Heading into the Oakland Raiders Week 12 matchup with the Tennessee Titans, Raiders.com took a look at three matchups that would be critical in the end result of the game.
In the wind and the rain, the Raiders came out on top, toppling the Titans 24-21 to lift their overall record to 5-6, so let's take a look back and see how those three matchups played out.
Oakland Raiders Offensive Line vs. Tennessee Titans Pass Rush
Coming into their matchup with the Silver and Black, the Titans were ranked fourth in the NFL with 33 total sacks.
However, once again, the Raiders offensive line played admirably Sunday, allowing just 1 sack of quarterback Derek Carr to a very formidable Tennessee pass rush.
"We get a lot of enjoyment out of being able to run the ball, but also protecting the quarterback," said tackle Austin Howard. "It was a little bit ugly, especially at first, ugly finish for us – it kind of coincided with the weather a little bit, but you know what, we were able to come out there and do what we had to do to win."
Howard's analysis of the game is spot on – the elements did make the game ugly, but at the end of the day, the Raiders offensive line held up, even without the presence of starting center Rodney Hudson who missed his second game due to injury.
"I think for the most part Tony [Bergstrom]'s done a pretty good job of filling in," Head Coach Jack Del Rio said during his Monday press conference. "Rodney is a Pro Bowl-level player in my opinion. So when you're missing him, yeah, you're missing one of your better players. But we feel like we have a good group."
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper vs. Quarterback Marcus Mariota
In the battle of Top Five picks – advantage Cooper, for this round at least.
After a few quiet games, as many wondered if he had hit the supposed "rookie wall," Cooper bounced back in a big way against the Titans.
The offensive game plan got Cooper involved early, and the investment paid off as he led the team with 7 catches for 115 yards, including a very impressive 30-yard completion in which he went up and took away an underthrown ball away from Titans cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson.
"It always feels nice to get involved early so you can have a groove and have that confidence," Cooper said postgame.
With the effort, Cooper also passed James Jett for the most receiving yards by a rookie in franchise history (851).
On the other side of the football, the Raiders defense managed to limit the effectiveness of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.
While Mariota did sporadically flash the type of raw ability that helped garner him the Heisman Trophy last year, he wasn't particularly effective, completing just 17 of 37 attempts for 218 yards, including 2 interceptions – one to safety Nate Allen that ended the game.
Linebacker Malcolm Smith vs. Tight End Delanie Walker
Walker once again led the Titans in receiving, hauling in 6 catches from Mariota for 91 yards, but the Raiders defense managed to keep him out of the end zone in their three-point win in Tennessee. His lone explosive play came in the first quarter when Mariota connected with him for a gain of 36.
Defensively, Malcolm Smith put together another quality outing for the Silver and Black, playing all 62 defensive snaps Sunday afternoon and pacing the Raiders defense with 10 total tackles, and added 2 passes defensed.
Smith has been a pleasant surprise for the Raiders defense, and an argument could be made that he's been the most consistent player on the defensive side of the football this season.