Oakland Raiders vs. Carolina Panthers: Full Report Card Grades for Oakland

Just when you thought the Oakland Raiders would trounce the Carolina Panthers with a high-powered offense, disaster struck via injury and a crumbling defense. Yet, the Raiders picked up the pieces for another comeback victory to clinch their first winning season since 2002. 

The Silver and Black overwhelmingly dominated the first half with a fluent passing attack and a stingy defense. Oakland only allowed 12 passing yards through 30 minutes. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw more touchdown passes to defensive lineman Khalil Mack than his own receivers. The Raiders edge-rusher returned an interception for a touchdown before halftime, and Oakland led 24-7.

The second half put the team and the fans at the Oakland Coliseum in a somber mood. Quarterback Derek Carr mangled the little finger on his throwing hand while receiving a snap under center; he left the field screaming in pain. The Panthers started their push back into the contest with a touchdown off Carr’s fumble on the mishandled snap.

Newton tossed two perfectly thrown deep balls to wideouts Ted Ginn Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin. Running back Jonathan Stewart scored his second touchdown in between the passing scores. Despite Carr’s immediate return, after missing one series, the mood and momentum shifted from the sidelines all the way up through the stands. The players made costly errors, and the Panthers captured a 32-24 lead. 

Then, Carr once again put on his MVP cape. He took advantage of wide receiver Michael Crabtree’s matchups against a rookie cornerback and a linebacker in deep coverage. Tight end Clive Walford finished a fourth-quarter drive with a difficult touchdown catch. On the following offensive series, kicker Sebastian Janikowski fired a 23-yard attempt between the uprights for a 35-32 lead. 

Despite the horrific second-half defense, the group rallied to stymie the Panthers’ attempt to tie or score th...

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