OAKLAND — That sack stats weren’t ticking up on Maxx Crosby’s stat sheet wasn’t of concern. That number isolated, head coach Jon Gruden attests, is far too perfunctory to properly assess the rookie’s instant impact on this Oakland Raiders team.
Crosby has had handful of tackles — six solo, five for loss — and two forced fumbles and a total of 2.5 sacks collected over three games (one against Chicago, one against Green Bay and a half against the Chargers).
Perhaps more telling are the three fines the NFL laid down on the fourth round pick: Two levied for unnecessary roughness and roughing the passer against Deshaun Watson and Houston Texans followed one for a late hit on Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. Maybe more telling was Crosby’s decision to jump back into a preseason game despite a broken hand incurred trying to force a fumble mid-tackle.
For the Raiders, all that made him Mad Maxx would surely manifest itself into a statistical gem game. One that would validate numerically what Gruden and his staff could see plainly. It happened in the Raiders’ (6-4) 17-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals (0-10) on Sunday: Crosby collected four sacks. His four sack nigh was the most since Khalil Mack’s five-sack night against the Denver Broncos in 2015.
Crosby is always in the mix. Or, as Gruden might say, he has a high factor grade.
“We’ve been talking about the factor grade, here. Finally, someone will count the sacks and write a nice story about him,” Gruden said. “He’s been near the quarterback, he’s been hitting the quarterback, he’s been batting balls down from the quarterback and today he got to the quarterback. We’re really pleased with his progress.”
Crosby took note of fellow rookie Clelin Ferrell’s 2.5 sack night against the Los Angeles Chargers — not necessarily by picking up a trick, but recognizing the steam he picked up after getting one. Crosby saw in his teammate’s eyes a fire lit, his rhythm hit.
“Cle (Ferrell) had two and a half, I honestly did not think I was going to get 4. I’ve never done that before,” Crosby said. “The stats are stats, but I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
Stats are stats, but each of Crosby’s sacks were key. The Bengals punched early with a potent run game that resulted in an early Joe Mixon touchdown, but the Raiders’ defense adjusted.
RAIDER NATION I LOVE YALLLL LETS GOOOOOOO‼️‼️‼️‼️ #4x🖤
— MaddMaxx (@CrosbyMaxx) November 18, 2019
“We owe the offense,” Crosby said. “Early on (this season) we were struggling, we put two really good games together and we just have to keep going.”
Crosby’s first sack seemed an omen for his game — he steamed, unscathed, past Bengals left offensive tackle John Jerry right into quarterback Ryan Finley’s blindside, knocking the ball clean out of his hand for Maurice Hurst to scoop and chug to the 28 yard line.
His last three came in back-to-back-to-back Bengals drives as they attempted to close a seven-point deficit. First came on third-and-seven for an eight-yard loss, pinning Cincinnati deep in their own territory.
The next one came on first down, erasing nine yards once the Bengals encroached on Raiders’ ground. The final one pre-empted a game-ending interception by Trayvon Mullen.
“You know, I think my favorite thing about our team is our “Madden” ratings are pretty low, but we’re pretty good at football,” quarterback Derek Carr said of the defense. “To see our defense win us another game is huge. If they can hold people to 10 points, in this league, hopefully more times than not, we can win the football game.”
Crosby has a 67 rating grade on the video game “Madden 20” — a pretty mediocre score, in case you were wondering. But, as Gruden might attest, his factor grade is what matters most.