OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams broke open a close chess match with second-half dominance on offense and defense to overcome the overmatched Oakland Raiders, 33-13, Monday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Quarterback Jared Goff, from nearby Cal-Berkeley and Novato (Marin County), completed 18 of 33 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns to guide the Rams back from an early 13-10 deficit. Running back Todd Gurley II showed why he was the NFL offensive player of the year last season by running through and around the Raiders for 108 yards on 20 carries and caught three passes for 39 yards including one where the ball traveled two inches in the air and went for a 19-yard touchdown.
Oakland prep product Marcus Peters put an exclamation mark on things with a 50-yard pick six with the clock pretending there was 2:11 left in the game.
"It was a tale of two halves and obviously we didn't take care of the ball," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said after the debut of Gruden 2 in Oakland. He was no doubt referring to quarterback Derek Carr throwing three interceptions - including that pick six to Peters - while completing 29 of 40 passes for 303 yards.
By dictating matchups, the Raiders did well on offense in the first half as Carr completed 20 of his first 24 passes for 199 yards on one interception on an underthrown pass that could have been a touchdown.
The Raiders began the game by creating matchups that kept some of the Rams' best defensive backs - cornerbacks Peters and Aqib Talib - from being a factor. The Raiders went to tight end Jared Cook, who was covered by safeties and linebackers. That is why he finished with 12 catches for 180 yards while the Raiders' No. 1 receiver, Amari Cooper, was targeted only three times and made one catch for 9 yards.
Cook broke the record of 173 yards receiving in a game by a Raiders tight end, set by Todd Christensen against the then-San Diego Chargers in 1986.
But Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who began his coaching career in 1976 as an assistant to his dad, Bum Phillips, didn't allow the Raiders to get away with that most of the second half. Philips redeployed Talib and other defensive backs to cover Cook, who was the target on two of Carr's three interceptions.
"We tried to dictate certain matchups and it worked a few times really well," Gruden said. "But the Rams are a talented team with great coaches and in the end we didn't take care of the ball and that was critical."
It might be said that Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was also critical, despite the fact he made only one tackle and no sacks in the game. It was Donald who signed that $135 million contract extension 10 days ago, which set the stage for Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack to demand even more money, meaning Oakland traded him to the Chicago Bears, who could afford the new deal at $23.5 million a year and $90 million guaranteed.
In that sense, Donald's biggest impact on Monday night's game was to eliminate Mack from the Raiders roster. On Sunday night, he had a sack and a pick six for the Bears against Green Bay.
But on Monday night the Raiders could not get pressure on Goff, who often had enough time to wave at family and friends in the stands before throwing the ball. The Raiders defensive front managed one sack and two hurries on Goff. Defensive end Bruce Irvin had the sack and one hurry.
"Obviously Jared Goff had some good moments," said Gruden. "When they can rush the ball that well in the second half it is hard to get a pass rush. We gave Goff too much time."