Sunday’s game against the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers was one the Raiders desperately needed to win.
The game wasn’t crucial because the Bucs are one of the NFL’s elites, or because an Oakland win or loss would necessarily cement a good or bad season on its own. But with the Raiders getting set to enter the toughest portion of their schedule – with the Broncos, Texans, Panthers, Bills, Chiefs and Chargers next up – Oakland needed a victory in a winnable game. Starting the second half of the season at 6-2, rather than 5-3, was imperative.
It took awhile, but that’s the result the Raiders finally produced, beating the Bucs 30-24 on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Seth Roberts with less than 2 minutes remaining in overtime.
The Raiders – who twice missed long, potential winning field goals by Sebastian Janikowski at the end of regulation and early in OT – went for it on fourth-and-3 with just 1:55 left on the clock in extra time. Roberts snagged the ball, broke a couple of tackles and streaked for the end zone to nail down the Raiders’ sixth win over the first eight games of this 2016 season.
It was a remarkable victory – the fifth in five road games -- in many respects.
First, the Raiders overcame an NFL-record 23 penalties for 200 yards that time and again snuffed out big Oakland gains.
And second, the Raiders offense had its most productive day of the year. Carr was 40-of-59 for a franchise-record 513 yards and four TDs with no interceptions. He connected with Amari Cooper 12 times for 173 yards and a score and found Michael Crabtree eight times for 108 yards.
The Raiders outgained Tampa Bay 626 yards to 270, and the Oakland defense for a second straight game was much improved.
The Raiders fell behind 10-0 but scored the next 17 points on a Janikowski field goal and TD passes to Donald Penn – on a tackle-eligible play – and Cooper. Carr also marched them down the field to score a TD that sent the game into OT, tied 24-24, on a 7-yard pass to Mychal Rivera.
Now the Raiders come home after a two-game swing through Florida, with a night game against the AFC champion Broncos set for this coming Sunday.