OAKLAND - Raiders quarterback Derek Carr outpitched Bengals rookie quarterback Ryan Finley to fashion a surgically fit 17-10 victory at The Black Hole.
While Finley struggled to 13 of 31 passing for 115 yards and a pick, Carr sliced them up for 25 of 29 for 292 yards. If Finley didn't get sacked (five times) or chased out of the pocket, he couldn't connect with his wide receivers. Leading wide receiver Tyler Boyd had one catch for no yards. Outside of Auden Tate's four catches for 56 yards, no other wide receiver had a yard receiving. Both Boyd and Alex Erickson had one catch for no yards.
The game was marred by a frightening neck injury to Tate with 6:43 left in the game and the Bengals trailing, 17-10. Tate was hit over the middle by Raiders safety Curtis Riley while extending for a great 20-yard catch at the Oakland 33 on a third-and-19 throw from Finley.
Tate tried to get up, but was told to stay down and he did, which indicated he could move. There was about a ten-minute delay as he was immobilized on a stretcher and he gave both thumbs-up as his teammates gathered by his side. He made the Bengals plane home wearing a neck brace.
At that point, the Bengals passing game, which never responded all day, didn't here. Running back Joe Mixon got six yards on first down to give him 86 yards on 15 carries, but the next three snaps were basically incomplete passes, the last one a fourth-down throw into double coverage to rookie wide receiver Damion Willis, elevated by Tate's injury. Willis tried to high-point it but it couldn't control one of the tips.
The Bengals defense, good enough to win, got the ball back one time with 1:54 left. But Finley got sacked for the fourth time by end Maxx Crosby on first down and on the next snap Finley got picked by cornerback Trayvon Mullen to end it cutting in front of Erickson.
Carr did something he almost he never does early in the second half. He saw his huge streak of consecutive third-down passes without a pick stopped when safety Jessie Bates III stepped in front of wide receiver Hunter Renfrow on third-and-four on his first series of the second half. That gave the Bengals the ball at the Raider 45, down 14-7, with 9:29 left in the third quarter.
Mixon promptly put it on the 30 with a 15-yard run coming off Finley's option pitch to the right. On the next three snaps, Finley kept an option for six, running back Giovani Bernard got two on a little pitch reverse and on third-and-two, Finley immediately got chased out of the pocket and he had to fling it away to take Randy Bullock's 40-yard field goal that cut it to 14-10 with 4:44 left in the third quarter.
But the Bengals defense, responding well at key points, got them the ball back on end Carl Lawson's third-down sack. Yet, the Bengals passing game didn't respond. Finley had a bit of trouble with his accuracy, but there were also times there was too much pressure or no one was open.
Mixon got five yards on first down and Bernard scooted for 18 up the right sideline on the next snap to give them a first down at the Oakland 45. Three straight passes got them four yards and on the last one Finley barely just avoided an interception an out route to Erickson. At that point, Finley was 10 of 24 for 79 yards while Mixon had 79 yards on 11 rushes.
The next time they got it was a three-and-out to start the fourth quarter. Mixon's two runs set up a third-and-six and Finley had no shot. For the second time Sunday, Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby beat left tackle John Jerry for a sack, this one on a bull rush.
It was too bad because the Bengals defense was playing well enough to win. At that point, the Raiders were looking to cash their nine-minute time of possession advantage and Carr wasted no time. On the first snap he hit tight end Darren Waller for 32 yards on his biggest play of the day and on the next play rookie running back Josh Jacobs went over 100 yards on his biggest run of the day, a 21-yarder. Jacobs ended up with 112 yards on 23 carries, but it was the Bengals that outrushed the Raiders, with a season-high 173 yards to 113.
Still, the Bengals defense didn't wilt. A false start on the Raiders' goal-line formation saw a great stand, highlighted by safety Shawn Williams' coverage of Waller in the end zone. Right end Sam Hubbard stopped Jacobs for one and cornerback William Jackson III pushed wide receiver Zay Jones out of bounds to force a field goal that gave the Raiders a 17-10 lead with 9:12 left in the game.
