It’s tough to say which stings more when you look back at a lost season in retrospect — the losses against mediocre opponents that were just derped away by lack of execution (Chicago and Detroit), or the losses against good opponents that could easily have been won if not for sloppy play and missed opportunities (Denver). Today’s game should definitely be chalked up in that latter category, as the Raiders actually led 20-14 after the first three quarters, only to have the wheels come off in the fourth, as Derek Carr got picked three times and the Chiefs scored 20 unanswered points.
The story with most of the games this year — even some of the wins — has been one of being consistent in all phases of the game. Either the offense clicks but the defense doesn’t, or it’s the other way around. (And the less said about special teams, the better.) Only in the Chargers and Jets victories has the entire team shown up to play sharp, focused, unstoppable ball.
Today it was somewhere in between, as both offense and defense had some moments. But after a nice opening drive leading to a touchdown, the offense kept stalling in three-and-outs, before finally pulling ahead to lead 14-7 at halftime, and 20-14 to start the final quarter. The defense did well, pressuring Alex Smith all day, sacking him four times, and forcing and recovering two fumbles. But once Carr started throwing interceptions, the defense started surrendering yards and points, and it was all over.
With four games to go, and the Raiders all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the goal now is to finish strong, remain competitive, smooth the rough edges, get offense and defense more tightly coordinated, and figure out who the keepers are for next year’s roster. (For example, how did Rod Streater fall off the face of the planet, and not even get a chance behind Andre Holmes and Seth Roberts?)
The good news is they keep playing hard, and have been competitive. They aren’t laying down for anyone. The bad news is they have to go to Denver next week, where Brock Osweiler has somehow managed to win two games in a row, last week against the previously unbeaten Patsies and today on the road in San Diego.