OAKLAND – Here are three things you need to know from Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Coliseum:
1. Turn out the lights, the party’s over: The Silver and Black haven’t been technically eliminated from playoff contention. They needed to win their final three games and get some help entering Sunday’s game. Now they need a miracle.
The Raiders would win certain four-way tiebreakers at 8-8 – Baltimore’s presence would screw things up -- or a five-way tiebreaker that includes the Chargers, but…Come on. Who are we kidding? That ain’t happening. The Raiders are done. They likely were after a decisive loss at Kansas City the week before.
Can’t say they deserved better. They were far too inconsistent to expect a different outcome, even after the Chiefs’ midseason slide brought the AFC West back into play. There’s plenty of talent on this team, not enough cohesion and coaching to get by. They earned 12-4 last season with magic and fourth-quarter moxie that didn’t stick around another year.
They didn’t score enough or generate enough turnovers to seriously compete, leaving lofty expectations ultimately unmet. The Raiders might be the NFL’s most disappointing team this season, even without them being formally eliminated.
They showed great fight against Dallas, but there wasn't enough of that grit to carry through tough times and win crucial close games.
“It stinks,” tight end Lee Smith said. “It’s been a disappointing season. Tonight was disappointing. We’re still going to come to work and fight in Philadelphia on Christmas, just like we did tonight.”
2. Loss more than one (okay, a few) bad call(s): Raider Nation’s upset over a questionable (at best) fourth-quarter call that swung Sunday’s game. That was bogus. Y’all got screwed, right good.
Pulling Michael Crabtree for a concussion evaluation on the game's fateful play -- it was originally designed for No. 15 -- seemed odd. Pass interference on Jared Cook's touchdown at first-half's end seemed suspect.
Even so, several opportunities remained to win that game, well beyond the obvious final drive. That’s when Derek Carr drove the Raiders inside the 10 and took off running, only to fumble out of the end zone trying to dive for the goal line. That’s a turnover and a touchback, by rule, that formally ended the game.
Don’t forget about an interception by Sean Smith deep in Cowboys territory that the offense couldn't turn into a touchdown. They settled for a field goal. That’s a four-point swing.
How about Giorgio Tavecchio’s missed 39-yard field goal at the end of the half? Those points would’ve tied it at game’s end.
It’s fair to say that fourth-down call was pivotal, but there were several chances to win a close game and the Raiders couldn’t pull through.
3. Raiders show grit: The NFL is a zero-sum game. You win or you lose. Nothing else matters. Al Davis’ mantra, for goodness sakes, is ‘just win, baby.’
I won’t sell you on anything else, but … they showed fight in defeat, especially after falling behind 10-0 in the first half. This group rolled over too often to be legitimate contenders, and this effort proved too little, too late in this game and this season.
It was impressive considering the playoffs were a pipe dream entering the game.
“The fight our team played with today, that was familiar. That looked like us,” Carr said. “Did we execute 100 percent of the time? No. Did we play a really good defense? Absolutely. We played a good team. At the end of the day, we lost. It is what it is> I can say that we left it all out there.”