Disconnect Vs. Connect
Raiders 27 – Lions 28
The Lions come from behind victory over the Raiders was a real sucker punch to the gut. In spite of dynamic plays made by all 3 Raiders units and a 13 point lead late in the game, the Raiders failed to do what is required to close out an opponent.
Carson Palmer was highly accurate and efficient (32/40, 367 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) but wishes he had 2 throws back. The Raiders D made the Lions 1 dimensional, got a big fourth down stop, and caused a sack/fumble recovery TD but failed to adequately contain WR Johnson. Playing good D for 3.5 quarters isn’t enough.
4 plays in particular yesterday, 2 by the Raiders QB-WR and 2 by the Lions QB-WR, were pivotal in the outcome of the game. The Lions made 2 critical connections and the Raiders came up short on 2 game altering disconnections.
Play #1 - Disconnect (Raiders)
Context: Raiders on their opening drive of the game move the ball from their own 31 yard line to Detroit’s 24 yard line. Facing a 4 and 1, Hue Jackson decides to go for the first down instead of kicking a FG.
Play: Palmer executed a perfect play action pass and had WR Moore wide open in the end zone. However, Palmer’s throw over-shot his mark and the Raiders came away with 0 points.
Comment: Hue Jackson was aggressive and the playcall itself was equally gutsy. However, coming away with zero points at this early stage of the game was a set-back. In a game decided by 1 point, a FG here was the difference in a victory or a loss. On the play, the Lions defender clearly held Moore on 2 separate occasions but the Zebras didn’t call the interference.
Play #2 - Connect (Lions)
Context: Raiders up 7-0 in the 1st quarter. Lions on offense.
Play: Stafford to Johnson for a 51 yard TD pass.
Comment: Allowing Megatron to run clear, over the top, is the fault of Safety Mike Mitchell. MM had deep safety responsibilities but showed a lack of positional awareness. This Lion’s TD drive equaled the score immediately following the Raiders TD drive.
Play #3 - Disconnect (Raiders)
Context: Raiders up 27-21 late in the fourth quarter (approx. 2:30 left in the game).
Play: Facing a third and 3 from Detroit’s 48 yard line, Palmer misses WR Schilens hands by inches on an intermediate slant and go route down the right sideline.
Comment: A successful conversion of this play would in effect ice the game. RB Michael Bush had been rolling on this drive with runs of 12 yards, 15 yards, and 5 yards. Running the ball to pick up 3+ yards would seem to be the prudent playcall. Even if Bush ran it for 2 yards, the clock would run down to the 2:00 warning and take precious time off the clock. If the mindset is to pass on this play to finish the Lions off, why not run a shorter, safer route?
Play #4 - Connect (Lions)
Context: Raiders up 27-21 with 2:12 remaining in the game and the Lions starting at their own 2 yard line.
Play: On the fifth play of the drive from their own 39 yard line, Stafford connects on a deep seam route to Johnson for a 48 yard completion taking the Lions to the Raiders 13 yard line.
Comment: In a situation where the Lions needed a 98 yard TD drive to win late in the game, the pass coverage scheme on this play was embarrassing. The Raiders attempted to cover arguably the best WR in the NFL using MLB McClain and a 3rd string safety (Boyd) in bracket coverage. How DC Breshnahan deployed the secondary was nothing short of negligence.
Up Next: Oakland visits KC (6-8) on Christmas Eve.