The Oakland Raiders keep fighting. They are the neighborhood kid that never wins a fight but is always willing to fight somebody. This team is not missing heart, and there is something to be proud of for that. It'd be better if they had some wins to go with the effort, but at least it is an exciting time about the possibilities the young core of players bring to this team.
This game specifically really gave a glimpse of the core that is going to be leading this team for many years to come, and we are not even talking about Derek Carr and Khalil Mack here. We are talking about Gabe Jackson, Menelik Watson, Mychal Rivera, Justin "Jelly" Ellis, T.J. Carrie, Sio Moore, and even D.J. Hayden despite several mistakes on his end.
That is incredibly encouraging for the future even if it isn't paying dividends this season. These young guys showing they can play hard and that they have talent is huge for the future of this team, especially when you consider they will have another round of high draft picks coming in this upcoming draft. Grab your sunglasses folks, because the future is bright with this core of young players leading the way.
Unfortunately, the "now" isn't as bright. In fact the "now" is pitch black because the Raiders mistakes are too much to overcome against tough teams and tough teams are what Oakland faces every week the rest of the way. If they can't find a way to start winning the turnover battle they run a serious risk of going 0-16.
When you play against a team like the Seattle Seahawks, you need to at least be competitive in the turnover department. The Raiders were not, they gave up 3 turnovers and did not force any of their own. Think about that for a second, they gave up 3 turnovers that resulted in 10 points for Seattle in a game they lost by 6 points.
The one thing that the Raiders did do in regards to turnovers though was the blocked punt that Brice Butler returned for the first touchdown for Oakland in the game. That one play turned the momentum over to the Raiders and was a big reason that this game ended up being so close. That was one play, though it doesn't count as a turnover for some reason, and it made that big of a difference. Imagine what one more play like that could have done for the Raiders.
It is great that Derek Carr "wants to win so bad", he was heard making that statement in the locker room post game, but he can not force it from those feelings. Trying too hard makes mistakes happen, like the first half of this game. Derek needs to make sure to play within himself and not try to do too much, something that he was able to do in the 2nd half against Seattle.
As tough as that 24-3 first half was for Carr and the Raiders, outscoring the Seahawks 21-6 in the second half was impressive. They were able to drive the ball on the vaunted Seattle defense consistently throughout that final 30 minutes of football, but they had just made too many mistakes in the first half to overcome for the win.
The player on defense that caught my eye the most was D.J. Hayden. Man was it nice to see him out on the field again and being in the action as much as he was. He had some boneheaded mistakes like the taunting penalty after a voracious hit that he laid on Jermaine Kearse near the end of the half (taunting? REALLY, D.J.? You are on a winless team and the guy had gotten the 1st down anyway!) and the defensive pass interference on the first TD drive by Seattle.
However, he also had 7 tackles and 2 plays where he should have intercepted the ball. The bad outweighed the good for him because of the two big penalties and from not intercepting balls that he should have caught, but he was still putting himself into position to make plays. For a player that has only played in 10 games and hasn't even had a healthy off-season yet, this game was actually pretty encouraging.
The one play that sticks out in my mind for the defense though was Marshawn Lynch's first of two touchdown runs. He was stopped dead in his tracks by Sio Moore AND Charles Woodson, yet when dealing with Beast Mode that means jack squat. With a little help from his friends in a rugby scrum style fashion, Lynch powered through both Moore and Woodson for one of the most powerful touchdown runs I have ever seen.
It is hard not to be interested in the Raiders going after Lynch next year in free agency if the Seahawks do indeed let him go as reports are suggesting. The Raiders haven't had somebody with that type of power since Zack Crockett and Tyrone Wheatley, and he still has speed to boot as he showed on a couple of long plays down the sideline. Watching what Lynch was capable of was that much tougher after watching the Raiders pathetic excuse for a running game throughout this season.
As for Sebastian Janikowski, it is hard to justify paying him the type of money his contract demands when he is missing important kicks for this team. It is true that he has only missed 2 field goals this year for the Raiders, but both of them came at the end of the first half at times where making the field goal would have really helped give the Raiders momentum.
Sebastian is paid like he is to make the long field goals but both field goals he missed were in the low 50 yard range. Those are the type of kicks that he is suppose to be counted on making look easy, and that makes them hurt that much more when he misses them. They lost by 3 in the first game that he missed in, and this one they lost by 6. Those field goals could have been big in either game.
This was a hard fought loss for the Raiders, which in the end is just another loss. They are now 0-8 going into their first of two match ups against the Denver Broncos. To make matters worse, the Broncos were just embarrassed by the New England Patriots so they are going to come at the Raiders with everything they have.
If the Raiders are going to win a game this year it is going to be against a tough team, but it is hard to believe that team they win against will be the Broncos. Stranger things have happened though and divisonal games often have the biggest surprises in them. We will see what happens next week, but as has been the norm this season we definitely shouldn't expect much.