Yesterday was a hard game to watch, especially doing so from the stands at Lambeau Field. Up in the heart of Titletown, surrounded by Packers fans going absolutely nuts, it felt like the game was going to finally be a truly competitive one at Lambeau as the first half neared it’s conclusion. Then it happened; the fumble, part 2.
Damn it Derek Carr, just hold on to the damn ball! It’s 14-10, not 41-10, and the field goal at that time could have been almost as huge as getting a touchdown. No instead you had to be the big shot, didn’t you. You ran to that pylon and jumped like you thought you were Michael Vick and the second you left your feet flashes of Dallas came screaming to my mind.
Sure enough, like some fucked up Groundhog Day movie moment it was practically an exact replica of the fumble that cost the Raiders their game (and was the nail in the coffin to their season) in 2017 against Dallas. That was about as much of a gut punch as you can give in that moment, at that stadium, against that Quarterback on the other side of the field.
Instead of being down 14-13 with a field goal in that red zone visit or up 17-14 if they had been able to get a touchdown on the following 3rd down play, they were suddenly down 21-10 after watching the defense give up a touchdown to the Packers instead in a 2 minute drill offense. Then they kicked off and gave up another touchdown to the unstoppable Green Bay offense to make it 28-10 before they had a real chance with the ball again after that fumble.
Talk about a change of momentum, that was one of the most devastating swaps you will ever see. The hardest part was knowing at that very moment that the game was done, finished, finito. There was no recovering after that moment, they weren’t likely to keep up with THAT Aaron Rodgers even without any red zone mishaps. Instead this Raiders team had 3 times they visited the red zone and came away with no points, 3!
By the way, does this Raiders team and Jon Gruden know about playaction passes? You know, that really useful tool when everyone focuses on your incredible running back so you trick them by faking the hand off? Those plays work too you know, which apparently you don’t because the use of them has been ridiculously low.
The team was unlikely to keep up with a picture perfect, 158.3 rating Aaron Rodgers anyway though. The hard truth is that they were not going to keep up yesterday, not when the defense couldn’t cover anything all day long. I had a vantage point up in the stadium that was basically the equivalent of the coaches tape, and I just glared at the shameful display of defense the whole time.
It was hard to sit there, surrounded by the Packers faithful, and see their receivers just get wide open time after time. Seriously, Aaron Rodgers is already a great QB but there has never been a game more easy to point at who was about to get the ball thrown to them. It was shooting fish in a barrell, NFL style. No wonder Rodgers finished with a perfect rating, a first in Green Bay Packers history by the way.
No, the truth is that the Raiders are not on par with a team like that yet. The thing is, that’s nothing to be ashamed about either despite how awful of a game that turned into. This Raiders team is so young, is showing signs of having a real nucleus to the team that can become special, but they are not a finished product yet.
That doesn’t mean they are as bad as they looked against Green Bay though, in fact there were times where this team looked capable of taking the Lambeau Leap forward until it all came crashing down. They are still sitting at 3-3 on the season, and they still have Josh Jacobs to gush about who put on a clinic yesterday with his unbelievable shiftiness.
The next game against the Houston Texans is the teller of how good this team really is, it’s the game that will tell us whether we should be thinking playoffs. Sunday Night Football put up a huge statistic that shows how important next week’s game is during their Eagles at Cowboys telecast, it was that 4-3 teams have a 51% chance to make the playoffs and 3-4 teams have a 14% chance.
Adding in it being another away game in this monstrous road trip and now a vengeance game after being humiliated in Green Bay, the Texans game next week will show us exactly what this team is made of. If they come back with a huge response, get a W against the 4-3 Texans on the road and then finally come back to start playing some games in Oakland again then this team could be a playoff caliber team.
A loss wouldn’t eliminate that chance, but going from 51% chance to 14% chance changes the hill needing to be climbed into a mountain instead. Derek Carr is good enough to lead a team forward with a 51% chance of making the playoffs, but if it’s the 14% chance then it becomes the do too much mistake prone version of Carr like we saw this Sunday.
As angry as I was about the team yesterday, it was my own fault for getting too high from the way they were performing and wanting to break the losing streak to the Packers too badly. That was my own fault for unrealistic expectations that made that loss harder than it had to be. The Raiders are not yet a good enough team to win in that environment on the road yet, but they are growing this team the right way and it can get there.
What the Raiders need now is to have a short memory, get ready for a huge game against the Houston Texans, and hopefully add a couple of pieces this week before the trade deadline expires. If there is one thing the Raiders should have learned from this loss, it’s that they need to bring in some reinforcements to not let another QB have the type of day Aaron Rodgers just had.