Raiders' depleted O-line has fewer answers than defense against Tom Brady

LAS VEGAS -- The line between rest and rust is a fine one, indeed, and when it came to the Las Vegas Raiders' oft-vaunted offensive line, it needed some depth, too, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Because while the Raiders already knew they would be without Pro Bowl right tackle Trent Brown after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week, they did not know if they would have the other four starters on the line until Sunday morning as left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Denzelle Good, center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson had to self-isolate as high-risk close contacts with Brown due to their proximity to him in practice on Monday. Then they lost right tackle Sam Young to a knee injury in the second quarter and Jackson to a strange ejection after a Raiders touchdown in the third quarter.

It was too much for the Raiders to overcome as they lost, 45-20, to the Buccaneers after being within four points early in the fourth quarter. With the loss, they fall to 3-3 on the season.

Describe the game in two words: Tom. Brady. Yeah, he’s been a thorn in the Raiders’ sides since the Tuck Rule game on (checks notes) Jan. 19, 2002, or, when Derek Carr was 10 years old, but getting absolutely no pressure on Brady is only inviting him to pick you apart, which he did with aplomb.

Troubling trend: A game (and a bye week) after harassing the uber-mobile Patrick Mahomes, the Raiders could generate zero pass rush to make Tom Brady uncomfortable. So which is it? Keep in mind, two edge rushers who had a big impact at Kansas City -- Chris Smith and Datone Jones -- had both been reverted to the practice squad since. Also, the Raiders signed pass-rusher David Irving to the practice squad this week and elevated him to the 53-man roster on Saturday but made him inactive on Sunday. No pass rush makes things extremely tough on the secondary, which was also missing safety Johnathan Abram since he was still on the COVID list as a high-risk close contact with Brown. Consider: in the first half alone, Brady was 17-for-20 for 194 yards and two touchdowns against standard pressure and the Raiders blitzed on just four of those 26 dropbacks. Brady torched the Raiders for 369 yards and 4 TDs to take over the NFL’s all-time TD passing lead from Drew Brees, 559-558.

QB breakdown: Carr, operating behind a line that eventually had two backups and a third-stringer, flashed at times and looked crisper than Brady. But he could not sustain it. Not with Ndamukong Suh wrecking the interior of the line. And not with little to no time to let deep routes develop. Carr took a nasty-looking hit from Devin White in the fourth quarter trying to run for a first down on fourth down. Carr had the Raiders within 24-20 early in the fourth quarter and finished 24 for 36 passing with 284 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. He has thrown at least two TD passes in five straight games, tied with Rich Gannon and Jim Plunkett, who did it in 2001 and 1986, respectively, for the third-longest such streak in franchise history. Daryle Lamonica did it in eight straight games in both 1967 and 1969.