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The Morning After: Oakland Raiders vs Arizona Cardinals

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The Raiders are 0-6. That is what matters most after this one, the Raiders are 0-6 for the first time since 1962. That is a bitter pill to swallow, even when it came on the heels of back to back solid performances against top notch teams.

The thing about the current state of the NFL though is that there just are not very many teams that are actually bad. If you are a team only capable of beating bad teams then you are not going to be given very many opportunities to win in this league.

That means that even bad teams have to be capable of winning against these top notch teams, something that will be a reoccuring theme for the Raiders for the entirety of 2014. This Raiders team is capable of beating these teams, they have showed it over the past two games even in losses.

What they need to do now is stop shooting themselves in the foot. The penalties in this game specifically were just so ill timed that they were impossible to overcome. Those are the things that cause losing teams to continue their losing ways. Not all of the penalties were legitimate (Sio Moore's roughing the passer?!) but they know that those calls go against them and they must adjust accordingly.

As for the game play itself, you can not settle for field goals against a better team. That is where the Raiders really went wrong, they had to settle for field goals when they had opportunities to grab the momentum.

After the Raiders got their TD to make the score 14-7, they had a golden opportunity that they did not take advantage of. Charles Woodson, the ageless one, intercepted the ball and returned it to inside the Cardinals 20 yardline. At that time they absolutely needed a TD, they needed to tie the game then and there to take the momentum going into halftime.

Instead of seizing the day, they settled for the field goal. 14-10 at halftime sounds like a good thing, but really it wasn't. That was an Arizona win and they knew it, as former Cardinals coach Dennis Green once infamously said, WE LET THEM OFF THE HOOK!

Then again, the 2nd half started and the Raiders put together their most impressive drive of the day. They were driving down the field with ease but let it all slip away. Again, they settled for a field goal to make the score 14-13. At that point, all momentum for the Raiders was gone. They should have been up 21-14 with the game squarely in their possession, instead they never took the lead and Arizona cruised from there.

Those are the moments that make a losing team. Take advantage of those games and you become a winning team, but miss those advantages and you end up 0-6. This team is fighting, this team is playing hard, but this team is missing their chances when they are being given to them.

The defense in this game was not bad, but they needed to be better at key times. They did enough to win the game if the offense was performing well though. Unfortunately, the offense was not playing well in this game and that meant more pressure on the defense. They were not able to play well enough to overcome that added pressure, not when the offense was failing to take advantage of their chances.

What they really needed to do was stop the Arizona running backs and they had no answer for them. The Cardinals duo of Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington combined for 219 yards from scrimmage, it was clear as day that they were the focal point of that offense.

Despite everybody knowing that the Cardinals running backs were going to get the ball, the Raiders defense still lost track of them too often. Andre Ellington's speed on those screen passes was hard enough to defend if he was covered, but when he is left uncovered there really is no stopping him.

The adjustments to the backs just never seemed to come, and that is on Jason Tarver. It was clear that the scheme was not working to defend against those plays from the backfield, and yet time and time again they were wide open.

Beyond that though was the 3rd down conversions. The Cardinals completed 9 of 15 3rd down plays, a whopping 60% of them. The Raiders on the other hand were a pathetic 4 of 12, a terrible 33%. That is not going to win games, but it does lose them.

The 3rd down plays are extremely important, you either get off the field or not on defense. Stopping them creates momentum, it ruins rhythm, and it effects the whole team. The offense is out of rhythm when they convert so few of them and the defense gets tired. That is a bad combination and it is a losing combination.

On the flip side, when the offense converts those 3rd down plays they get uplifted from it. They feed off of that and it gives them the confidence that they can't be stopped. It also rests the defense and motivates them, if the offense is doing their part then it makes the defense want to step up too.

Even though the defense needed to step up just a little bit more, it was the offense that lost this game. They just failed to get into rhythm and it cost them big time. They had moments here and there where they were cohesive, but they did not get enough from Derek Carr or the running game.

The offensive line gave Derek Carr plenty of time to throw the ball, they were not the problem. In fact, they played very impressively for the 2nd straight week. The playmakers on the offense needed to reward that solid protection but they did not. They ran too many times straight into defenders and they did not complete enough passes down field.

Derek Carr didn't have any big mistakes which is good for a rookie, but he didn't have many big game changing plays either.

In the end it was no surprise that the Cardinals came up with this game when you look at the circumstances. They were the winning team and they took advantage of the Raiders mistakes where the Raiders simply did not do the same thing.

The last thing I have to say is Darnell Dockett is now an enemy of the Raider Nation for the rest of all time. I have never witnessed something so reprehensible from a player not even in uniform as what he did on the sidelines. It was classless, disrespectful, unneeded, and simply heartless.

If that is the type of leader the Cardinals have then I am now firmly against their team having any success this year. It is too bad too because I would have much rathered them win their division over the Seattle Seahawks or the San Francisco 49ers. Forget that now though, not after being mocked so egregiously from Dockett.

Now I wish nothing but failure upon the Arizona Cardinals and Darnell Dockett. He isn't even playing this year due to a season ending injury. He is not a part of what that team is doing anymore and he should not be saying anything at all, let alone writing signs saying the Raiders are the worst team in football and directing them to the fans.

It might be true that the Raiders are the worst team in football, but it is ridiculous that a player on a team would write that and mock the crowd. He should be fined and talked to about this, but since it was against the Raiders it probably wont be mentioned. Sad but true, just like what he wrote.