Raiders

Air quality concerns leave NFL considering alternate sites for Raiders game

Air quality concerns leave NFL considering alternate sites for Raiders game

ALAMEDA – Air quality around the Bay Area hasn’t been good.

Smoke and particulates emanating from the wildfires raging through Napa and Sonoma Counties has created what the Enviornmental Protection Agency considers “unhealthy’ conditions in several parts of the region south of the fire sites.

While these air-quality issues don’t in any way compare to fires affecting residents in the North Bay – at least 29 people have died, with hundreds more missing -- they could impact Sunday afternoon’s football game between the Raiders and Chargers at Oakland Coliseum.

The game game remains set to play as scheduled. For now, at least.

“We continue to monitor air quality conditions in the Bay Area and are in close communication with both the NFL and Chargers, as well as local authorities,” the Raiders said in a statement. “At this point, the game remains scheduled for Sunday in Oakland.”

The NFL echoed that sentiment earlier in the day, though they are exploring alternate sites.

The Raiders don't want to change the date or the site. They'd prefer to stay put, especially considering they've already lost a home game to Mexico City. They play the New England Patriots there in Week 9. 

Enviornmental factors, however, may force the Raiders hand. 

They have a few options, none of them ideal.

The 49ers are on the road this week, leaving Levi’s Stadium  open as an alternative. A league source NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that the NFL has reached out about the prospect of using the Santa Clara venue That would avoid travel stresses accompanied by leaving the market. The problem: that stadium is 33 miles south of Oakland Coliseum, and the air quality there hasn’t been much better than near the Raiders home field.

The Los Angeles Rams are on the road, leaving L.A. Coliseum available as well. San Diego mayor Kevin Falcouner offered to host the game at the venue formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium. The NFL might want to avoid putting the Raiders in their old haunts – the played at the L.A. Coliseum from 1982-94 – or bring the Chargers back to a still-angry San Diego market they left a few months ago.

The Raiders and Chargers can’t swap home games, as the StubHub! Center’s primary tenant, the L.A. Galaxy soccer team, as a game set for Sunday.

Moving the game date to a Monday night in Oakland is also complicating, considering the Raiders host Kansas City the following Thursday night.

The Seattle Seahawks are on a bye, and the game could be moved to CenturyLink Field in a pinch.

The EPA considered Oakland and Alameda air quality “unhealthy” on Wednesday and Thursday, recommending even healthy adults limit heavy exertion. Playing football outdoors would fall into that category, and caused the Raiders to pare their practice schedule on the aforementioned dates.

Michael Crabtree, Jalen Richard and receiver Isaac Whitney wore surgical masks during Thursday’s practice to prevent inhaling contaminants. The situation is not ideal for sport, at least not right now.

It’s difficult to forecast air quality, given unpredictable wind changes and fire patterns. The Raiders and the league should have to make a decision Friday to allow the Raiders and Chargers to change/create travel plans and for site plans to be finalized.

There is precedent for moving an NFL game late. A 2003 Chargers-Dolphins game was moved to Monday might in Arizona just 24 hours before kickoff due to wildfires in the San Diego region. Tickets in Arizona were free, with donations directed toward fire relief, and refunds were given to those who bought tickets for the game as originally scheduled.

Three things you need to know from Raiders' 20-17 loss to Cowboys

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Three things you need to know from Raiders' 20-17 loss to Cowboys

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 tiebreaker 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 disappointing team this season, even without them being formally eliminated.

They showed great fight against Dallas, but there weren’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 could 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, was unlike other performances this season. 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

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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.”