Hopefully, the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t ruin your entire holiday weekend, but Christmas Eve was undoubtedly a bust for the Silver and Black against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders managed to blow another lead late in the game and put together a pathetic offensive showing in the second half, topping off a year of disappointment.
WINNER: Hunter Renfrow
After that morbid introduction, how about some positivity to bring the mood back up around here?
Saturday was a much-needed bounce-back performance for Hunter Renfrow. He hauled in four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown, which were the most catches he’s had since Week 5, his highest yardage output since Week 7 and the first time he’s scored all year.
But most importantly, Renfrow looked like the guy we all remembered from the last few seasons on that touchdown reception as he put a nice move on the safety to pick up yards after the catch and put points on the board. Hopefully, that will help him build momentum heading into the offseason.
LOSER: Derek Carr
Five weeks ago, Derek Carr was tied for the eighth-fewest interceptions among starting quarterbacks with five. However, after throwing nine over the last month-plus, including three against the Steelers, he now leads the league with 14 picks on the year and is one away from tying a career-high.
Granted, not all of the interceptions on Saturday were entirely Carr’s fault, but the offense was stagnant in the second half, again, and the lack of a passing attack was a big reason why. His performance also fed into the cold weather narrative that has plagued him throughout his career, which was capped off by the game-ending interception that undoubtedly fell on his shoulders.
Get prepared for another offseason filled with speculation about who the Raiders’ signal-caller will be next season because the statistical franchise leader hasn’t done anything to end those conversations down the stretch of the year. Instead, his play has fueled those discussions.
WINNER: Tyler Hall
If there has been one bright spot for the Silver and Black over the last month and a half, it’s been the play of midseason practice squad addition, Tyler Hall.
Hall got activated in Week 11 and has managed to earn an 82.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus which ranks third among cornerbacks during that time frame. He also ranks just outside of the top 25 for defensive stops at the position with six, pretty impressive considering he’s taken the second-fewest snaps within that group.
This past weekend specifically, Hall finished as the Raiders’ highest-graded defender (80.4), picked up two stops, and allowed just nine receiving yards on two catches with five targets coming his way. Plus, he picked up his second pass breakup of the year, making a strong case to be involved in the team’s future plans.
LOSER: Dylan Parham
To Dylan Parham’s credit, going against a four-time All-Pro in Cameron Heyward is a tough matchup for any interior offensive lineman, let alone a rookie who is coming off an injury. However, there’s no denying that Parham’s struggles significantly impacted the outcome of the game.
He ended up surrendering nine pressures, the most he’s allowed in a single game this season by three, and that includes three sacks which ended his streak of five games without giving up a sack. Unfortunately, the run game wasn’t much better as the rookie earned a sub-par 50.7 run-blocking grade from PFF that ranks in the bottom 15 for guards this week.
These next couple of weeks are going to be big for Parham as he looks to build some confidence heading into year two.
WINNER: Denzel Perryman
It’s a shame Denzel Perryman got injured and couldn’t finish the game because he was putting together a great performance.
While he didn’t post the tackle numbers we’re used to seeing from him — only four total — he was excellent in coverage, giving up no receptions on three targets while picking up his second interception on the campaign. That puts Duron Harmon and Perryman in a tie for the team lead in interceptions as they now account for 80 percent of the team’s picks for the year.
The linebacker also continues to make an impact as a run defender with a 75.1 PFF run defense grade against the Steelers and an 80.5 mark for the entire year, 10th-best among linebackers this season. Not bad for an impending free agent.
LOSER: Nate Hobbs
Unfortunately, Nate Hobbs has been a frequent flier on the losers list since returning from injury. In the last four games, he’s been targeted 22 times for 18 receptions (81.8 completion percentage), 222 yards and Saturday’s game-winning touchdown.
One could argue that this past game was Hobbs’ worst performance over the stretch as he allowed six catches on seven targets, 79 yards and that aforementioned score to seal the team’s fate. But what might be most troubling is that he missed three tackles for the second week in a row.
That’s been a strength for him in the past so cleaning up his tackling form needs to be a point of emphasis for him over the next two games so he can at least limit the damage.