Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack created a turnover just before halftime Sunday by coming around the right side of the Giants’ offensive line, sacking Geno Smith and wresting the ball out of the quarterback’s grasp before they hit the ground. After the Raiders’ 24-17 win, head coach Jack Del Rio was asked how many players could make that play. “I know one that can,” Del Rio said. Mack’s play was timely, with New York — trailing 10-7 — at the Raiders’ 4-yard line and in position to tie the score or take the lead. It also followed a promising trend for the Raiders’ defense: After recording just 14 sacks in the season’s first 10 games, the Raiders have eight sacks in the past two. “It’s definitely been what we’re looking for,” Del Rio said Monday. “The guys, I think, are cutting it loose and playing a little more aggressively. I think the coverage has been a little bit tighter, and they go hand in hand.” Mack (two), linebacker Bruce Irvin (three) and lineman Denico Autry (three) accounted for the eight sacks against the Broncos and Giants, who rank 28th and 20th, respectively, in sacks allowed. Both also had quarterbacks making their first starts of the season. Mack, according to Pro Football Focus, had 11 pressures on 30 pass-rush snaps, a league high Sunday. Irvin had a season-high seven pressures and also had a strip-sack of Smith, with NaVorro Bowman recovering the fumble. The Raiders don’t appear to be blitzing significantly more in the past two games. Del Rio credited the secondary for the increased ability to get into the backfield.
Jack Del Rio: Raiders’ pass rush ‘cutting it loose’ lately
San Francisco Chronicle | Dec 5