Things have not been going very well for the Oakland Raiders of late. While the defense has made brilliant strides, the offense has gone in the absolute opposite direction. They have been awful and there is just no explaining why. After the stellar regular season last year the expectations for this year were riding high. Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys was just more of the same amplified. When it seemed like things could not go any worse for the Silver and Black, it did when Donald Penn went down and it was later announced that he had suffered a season ending injury. To compound things, the officiating was excruciating in Sunday nights game. When it seemed that despite all of this, the Raiders were going to win this game quarterback Derek Carr slammed the door shut on any possibility of a victory.
Last week Oakland’s offense was MIA in the first half against Kansas City and came to life in the second half. Can’t happen that way. Alert–there are four quarters in a football game and you have to play all four of them if you expect a positive outcome.
The first quarter of this game was horrific and seemed to turn ever so slightly in the second quarter. A few nice plays here and there but nothing consistent. While Dallas was not much better, they were able to put together a few drives that resulted in a field goal and a touchdown giving them the lead 10-0 at the half. The Silver and Black even picked Presott but the offense was unable to capitalize. Seconds before the first half ended, kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed a short field goal that would come back to haunt them. The 10-0 score was not insurmountable but the Raider’s offense had to wake up as the third quarter got underway.
The second half was a completely different look for the Oakland offense as they drove 90 yards for an eventual Carr to Crabtree touchdown and it was a whole new ball game 10-7. The Raiders were not done. Oakland’s Sean Smith would pick a Prescott pass for the second time in the game and the Raiders were back in business on the Dallas 22 yard line. The Raiders would settle for a 39 yard field goal and the game was tied at 10. A fake Dallas punt was the catalyst for the Cowboys first score of the second half giving them back the lead 17-10.
The Raiders would answer as the fourth quarter got underway with another Carr to Crabtree strike to tie the game back up at 17. This game would go down to the wire. With 1:44 left in the game Dallas would kick a field goal to take a 20-17 lead. It was up to the Oakland Offense to either tie up this game and go into overtime or put six points up on the board for the victory.
The game would end in disastrous fashion. Oakland had the ball on the Dallas 15 yard line when the Cowboys were called for pass interference. It was first down for the Raiders. They had a guaranteed tie or did they? On the second snap of that series quarterback Derek Carr took the snap and in a valiant effort to stretch the ball into the end zone, a fumble occurred and Dallas recovered the ball in the end zone with seconds left on the clock. The missed field goal by the Raiders at the half came back to bite them. The Cowboys would waltz off with the win 20-17.
“I really believed that we were going to pull it off and I would be sitting here with a bit smile,” said a glum head coach Jack Del Rio after the game. ”I am really proud of our guys the way they fought. There is nothing like being on this stage and being in the game with an opportunity like we had. It doesn’t always go our way and as competitors we understand that,” he said.
Del Rio was very proud of the way that his quarterback played. Most of us were in total agreement in regards to Carr’s performance last night. For the most part we saw last year’s Derek Carr in the second half, his pinpoint accuracy, his mobility and his ability to scramble and run the ball. If nothing else it gives a glimmer of hope for the upcoming seasons. The competitive nature in Carr took over on that last play of their final series. ”I left it all out there. I wanted to win for my teammates; no excuse, you’ve got to hold onto the ball,” said Carr as he faced the media. ”I am super competitive. You ask my teammates, my brothers, my kids, my wife. I try not to lose at anything and so I had the opportunity to win the football game. In that moment I was just trying to win the game. I’m super competitive,” he reiterated. “We played a really good team. But at the end of the day, it is what it is, we lost,” he said. He explained that he wasn’t worried about the slow start. ”I knew that our guys were competing and it was just a matter of time. They (Dallas) made plays and we were going to make plays too. I wasn’t worried.” It was not only Derek Carr that recognized this team. A stadium of fans saw the team that finished a winning season last year. We all saw that in the second half of this game. ”It shows you that we’ve got some real men on this team that want to fight,” Carr said. He was asked if there was honor in defeat. ”I think there is honor in everything. You can always find something. There is no consolation prize in the NFL and only one team at the end gets to hold the trophy and only one team feels good, every year out of 32 teams of the best football players in the world. It’s a tough thing to do week in and week out. To win is tough. What we put out there today, no one could ever question.”
As far as the calls in this game coach Del Rio maintained his composure. ”I don’t want to get fined. I am not happy with the way things were done. A lot of different situations throughout the night. They (the officials) did the best job they could. I had a different viewpoint,” he said of the challenge that gave Dallas a critical first down. We will never forget the “index card” (perhaps another “snow job” situation that will go down in Raider history) or whatever was used to determine that first down . Are you kidding me? ”I saw air and it was pretty obvious. They do the best they can with a tough job,” said Del Rio. It was a downright sham in my opinion but as was said previously, it is what it is. It’s just a shame that the Raiders were on the losing side of those pathetic calls.