ALAMEDA – The Raiders missed several golden opportunities to even the score against Kansas City on Thursday night. That gave the Chiefs a 21-13 victory and a season sweep that gave them pole position the AFC West race.
One stands out more than others. The Raiders’ penultimate drive was stalled after Derek Carr couldn’t connect with a wide-open Amari Cooper on a deep pass that, if caught, likely would’ve resulted in a touchdown.
Carr’s pass changed direction upon descent and ended up incomplete, leaving some fans to wonder if the ball hit a cable supporting a camera rigged to provide aerial shots. There was no evidence the ball hit a camera or a cable. A gust of wind could’ve impacted a wobbly pass, though it’s hard to say for certain exactly what happened.
Trying to make light of the situation, the Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio had another theory of what happened.
“The angel in the outfield,” Del Rio said. “I mean, it moved. I don’t know if it hit a wire or the angel in the outfield moved it, a gust of wind. I don’t know. It moved. To me, it was like one of so many plays that could have gone differently. I’m certainly not sitting here hung up on that play.”
Del Rio was hung up on a decision to throw on 3rd-and-1 on the Raiders' final series. A low percentage pass to Andre Holmes fell incomplete. Then Austin Howard false started to make it 4th-and-6 and the Raiders eventually turned it over on downs.
“It would’ve made a lot of sense to run right there,” Del Rio said. “As we look at it as a staff we’re going, ‘Geez, what the heck?’”
Del Rio thought about calling a timeout to re-evaluate the play call, but didn’t want to burn one in that situation.
“I let the play ride and thought we’d be able to get it on the next snap if we didn’t get it,” Del Rio said. “It’s one of those things. When you play the game, you get these opportunities and you look back 20/20, looking back always. At the end of the day that was one as a staff we say, ‘We really would have like to hand that ball off.’”
Del Rio wishes the Raiders would’ve run even more than they did against Kansas City. They were effective running the ball, with 31 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown. That couldn’t helped the Raiders considering the weather and the passing game’s struggles.
“I would have like to see us play a little more big boy ball in that game with the weather, the fact that he was having an off night,” Del Rio said. “We have that big line, I would have liked to see us hand that ball off a few more times behind that line.”
Edwards Jr. progressing: Raiders defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. started practicing last week, though there was no contact during a short week where recovery was king. Edwards Jr. will continue practicing as the intensity increases this week before Sunday’s game at San Diego.
“We’ll get another look at him this week and see how quick he gets up to speed and conditioning and all of that,” Del Rio said. “He stayed behind and conditioned through the weekend. We should get him on the field this week.”
Since he returned to practice last week, the Raiders have hoped he can return in time to play the Chargers, even if it’s as a rotational player.
Crabtree playing through injury: Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree suffered a finger injury similar to Derek Carr’s dislocated digit, Del Rio said on Monday. It kept him from playing several key snaps against Kansas City, and may have played a role in key drops against the Chiefs.
It isn’t, however, an ailment that should keep him out of action.
“Him and Derek both had similar type of deals where the finger kind of bent the wrong way,” Del Rio said. “Both of those guys are playing through it.”
As expected left guard Kelechi Osemele has recovered from his illness and should practice this week.
Del Rio didn’t have an update on Karl Joseph’s toe injury, and it seems likely he’ll miss another game at least. Nate Allen will continue to play in his stead.