Raiders notes: A tale of two halves


Raiders notes: A tale of two halves

CINCINNATI -- The Raiders were a totally different team after halftime Sunday, one that played with an attitude sorely missing in the first half Sunday.The result? Oakland had its best third quarter of the season in pitching a 10-0 shutout in the stanza. A halftime meeting led by quarterback Carson Palmer seemed to focus the players and harness their frustrations with each other.The Bengals offense was limited to four three-and-outs in the third quarter."I think it's O.K. to play with anger," said Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen. "But we've got to play with poise and composureticked off after halftime and the way the defense responded, I thought was good."Not so good, though, was the melee that marred the game after Lamarr Houston threw down Andy Dalton in the eventual 34-10 Bengals victory.
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The Raiders ended Bengals receiver A.J. Green's streak of catching a touchdown pass at nine straight games. Still, Green did have 111 yards receiving on three catches."(Their) gameplan was to try and stop me," Green said, "and Jay (Gruden, offensive coordinator) was trying to get me some touches, definitely. I just made the play when the ball came to my side."Said Dalton: "They were doing the same thing the whole time with certain formations, certain things. We felt like we liked the matchups that we had. For most of the game, they tried to put two guys over A.J. and tried to take him out of it. It opened up the running game. We were able to drive down and make some big plays in the run game."Indeed, BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished with 129 yards rushing on 19 carries, and had the two longest runs of his five-year career in the game, a 48-yarder in the first quarter and a 39-yarder in the third quarter.For the first time in franchise history, the Raiders have lost three straight games by at least 21 points.The Raiders' 218 yards of total offense was a season low.Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko, a teammate for five years of Palmer's, on Cincinnati's gameplan: "We knew when he has people in his face, he tends to overthrow balls and whatnotit was wild out there."Bengals assistant Hue Jackson spoke to Cincinnati media after the game about facing his former team."I can look at it in my own mind and maybe feel it was (special) because I know those players and I've been in that organization with Coach (Al) Davis and the rest of the players and his son Mark," Jackson said. "But at the end of the day it was just another football game, a game we needed to win, and I think our guys did a great job."Jackson, remember, orchestrated the trade for Palmer on Oct. 18, 2011 for what turned out to be a first-round and second-round draft pick."I have a lot of respect for Carson," Jackson said. "Carson's a tremendous football player, and that's never going to change as far as I'm concerned. I wish him luck. I wanted to make sure him and his family are doing well, and I'm sure we'll run into each other somewhere down the line."Some pretty ugly numbers from the Raiders receivers -- Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore were each targeted four times and the only catch either of them had was Moore's 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Rookie Juron Criner, meanwhile, had three receptions -- he was targeted five times -- for 23 yards.Marcel Reece rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries while rookie Jeremy Stewart had 26 yards on seven attempts.And from Elias and ESPN: the 169 points the Raiders have surrendered over their last four games is the second-highest four-game total in the NFL since the 1970 merger, behind only the 2004 Tennessee Titans, who gave up 177 points in a four-game stretch.

Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots


Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots

MEXICO CITY – Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City:

1. So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Raiders aren’t stacking wins as they’d like. Nobody in the AFC West is, either. The Chiefs lost another one, meaning the AFC West crown remains within reach. They’re two games back in the division and one back in the wild card race.

That, above all else, will keep the Raiders motivated after a disastrous loss to New England.

“We're professionals and to me, so long as you have hope, you keep your hope, you keep hope alive,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So, we'll continue to scratch and claw and fight for everything we can.”

The Raiders can harken Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber.” So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Raiders will only stay in it if they start a prolonged winning streak. There’s a chance do that on an upcoming two-game home stand. They play Denver and the New York Giants, respectively, in Oakland over the next fortnight. Those teams have five wins between them.

Wins can’t be assumed with the Raiders. With their inconsistency and mistake-prone play, they can lose to anyone.

