Both the Raiders and Texans had similar seasons coming into their matchup Sunday. They both had one win to their names and had been part of several close games.
For the first three quarters, this game was shaping up just that way.
The two changed leads throughout the first three quarters, with the Texans holding a 20-17 lead as the teams went into the fourth quarter. But a few minutes in the Raiders took the lead and then ran away with the game, scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter while holding the Texans scoreless to win 38-20.
Lots of credit to go around. But one clearly stood out above the rest.
RB Josh Jacobs
One of the most impressive performances in the 15-year history of this series. All the more impressive considering he did most of his damage in the second half.
Jacobs had a decent 45 yards on 10 carries going into the third quarter. Then he exploded in the second half.
On the first offensive play for the Raiders in the third quarter, he ran for 11 yards. Then he had runs of six, 12, six, and finally four yards in a pitch for the touchdown to give the Raiders a 17-13 lead.
The next drive, he had another 12 yards off a pitch. Next play, he got the ball, drew defenders and passed it back to Derek Carr who found an open Mack Hollins for 18 yards. Then in first and goal from the seven-yard-line, Jacob finished it off for his second TD of the day to retake the lead at 24-20.
Next drive, he made it a TD hat trick. But he also did the work to get there. First play, he broke a tackle and then drove through defenders to pick up 12 yards. On the next play, because he had established himself as such a threat, the Texans bit hard on the play action leading to a wide open 27-yard completion. And then Jacobs for 13 more yards on a pitch on the following play. A few plays later, he went up the middle and weaved 15 yards for the touchdown to give the Raiders a commanding 31-20 lead.
Jacobs finished with 155 yards from scrimmage which included 143 yards and three TDs on 20 carries.
LT Kolton Miller, LG Dylan Parham, C Andre James, RG Alex Bars, RT Thayer Munford, TE Foster Moreau, WR Mack Hollins
This sizable group of players make up those who were most often responsible for laying key blocks to help Jacobs break off his big runs in this game.
The Raiders scored their first touchdown to end the second quarter. It was made possible by a 13-yard Jacobs run on third and one, which was made possible by a Parham block. And the touchdown was a miraculous leaping Hollins grab over two defenders.
The next Raiders drive saw Parham lay key blocks on Jacobs’ first two runs to start the drive for 12 and six yards. The longest run on the drive of 12 yards was thanks to blocks by Miller and Bars. Moreau made the 17-yard catch to put the Raiders in first and goal at the four. Then Miller laid the block on Jacobs’ touchdown run.
It was an 18-yard catch by Hollins that put the Raiders in first-and-goal on their next drive. And James, Parham, and Moreau blocks that paved the way for Jacobs’ seven-yard touchdown run.
Hollins laid the block on the first play of the next scoring drive that went for 12 yards. Two plays later, Munford, Bars, Moreau, and Hollins all had blocks on a 13-yard pitch run by Jacobs. And on Jacobs’s 15-yard TD run it was Miller driving his man inside, Bars coming left on the stunt, and Munford getting to the second level to clear the path.
Carr was also sacked just once in the game.
QB Derek Carr, WR Davante Adams, WR Hunter Renfrow
Carr and Adams connected three times on the opening drive for catches of 14, 12, and 15 yards to put the Raiders in scoring range.
The three points they got on that opening drive would be their only points as the second quarter wound down. That all changed when Carr threw a gorgeous pass over the middle to a leaping Mack Hollins for the touchdown in the final seconds of the quarter. It made it a new game at 10-10 and took the momentum heading into the second half.
That momentum proved very real as the Raiders would reel off four straight touchdown drives. The second TD drive featured an eight-yard Renfrow catch on third and four. Then Carr escaping pressure to throw a laser over the middle on the run to Foster Moreau to put them in first and goal.
Adams would get back involved on that drive, making catches of eight, 15, and 16 yards. Renfrow would make a diving 27-yard catch on the next drive. Then Adams would make a 10-yard catch on third and 11 on the next drive, leading to the Raiders going for it on fourth and one. Carr got the defense to jump offsides to give them a first down at the 15. They scored the TD on the next play.
HC Josh McDaniels
With such a dominant offensive game, it wouldn’t be right not to give credit to the man who called the game. The halftime adjustments were perfect, even if it was simply a matter of realizing that Josh Jacobs was the key to all of it.
It started to become apparent near the end of the first half that the Texans were not going to be able to stop Jacobs, just as the last two Raiders’ opponents. Once he got going, they began selling out to try and stop him and McDaniels smartly took advantage of that fact.
First and foremost, he just kept feeding Jacobs. But he mixed it up with a good amount of outside pitches. And every now and then, he pulled the okeedoke, leading to a couple wide open passes — the first going for 18 yards, the second for 27 yards. Both helping set up their last two touchdowns. And the run blocking design on that last Jacobs touchdown run was just superb.
S Duron Harmon
Those four touchdowns in a row by the Raiders gave them a 31-20 lead with just over seven minutes remaining. That’s plenty of time for the Texans to attempt two scores.
They were well on their way to the first of those two scores, picking up the first down at the Vegas 40-yard-line. Then Davis Mills threw over the middle where Harmon was waiting. Harmon picked it off and returned it 73 yards for the touchdown, effectively stamping out any hopes the Texans had for sparking a comeback.
Bilal Nichols — Had three QB hits and four tackles.
Divine Deablo — led the Raiders with 11 tackles with one tackle for loss.