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No moral victories anymore for Raiders

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It the wake of the Raiders' late loss to the Chargers Sunday, even with the improved offensive effort, there is no feeling of a 'moral victory' this time.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday's loss to the Chargers has a different feeling for the Raiders than their other losses this season. In what was supposed to be a lopsided Chargers win, became a shootout that had the Raiders with the lead midway through the fourth quarter and a chance to win it at the end.

The level of competitiveness the Raiders showed in this game was not unlike their performance in New England in week three. In that one it was the defense that showed up against a tough opponent after two ugly losses in the first two weeks.

Coming into this game, the Raiders had statistically the worst offense in the league. Now facing what was considered one of the better teams in the league, they burst onto the scene with four touchdowns, all on passes from rookie Derek Carr who also broke out.

Even with the offense showing up for the first time, this one feels different. In week three, the Raiders were just looking for signs of life. Now they just need wins. And coming this close, only to fall short in the end becomes that much more disappointing for letting it slip away.

"We gotta close in," said Sio Moore. "We can't let a team that's supposed to be a good team off the hook when they're not that good. I don't care who the quarterback is, who the running back is, who anything is. . . Letting teams off like that, teams like that, guys like that, you don't let them off the hook. I'm sick about that."

The Dennis Green impression aside, that was the general feeling in the Raiders' locker room Sunday. In New England a few weeks ago, the defense was buzzing with what they had accomplished even in a loss. While no one ever says the words ‘moral victory', that was the feeling at that time. That is not the feeling now.

"We didn't walk into this place here today in front of our fans here to [just] play a good game today, In our league, there's none of those type things," said Tony Sparano. "There's no moral victories; there's none of those things. I did tell them that I was proud of them. This group, form what they've been through the last two weeks, came out today and played with a lot of energy, I thought, a lot of passion."

There will be time for the players on this Raiders offense to feel good about their performance today which included 392 yards of offense and four touchdowns, it only adds to the current feeling of frustration at falling short.

Few are more frustrated than the man who was the intended receiver on the game-ending interception.

"We put ourselves in a position to win the game," said Brice Butler who had 3 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, "and when we look at the film I think we'll be optimistic about what we've done, but right now there's not really a positive feeling because we lost and we didn't do enough to win. So we've got to look at the tape and figure out what that is and go out and did it next week."

No one had a better game than Derek Carr who threw four touchdowns. He repeated the sentiment that there are no moral victories.

"We put a lot of hard work into this week," said Carr. "The enthusiasm, the effort, was all great during practice. The attention to detail in the meetings was great. I say great meaning where it's supposed to be. Obviously, we need to do a little more, because in the end we didn't win. There are no moral victories, especially in this league. I've learned that."

Andre Holmes had his best numbers of the season with 4 catches for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns. One of those touchdowns went for 77 yards on the third play of the game. But those numbers are tainted.

"Individual numbers don't really matter," said Holmes. "Still have a bad taste in my mouth."

Part of that bad taste could come from his two drops which in a tight game like this could possibly have been the difference.

Losses like this always come down to the little things. Beating a team as good as the Chargers are right now requires a team like the Raiders to eliminate those little mistakes. The penalties -- the Raiders had 11 for 79 yards --, the dropped passes - of which they had five -, missed scoring attempts - Sebastian Janikowski missed his only attempt from 53 yards out.

There is a lot to feel good about if you're the Raiders offense, but in the immediate aftermath, it's the little things that with eat at them. As it should. It will be their ability to keep up this level of play while eliminating the mistakes that will make or break this winless team from here on out. Until that leads to actual victories, this feeling will only get worse.