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Raiders NFL worst defense still “playing Santa Claus” for opponents

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Raiders offense once again had to be stellar in order to stay in front of their league worst defense.

Another week, another close win in a game that the Raiders got in a shootout late in order to score enough points to stay ahead of those the defense gave up. This game they gave up 31 points, along with a late drive that set the Chargers up for what would have been a game-tying field goal.

Had there not been the botched snap, the Chargers would likely have converted the 35-yard field goal attempt to tie it up with two minutes remaining. Just like in previous weeks, this would once again put the game in the hands of the Raiders’ offense to pull the win out in the final minutes.

Even in the win, there isn’t a lot of positivity surrounding the defense with another performance that saw the opposing offense score three second half touchdowns on six drives, and held the lead from early in the second quarter through the end of the third quarter.

“Stop playing Santa Claus,” Jack Del Rio said of his team’s defense. “Stop giving out presents. We gave out a couple today, a couple of 50-yard passes gift wrapped and placed them under the tree. At some point we’ll stop doing that.”

There were more than a couple of gift wrapped passes from the Raiders’ defense. Tyrell Williams had a 29-yard touchdown catch and a 50-yard catch. Travis Benjamin had a 54-yard catch. Hunter Henry had a 59-yard catch and run and a wide open touchdown catch from one yard out. Even Melvin Gordon had a wide open 18-yard touchdown catch. The defense was the gift that kept giving.

“We gave up 400 some yards today,” said Bruce Irvin. “That’s bad. I’m happy about the win, but I’m not in a good mood about how we performed.”

Specifically, the Raiders gave up 431 yards to the Chargers. With that total, the Raiders sit dead last in the league, giving up 452.6 yards per game. That’s 30 more yards per game than the next worst team (Saints). The Raiders also give up the most yards per play (6.8) in the league.

In particular the Raiders have the league worst passing defense, giving up 325.5 yards per game. They also have the third worst rushing defense, giving up 134.5 yards per game. Only the 49ers (146.8 ypg) and Dolphins (150.8 ypg).

We’ve heard several times this season that the defense hasn’t been communication the way it should. But the past couple weeks it seemed like it had improved. And it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the Raiders forced four turnovers – two interceptions and two recovered fumbles. Those turnovers only stood to help stop the bleeding.

“The biggest thing in this league is being consistent,” Irvin continued. “We can’t have… we’re good a couple plays but then we’re back to giving up explosive plays. Unless we fix that – and that’s everybody including myself – we’re gonna continue to be an inconsistent defense, with a lot of talent. Once again, I’m happy about the win, our guys played our butts off, but we are far, far from where we need to be at.”

We like to say ‘a win is a win’ and the Raiders have four of them. But if they want the wins to continue and for them to be in the playoff race late in the season, they still have a lot of work to do on the defense.

As Sean Smith said after the game; “this is going to catch up to us.”