On Sunday, Karl Joseph saved the Raiders’ fourth victory of the season.
On fourth-and-goal from the 1 with just seconds remaining, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford fired a pass into the end zone intended for tight end Logan Thomas. But Joseph was ready, stayed with Logan, leaped and batted the ball away.
Oakland came away with the 31-24 victory to get back to .500 at 4-4 at the season’s midpoint.
And Joseph came away with one more terrific game in a season that is proving to be the best of his NFL career.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound strong safety is in his fourth season with the Raiders after being taken in the first round in 2016. He had a strong second half in 2018, but then was pushed into a more supporting role after Oakland drafted Johnathan Abram this offseason. Abram was expected to take over the job as the season progressed. But when Abram was injured in the season opener, Joseph found himself in a primary role again, and he’s exceeded expectations.
As the Raiders get ready to host the Los Angeles Chargers Thursday night, Joseph has been one of Oakland’s most steady performers on an up-and-down defense.
Joseph has been in on 42 tackles – a career-best three for loss – has two quarterback hits, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery.
Against the Lions, Joseph’s 82.2 grade by the analytic website Pro Football Focus made him the Raiders’ top-graded defender.
He’s also durable, rarely coming off the field. Against the Lions he played all 71 defensive snaps.
When Abram returns in 2020, there will be a logjam at strong safety, with two No. 1 picks vying to start. But Joseph isn’t concerned about that. For now, he’s happy to be making plays and contributing to a team that remains alive for a playoff spot.
Said Joseph after the victory over Detroit: “I’m just happy we were able to make the big plays when it counted and got the win. That’s all that matters at the end of the day, but we can always learn and get better from this experience.”
Thursday night’s Chargers-Raiders game is set for a 5:20 kickoff.