The Oakland Raiders have struggled even more than the Cincinnati Bengals this season, but they will be riding into Sunday’s matchup at Paul Brown Stadium on a high note.
Oakland recovered a botched last-second field goal to seal a 24-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, giving the Raiders their third victory of the season after dropping seven of the last eight and two straight. They now have wins over two teams the Bengals lost to – the Steelers and Browns – in University of Dayton alumnus Jon Gruden’s second stint as Oakland head coach.
Derek Carr completed 25 of 34 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns – including the game-winner to himself with 21 seconds left — to lead Oakland against Pittsburgh, as the Raiders finished with just 50 yards rushing but still had more than the Steelers. It was one of the best games of the season for Carr, who totals 3,434 yards and 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions despite being one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league. Oakland has given up 43 sacks.
Jared Cook (825 yards, six touchdowns on 61 catches) and Jalen Richard (483 yards on 57 catches) are the top two receivers.
The Raiders haven’t had much of a running game since Marshawn Lynch went on injured reserve in October after rushing for 376 yards and three touchdowns in the first six games. Doug Martin now leads the team in rushing with 477 yards and three touchdowns on 121 carries, but he’s never had more than 72 yards or 18 carries.
Overall, Oakland ranks 22nd in total offense (347.5 yards per game) — 14th in the league in passing (246.0) and 25th in rushing (101.5) – and is 29th in scoring offense with just 18.8 points per game.
Defensively, the Raiders have been better than the Bengals in yards and points allowed but they have far fewer takeaways and sacks. They are 28th in total defense (392.2 yards per game) and 31st in scoring defense (29.8 points per game), which is one spot behind Cincinnati. They allow third-down conversions on 46 percent of all tries, which is third worst in the NFL, they have just 13 takeaways, and their 11.0 sacks are the fewest in the league, as no one else has less than 22.0.
Tahir Whitehead leads with 74 solo tackles, and Gareon Conley and Marchus Gilchrist each have two interceptions.
Four former Bengals players are missing a chance to face their old team as they sit on Oakland’s injured reserve list. Kicker Mike Nugent was perfect through three games before a hip injury sidelined him, and wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who was with the Bengals until being released this preseason, had his season end in Week 11 because of a torn Achilles tendon. Defensive backs Leon Hall and Reggie Nelson also are out for the year with injuries.
Ten former Bengals players are with Oaklamd: CB Leon Hall, DT Frostee Rucker, K Mike Nugent, S Reggie Nelson, QB AJ McCarron, LB Emmanuel Lamur, DT Clinton McDonald, WR Brandon LaFell, CB Bene Benwikere and OT Justin Murray. … Raiders head coach Jon Gruden played QB at the University of Dayton … Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was on the Bengals’ coaching staff from 2005-17. He was defensive coordinator from 2014-17. … Raiders linebackers coach David Lippincott was on the Bengals’ coaching staff from 2011-17. Lippincott is also a Cincinnati native and attended the University of Dayton. … Raiders CB Gareon Conley and DT Johnathan Hankins both played at Ohio State University … Bengals CB Tony McRae entered the NFL as a college free agent signee of the Raiders in 2016 … Raiders WR/DB Johnny Holton (practice squad) played at the University of Cincinnati … Bengals QB Connor Cook (practice squad) entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick of the Raiders in 2016 … Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack was on the Raiders’ staff in 2012 … Raiders tight ends coach Frank Smith played (1999-2003) and coached (’04-05) at Miami University … Raiders assistant defensive line coach Marco Coleman is from Dayton … Raiders defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley coached at the University of Kentucky from 2013-15.
AFC NORTH OUTLOOK
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1): Chris Boswell missed what would have been a game-tying field goal when his plant foot slipped out from underneath him, giving the Raiders a 24-21 win as the Steelers dropped their third straight game. They are still clinging to a lead in the division as they host the Patriots on Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens (7-6-1): The Ravens’ three-game win streak came to an end with a 27-24 loss to Kansas City. They play host to Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Cleveland Browns (5-7-1): Cleveland moved ahead of the Bengals in the standings as the Browns picked up a 26-20 win over Carolina on Sunday. They travel to play the Broncos on Saturday night.
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