Scott Bair

Turn out the lights, the party’s over for the 2017 Raiders

del-rio-jack-alone-islane.jpg
AP

Turn out the lights, the party’s over for the 2017 Raiders

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.”

Referee: Paper provided 'reaffirmation' of first down, Raiders fuming from call

first-down-us.jpg
USATSI

Referee: Paper provided 'reaffirmation' of first down, Raiders fuming from call

OAKLAND – The Raiders’ 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night swung on a fourth-quarter, fourth-down measurement so close a result was hard to determine.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott’s sneak on 4th-and-inches didn’t get far, and possession wasn’t perceptible right away. Officials brought first-down markers to midfield for a measurement with five minutes left in the game.

A Cowboys first down was awarded. Eventually. Officials took a long look at the ball in relation to the sticks, and then used a folded index card as part of their decision.

Referee Gene Steratore told a pool reporter after the game that the card wasn’t part of the original decision.

“That was already finished,” Steratore said. “The ball was touching the pole. I put the card in there and as soon as it touched, it was nothing more than a reaffirmation. The decision was made based on my visual from the top looking down and the ball touching the front of the pole.”

Steratore was asked why the card was used at all, and Steratore reiterated that the card did not make the judgment. Steratore had not used a card before, even as affirmation for a first-down decision.

“It’s maybe been done at some point in someone’s career but I didn’t use the card for my decision,” Steratore said. “I used my visual looking at the ball reaching the pole.”

If all that sounds confusing, it should. It certainly was for the Raiders, who lost a golden opportunity to win a game. Dan Bailey’s 19-yard field goal concluded that drive and created the final margin for victory.

The Raiders had an opportunity to win the game later in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Derek Carr fumbled through the end zone trying to cross the goal line and win the game with 30 second left, which is a turnover and a touchback by rule.

That swing first-down decision, however, really stuck with the Raiders after the game.

“I don’t want to get fined, okay?” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m not happy with the way things were done…(I’ve) never seen air like that and have it somehow turn into a first down. There was air between the ball and the stick. That’s short. The ball goes the other way. Period.”

Raiders middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman was in the thick of things, and was flummoxed by the spot, the decision and that Dallas was awarded a first down he doesn’t believe it earned.

“If you could be in the circle and see where that ball was, I don’t see how they got that,” Bowman said. “For them to pull that paper out to solidify the first down? There was space between the ball and the sticks. I just don’t know.”

Instant Analysis: Carr goes for it all, final-minute fumble dooms Raiders

carr-ap.jpg
AP

Instant Analysis: Carr goes for it all, final-minute fumble dooms Raiders

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – The Raiders have taken first-round uppercuts several times this season. They typically have a glass jaw, dropping without much resistance or ability to recover.

That happened at Washington, against Baltimore, New England and last week’s gotta-have-it game at Kansas City.

Dallas delivered another haymaker Sunday night. This time, in a virtual elimination game for both teams, the Raiders didn’t drop.

The Raiders bit and scratched and scrapped and clawed back from a double-digit deficit, and were within field goal range when a random rule ended an unlikely comeback try.

The Raiders were down three points with roughly 30 seconds left when quarterback Derek Carr took off running on 3rd and 3 from the Cowboys’ 8-yard line and dove for the goal line. He got hit during the dive and lost control, fumbling the ball through the end zone.

By rule, that’s a touchback.

It was confirmed upon review. The Raiders lost 20-17 on Sunday night at Oakland Coliseum, taking playoff hopes down with them.

Carr’s effort gone awry ended a crazy game full of ups, downs and wild rulings.

The Raiders needed help to reach the playoffs and didn’t get much from the weekend slate, but aid only gains power with Raiders victories. They didn’t uphold their end, falling to 6-8 and well behind in the AFC wild card hunt. The Raiders technically aren’t eliminated -- they advance with certain four-way ties at 8-8 or a five-way tie that includes the Chargers -- but it’s virtually certain their season ends with the regular season.

Carr’s gutsy play for the end zone decided the game, but it swung on a 4th-and-inches near the Dallas’ 40 midway through the fourth quarter, when Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott’s sneak was so close officials had to slide a folded piece of paper between the ball and the first-down marker to determine the result.

It was called a first down, Dallas. That, and a 40-yard reception by Dez Bryant paved the way for a Dan Bailey’s deciding 19-yard field goal.

Carr’s passing totals weren’t pretty and he was anything but perfect, but he got by. This ranks among the grittiest performances of his career. That stands, even in a losing effort.

He found a way to make plays, often throwing off balance, on the run or while being tackled. He kept the ball moving and the Raiders alive after a terrible start for the entire offense. He ended up with 218 total yards, and needed but a few more to complete a comeback.

He fell just short going for the end zone.

Running back Marsahwn Lynch was equally tough, with 76 yards on 16 carries, and a significant portion after contact.

Carr’s second touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree tied it 17-17 early in the fourth quarter, completing a 10-play, 53-yard drive. Dak Prescott’s 5-yard touchdown run came a series prior, making the response vital to the Raiders’ efforts.

The Raiders were shut out in the first half for the fourth time this season – the fourth time! – and hit halftime down 10-0, though it could’ve been a little better. Smith’s first interception cut off a strong Cowboys drive. Then a controversial offensive pass interference call negated a Raiders touchdown and Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 39-yard field foal attempt to close the half.

A foot injury removed left tackle Donald Penn early on, but the offensive line held tough. Right tackle Marshall Newhouse took over Penn’s spot and Vadal Alexander filled switch’s vacancy, but didn’t miss much.

That was important as the Raiders mounted a third-quarter comeback. It momentarily seemed like a lead, when Smith returned his second pick for a touchdown. He was ruled down at the 22-yard line upon review; the offense couldn’t move and left with a field goal.