OAKLAND -- In getting off to a 3-4 start, the Oakland Raiders had yet to beat a top-tier NFL quarterback. They were 0-4 against the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson, a quartet ranked among the top 5 in the NFL by passer rating entering Week 9.
Go ahead and give the Raiders a passing grade, because while the defense was carved up by Stafford & Co. to the tune of 406 passing yards, the secondary stood tall when it mattered and Oakland held on for a 31-24 victory on Sunday. It was the Raiders' first game in the East Bay since Sept. 15, and it took all 60 minutes to close it out, with safety Karl Joseph breaking up Stafford's pass to tight end Logan Thomas in the end zone with three seconds remaining on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Raiders made plays when it mattered in this exhausting white-knuckle performance, evening their record at 4-4 with two more winnable home games on tap. So catch your breath, folks.
Buy Josh Jacobs' breakout performance: Is might be time to award the NFL offensive rookie of the year award to the running back. All he did was go over 100 rushing yards for the third time in the past four games, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries and set a new franchise record for most rushing yards by a rookie in a single season. Marcus Allen rushed for 697 yards in the nine-game, strike-shortened 1982 season. Jacobs has rushed for 740 yards thus far in eight games.
QB breakdown: Derek Carr was in uncomfortable territory with someone other than Rodney Hudson starting at center for the first time since Dec. 6, 2015, as undrafted rookie Andre James replaced the injured Hudson. There were at least three low snaps on shotgun plays, and Carr adeptly averted disaster on one of them by picking up the ball and running out of the pocket far enough to avoid the sack and a grounding penalty with a throwaway. Carr passed for 289 yards, two scores and no interceptions in completing 20 of 31 attempts.
Bold prediction for next week: It's a short week for the Raiders, as they play host to the suddenly resurgent Los Angeles Chargers and their fearsome pass rush on Thursday night. And with Hudson's 60-game playing streak ending against the Lions thanks to a right ankle injury and right tackle Trent Brown injuring his right knee and unable to return after putting on a brace, Oakland is going to have to go jumbo, with tight ends helping the tackles on passing downs.
Eye-popping NextGen stat: Carr scrambled 21.1 yards on his game-winning 9-yard TD pass to receiver Hunter Renfrow, twice as many scramble yards as any of his other passing TDs in the past three seasons.
Promising trend: All four of the Raiders' touchdowns were scored by rookies -- Jacobs had two, running it in from 2 and 3 yards out, while tight end Foster Moreau had a 3-yard reception and Renfrow scored from 9 yards out.