This night was — when the Raiders fell to 7-8 and were officially eliminated from AFC playoff contention in a wild, stunning, cruel way — was BRUTAL.
But this is more than just a wild, terrible loss. This has been building for weeks. The Raiders were once 6-3 and now they can finish .500 at best. They lost five of their final six games last season to fall out of playoff picture. So the Raiders are not going to the playoffs for reasons much more deeper than the final 19 seconds of Week 16, one-point loss to the Miami Dolphins as they finished their first season at Allegiant Stadium with a 2-6 record.
The anti-Jets game:
The football gods are real. Three weeks after the Raiders won a miracle game against the Jets because defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called a cover zero blitz package with five seconds left, the Raiders lost in another insane way. The Jets game was the Raiders’ only win since Week 10. The payback for that unlikely win was swift and painful. This loss will never be forgotten.
Defense does it again:
I’m old enough to remember the first half of this game. Interim Las Vegas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was getting big praise and the Raiders’ defense looked better than it has for much of the season, Then the Dolphins replaced rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Raiders were cooked. It. Was. Over.
Jon Gruden gave the Raiders’ defense 19 seconds and they couldn’t get the job done. Arden Key had a face mask penalty on an incredible pass play by Fitzpatrick to setup a stunning, game-winning field goal with one second left. Key’s penalty and a blown coverage let down the Raiders and the defense always lets this team down.
Did Gruden blow it?
Gruden said he didn’t regret his late-game decisions. I know you’re really mad right now and you should be, but Gruden didn’t do anything too stupid here. He played the percentages. It just blew up in his face. Yes, Gruden has made some weird decisions this season and he is clearly not an elite NFL coach these days, but this loss isn’t all on him.
Derek Carr is tough:
The narrative that the Las Vegas’ Raiders quarterback is not tough needs to stop. He played in this game even though he was expected to miss, at least, 10 days with a strain groin he suffered nine days earlier in a loss to the Chargers. In 2017, he missed just one game with a broken bone in his back. This guy cares and wants to win for the franchise and he plays through pain. He deserves big credit for that.
This season was unacceptable:
It cannot be stressed enough that this team was once 6-3. They were 6-4 last year and they finished 7-9. Gruden has seen his team collapse completely in the past two seasons. That is on him and it will hang around his head until (or if) he fixes the problem and finishes a season in the playoffs.