Cornerback Sean Smith
On a brisk night in Philadelphia, that featured temperatures as low as 29 degrees, the Oakland Raiders and Eagles showcased a brand of football made for such an occasion. With the flood lights lit, and Christmas spirit in the air, the opposing teams locked into a ground and pound battle with several defensive highlights to go around.
For the second week in a row, the Silver and Black came up just short of victory, losing once again in the waning moments of the game. Losing in such close fashion is never an easy pill to swallow, but it is what it is, and the team will face the Los Angeles Chargers in the season finale Sunday afternoon at the StubHub Center.
Before Week 17 is officially upon us, let's take a moment to recap three matchups from yesterday that we had our eye on, presented by DirecTV.
Raiders Trio of Running Backs vs. Eagles Trio of Running Backs
Entering Monday night, the Eagles owned the best run stopping defense in football, but the Raiders didn't care. Between running backs Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard, the duo combined for 137 rushing yards, 59 more than the Eagles total of 78 yards on the ground.
Lynch on his own accounted for almost 100 rushing yards, as he finished the game with 95 yards on 25 attempts. The Raiders' bruiser earned tough yards all night long, bull dozing his way through the Eagles front line. While Lynch and Richard outgained Eagles backs Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement, they both fumbled, which played a role in the Raiders eventual demise. Ajayi also had a receiving touchdown on the day, so in conclusion I'm going to give the nod to the Eagles, considering they walked away with the 19-10 victory.
Raiders Right Tackle Marshall Newhouse vs. Eagles Defensive End Brandon Graham
The Eagles were adamant about making Derek Carr uncomfortable in the pocket, and while Graham had a productive game with four tackles, one-and-a-half for loss, fellow defensive end Chris Long was aggressive off the edge as well.
Newhouse and the rest of the offensive line had their hands full with these two; Long finished the night with three tackles, one-and-a-half for loss, one sack, and four quarterback hits. Long's sack was the Eagle's only sack of the night, but the team's pass rush was able to keep Carr on his toes throughout the game.
**Raiders Cornerback Sean Smith vs. Eagles Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery
Sean Smith deserves some applause for his effort on Christmas, he locked Jeffery down, and I mean locked him down. Last week we discussed how the two had similar physical builds, and that's why he was paired up with the Pro Bowl wide out all game. Jeffery was rendered useless though, only receiving two targets from Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, and failing to log a single reception.
It truly felt like Jeffery wasn't even on the field, and although Smith didn't total a tackle, he didn't need to considering his assignment never made an impact from kickoff to the final whistle. The Raider secondary as a whole limited Foles to 163 passing yards, with one touchdown, and one interception. The defense came to play, I would imagine Assistant Head Coach – Defense John Pagano was pleased with Smith's performance.