Thanks to a pair of second-half touchdowns from Marshawn Lynch and a third consecutive 300-yard game for Derek Carr, the Oakland Raiders edged past the Miami Dolphins, 27-24, on Sunday night at Hard Rock Stadium.
With the win, the Raiders, who appeared all but buried after dropping five of six games, now head into the bye week owning a 4-5 record and sitting in second in the AFC West, two games behind the Kansas City Chiefs. The team is also just 1.5 games out of a wild-card spot.
Minutes after the win, Carr had already turned his attention to the upcoming meeting with the New England Patriots on Nov. 19 in Mexico City.
“We need to recover and then start preparing for New England,” Carr told the NBC broadcast. “That’s on my mind right now. I’ll start on that as soon as I get on the plane — probably before that.”
After Marshawn Lynch totaled eight yards on five first-half carries, the running back awoke in the third quarter.
On the first drive, Lynch barreled through the Dolphins defense for 39 yards on three rushes. Lynch’s 22-yard touchdown run punctuated the drive, briefly giving the Raiders a 20-9 lead.
Lynch’s second score — he tallied 57 yards on 14 carries — gave the Raiders a 27-16 advantage at the 4:37 mark in the fourth.
Carr become the fourth Raider quarterback to join the 13,000-yard club, throwing one touchdown and an interception while totaling 300 yards.
With the Raiders driving early in the fourth quarter, Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, delivered a spectacularly athletic play. Suh lept — nearly going horizontal — to strip-sack Carr before the ball was scooped up by Marshall Newhouse. The right tackle charged up the field before taking a hit and helicoptering through the air as he fumbled himself.
While Miami took over on the Raiders 48-yard line, the hosts were unable to capitalize on the turnover, going three-and-out before punting.
Another turnover — an interception at the 2:20 mark — gave the Dolphins late life after the Raiders had seemingly sealed the win.
Jay Cutler found Julius Thomas for a 15-yard touchdown and the Dolphins successfully converted the two-point conversion.
The late rally was stymied when the onside kick attempt bounded directly to Amari Cooper.
Incidentally, Cody Parkey — the Dolphins kicker — had accomplished a rare feat in the second quarter, recovering his own onside kick.
The Raiders had headed into the locker room holding a 13-10 lead after Giorgio Tavecchio boomed a 53-yard field goal as time expired.
Tavecchio had also capped the opening drive, which ate up more than half of the first quarter, with a 36-yard kick.
Tight end Jared Cook highlighted that drive, hauling in three catches for 59 yards on his way to a six-catch, 113 yard first half. Cook finished with a season-high 126 yards on eight receptions.
Cook credited his quarterback and offensive line for his big night.
“The o-line was doing a great job of giving him time and being able to make his reads,” Cook said. “And I was just doing my best to get open down the field.”
Sandwiched between those field goals, the lone touchdown of the half came courtesy of a 44-yard connection between Carr and Johnny Holton at the 3:26 mark in the second quarter.
Holton now has two catches on the season — both for touchdowns.
Can’t stop Cutler
Cutler, playing in his first game since cracking multiple ribs, began the night 16-for-16. The veteran didn’t have an incompletion until his final throw of the half. Cutler concluded his outing with 311 yards, completing 34-of-42 passes and throwing three touchdowns.