It wouldn't typically seem like a non-divisional game between two 4-6 teams would hold much significance, but that was the case Sunday when the Raiders faced the Titans. The winner would climb to 5-6 and be in control of the sixth seed in the AFC playoff race. The loser would fall to 4-7 and likely lose any shot at making the playoffs this season.
With 6:17 left in the game, the Raiders went up 19-16 and put themselves in the drivers' seat to closing out the Titans and taking that sixth seed. But like the Titans had done two other times in the game, they had a long sustained drive to take a big chunk of time off the clock. They marched downfield 80 yards on 14 plays to take six minutes off the clock and finished it off with the final go-ahead touchdown to win it.
In the process the Titans converted 5 of 6 on third down to finish out the game including two on the game-winning drive.
As usual, Charles Woodson didn't mince words with his feeling about the failures of this Raiders team.
"We let a team go down late in the game and score a touchdown," said Woodson. "In order to be one of those [playoff] teams, that you can't do. And we did."
The Titans finished off their long drive with a touchdown pass to Kendall Wright who Ryan Fitzpatrick found open between Tracy Porter and Phillip Adams. Gotta hand it to these Raiders, when they go down, they go down in flames.
"The playoffs, that's a long term goal," said Porter. "We have a bunch of short term goals that we have to put in front of us. Not win one, lose one, win one, lose two. It's gonna hurt us. Once we get the understanding of taking care of what's in front of us, taking it one day at a time, then those little goals will add up to the big goal that you wanna get to."
The six seed now belongs to the Titans and the likelihood of playing out a lost season belongs to the Raiders. The Raiders would have to win out the season now just to have a winning record. As unlikely as that is, even a 9-7 non-division winner is far from a playoff lock. Most times they miss out on the playoffs.
The term ‘must win' gets tossed around way too often but that's just what this game was for the Raiders. And they lost it on defense which was an area that is supposed to be their strength.
Reggie McKenzie spoke several times before the season about these Raiders being "competitive", saying the Raiders are "gonna win some games". Those statements are holding quite accurate.