In what was a “must have” game, the Las Vegas Raiders did exactly what they had to do.
Not only did the Raiders pick up their second win of the season on the Houston Texans, but they also did it convincingly with a victory in three possessions, 38-20. It was exactly what everyone expected – or hoped for, I should say – after the bye week against an inferior opponent.
Las Vegas has taken care of business, giving us plenty to be happy about and very little to be disappointed about for this week’s winners and losers.
WINNER: Josh McDaniels
Fittingly, McDaniels has endured a lot of heat in the first five games of the season. The Raiders’ record was well below expectations and the team seemed out of sync, struggling to play complementary football, not finishing games, etc. However, yesterday was a completely different story.
It wasn’t the greatest win as the Raiders and Texans came and went and the Raiders trailed to start the fourth quarter. But, unlike at the start of the year, they managed to finish strong with 21 points in the final period to put Houston away. That’s how teams win in the NFL, because very few games are one-sided, and the determination that Las Vegas has shown is a reflection of the head coach.
McDaniels talked about being introspective during the bye week and the results were shown on the field yesterday. Again, the work is far from done and now comes the hard part, maintaining this level of play throughout the season, because the goal was never just to beat the Texans in Week 7.
Plus, McDaniels gets bonus points for shaking off the post-week woes of seeing the Raiders as they were 3-16 since 2003 after a week off en route to Sunday.
LOSER: Tre’von Moehrig
Unfortunately, things are not going in the right direction for Moehrig. Last week he struggled to cover Travis Kelce in the red zone and allowed two touchdowns, and he struggled against another tight end yesterday.
Jordan Akins caught two of two targets for 58 yards and two first downs against the 2021 second-round pick. That’s nearly 30 yards per catch and way too much for a player of Akins’ caliber. Getting beaten by Kelce is excusable, but if Moehrig is going to live up to the expectations he set for himself as a rookie, stringing together back-to-back performances like these two just can’t happen.
It also doesn’t help matters that he was beaten for a touchdown by Phillip Dorsett and allowed a near-perfect quarterback rating (156.3) as the primary cover advocate.
WINNER: Josh Jacobs
I’ll keep this one short since Jacobs’ game speaks for itself this season.
He might be the hottest player in the NFL right now as he managed to have his “best game of the season” for the third week in a row. The impending free agent had 20 carries for 143 yards making it consecutive weeks where he’s averaged over seven yards per tote and the third week in a row he’s had at least 140 rushing yards. In the last three games combined, Jacobs has 69 carries for 440 yards – 6.4 per attempt – and six rushing touchdowns, including three against the Texans.
With eight other Sundays, his the forced count of missed tackles is up to 36 on the season, third among the running backs, and his wallet becomes heavier and heavier over the weeks…
LOSER: Anthony Averett
To Averett’s credit, Sunday was his first game after a stint on injured reserve and he was thrown straight into the fire after essentially switching places with Nate Hobbs on IR. It was rusty and it showed.
Averett was targeted four times and surrendered three receptions for 57 yards. What makes those numbers more troubling is that all three grabs had an impact, two for first downs and one for a touchdown. He also granted a perfect passer rating (158.3) when targeted, and that’s not ideal for someone expected to be a beginner for at least the next three weeks.
Again, it wasn’t an ideal situation for the five-year veteran, so there’s no reason to panic and think he can’t do the job in the future. That being said, he needs to turn around quickly as the Raiders are very thin at cornerback with Hobbs out.
WINNER: Thayer Munford
It’s hard to describe, but with a lot of rookies, there’s often a game where it seems like everything is starting to click for them and they’re adjusting to the NFL game. That’s what yesterday was for Munford.
Across the board, he achieved the highest marks of his fledgling Pro Football Focus career with a 79.1 overall rating, an 81.4 pass protection and a 76.9 rating as a run blocker. This is 12.9, 6.4 and 18.5 points higher than his previous records for each respective category. These numbers also fourth, fifth and fifth rankrespectively, among all offensive tackles of the week, before Monday Night Football.
The rookie threw a shutout as a pass blocker without any pressure and although he didn’t start, he took the lion’s share of snaps at right tackle with 43. For comparison, Jermaine Eluemunor started but only registered 14 offensive shotsone of which was at the tight end as an extra blocker in a short range situation.
So if Sunday is any indication, the Raiders’ long right tackle battle might finally be over with the seventh-round pick getting the job.
WINNER: Duron Harmon
Like I said in the intro, there’s more to be happy about this week in Las Vegas, so we’re going to trade one losing spot for one more winner this week. And after celebrating a rookie finding his groove, why not celebrate one of the older players on the roster carving out a bigger role for himself?
Aided by the pick-six that slammed the door on the Texans’ comeback, Harmon earned the highest PFF rating (93.4) on the whole team. He even currently sits as PFF’s second highest security for the week, barely getting down 0.5 points to Ryan Neal of Seattle.
This scoring play at the end of the match was the perfect way to cap off Harmon’s impressive performance. He’s been stingy with coverage all afternoon, just allowing two receptions on four targets for six yardsand he’s currently dropped the second-lowest passer rating (16.7) among the safeties with at least one objective for the week.
The 10-year veteran started on Moehrig, and if the old man keeps playing like that, it will for a while.