Instant Analysis: Raiders alive in AFC West hunt after win over Giants


Instant Analysis: Raiders alive in AFC West hunt after win over Giants


OAKLAND – The Raiders don’t look like a team worthy of playoff consideration. Yet, here they are, right in the thick of things after Sunday’s 24-17 victory over the New York Giants and a little help from an old rival.

Kansas City lost its sixth game in seven tries on Sunday against the New York Jets, turning the AFC West into a late-season free-for-all.

The Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers have six losses through 12 games, and winter football will determine the champion of strange, strange division.

The Raiders play the Chiefs next week and close the season against the Chargers, giving them an opportunity to control their fate in the division. They bookend difficult games against Dallas and Philadelphia, meaning there’s significant work ahead before postseason prospects become realistic.

They’ll have to play a whole lot better than they did Sunday. The Raiders were bad. The Giants were worse. Both teams tried to give it away, but mistakes on both side kept it interesting late.

The Raiders (6-6) went up two scores late, and hung on to secure their first winning streak since starting the season 2-0 and their first time at .500 or better since Week 4.

That’s the good news for Raiders fans. The bad news: This remains a flawed football team, with holes, inconsistency and talent deficiencies at key spots.

They certainly missed top skill players Amari Cooper (concussion, ankle) and Michael Crabtree (suspension). Remaining receivers were largely ineffective save a big Cordarrelle Patterson catch and run and, if not for Marshawn Lynch, the offense might’ve been permanently stuck in neutral.

Lynch was effective for a second straight game, with 101 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He also had two catches for 20 yards.

The defense, however, was a saving grace.

That unit had key takeaways to keep the Giants’ score low. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin harassed Giants quarterback Geno Smith most of the day, and were integral in this victory.

Marshawn Lynch kicked started this game with every game of an opening touchdown drive. He ran for two yards, then seven and then went 51 for a touchdown. Left guard Kelechi Osemele opened a huge hole and Lynch blew threw ii into open space, where he rumbled for the game’s opening score.

It was his longest as a Raider, and an important play in a lackluster first half for offense and special teams.

This outcome might’ve been different without two huge defense plays.

The Giants were in field goal range and pushing for more when Bruce Irvin stripped and sacked Smith. NoVorro Bowman recovered to kill that drive and the offense turned that into a field goal.

The Giants gained possession inside the Raiders’ 10-yard line after Marquette King had to eat a punt attempt with a man in his face, but Khalil Mack stole the ball right back in his best play of the year. He had an easy sack lined up, and went straight for the ball. He ripped it away from Smith, and kept the Giants from scoring late in the first half.

The Raiders weren’t getting those types of defensive plays earlier in the year. An improved pass rush has led to more takeaways and easier scoring opportunities. That must continue, and the offense must find elusive rhythm if the Raiders hope to go on a late-season run and seriously challenge for the division title. 

Del Rio 'frustrated and pissed off' after Raiders waste golden opportunity


Del Rio 'frustrated and pissed off' after Raiders waste golden opportunity

ALAMEDA – Head coach Jack Del Rio started his Monday press conference with a message for Raider Nation.

He didn’t wait for a question or a prompt. Del Rio just went for it, and set the tone for a new reality. Going to the playoffs is a considerable long shot after Sunday’s 26-15 loss in Kansas City. Not an impossibility, but it’s close.

Del Rio wanted everyone to know that’s unacceptable, and he isn’t happy about it.

“As players and coaches, we are as frustrated and pissed off about what occurred yesterday as anybody out there,” Del Rio said. “Losing a game like that hurts, and there are no words I can say here today that will take away that pain or make people who care about the Raiders feel better. I’m really not going to try.”

Fans should be upset when a team with offensive firepower to spare can’t score consistently. Fans should be upset when drafted players weren’t developed, and major defensive flaws weren’t addressed in the offseason.

This year’s Raiders are a woefully disappointing 6-7, nowhere near the lofty internal expectations held to start this season. It feels like a waste now, with so much talent producing so little. People will point fingers. Someone will ultimately be held accountable and several will end up unemployed, players and coaches alike.

That’s what happens when you fall short. Ownership isn’t happy. Nobody is.

Looking back, Del Rio wishes his team would’ve played with abandon, with some risk in their play. The Raiders haven’t done that much this year, tiptoeing through quality competition with lackluster results.

“I think that there have been many examples throughout this season where we have not played boldly to go make the plays,” Del Rio said. “I would really like to see that because, at the end of the day, if you kind of go half-way, it’s not good enough anyway. I’d love to see us just let it rip. And go play. We’ve talked about playing with our hair on fire, talked about that kind of effort and energy and playing fast. That’s what I believe in, and I’d love to see it more often.”

The Silver and Black played like that back in Week 7, in a game against Kansas City. It was the only time these Raiders channeled last year’s group, which got by with a little hocus pocus and quality performance under pressure. It felt like a turning point then. The past few weeks proved it was not.

The Raiders could still make the playoffs. Getting there was simple math heading into Sunday’s game. Now calculus is required.

What comes next? The Raiders have to win out and pray for rain, hoping it’s good enough to sneak into the postseason through the back door. Different is necessary to do that. They simply haven’t been good enough or consistent enough to believe that’s possible.

“We have to coach it better. We have to execute it better, as players and coaches,” Del Rio said. “Head coach and quarterback get a win-loss record off of their performance in these game. We’ve won a bunch of games over the last three years, and we’re going to continue to win a bunch of games. Yesterday was a disappointment. We can’t go back and do anything about that. I tell guys all the time that you get what you earn in this league. What we’ve earned is 6-7. What we have in front of us are three games and what we’ve got to do is play good football and win the next one and see where that takes us.”

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


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.”