What a disappointing loss for the Oakland Raiders this weekend against the Denver Broncos. The game boils down to one bad interception and two missed field goals for the Raiders, but those three mistakes were just too much to overcome.
The saddest part about this loss is that the defense was absolutely dominant and deserved this win, but special teams and the offense let them down unfortunately. Still, it was a truly great performance by the defense even if they weren't rewarded for it.
Third downs have been one of the biggest problems over the years for the Raiders, but they got off the field on them all day yesterday. Peyton Manning is not the same QB anymore that he used to be, but holding him to 2 of 13 (15%) on third downs is a very impressive accomplishment. So is keeping their offense only scoring 9 points, with one of those field goals coming after a turnover had them already deep in Raiders territory.
When the defense plays like that, the offense needs to make sure to do enough to win. That was not the case Sunday, and it cost them this victory. They started out the game moving the ball incredibly well through the first half, but they just didn't capitalize enough off of that production. The first drive being over 7 minutes long only to culminate in a low line drive field goal attempt being blocked was one of the most crucial mistakes in the game.
Even worse for Sebastian Janikowski, his second missed field goal was even more crucial. If he makes his 2nd field goal attempt the Raiders would have taken the lead 10-9 and it very much could have changed the outcome of the game. Having the lead could have eliminated the game clinching interception that Broncos cornerback Chris Harris returned for a touchdown because the Raiders wouldn't have been playing from behind. They would have therefore called the game differently and that interception likely never happens.
This was suppose to be a great day for Seabass, he became the longest tenured Raiders player of all time. Instead, he missed two big field goals and those points were the difference in this game. There was more to the loss than just those missed field goals but man did they hurt. When you are paying a kicker over $3M a year you expect them to make the important kicks and that didn't happen in this game. To say that is disappointing would be an understatement, it was a travesty is more apt of a word to use for Janikowski's performance.
Another thing bothered me a lot about the game losing interception Derek Carr threw though, and it was something that neither team had anything at all to do with. It was that the Blue Angels flew over the top right in the middle of that play. I have a lot of trouble believing that the low flying jets swinging by at the exact time that Carr threw that terrible interception was a coincidence.
Derek Carr himself did not say anything about the Blue Angels, instead blaming that interception on a miscommunication with Seth Roberts. He would never blame an outside source like those jets flying by as a reason for the problem so that answer makes sense. He is a professional that is trained to disregard the crowd and outside noises so maybe it really didn't affect the throw, but again I find it hard to believe it was a coincidence.
However, if it really was a miscommunication then it is even more disappointing because Seth Roberts got open and it could have been a huge play if Carr had hit him in stride. Would have, could have, should have, but didn't and instead it turned into a touchdown going the other way. A back breaking, game losing pick 6. Derek Carr stood at his press conference and took the blame for the loss like the excellent leader he is, but he needs to make that play because it was the straw that broke the camel's back for the Raiders.
Another problem the Raiders offense had in this game was their lack of running game, specifically their lack of Latavius Murray running in the game. There seems to be a problem going on here that is very worrisome, because Jack Del Rio sounded like he thought Murray could play but Latavius still wasn't on the field in very key moments. It is a worrisome situation because Latavius Murray is a very talented running back, but Jack Del Rio is a no bull kind of coach that has shown to be willing to jettison players that he feels were not playing through injuries that they should have.
That is a scary combination because Murray is a key to the Raiders having success this season, and if he loses favor with the coaching staff and rides the bench he won't be able to help the Raiders win games. Hopefully it is just a hiccup and it will all work out, but it's understandable to be a little pessimistic about issues like this. They need to figure this out in the bye week and come out ready to use Latavius Murray as the workhorse back that he should be.
Somebody who has no issue at all with toughness and playing through injuries is Charles Woodson. My goodness, this guy. What can you say that hasn't already been said? He finally intercepted Peyton Manning for the first, and second, time in his 18 year career and afterwards made sure to let the world know that this game should be remembered for the loss and not his personal success.
There is no way to encapsulate how much respect and admiration the Raider Nation has in Woodson. He is a first ballot hall of famer that is still playing at a pro bowl level at age 39. He gets his much deserved break going into the bye week now for the Raiders, it will provide much needed rest for him and hopefully he can heal up in time for their next game against the San Diego Chargers.
The Raiders are 2-3 going into the bye week, which would be a much happier record if it didn't come on the heels of two extremely winnable games falling through their finger tips. Derek Carr said it best in his post game press conference when he said the Raiders need to learn how to win yet. This is the type of game that is the epitome of not knowing how to win from a young team.
If the defense continues to play like they have been recently, the wins will come. The team is clearly getting better as a whole, now they just need all aspects to show up in the same game. This probably isn't going to be the year that they learn how to win, but it still feels like this team is close to turning the corner into something special.
On a personal note, this was my first ever Raiders home game. It was a really great experience even without the win which would have been icing on the cake. It was a hard fought game, the fans were crazy awesome, and it met every expectation I had from the Black Hole. Thank you Raider Nation for meeting my highest of hopes of what this fan base would be like to watch a home game with because it is a memory I will keep close to my heart forever.