When all was said and done, the Silver and Black converted just three-of-12 third downs which is a number that needs to improve to find sustained success going forward.
Did that 25 percent conversion rate cripple the Raiders offense Sunday afternoon? No, but a few converted third downs likely changes the course of the football game, at least slightly.
Head Coach Del Rio likes to say that making corrections is a whole lot better to do when you’re smiling after a win, and he’s right, but the team’s third down conversation rate is something I imagine will be discussed going forward in the preparation for the San Diego Chargers.