NFL Scores Week 14: Raiders So Close, Yet...Ugh

Sweep the leg, Johnny!

If this post game piece is not finished then my tears have shorted out my keyboard. I'm not going to lie--that one hurt. I know it is a silly luxury to be anguished over a football game, but I am. If you don't know, you wouldn't know and as Mark Twain said:

Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size.

You'll have to forgive me, but I get a little philosophical in the face of heartache and it has been a while since a loss by the Raiders hurt like this. So, instead of getting deep into the analyzation of this game, I am going bigger picture. Besides, in order to try and offer something everyone didn't see anyway, I like to go over the game again and I certainly don't feel like watching that one right now.

After the game and in the locker room, Sir Thomas Wyatt, summed up this loss best when he said:

The longer the life the more the offense, the more the offense the more the pain, the more the pain the less defense and the less defense the less the gain.

Well, he wasn't actually in the locker room and, given that he has been dead for roughly half a millennium, it is debatable that he was talking about the Raiders at all, but he may as well have been. The Raiders had a long life, they had a lead of 10 in the third quarter and they were in it until the last play. They had plenty of offense--but, as Wyatt said, "The less defense the less the gain." The less defense came on as the game went. The Raiders gave up 31 in the second half. Kickoff fumble or not that is too many.

Oh and what could've been gained. The Raiders could be a game out of first right now. They could be in control of their own destiny. If only they had made one more play, it would be all heroes and no goats. This was the proverbial game of inches. If only....

 

Instead, we have pain and goats and anger. This was, as Sir William Watson once described a loss by his favorite football team, "...the pain of a thousand teeth." That very pain, however, is a sign of progress. A sign of life.

For as Juan Montalvo tells us, "There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference" and that is exactly where I have been with this team for almost a decade. Sure, there were the obligatory, early-season hard-losses. The ones where I realized there would be no joy in Muddville, but those were met with more anger and hopelessness than pain. This was due to the fact that the anger present was born from the hopelessness, not about slipping of an opportunity at hand. 

This very season has seen hard losses--lots of them, but those were either close losses to bad teams or blowouts to good teams. This was a close loss to a good team on the road. It was not a perfect game by the Raiders, but it was a very solid effort. It creates a Frank Moore Colby type of feeling. Colby:

I know of no more disagreeable situation than to be left feeling generally angry without anybody in particular to be angry at.

Offensively, what are we going to say? The Raiders hung 31 on the road. There were a few instances of questionable play calls and a couple of drops, but I'll take 31 points and that kind of offensive performance every game. That was playoff caliber offensive football, on the east coast.

In the end, my disappointment falls upon the defense. They gave up too many easy points. Still, it is hard to lay it all on the defense. Jacksonville had a smart game plan and they executed it well.

The Raiders dared the run first, short passing Jaguars to beat them over the top. This left people like Michael Huff and Ricky Brown in one-on-ones down the field and Garrard made some nice throws. There were also the return of the Raiders old nemesis, the long runs. Those were killers. Especially Jennings. Inches from the sidelines almost stuffed at the line, but a couple of missed tackles and he takes it to the house.

The defense could have slammed the door on the Jaguars, but the Jaguars wouldn't let them. It was a game the Raiders had in their grasp and they let it slip away and maybe their season with it and Al damn it does it hurt.

It is in that very existence of pain that I now find hope. There is no apathy. It is Week 14 and I still care. I am not pissed due to a total melt-down; I am replaying a handful of close plays that could've made a difference. I am reliving the game of inches the Raiders didn't quite win and like Shakespeare I am moving on. Bill:

Wise men never sit and wail their loss, but cheerily seek how to redress their harms.

Through the morose fog of this loss, things look alright. Not just for future seasons, but for this. The mistakes were correctable and they will be correctable at home against lighter competition. This season isn't over yet. If the Raiders win back-to-back home games against the reeling Broncos and walking wounded Colts, they may still be playing for the division in Arrowhead. Were not talking "Keith Richards is still alive" type miracles here.

The Chiefs are coming off of a 31-0 loss to play a game that, Matt Cassel may again miss, on the road where the Chiefs struggle. Meanwhile, the Chargers--who the Raiders will need to lose one of their next three--host the 49ers before taking to the road for the last two. The Chargers are 2-4 on the road.

The Raiders maybe a longer shot at this point, but it's not break-out the abacus to figure some crazy scenarios time. A 9-7 AFC West division champ is still a strong possibility and after today, I feel good about the Raiders chances to win three in-a-row.

This season is not over and nowhere is that more evident than by the very tears born from the pain of this loss that fall onto this keyboard or in the anger stains on my freshly TKO'd furniture. It's nice to hurt again. It's a sign of progress. Why? Well just take it from the wisest man to be quoted yet:

Show me a gracious loser and I'll show you a permanent loser. --OJ Simpson

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