Give Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell some credit. He had some guts throughout the team’s disappointing 20-13 loss to the Dolphins in Miami, a loss that ended the team’s two-game winning bump since Antonio Pierce took over for Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas. But guts are no match for Jalen Ramsey.
Discretion is, quite often, the better part of valor, and against a star veteran defensive back like the Dolphins’ Jalen Ramsey, O’Connell could have used more discretion. It was Ramsey who effectively ended the game with an interception on a desperation throw O’Connell made into the end zone with the Raiders down by seven and 30 seconds to play.
It was an earlier interception, though, in the second quarter that truly showed the veteran’s savvy against the unwitting rookie. On a square-in route by Tre Tucker, Ramsey appeared to give an outside cushion, practically daring O’Connell to throw it over the middle. When he did, Ramsey read Aidan O’Connell’s eyes, bolted in front of Tucker and made a diving grab.
Asked after the game if he “baited” O’Connell, Ramsey said, per reporter Joe Schad, “I guess you could call it that.”
Aidan O’Connell: ‘I’m Learning How Hard the NFL Is’
Aidan O’Connell was 24-for-41 passing for the Raiders on Sunday in Miami, for 271 yards and three interceptions. After a solid first half in which the Raiders trailed by just one point, O’Connell could not get points on the board in the second half as the offense sputtered.
The Raiders chalked up easy wins in the last two weeks, beating the Giants and the Jets at home. Going to Miami was a much different challenge, and Jalen Ramsey showed O’Connell how much he needs to raise his game.
“I’m learning how hard the NFL is and how hard it is to win,” O’Connell said. “Kudos to our defense, just played so well in the second half, I think they scored six points in the second half. Obviously, we didn’t score, our defense did an awesome job keeping us in the game. It’s really going to come down to our offense and watching the film to just be better all-around, and it starts with me.”
Jalen Ramsey Gave All Raiders a Lesson
After the game, coach Antonio Pierce lamented the fact that the Raiders got away from Josh Jacobs and the running game that had worked so well in the wins over the two New York teams. Jacobs had 14 carries for just 39 yards on the day, after having tallied 214 yards the past two weeks.
“It was a lesson for all of us,” Pierce said. “I’ll start with A.P. It was a lesson for me. It was a lesson for me, Bo (Hardegree), for Aidan. We gotta do a better job managing the game, not putting him in those situations where Aidan has to win the game.”
Indeed, from the Dolphins’ perspective, having a rookie throwing at Jalen Ramsey is not a bad thing at all. Aidan O’Connell will have to think twice about that in the future.
“I am really hoping they throw at him,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said of Ramsey. “Both interceptions [on Sunday] were out of control in difficulty level. … I think the whole team has gotten a little bit better, to a degree, since he has been back [from injury]. That’s the type of effect that players of that caliber can have on people.”