OAK-SD grades: Mack leads Raiders’ defense in postseason-clinching win

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Raiders' Week 15 AFC West win over the Chargers.

| 6 months ago
Philip Rivers, Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin

(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

OAK-SD grades: Mack leads Raiders’ defense in postseason-clinching win

Oakland Raiders 19, San Diego Chargers 16

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Raiders’ Week 15 AFC West win over the Chargers.

Oakland Raiders

Quarterback grade: Derek Carr, 73.3

Carr drives Raiders’ resurgence

Oakland’s offense was sub-standard in their playoff-clinching win on the road in San Diego, but for a franchise so deprived of postseason play, this was a game to savor nonetheless. It was far from pretty at times for Derek Carr, though his resilience shines as a positive. He forced one ball over the middle in the red zone, resulting in a potentially costly interception. Later in the game, Carr totally misread the Chargers’ trap coverage. Overlooking a pair of dropping outside linebackers, the Raiders’ signal-caller felt he had WR Michael Crabtree wide open on a slant. Melvin Ingram’s eye lit up, but he could not complete the job. More positively, Carr maneuvered well under pressure, completing six of nine attempts for 111 yards and a 109.0 QB rating. Although today was not the best illustration, the Raiders’ decision to draft Derek Carr has decidedly changed their fortunes.

Derek Carr vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

LT Donald Penn, 79.1

RG Gabe Jackson, 78.7

QB Derek Carr, 73.3

WR Michael Crabtree, 71.4

LT Menelik Watson, 70.1

Prioritizing offensive line pays off

Perhaps the most significant improvement on the Raiders’ roster under Reggie McKenzie has come on the offensive line. High-priced veterans Donald Penn and Kelechi Osemele have proven their value with dominant seasons. Along with C Rodney Hudson, the Raiders possess a trio of top-five players at their position. Gabe Jackson, meanwhile, is a fine RG in his own right. The versatility of the front five, both in terms of position and scheme fit, offers Bill Musgrave a plethora of potential plays and personnel packages. Menelik Watson also put forth an impressive performance in Oakland’s jumbo package. In total, Oakland’s offensive line only gave up a sack, two hits, and 10 pressures, and five of those were allowed by right tackle Austin Howard. The front five are the bedrock of the rolling Raiders.   

Top defensive grades:

ED Khalil Mack, 88.2

LB Malcolm Smith, 84.0

S Nate Allen, 83.8

LB Perry Riley, 83.4

CB David Amerson, 80.6

Disciplined Raiders’ defense steps up in clutch situations

One of the main reasons behind Oakland’s defensive success on Sunday was its tackling efficiency. The Raiders missed just four tackles the entire day, three of which came on just one play. In addition, the Raiders’ edge rushers always stepped up in the right moments. Bruce Irvin (72.7 game grade) made one of the highlight plays of the game in the first half when he first flushed Philip Rivers out of the pocket, then pursued Kenneth Farrow downfield to force a fumble. Irvin, of course, also made the game-deciding hit on the last play, which forced an interception from Rivers. While Irvin shined in pass-rush, fellow edge rusher Khalil Mack had an absolutely complete game, as he was disruptive and unstoppable against the run just as much as he was when rushing the passer. Although Mack did not record a sack against San Diego, he did lead the Oakland defense with nine total pressures.

San Diego Chargers

Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers, 80.6

Rivers manages game well for Chargers

While he may not have made many spectacular throws, Philip Rivers did avoid mistakes, too, as his lone interception came on a pass where he was hit during the throwing motion. Besides that, Rivers did not put the ball in harms way; he kept his poise and was patient to find open receivers. However, he did not get a lot of help from his supporting cast, as he was under pressure on 45.5 percent of his dropbacks and was victimized by three drops. Although the Chargers lost to the Raiders, this was a solid bounce-back game for Rivers after his poor outing against Carolina last week.

Philip Rivers vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

WR Dontrelle Inman, 75.0

TE Hunter Henry, 73.2

G D.J. Fluker, 72.2

G Orlando Franklin, 70.5

WR Travis Benjamin, 69.7

Supporting cast lets Rivers down

Although Oakland’s edge rushers represent a challenge for every team, it can still be determined that San Diego’s offensive line struggled today. As a matter of fact, every starting lineman gave up at least one pressure, with the exception of left guard Orlando Franklin. Consequently, quarterback Philip Rivers was under pressure on 15 of his 33 dropbacks, including San Diego’s last three plays in the game. In addition, wide receiver Tyrell Williams dropped three of his eight targets, while rookie running back Kenneth Farrow had two fumbles. Overall, Rivers just could not overcome the numerous individual mistakes the Chargers committed against Oakland.

Top defensive grades:

CB Trovon Reed, 86.3

ILB Jatavis Brown, 85.4

OLB Melvin Ingram, 84.1

OLB Joey Bosa, 80.7

OLB Kyle Emanuel, 79.2

Edge rushers set standard for future seasons

In a season full of negatives, San Diego’s persistent pass-rush offers hope that a quick turnaround is possible. Melvin Ingram’s development was visible Sunday. He generated five pressures, recorded five stops, and deflected his lone target in coverage. With a bookend like Joey Bosa, he can afford to take risks. Bosa continued his ease into the pros with another six pressures and four stops. Even Kyle Emanuel executes his specific role to perfection. Playing outside linebacker in base with Bosa kicked inside, Emanuel wrecked the Raiders’ ground game with a couple stops and numerous other disruptions. The Chargers are finally starting to form a formidable front.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Khalil Mack, DE, Raiders

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • Anthony

    We get Mario back next week. If he plays as well as last year, expect us to reek havoc. Also, PLAYOFFS. LETS GO.

    • Andrew Taylor

      With Mario, Mack and Irvin will be even more dominant!!!! Hope he’s ready to go!!!

  • mr. 908

    I wish Goodell would clear Aldon already damn.

    • Mr McMurderer

      Aldon claimed he was back on Mack’s instagram, so we may be hearing something soon.

  • Andrew Taylor

    How does Irvin have such a low grade??… 2 sacks, forced fumble, and was the reason we got the game ending pic… so stupid

    • MikeD_VABeach

      Exactly! That’s what I was about to write, but you beat me to the punch. I expected to see his grade off the charts and easily be considered the Game-Ball Winner. Odd….

  • Ron

    Total idiot geek MTF’s..Please NFL,stop using these assholes for correct data on players, they are not accurate in any way

    • Matt

      No kidding. I think for some things they can be reliable but in no way should NFL telecasts be basing their data off these guys…

  • mike

    wondering how casey hayward graded? he was on amari cooper all game it seemed, one reception on 4 targets with two breakups from my count. seemed really solid throughout the game, should have a rating 80+ no?