Raiders overcome early season slide to move into tie for 1st

The Raiders also have eight sacks the past two games after recording just four in the previous four contests as the defense has played better after John Pagano replaced fired coordinator Ken Norton Jr. as play-caller. “It’s definitely been what we’re looking for,” Del Rio said. “The guys are cutting it loose and playing a little more aggressively. Coverage has been tighter and I think they go hand in hand.” The offense has relied more on the run game the past two weeks with starting receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper mostly unavailable. Crabtree was ejected for a fight against Denver and then suspended this past game, while Cooper was knocked out of the game against the Broncos with a concussion and sprained ankle that sidelined him against the Giants. Marshawn Lynch had a season-high 26 carries against the Broncos and then delivered his first 100-yard rushing game since coming out of retirement to lead the way against the Giants. Backup receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Johnny Holton both delivered big plays with Patterson’s 59-yard catch setting up a 9-yard TD to Holton . Even backup tight end Clive Walford made a big contribution with four catches after having only three the first 10 games. The Raiders will have Crabtree back this week and Del Rio said he’s hopeful Cooper will return. NOTES: DL Darius Latham was released to make room for Crabtree to return.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) After scuffling their way through the first three months of the season as one of the NFL’s bigger disappointments, the Oakland Raiders have managed to claw their way back into contention in the mediocre AFC West.

The Raiders (6-6) won their second straight game against a backup quarterback, beating Geno Smith and the New York Giants 24-17 on Sunday to move into a three-way tie for first with Kansas City and the Chargers with four games to play.

The task of getting back to the playoffs for a second straight season won’t be easy thanks to a four-game losing streak early in the year that put Oakland into a hole.

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