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Raiders week 15 report card vs Cowboys: Raiders lose by the girth of an index card

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Clinging to the smallest of hopes for the playoffs Sunday night Oakland had to battle both the Dallas Cowboys and the referees. As one would imagine they lost that battle in the closing seconds losing 17-20. The Raiders playoff hopes still are not dead but they are most definitely on life support with the plug halfway falling out of the wall.

The referees took 1 touchdown away from Jared Cook for Offensive Pass Interference. that was highly suspect as calls go. A Cowboys’ 1st down was given based on a folded index card that still appeared to show the ball had not reached the marker. Then the icing on the cake the referees pulled Crabtree out for concussion protocol on the last play that turned into an Oakland fumble through the end zone.

Gene Steratore’s group called this game 2 penalties for Oakland to every 1 for Dallas and seemed to get the greatest of joy after each call against Oakland. The NFL is going to have a hard time selling this pig with lipstick as anything more than what it was. Steratore should flat never be allowed to referee another game in the NFL and his explanation of his choices after was a clear sign he was full of it.

Passing Offense

Once again Oakland’s passing offense was late to the game and didn’t really show up until the 3rd quarter. Todd Downing has Derek Carr making too many pre-snap decisions of where the ball is going to go. Carr leads the league in time to throw after snap and it’s also why he has been Captain Dink all season.

Oakland had a lot of chances to win this game but the referees and the poor play calling again stand out. This isn’t a trend that will go away, Downing is in over his head and it’s clear as day. Derek Carr finished a paltry 21 of 38 for 171 yards, 2 TD’s and a QB rating of only 84.4 despite not throwing a pick.

Grade: D+

How do you claim all week that you are going to finally let it rip this week and then average 4.5 yards per pass attempt? Poor coaching once again and another awful job of not developing the plan of attack to exploit a defense with weaknesses. The Raiders simply were content to dink their way up the field as they have tried all season and failed.

Crabtree had 2 TD’s but averaged only 5.6 yards per reception on his 7 receptions for 39 yards.

Rushing Offense

Marshawn Lynch again did what he does and moved the ball to the tune of 76 yards on only 16 carries. He was a force every single time he touched the ball averaging 4.8 yards per carry with a long of 19 yards. Unfortunately outside of him nobody else did much DeAndre Washington being a complete non-factor in the run game on his 2 carries for 3 yards.

Jalen Richard did not get a single touch in this game, in a season that has utilized him sparingly for some odd reason. Also curious that at the end of the game with 39 seconds and a timeout still that Oakland didn’t run the ball on 3rd and 3. Down only 3 in obvious 4 down territory from the 8 that is an ideal time to run and try to catch a defense off guard.

Grade: B+

Downing continues to forget that Lynch is a force and misuses him in the red zone as if he went to the Pete Carrol school of coaching. Fans deserve so much more than what Todd Downing has done to this team. He neutered the number 6 overall offense with poor route concepts and obvious play calling.

Pass Defense

The pass defense was much better in this game and definitely did their part in this game. The defense held Dak Prescott to 18 of 27 212 yards 0 TD’s, 2 Int’s and a QB rating of 59.5. Oakland matched it’s interception total for the entire season in this 1 game thanks to much maligned CB Sean Smith having a solid game.

Khalil Mack registered Oakland’s only 2 sacks in this game but the Raiders were able to pressure Dak regularly enough to deserve a win. Dexter McDonald once again was awful to “how is he on the field” awful in this game missing tackles and playing loose coverage. Nicholas Morrow had himself a fine game again this week and has become a real find for GM Reggie McKenzie as an UDFA rookie.

Grade: B+

A couple big plays to back up TE James Hanna and WR Dez Bryant kept this from being an A grade. DC John Pagano has done a fantastic job with the team since taking over for former DC Ken Norton Jr. Since taking over he has proven he should rightfully keep the job in 2018.

Run Defense

The run defense did enough to win, they did not completely shut down the run but they did enough to get the win. Unfortunately for them Gene Steratore completely screwed them on a crucial 4th and inches call. In a tie game with playoff implications an NFL referee used an folded index card placed in between the ball and marker with a visible gap and called it a 1st down, that’s all you need to know here.

Grade: B+

They allowed Alfred Morris to average 3.8 yards per carry but they shut down the Dallas run game when it mattered most at the end of the game. The Raiders had just been screwed by Steratore with a folded note card but made a beautiful goal line stand at the 12 yard line on back to back plays to hold Dallas to only 3 points with the game tied.

Special Teams

Cordarelle Patterson had himself a game, including 2 huge returns; 1 of which was called back that would have been a 100 yard return for a TD. He did however fumble twice but he was absolutely electric in this game in the return game. The kick return units did a fantastic job of only allowing 1 return for only 22 yards.

The punt return unit on the other hand decided to move the primary blocker for Richard next to him then stunt the edges. The result was Dallas Punter Chris Jones running for a 1st down. This was a huge mental error either by play call or the players and took a 10-10 tie and made it a 17-10 deficit.

Grade: B

Overall this was a good effort by the special teams but that blown 4th down play decision definitely needs to be looked at. That concept should be scrapped as it was obvious and allowed a crucial 1st down to be had that turned into a score. Can’t have that and expect to win big games.

Coaching

Jack Del Rio’s team again came out flat to start the game but that was more Derek Carr as usual firing passes off target before settling in. Todd Downing continues to not only dig his own grave but he’s actually managed to find a way to throw dirt on himself from in the whole too. John Pagano has been an amazing upgrade at DC and deserves another look next year as well as a why in the world didn’t this happen sooner?

Grade: C+

Oakland was coached and played well enough to win this game but unfortunately Gene Steratore and his crew took every liberty they could to ensure that didn’t happen. The NFL is going to have a very hard time justifying to fans why they should spent their money to watch referees ruin games. Roger Goodell at some point has to do something about it, it’s not a good look when referees are blatantly doing things to hinder a team on prime time games and then laughing about it.