Fight remains in this group. They’ll continue to push, especially with a 9-7 record being a legitimate playoff contender. They haven’t played worthy of such consideration, but remain hopeful a switch gets flipped.

“We are who we are, we're not going to turn on each other, we're not going to turn on anything about what we do,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Obviously, we know that our culture and everything that we do works, because we have seen it work.”

2. Receiver corps becoming a weak spot

The Raiders have a talented group of receivers lacking consistency and production. That was the case on Sunday, when pass catchers hindered offensive flow and scoring opportunities.

Seth Roberts was the biggest offender. He had a drop, a false start and lost a fumble near the goal line with the Patriots up 14-0 late in the first half. Roberts had 12 yards in his pocket but held the ball one-handed, away from his body fighting for more. Marquis Flowers knocked it free and Patrick Chung recovered.

That was the turning point, a true 10-point swing. The Raiders lost a chance to reach the end zone, and allowed New England to get a field goal as the half expired.

“That was a major turn of events,” Del Rio said.

The slot receiver wasn’t the only receiver who stalled the Raiders offense. That group had five drops, according to Pro Football Focus, including two from Michael Crabtree. Johnny Holton wasn’t credited with a drop, but he had a perfectly thrown deep ball clang off his helmet and shoulder pads.

It’s a bad night in a bad year for the Raiders receivers, who haven’t been producing.

3. Lopsided score keeps Marshawn from going Beast Mode

Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player who had a good Sunday. The bruising back ran roughshod over New England’s front seven, right from the start. He totaled 67 yards on 11 carries, and seemed primed for a big day and a higher-than-usual carry volume.

He and the Raiders run blocking was consistent, allowing him to reach the second level on several occasions.

The lopsided score, however, meant the Raiders had to abandon the ground game.

“I thought we ran the ball well early,” Del Rio said. “I would like to have ended up with 30-plus rush attempts in the ball game, but you got to stay within reasonable amount of the score in order to stick with the run.”

The Raiders were down two touchdowns in a flash, and were three scores behind at the half. That forced Derek Carr to chuck it towards an unreliable receiver corps. That method proved inefficient and never created the big moments.

Lynch has run well since returning from a one-game suspension. He has 25 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. If there’s a positive to take from Sunday’s beat down, Lynch’s efficiency might be it.

Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad


Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders have played in Mexico City the last two years, and have given up a home game to do it.

You already know head coach Jack Del Rio’s stance on the matter. He doesn’t like it. Not one bit.

The NFL announced Sunday morning that Mexico City will host games annually through 2021. The Raiders will be on the short list to return during that span.

“They’ve done a nice job for us over the last two years,” Del Rio said. “If it was a road game, I’d enjoy it. If they stop making (international contests) our home games, we’ll be fine.”

Hate to be the bearer of bad news Jack, but the Raiders will keep giving home games away. That’s expected each year until the Raiders formally move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders might not come back to Mexico for a third straight season, but could host a game in London next year. The NFL sent four games to the United Kingdom this year.

The Raiders have a massive fan base in England and Mexico, which makes them an attractive option to play abroad.

It might make financial sense for the team and the league to expand its base beyond borders, but the football people don’t find it fun.

The Raiders had more fans watching Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca, but it’s no substitute for playing in Oakland.

“I think the crowd down here is pretty excited for the Raiders, so we appreciate that,” Del Rio said. “When you travel four-and-a-half hours, you’re not at home. We appreciate the hospitality and the good people who came out and supported us, but it’s hard to call it a home game.”

This one, especially. The Raiders had overwhelming support last year’s game against Houston, but Patriots fans were a large and vocal minority. They had plenty to cheer, as the Patriots waxed the Silver and Black over four quarters.

It’s hard to say the Raiders had a home crowd this time around, with plenty of noise when they were on offense.

“You know what, traveling down here, I think it was like four hours or something like that, and getting here, I think that hospitality was great, but it really wasn't, it wasn't the Coliseum,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “It didn’t have that feel. Now, we loved playing here, we loved coming down here and playing, but it felt more neutral.”