“I’m on the sidelines ‘I can’t watch it, I can’t watch it’ and the guys are like ‘This is what we do. This is how we...we’re gonna win this game.’ Then we win the game and guys are like ‘this is normal, that’s what we do at the end of games’. It was a great game, I enjoyed it, every bit of it.”
That was NaVorro Bowman following the Raiders big win over the Chiefs on Thursday night football. What seems just 11 days later like another team at very different time.
In many ways the team Bowman’s Raiders teammates were talking about is one from a bygone era. They said ‘this is what we do’ because it’s the same players on the field as last season, but more accurately that is what they ‘did’ or that is what they ‘used to do’. That’s what they did last season. We simply saw a flash of it against the team that had been a thorn in their side for the past couple years.
That Chiefs game now looks like a fluke or a ‘flash’ — a term that often times is short for ‘a flash in the pan’ which refers to fools gold.
Even their game opening touchdown drive looked suspect at times. It featured a muffed opening kickoff, a drop by Jared Cook, Donald Penn getting beat around the edge to give up a run stuff for a loss, a pass to Crabtree that was read by Shareece Wright and knocked down, and a 4th down conversion in which Jamize Olawale fumbled the ball and recovered it.
They drove for a touchdown, but that was in no way the efficient, high-powered offense we had gotten used to seeing last season. And it caught up to them the remainder of the game in Buffalo.
When this team was winning, most of the time they did it coming from behind in the fourth quarter. Seven times to be exact. More than half of their wins were pulled out late. One of those included their game against the Buffalo Bills in which they were down 24-23 heading into the fourth quarter and went on to win 38-24.
By the time the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game rolled around, the Raiders were behind 20-7. The first play of the fourth quarter, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor leapt over the goal line from one yard out to put them up 27-7.
There would be no comeback. They had dug to hole way too deep.
What dug that hole was turnovers. And lots of them. They had a total of 4 fumbles and 2 interceptions in the game. Two of those fumbles they were able to recover, but the ones they gave up both led to scores as did Derek Carr’s first interception, spotting the Bills 13 of their first 20 points. Their final touchdown came off a turnover on downs.
While the Bills were taking the ball away, the Raiders weren’t returning the favor. They now sit with a -6 turnover differential on the season which is 28th in the league. That, of course, includes them not having a single interception on the season. While Derek Carr has thrown multiple interceptions in each of his last three full games, giving him six at the midway point.
Last season the Raiders led the league with a +16 turnover differential and Derek Carr threw six interceptions all season.
Even before the Raiders lost their 4th straight game two weeks ago to the Chargers, it had become apparent this was the new normal for these Raiders. The game in Kansas City seemed like either a wake-up call or an anomaly. We may have gotten our answer Sunday in Buffalo.