Raiders

Bad beats in gambling the new lifeline for the NFL

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USATI

Bad beats in gambling the new lifeline for the NFL

This is why we drink.

Washington is at Kansas City. Dying moments of a game the Chiefs have clearly won, 23-20. Washington has the ball at its own 25 with four seconds left – time for one desperate gimmick.

In other words, if you bet Washington to cover the 6 1/2 point spread, or if you bet the under on the 47 1/2 point total, you’ve won your bet. And if you bet both, you’re a genius.

Except that Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins throws a ball toward the sideline to Jamison Crowder, who throws it backward from whence it came to Cousins. He promptly fumbles it, and after failed attempts by Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson to regain possession, the ball is collected by Kansas City’s Justin Houston and run into the end zone for a meaningless touchdown that only made everyone who bet Washington and the under bitter losers.

It’s a bad beat to match the worst of them, and it’s a great story you can tell your grandchildren when they ask you why you don’t watch sports any more.

And yet it is the new lifeline for a sport which is coming to grips with slowly shrinking ratings and public relations agonies at every turn. The NFL cannot acknowledge this, of course, given its stance that gambling is wrong wink-wink-nudge-nudge.

But it is sending the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas because there is new money to be made there from people who watched Monday’s game and will remember the bad beat a lot more readily than the game itself. It is why the next innovation in the league will be separate standings for games straight-up and games against the line. It is how you keep people interested in bad teams who lose close games.

It may even be how the league saves the Los Angeles Chargers, as long as the bookmakers don’t keep making the Chargers favorites, as they did Sunday. The Chargers are the undisputed masters of the close loss, and they might be far less repellent if they could make the playoffs via the gambling standings.

(Right now, they stink across the board, but you never know when that can turn around. Betting is funny that way).

That day is coming, though, and games like Washington-Kansas City would be instant classics that would fill the NFL Network on slow summer weekdays forever.

That is, unless you had Washington and the under. In that case, you hate football forever – until Friday, when you start to drink again.

Carr takes responsibility for Raiders loss, 'it is all my fault'

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AP

Carr takes responsibility for Raiders loss, 'it is all my fault'

Derek Carr sees the world through rose-colored lenses. The Raiders quarterback can find light in dark days, put a positive spin on most anything.

Not Sunday. He refused to sugar coat a 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs might’ve killed the Raiders’ playoff hopes.

Frustration was visible on his face, audible in his tone. This one hurt. Might for a while.

Carr wasn’t mad at anyone else. He was upset with himself, and made it clear the angry mob should stay at his door.

“It sucked,” Carr said after losing a virtual must-win game. “It was not good enough and you can put it all on me. Don’t you blame one coach, one player. It is all my fault.”

Look, Carr wasn’t good. This might’ve been one of his worst games as a pro, since his rookie year at least.

He had a 36.3 passer rating through three quarters, with 69 yards to his credit. The Raiders had three plays or less in six of their first eight drives. He finished with 211 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, totals padded during a too-little, too-late fourth quarter comeback try.

Despite Carr’s desire to take all the blame, there’s plenty to go around. The game plan wasn’t great. The pass protection wasn’t superb. Michael Crabtree dropped two passes. Johnny Holton lost a fumble and had a pass clang off his hands and get intercepted.

Carr still points back at himself as the root of the Raiders’ offensive woes. He’s the triggerman. The buck apparently stops there.

“I get patted on the back when I throw for 300 yards, but I could tell you 15 plays that I screwed up,” Carr said. “I can play better all of the time. That is the life of this business, especially when you lose.”

Carr has taken his fair share of criticism this season, maybe more than at any point in his career. That comes with a high profile and a massive $125 million contract, with a fifth of that coming this year.

Carr is his harshest critic, and doesn’t point fingers. That’s not his style. He will use this experience and frustration to improve as a quarterback, and sure sport a smile next time he meets the press.

Not Sunday. Not after a disappointing day at Arrowhead Stadium. He’s 0-4 with dismal numbers in Kansas City, and wasn’t able to buck that trend in this one. That will stick with him when he looks back on a disappointing season.

“I am just frustrated with myself,” Carr said. “There are going to be plays that you want back, but that is every game. For a whole, I saw the coverage fine. I was going to certain places with the ball that I thought were right and all of those things.

“…we had some opportunities that we just did not connect on. Just can’t happen. There is no easy way to go through this one. This one sucked.”

The three things you need to know from Raiders' 25-16 loss to Chiefs

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AP

The three things you need to know from Raiders' 25-16 loss to Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Here are three things you should know from Friday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday:

Raiders down, virtually out: Try as they might to ruin a once-promising season, the AFC West kept giving the Raiders life. The Chargers started slow. The Chiefs went into a tailspin in the season’s second half. That gave the Raiders control they didn’t deserve, with a real chance to with the division by taking care of business.

Players felt blessed to have that opportunity. It was ultimately squandered Sunday with an awful performance against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

The days of, “so you’re saying there’s a chance” are basically numbered. It would take three straight wins and a whole lot of help to get back in this thing. The Raiders aren’t and shouldn’t to be in the hunt. Not after such a terrible showing in a game that could’ve established pole position.

“We don’t deserve to be No. 1 in our division,” tight end Lee Smith told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “when we just went out there and pissed on our leg.”

Colorful, yet accurate.

The Raiders were flat in a huge moment. There’s no discounting that.

“This was a tough one,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We obviously came into this with high hopes. Everything that we wanted to accomplish in our season was in front of us. It was a big day and a big moment, and we did not play well.”

Another offens(ive) showing: The Raiders offense has underwhelmed all year, with poor execution leading to long scoreless spells. Sunday’s showing might’ve been the worst yet.

The Raiders had three or less plays on six of their first eight drives against the NFL’s No. 28-ranked defense. Quarterback Derek Carr had a 36.3 passer rating in that span, with a pair of late touchdown to put lipstick on the effort.

Players and coaches were scratching heads over exactly what went wrong. In this case, the “what” is more important than the “why.”

“That is a good question,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “That’s something we have to take a look at. Bottom line: We did not (establish an offensive rhythm). The first five drives were four punts and a pick. That’s not the kind of productivity we needed today. Obviously.”

The Raiders have all these weapons, from Carr to Michael Crabtree to Jared Cook to Marshawn Lynch to the most expensive offensive line in NFL history, and they can’t produce consistently. Frustration among those power players is starting to mount, especially after struggling in a game the Raiders had to win.

“It was not good enough,” Cook said. “No first half points. Barely any second-half points. The offense didn’t pull our weight today.”

3. Raiders lost in big moment: The Raiders understood the magnitude of this moment. They knew this game was vital to winning their first AFC West title since 2002. They were not up to the task.

They played poor in each phase. Offensive struggles are well documented. The defense held strong and forced a lot of field goals, but didn’t make the game-changing plays required with the offense scuffling. Even Marquette King had a rough day, with several uncharacteristically poor punts.

Del Rio insists the preparation was good. The execution, however, was not. The Raiders weren’t up to this challenge, and struggled in the spotlight. It seems strange considering how good they were under pressure last year, but this year’s group has not been clutch.

That was a disappointment to many veterans in a subdued locker room. They had a great opportunity, and blew it.

“We have a young team,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “I don’t think guys understand that when you get opportunities like this you have to take advantage of them. The NFL is about winning in December. If you don’t do that, you won’t be playing in January.”

Odds of the Raiders playing beyond the regular season are slim, virtually nil all because of what happened here at Arrowhead Stadium.