Carr's heroics running and throwing eclipsed Mixon's theatrical return to his hometown when his scrambling three-yard touchdown run on third down with 1:37 left in the half gave the Raiders a 14-7 half-time lead.
Carr, who missed his first pass of the day on the previous snap, avoided tackles by Dunlap and linebacker Nick Vigil to punctuate a half he killed the Bengals on third down. With Carr hitting his first 14 passes for 151 yards, the Raiders converted five of seven third downs.
But Finley nearly stole them three points at the end of the half. After Brandon Wilson's 38-yard kick return, Finley scrambled for 24 yards and then hit Tate over the middle for 14 yards as he got drilled in the back. But he had to fight through a hold on lJerry and a false start on left guard Billy Price as the play clock ran down. Bullock's streak of 11 straight field goals came to an end on a 53-yarder that was wide left.
After missing some open receivers and getting some pressure on others, Finley finished the half just eight of 16 for 57 yards.
Mixon finished with just seven carries in the half, but they went for 47 yards as the Bengals couldn't get into a groove, going just one for six on third down. Third down was the difference in the half.
Mixon used a terrific pirouette on a reverse-the-field three-yard touchdown run that gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead and their first rushing touchdown of the season by a back after he dominated the 12-play, 85-yard drive ending with 3:03 left in the half.
Mixon, 43 yards on his first five carries, started the Bengals' lone scoring drive with his longest run of the year on the first snap, a 30-yarder on a pitch right behind the pulling guard and tackle, the same kind of movement that revived the run game last week on Mixon's season-high 114 yards against the Ravens.
Tight end Tyler Eifert kept the drive going when he got open down the middle on fourth-and-three for 18 yards to put the Bengals in the red zone, where they got a 10-yard burst from Bernard over the left side and holding penalty drawn by wide receiver Tyler Boyd in the end zone to set up Mixon's scoring run.
But the Bengals didn't convert another third down while their defense doled them out from that point.
The Raiders tied it on the next drive, a galling 91-play touchdown drive that saw Carr barely escape two sacks on third-and-six by stepping up and hitting wide receiver Tyrell Williams under a zone for 20 yards and Renfrow getting away from everybody for 27 yards with Jackson the nearest to him. Then Carr, who hit his first 14 passes for 151 yards, killed them one final time on third down when he lofted a two-yard touchdown pass to tight Foster Moreau, the only guy on the left side of the end zone after Carr deked them with a play-action fake.
The Bengals couldn't match it. Finley couldn't hit Mixon on a screen pass that the Raiders had sniffed out pretty well and he got time to hit Boyd on third down for a first down, but cornerback Daryl Worley was velcroed to him and knocked the ball out of Boyd's hands as he tucked it away.
Check out the game action photos from the Bengals' Week 11 game against the Oakland Raiders.
That gave Carr a fresh set of downs and that was deadly. He started it off with a 24-yard pass over the middle to Williams and running back Josh Jacobs (73 yards on 12 carries) did the rest until Carr got close. Carr hitting his first 14 passes conjured up memories of Lamar Jackson hitting his first ten lat week.
They traded turnovers early. Finley suffered his second second career fumble on the first series of his start. He was facing a third-and-10 after two quick throws to Boyd netted a no gain and rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell's fifth deflection of the season. The other end, Maxx Crosby, then beat Jerry right from the jump for a blind-side sack where Finley had no shot as he was throwing and the ball came out at the Bengals 28.
Jacobs returned the favor on a huge play for the Bengals defense at their 15. Safety Jessie Bates III punched the ball out and Vigil recovered.
The Bengals staged a Double A gap blitz on third-and-six on the first series of the game and Dunlap was the beneficiary with his first sack in two months and second of the season.