NFL

Only the Raiders could lose like this

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AP

Only the Raiders could lose like this


There has always been a substantive difference between the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders, and Sunday was the latest and greatest proof yet.
 
The 49ers elevate wins beyond their station and make the quarterback the recipient of all their love. The Raiders construct unimaginable ways to lose and curse the gods that incinerate them. These are their designated places in the Great Narrative, and so, apparently, shall it always be.
 
The 49ers are enthused beyond reason by their fourth win of the year, and all the credit apparently is going to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for setting up six field goals in a 25-23 win over the Tennessee Titans.
 
And the Raiders are encased in despair and rage after being out-index-carded and weird-fumbled in a preposterous 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys that spits down the throat of conventional sport in almost Shakespearean ways – as in, “There are more whackadoodle things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your barely-a-rulebook.”
 
And you, the lucky fan, get to decide what matches your personality best.
 
Elsewhere, Comrade Maiocco explains how the 49ers are completely and utterly enthralled by their third consecutive victory, one in which they moved the ball with impunity all day long against the absurd Titans but only scored one touchdown and needed Robbie Gould to kick them back from the jaws of death.

Here, we will discuss how the Raiders – and ONLY the Raiders – could lose this way, with these things, done in these ways, and have it all explained by head coach Jack Del Rio by saying, “I don’t want to get fined.”
 
They lost because of a 21-yard fake punt by Dallas’ Chris Jones on a fourth-and-ten – with nearly 20 minutes still to play. They lost because quarterback Dak Prescott ran one yard and one folded index card in referee Gene Steratore’s pocket that didn’t fit between the first down stick and the ball on a fourth-and-one-yard-no-card-needed to keep the game-winning drive alive.
 
(Absurd Nonsense Addendum: Steratore told pool reporter Vic Tafur of The Athletic six times in six questions that he didn’t use the index card to make the ruling but only to “reaffirm” what he saw with his eyes, thus trying to render the nickname “The Office Depot Game” moot. Sorry, Geno, no dice. You did it, we saw it, and it lives forever).
 
And they lost because their own quarterback, Derek Carr, dove for a touchdown on a play that he had already converted for a desperately needed first down but fumbled out of the end zone with 39 seconds left, thus losing possession entirely and ruining a potentially great comeback. Better yet, it was a play he wouldn't have called had his favorite target, Michael Crabtree, had been in the game at the time rather than the concussion pup tent.
 
So allowable trickery beat them, a first-down conversion never conceived by humans before beat them, and a fumble that made a successful play they didn't want to run a disaster beat them.
 
Hell, it makes the 14 penalties for 100 yards an afterthought. It surely eliminates the value of Carr’s most intrepid game in three months.
 
And it leaves the poor unlucky bastards . . . err, the Raiders hoping for one bizarre combination of scenarii to occur in the final two weeks:
 
1.        The Raiders beating Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Chargers.
2.        The Miami Dolphins beating Kansas City and Buffalo.
3.        The Tennessee Titans losing to the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville.
4.        The Bills losing to New England as well as Miami.
5.        The Baltimore Ravens beating either Indianapolis or Cincinnati.

*Raiders could make a five-way tie at 8-8 if the fifth team is the Chargers.
 
The odds of all these things happening, based on 100,000 simulations, is less than one percent. A lot less.
 
But that is, for the moment anyway, less important than the narratives. The 49ers and their fans will make as much out of their quarterback’s work in a game won by six field goals as the Raiders and their fans will make out of finding new and bizarre ways to turn gold into zinc and then into styrofoam packing peanuts.
 
And both teams and fan groups will find their own comfort in those massively divergent world views. One team waits for a quarterback to love and to love them back, and the other waits for a trick of circumstance to hate. It may explain why 49er fans live in hope even in the most ridiculous of times, and why Raider fans die in agony even in the most glorious events.
 
Besides, the index card really was a hell of a prop that will never be repeated. Nobody’s ever losing a game by outmoded office supplies again, damn it. Next time, knowing them, the Raiders will get beaten by solar flares from the eyes of Zeus.

What they're saying: Raiders, social media react to controversial folded paper

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AP

What they're saying: Raiders, social media react to controversial folded paper

The Raiders lost Sunday night to the Cowboys, 20-17, by inches in Oakland. Literally. 

Derek Carr's fumble as he flew through the air was the final outcome, but another play kept the Cowboys alive. With 4:49 left and the score tied 17-17, the Cowboys went for it on 4th and 1. 

The ball was so close to the either being a first down or a turnover on downs, the referee used a folded piece of an index card to determine the outcome. The call stood as a first down and Dan Bailey eventually nailed a 19-yard field goal to give Dallas the lead.

Several Raiders went to Twitter to show their frustrations. 

Others joined in too. 

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

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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.