There wasn’t any part of the Raiders that was functioning well Sunday in London. As bad as they looked last week in LA against the Chargers, they looked exponentially worse at Wembley against the Seahawks.
Their downward slide has been a swift one. There was no sign of the promise they showed in the first half in the first three weeks or the late heroics they showed in their only win against the Browns. They also came in limping and left debilitated.
All week the Raiders talked about how good the Seahawks were at running the ball. They game planned for it. And the Seahawks came right out and on the first seven plays, they ran it right down the Raiders’ throats. By the time they put the ball in the air, they were already at midfield looking to move into scoring position.
That first pass was a screen to running back Rashaad Penny that went for 24 yards to the Oakland 27. A few plays later, Russell Wilson found tight end Tyrell Swoopes for another 23 yards to put them in first and goal at the two. They would score the touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Wilson to Jaron Brown and take a 7-0 lead on a drive that lasted 7:36.
The Raiders’ response was to run Marshawn Lynch three times, including on third and six and pick up a net of one yard for a three-and-out.
“We wanted to run three consecutive times. We wanted to get Marshawn going,” said Gruden. “We ran three different types of runs and all three of them were rejected. We wanted to get him in the game. We wanted to get him established.”
Making the three-and-out all the worse was punter Johnny Townsend who came on and shanked a punt 28 yards.
When the Raiders got the ball back, they just got out of the shadow of their own end zone when Derek Carr was sacked for the second time on the drive, this time fumbling and the Seahawks took over at the Oakland 24. They would score their second touchdown a few plays later with Russell Wilson taking the snap, dropping it, picking it up with no pressure whatsoever, and firing a touchdown pass to David Moore for a 14-0 lead.
Those three paragraphs tell the story of this game for the Raiders — the Seahawks seemingly moving the ball at will and the Raiders offense going nowhere, with Carr under constant siege to the tune of five sacks.
“Well, it really wasn’t close today,” Gruden said of the protection problems. “You know, we didn’t get an opportunity to step up in the pocket and go through progressions. it was closing in quick. You know, Derek was on the run a lot and he got hit too much. We can’t allow that to happen. We just can’t do it.”
Even special teams was a disaster. Townsend had two woefully short punts of 28 and 27 yards, and kicker Matt McCrane missed a 48-yard field goal wide left.
“Yeah, he didn’t punt the ball well enough,” Gruden said of Townsend. . . “I don’t know if the slick field or whatever it was had anything to do with it, but [he has] got to punt the ball better.”
In the midst of it there were several injuries that made an already uphill battle into scaling a cliff.
The offensive line was already starting two rookie tackles due to the loss of Donald Penn at right tackle, and Kolton Miller hasn’t been playing well at left tackle due to an injured knee. Things got much worse when Jon Feliciano — who is replacing Kelechi Osemele at left tackle due to injury — was lost to a rib injury. Feliciano was replaced by Justin Murray who up until last week, had been working exclusively at tackle.
“We didn’t play well enough,” said center Rodney Hudson. “That’s what happens when we don’t play well enough.”
An already struggling receiving corps lost Amari Cooper and Seth Roberts. Cooper was hit in the head by Bradley McDougald on a helmet-to-helmet that was not flagged.
It left just Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, and Dwayne Harris as the healthy receivers. Roberts, before he was injured, had five catches for 31 yards to lead the receivers. Bryant had two catches for 18 yards, and Nelson had two catches for 6 yards.
Obviously that’s all on the offensive side of the ball. The defense has no such excuse. They’re just bad. Really bad. And everything Gruden has tried hasn’t worked. He tried starting Daryl Worley over Gareon Conley and Worley gave up three big catches in the game including a touchdown. And just like Conley a couple weeks ago, Worley got an interception off a deflection. Erik Harris forced this one and it was the only takeaway for the Raiders while they forced two fumbles on Derek Carr.
Even the Raiders’ lone field goal was off a gift from the officials on a drive that should have ended with a fumble on the hit that concussed Seth Roberts. That field goal was way late in the game with the Raiders down 27-0 to simply keep it from being a shutout.
That drive ended with two consecutive sacks on Derek Carr, the second one saw him hold his left arm in pain. He left the field holding it and went to the medical tent. AJ McCarron was ready to step in at quarterback, but the Seahawks kept the ball for the final 8:25 of the game, kneeling out the clock for the final two plays.
Carr said he thinks he’ll be ok, and even pleaded with Gruden to put him back in should the Raiders get the ball back, but Gruden said no, noting that there was “too much fire around the quarterback” to put him back in there.
The only good news here — and it’s cold comfort at this point — is the bye week will allow the Raiders to heal up some. Gruden expects to get Kelechi Osemele back after the bye, Miller’s knee might be well enough to improve his play at left tackle, and providing the concussions aren’t too serious with Amari Cooper and Seth Roberts, they will be back as well.
The bye week is also a time for taking longer looks at several struggling positions.
This team’s issues go well beyond injuries and those players being healthy wouldn’t have made the difference here. Nothing whatsoever was working. That’s two weeks in a row this team has looked utterly inept, actually managing to look worse this week than last.
“We got our tails kicked, and we have to own it,” said Derek Carr. “And we will.”
The Raiders fall to 1-5 on the season while the Seahawks improve to 3-3.