The Raiders smartly employed an offensive game plan to avoid Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, heavily targeting tight end Jared Cook, who had a monster night. And the defense took advantage of a rusty Rams offense early.
Then the second-half started. L.A.'s coaching staff made adjustments, and the Raiders crumbled.
The talent discrepancy between the California teams that was minimized in the first half was fully on display for those staying up late enough to catch the end. The Rams' defense turned the screws on Derek Carr forcing three turnovers, including Peters' pick-six to close the game out. After touching the ball just five times in the first half, Todd Gurley took over, going for 147 total yards by the final whistle.
The biggest problem for the Raiders' defense was a complete lack of a pass rush. Oakland compiled one Bruce Irvin strip sack in the first half, and two total QB hits. That's it. The entire game. Gruden's defense didn't come close to sniffing Jared Goff in the second half. The third-year quarterback could have knitted a sweater while completing passes he had so much time in the pocket.
"When you can run the ball like they ran in the second half, it's very hard to rush the passer," Gruden said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. "Obviously, we didn't get to Goff enough, and we didn't get to Gurley enough. We'll take a good look at the reasons why we didn't."
Hmmm. I wonder what one reason could be?
Oh, that's right, those two first-round picks for which Khalil Mack was traded aren't on the field yet.
The Raiders hoped the rookie trio of Arden Key, P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst would help fill the hole left by the Mack trade. Monday night was a mixed bag. Key earned a QB hit and three tackles. He also gave up the edge several times. Hall ended up second on the team in tackles with six and Hurst tallied three.
None of them offered much pressure on Goff.
"We knew we had to rush Goff and we couldn't give him too much time," Irvin said. "I don't think we did a good enough job of putting a lot of pressure on him."