OAKLAND, Calif. — Riding the legs of Marshawn Lynch, while holding on for dear life all day against a battered New York Giants team, the Oakland Raiders pulled out a 24-17 victory Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum. The win sets up a showdown for first place in the AFC West next week at Kansas City.
What it means: After a 2-4 start, the Raiders are at .500 for the first time since Week 4, when they were 2-2 and in the midst of a four-game losing streak from which they have been playing catchup ever since. There is now also a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West between the Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs at 6-6. The three teams are 1-1 against each other thus far this season.
What I liked: The Raiders defense got off to an extremely fast start. They forced three straight three-and-outs to start the game and were in line for a fourth straight, save for Denico Autry jumping offside. At halftime, the Raiders had allowed only 100 yards of total offense to the Giants, on 30 plays, and limited them to just 2-of-7 on third-down conversions. Oakland also had two sacks of Geno Smith in the first half.
What I didn’t like: How cute the Raiders got offensively after Lynch ran wild through the Giants on the first series. True, it did look as though Lynch tweaked something on his 51-yard touchdown run, but he was not in the game for the next two offensive series. Instead, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was running the ball on third-and-short. By the time Lynch returned, the Raiders’ offense was backfiring all over the field. Yeah, missing your top two receivers will have that effect.
Fantasy fallout: With Michael Crabtree serving a one-game suspension and Amari Cooper out with a concussion and left ankle injury, the Raiders’ WR corps was depleted. Then TE Jared Cook got nicked up on a tackle. Leave it to Lynch, then, who with 101 yards on the ground went over 100 yards for the first time since Oct. 22, 2015, when he had 122 yards for the Seattle Seahawks against the San Francisco 49ers. Lynch also caught two passes for 20 yards to go with his 51-yard TD run.
Mack attack: Khalil Mack put on a clinic with a pretty strip-sack of Smith in which he recovered his own forced fumble on a play that began at the Raiders’ 4-yard line late in the first half. It was sack No. 7.5 for Mack, who leads Oakland, as Mack simply swallowed up Smith and took the ball from him as the two fell to the grass.
What’s next: The Raiders, who have already defeated the Chiefs this season, play at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday against Kansas City, which has lost six of its past seven games to fall to 6-6. The Raiders have not swept the Chiefs since 2012.