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Still Unable to Finish

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My beloved Oakland Raiders blew a silver and black opportunity as they blew a 13 point lead late in the 4th quarter, and took their 3rd loss in a row , this time to the Detroit Lions , 28-27.

I would love to say it was just one thing, but each time I look back and reflect on the game, I see things that could have changed the outcome.

The first one, of course, was coming away with NO points, on a 4th and 1 from the Detroit 24, when a pass to Denarius Moore fell incomplete. I question whether or not there was some illegal contact, but regardless, we needed a first down. Another play, maybe a Michael Bush run, a pitch out, something, would have given us the first down. Maybe led to a touchdown. However, a field goal, 3 points, would have given us 30 points - and the victory. All I know is that it is not the only time we went deep on a pass play when we needed short yardage and came away with an incomplete pass. Late in the game, Chaz Schilens was unable to haul in a pass from Carson Palmer on a 3rd and 3 play. we needed that first down. That first down would have brought us to the the 2 minute warning. Detroit was working with NO time outs. There was 2:32 left on the clock.

I have been complaining about how conservative the Raiders offensive game calling was in the last 2 games, yet when we NEEDED to go conservative in this game, we didn't.

Then there is Carson Palmer. The guy we sold the house for... and the reason why we probably won't be re-signing Jason Campbell, considering Palmer's contract. Taking that last sack killed us. It wasn't the 3 yard loss. It was the wasted play and that we had to use our final time out. It wasn't necessary.

Defensively, I don't know if the late 13 point lead made some of the players cocky, or what they were thinking.

On a 4th and 2 deep in our territory, all we needed to do was STOP the first down. We rush three, leaving no one in the middle gap, and gave Matt Stafford the room to run for the first down. Tom Flores was calling for the run. I was thinking the run because the middle of the field was wide open. And that is exactly what what happened. I found the empty backfield a little suspect.

I love Stanford Routt. I am one of his biggest fans. I was talking him up all off season. But I have to wonder WHAT he was thinking with the pass interference late in the game that gave Detroit the ball on our 6 yard line. It was so blatant. He impeded the progress of Calvin Johnson. That is textbook. He could have had position. He could have made a play on the ball. Instead he back-peddled and didn't allow the receiver to run his route. Routt is so much better than that! I was so disappointed. Other than that, even with the holding penalty I think he had a good game.

But it was two plays before that one that left me shaking my head. Rolando McClain and Jerome Boyd covering Calvin Johnson over the middle. I do not know what was worse, that McClain probably had better position than Boyd, who is supposed to be adept at covering, or that Boyd actually did NOTHING on the play. He was basically standing there as he watched Calvin Johnson slow down and adjust to the ball to make the completion.

The defense allowed 6 plays over 20 yards, two were touchdown receptions.

I know Calvin Johnson is a good receiver. But how could we have given up 214 yards on 9 receptions to him? This was his best game of the season. In a game where we were fighting for play off hopes, and having the added bonus of getting the updates of Denver losing, we should have done something to have him covered better.

I look at the defense overall and wonder if we actually have designed a game plan for the offense we are facing.

Then there is our lack of a return game on both kick offs and punt returns. Nothing we have tried since Jacoby Ford's injury has worked for us. Watching punts roll to inside our 10 yard line has become the norm and I am tired of it.

Seeing Tyvon Branch's HUGE return coming back because of a flag.

Watching Sebastian Janikoswksi's record setting field goal attempt get blocked.

This late in the season with a 13 point lead with only half the the 4th quarter? It should have been enough. we should have been able to control the ball... and the team's destiny.
The team did not.

There were some men that were actually balling today.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, despite the fumble, was 8-9 for 155 yards. Michael bush caught 7 ofr 7 passes. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was 6 for 6. Kevin Boss was 3 for 3. Marcel Reece was 3 for 3. Chaz Schilens only missed one of the balls that went his way, unfortunately, it was a drive killer. i still think it was not the best play call. But you get the picture. Carson Palmer had 113.2 quarterback rating with 32 completions on 40 pass attempts, with one being a touchdown to Darrius Heyward-Bey. No interceptions. No passes batted.

All the receivers provided blocking.

Rolando McClain led the team in tackles , I think this is third game in a row. he had 7 tackles , two assists, a sack a quarterback hurry and a tackle for a loss. Lito Sheppard was second, with 8 solo tackles. The problem with that is he was playing off his man and allowing the receptions. I loved Tommy Kelly's sack and forced fumble and Aaron Curry's recovery for the touch down. For the first time since the Bears game, Richard Seymour recorded actual defensive statistics. (Two tackles, a quarterback hurry and a pass defended.)

It wasn't that the team did not perform. On third and fourth and inches, the defense stopped a first down. The offense had over 400 yards.

We just made crucial mistakes at key times , and slacked off the last several minutes of the game. And that includes the aggressive play calling on short yardage, dumb penalties, poor coverage...

This was just disheartening. I was planning my title for our victory. But we didn't finish the game. We didn't win.

And now only by convoluted mathematical wins and losses can we make wild card. IF we win our next two games.

I don't know if we can finish.

I still love my team and I'll be at the game New Year's day, whatever happens. I just hope the team shows up to play. All 60 minutes.

As ever,

Win. lose or tie, RAIDERS til I DIE!


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