Photo by Miguel Blair
The Raiders played their best game this season by far. Despite a tumultuous year -- and a devastating loss to the St. Louis Rams last week where they were embarrassed and shutout -- Oakland regained their competitive edge and gave their fans something they've been wanting for since 2011: A 24-13 victory over the 49ers in the Battle of the Bay.
After a 52-0 loss to the Rams, the Raiders took their anger and frustration on a once dominating team. This Bay Area rivalry brings a playoff atmosphere on other side of the Bay Bridge. Oakland dismantled Colin Kaepernick's offense and ran all over San Francisco's defense. They gave up one touchdown and forced Phil Dawson to kick three field goals in which he made only two.
"I don't know if we needed any motivation coming into this one," said defensive end Justin Tuck.
We didn't let all the hype of this rivalry and the Battle of the Bay get us, we just came ready to play. We didn't play our style of football in St. Louis, so hopefully we learn from this and are able to go next week in Kansas City.
The Raiders defense smothered Kaepernick, he threw his first interception on the first play from scrimmage and was sacked five times. Kaepernick threw his second interception to Charles Woodson late in the fourth to secure Oakland's victory. He finished with 18 of 33 passes for 174 yards. San Francisco is now two games out of the second wild-card spot with three games remaining in the season.
"It was great for us to come off the bye week and perform the way we did today," Woodson said. "Coming out early, getting a turnover, the offense being able to drive the ball down field and put up points. It was a great game from start to finish."
Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes and was protected by his offensive line so well he had enough time to travel the world and come back. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 254 yards. Carr had his best performance as a rookie quarterback. He completed all five of his passes for 73 yards on a drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Marcel Reece.
"When you talk about the way Derek [Carr] played, Marcel [Reece], Mychal [Rivera], those guys played fantastic," said RB Latavius Murray. "The line, we had a little pound and run game going as well, so I think we were mixing it up. When you mix it in like that, you have success."
The Raiders jumped on the board early scoring on the turnover with a 57-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski. The 49ers took the lead when Kaepernick found an uncovered Bruce Miller for the eight-yard touchdown. Oakland used their passing game to setup Carr's three-yard touchdown pass to Donald Penn. An unusual play that brought success to a team years ago was attempted once more with the same results.
"It's a play that Oly [offensive coordinator Greg Olsen] did for me in Tampa a couple of years ago," Penn said. "I actually scored the first time against San Francisco in San Francisco. It's a play I've been talking about all year and he finally put in a couple of weeks ago."
"That's a play we'd been working on for a couple of... two-three weeks," Raiders head coach Tony Sparano said. "We kid him about it all the time because we throw it to him every once in awhile and that guy hasn't dropped one yet."
Oakland regained the lead 10-7 but the 49ers tied it 10-10 with Dawson's 52-yard field goal to end the first half. Another field goal by Dawson would give San Francisco their final lead of the day and that's when the Raiders took over. They scored in the third making it a 17-13 game. Then Carr's favorite receiver for the day, Mychal Rivera scored the final touchdown in the fourth.
Rivera's five-yard touchdown helped thrust his first 100-yard day of his career. He recorded 7 receptions for 109 yards. Carr completed all seven passes to Rivera on each of the Raider's 80-yard scoring drives in the second half. He's the first tight end since Brandon Myers to record 100+ yards, Myers had 130 yards receiving against Cleveland in 2012.
"When the schedule came out, that was one date I put my finger on and circled the date," said Rivera. "We came ready to play. If a guy's smaller than me I just jump and make the catch. We practice it everyday and it finally happened in a game."
Back-to-back losses have dimmed the 49ers chances of making the playoffs. Their final three games are against the Seahawks, Charges and Cardinals. No easy tasks ahead, they're now three behind Arizona in their division and two behind in the wild-card race. And no one is more stunned by the loss than the actual players.
"It's been an off year," running back Frank Gore said. "If we were to beat the Raiders, we'd still have a lot of hope. So I feel like this is the lowest point (of the season)."