Fill-ins lead first-place, unrattled Cards & Raiders to wins
DENVER — Long-time assistants rallied their teams to road victories in Week 6, defeating pestilence and hardship.
The sickness the Cardinals had to conquer was COVID-19. The Raiders’ problem was bigotry.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph steered the unbeaten Cardinals to a 37-14 rout of the Cleveland Browns just 48 hours after head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the teams’ offensive play caller, was sidelined with a breakthrough case of COVID-19, as was quarterbacks coach Cam Turner.
Joseph credited the entire staff and especially assistant receivers coach Spencer Whipple, who handled the communication to Kyler Murray, who threw for four touchdowns as the Cardinals (6-0) remained the NFL’s only unbeaten team and continued their best start in 47 years.
” The operation was very smooth because we were on the road and didn’t have coach Kliff. Murray stated. “Whipp kept calling it aggressively and we got it going.”
Arizona star linebacker Chandler Jones also tested positive for the coronavirus, as did D-linemen Zach Allen and Corey Peters.
The Cardinals weren’t fazed.
” “I think we were even happier because the odds seemed to be against us,” Murray stated.
After the game, Michael Bidwell reached Kingsbury and was able to speak with several players and coaches through FaceTime.
“I could not really hear him because he was so loud,” Murray stated about the noisy locker room that rivaled the Raiders’.
They seemed ready for a reorganization after Jon Gruden, their legendary coach, resigned last week in disgrace over anti-gay, racist, and sexist sentiments he expressed in emails.
Like Whipple. The Raiders’ offensive coordinator Greg Olson turned up the heat in his first game as play-caller after seven seasons. He dialed up a steady diet of deep throws for Derek Carr in a 34-24 statement win at Denver that thrust the Raiders into a first-place tie with the Chargers atop the AFC West at 4-2. After his triumphant debut at the Raiders’ interim head coaching position, Rich Bisaccia said that the advantage was for us.
The Broncos stated that they expected the same Raiders team to arrive all week. They were correct. The offense in Las Vegas was different. Olson used more play action, which allowed Carr to make some big plays. This was a change from the two previous games when Gruden’s run first philosophy had caused the offense to stall.
Carr’s seven explosive pass plays accounted for a whopping 257 yards and included touchdown throws of 48 and 31 yards against a Broncos secondary that is the league’s priciest.
Carr got things started with a 48-yard TD pass to Henry Ruggs III on the Raiders’ first possession, the team’s first opening drive score since last season. He also threw a 31-yard TD pass to Kenyan Drake. It was the Raiders’ most productive day of offense in almost a quarter-century. 19 yards per play, doubling the rate of the final two games under Gruden. Carr stated that they are always trying to move the ball downfield. “We always believe we can do that.”
The Raiders became the first team since at least 1991 to have seven pass plays gain at least 25 yards, according to Sportradar.
Coincidentally, the losers of both of those games have a short week before playing each other in Cleveland on Thursday night in a matchup of battered 3-3 teams trying to maintain relevancy in 2021.
” I feel it’s simpler this way,” Von Miller, Broncos star defensive linebacker, said. “Whenever I lose, I have always said, “Let’s go back.” If I beat you in cards, I want it to be run back to me so that I can win. I’d love to have another shot at it super fast if you beat me in a game of video games. I’d like another chance .”
The wild week 6 began with Urban Meyer, Jaguars coach, saying that he would not skip his team’s flights again. This was an unfortunate decision that cost the Jaguars their first NFL game.
Meyer won his first NFL game and his team snapped a 20-game losing streak with a last-second win over the Miami Dolphins in London early Sunday.
The week ended with more drama when Buffalo QB Josh Allen made a slip on a QB sneak at fourth-and-inches, Tennessee 3. Monday night. Bills coach Sean McDermott bypassed a game-tying chip shot field goal with 22 seconds left and put the ball in the hands of his play-maker.
Allen lost his footing and the AFC East-leading Bills (4-2) lost 34-31, their first defeat in a month.
With contributions from AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow and AP Sports Writer Tom Withers.
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