Don’t come at Khalil Mack with pleasantries and compliments after a loss. No matter how well he or the defense played.
The Oakland Raiders’ All-Pro edge rusher has long said there are no silver linings in defeat. So what is there to glean, then, from a defense — which was supposed to be Oakland’s weak link — keeping the game in reach for the Raiders’ sputtering offense before they eventually fell 16-10?
“The thing about football, man, it’s a team game,” said Mack after losing to the Denver Broncos. “And we’ve got to execute better defensively, especially starting early. Can’t give up touchdowns — we held them to field goals, that’s cool — but we’ve got to get to the point where we can shut teams out. That’s got to be the attitude coming into the game.
“If the offense is slow to start, or whatever, it really doesn’t concern us. We’ve got to do our job, especially on the road. We’ve got to bring some more energy and get more turnovers.”
Mack did his part.
The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year had two sacks and seemed to have a strip sack that was recovered by Mario Edwards Jr. before the replay official ruled Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian down.
“Who knows, man,” Mack said, when asked if the ball was out before the knee hit. “Just play the game and let the refs call it.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mack also had seven total pressures in 27 pass rush snaps against the Broncos. He also had three run stops and his PFF grade of 85.2 was second among edge defenders entering Sunday night’s game.
“If you hold people to 16 [points], you should be able to find a way to scratch off a win,” said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. “So, I’m a little disappointed, but I understand this league.”
It’s one in which the Raiders’ offense can be just 2-for-12 on third-down execution and still be only 36 yards and a PAT away from winning the game.
“Everybody’s starting to get into their mojo,” said Edwards, who had his third sack of the season. “I mean, it’s the third, fourth game of the season and everybody’s shaking off the cobwebs and kind of getting into their own.”
That will be key for Oakland’s defense going forward, especially with the lackluster Baltimore Ravens up next for the Raiders, who will enjoy three straight home games.