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The Morning After: Raiders at Vikings

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Oakland Raiders v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

What do you say after a horrible game like that? I mean really, right now there is a reaction article that needs to be written somewhere (here, this is the reaction article that needs to be written) and there is just nothing left to say after a game like the Raiders put out there yesterday. Let’s try anyway, even if it does seem futile after so many putrid games like this over the last almost two decades.

Is this curse ever going to be lifted? For one bright shining season it had looked like the dark days were finally over and the Raiders long devastating era of emptiness was finally at it’s close. Derek Carr was the real deal, the team was on fire, and it all came crumbling down on the eve of Christmas day back in 2016. With the devastating crunch of Carr’s broken leg, gone was the brief hope along with Raider Nation’s dreams of being relevant again.

The funny thing is, the Raiders are sitting at just 1-2 right now! It shouldn’t feel this inevitable of another completely lost season but the telltale signs of ineptitude once again are at the forefront of the product on the field. Derek Carr was awful again despite his misleading stat line, the running game worked but the Raiders were too far behind to be able to use it much, the defense couldn’t stop a toddler on a tricycle and everything sucks.

However, it comes right back to being 1-2 and having an entire season practically still to go. This season feels lost already but it really isn’t. Not yet anyway. If the Raiders can turn around and play a good game against the Colts again like they did against the Broncos in week 1 they could be sitting at 2-2 on the year just like that. Ironically, the Colts were the team the Raiders were playing against when Derek Carr’s leg did it’s best impression of a broken wishbone.

Wouldn’t that type of cosmic symmetry just be so awesome though? Turn this season back around against the very team that ended the only good season the Raiders have had in the last 18 years? Goosebumps. Please fates make this happen!

There needs to be some sort of miracle here, because Derek Carr again put the game on his back and had the weight flatten him like a pancake. The Raiders can compete when things are going ok for them, but the second the game gets hairy and the pressure is on this team just simply falls apart.

The answer is easy, just don’t fall behind to the point that Carr feels the pressure to do everything himself. There, now can I have $10M a year too like Jon Gruden? I’d deserve it almost as much as Gruden does right now, because his coaching has flat out sucked.

There is only one moment of the game that is worth bringing up, and it was with 1:15 left in the first half. The Raiders were down 21-7 but were showing signs of life for the first time since their 10-0 lead on Kansas City in the first quarter last week, and the Raiders punted the ball from the Minnesota 48 yard line.

Are you kidding me with that? Everybody watching that game knew the Vikings had full control and the Raiders absolutely needed points on that final drive of the half to crawl back into it. Gruden’s answer is to punt it from midfield with a minute left in the half? No fire, no gamble, no trust and no chance the Raiders were coming back after they made that decision.

It makes it even worse that the one play Darren Waller didn’t make when given the opportunity in this game was the 3rd down drop right before that cowardly punt. It was a bad toss from Carr, but Waller had both hands on the ball and should have made the catch and then the Raiders would have at least been in field goal range.

Instead, the absolute star of the game for Oakland has his only missed catch of his day (13 catches on 14 targets, 134 yards. Kudos to Mr. Waller on a hell of a game) and the coach just tucks his tail afterwards. What does that tell the team? It told them that the coach had absolutely no faith in them whatsoever, and that’s how the team played the rest of the way.

That was the end of the game as far as I was concerned, zero chance of coming back when Gruden made that decision to not go for it. Oakland needed something to fire them up, they needed to take a risk and show that they were going to do everything to be put in position to win and instead they just gave up. The team lost the last bit of momentum they were taking after that decision and never even looked competent again until garbage time.

Something that shouldn’t be overlooked in all of this is that the Minnesota Vikings are a good team with one of the best running backs in the NFL. It honestly looks like somebody has a remote control that only controls Dalvin Cook and they press fast forward every time he touches the ball. He is so quick and so explosive it’s ridiculous, the only thing that doesn’t make sense is how the Vikings only ran him 16 times.

The Vikings are a very good team, a likely playoff team and they have one of the best defenses in the league though. They simply outclassed the Raiders, and it wasn’t even close. To have to go to Minnesota right after that Kansas City game was going to be a tough game no matter what, it’s just the Raiders didn’t even really show up at all. They were flat and terrible the whole game, that’s the part that makes the loss feel so sour.

However, now they head to Indianapolis with a chance to get back to .500 and put these last two losses behind them. This season is not over, even if the telltale signs of a losing season are already showing. It could all be turned around with a flip of the switch. There needs to be a fire within this team though, they can’t be this cold dead fish version and expect anything but competing for the top pick in next year’s draft.

The Colts are a good team too and this is another tough game for the Raiders. Still, it is their best chance to turn this season around before it’s too late. It also offers the cosmic symmetry of getting back on track against the very team that snuffed out that great 2016 season just before the playoffs.

Let’s hope that Jon Gruden and Derek Carr get their stuff together and right this ship in Indy. Another bad loss with 3 more games to go before their next home game would be absolutely devastating. They can’t afford to lose another one after these last two horrid performances and then head to London against the Bears.

It will only get harder from here if they do get dominated again. We already know what happens when the game gets too difficult for Derek Carr and the Raiders. They get steamrolled, exactly like what the Vikings just did to them. They can’t let that happen again next week or it’s going to be a very long season.