Left Tackle Donald Penn
It's been a rough few weeks for the Oakland Raiders, and Sunday's 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers didn't make matters any better. From the beginning of the game, till the tail end, the Raiders appeared to be in control, and en route to their third victory of the season, but we all know that's not how things played out.
In the waning moments of action, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers got his group in position to attempt a field goal, and win by the narrow margin of one point. The Raiders battled all day, but unfortunately they came up just short.
Before the Raiders host the Kansas City Chiefs this Thursday in a primetime matchup at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, here's a look back at three matchups I had my eye on against the Chargers.
Raiders Offensive Line vs. Chargers Pass Rush
Entering Sunday, the Silver and Black knew they faced some stiff competition in the Bolts pass rush. The group is highlighted by premier edge defenders Melvin Ingram, and Joey Bosa, both of whom are in the upper echelon of this season's sack leaders. Prior to their Week 6 matchup, Ingram had 7.5 sacks, and Bosa had 4.5, and after another week of action those numbers haven't changed much.
The Raiders offensive line stood its ground at the OACC protecting quarterback Derek Carr a majority of the day, and only allowing one sack, which came via Bosa. The lone sack that came from the former Ohio State Buckeye was also the Chargers only quarterback hit of the afternoon. Win as a team, lose as a team, but the men battling in the trenches certainly aren't to blame for yesterday's defeat.
Safety Karl Joseph vs. Tight Ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry
There's no beating around the bush here; the Chargers tight ends had a nice day at the office. While veteran Antonio Gates was held in check with one catch for 16 yards, young buck Hunter Henry was a major factor in the receiving game. On seven targets, Henry hauled in five passes for 90 yards, the longest catch of the day being a 34-yard heave from quarterback Philip Rivers.
The production from the Chargers tight end corps doesn't fall entirely on the shoulders of the second-year safety from West Virginia. Aside from the play of cornerback TJ Carrie who had eight tackles, Joseph was the team's second-leading tackler with six, and added a pass defensed in the process. When the clock struck triple zero, Henry was the Bolts leading receiver, and was a major reason why the team was effective offensively Sunday.
The Raiders will face another tough test Thursday when they host the Kansas City Chiefs, and tight end Travis Kelce.
Defensive End Khalil Mack vs. Running Back Melvin Gordon
For years, Philip Rivers go-to target was Antonio Gates, but now it's apparent that role has transferred to Gordon. As mentioned previously, Hunter Henry led all receivers with 90 yards, but the Chargers running back made himself available more often than not. On a team-high 12 targets, the former University of Wisconsin-Madison Badger also had a team-high nine receptions, which totaled 67 yards. While the Raiders reigning Defensive Player of the Year doesn't drop back in coverage a ton, Gordon also got the wheels turning on the ground against big No. 52.
Gordon had an impressive day to put it lightly, totaling 150 yards, with 83 of them coming in the rushing attack. Prior to Week 6, Mack led all defensive lineman with a *Pro Football Focus *grade of 96.2 when it came to stopping the run. The former University of Buffalo Bull isn't responsible for stopping Gordon all by himself, but part of what makes Mack so special is his ability to burst into the backfield, and on Sunday he was unable to register a tackle for loss.
Don't let the stats fool you, the Raiders defense played well Sunday, and kept the team in contention a majority of the game. Thursday, they'll square up with another talented running back in Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt.