Raiders

Raiders relying on surging Lynch

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AP

Raiders relying on surging Lynch

OAKLAND – Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch’s third carry of the game went 51 yards for a touchdown. Kelechi Osemele pulled to clear a path on the right side, Lynch busted through into open space and galloped into the end zone without much resistance.

Consider the play vital in Sunday’s 24-17 victory over the New York Giants. It was his longest since Dec. 21, 2014. It kickstarted an inconsistent Raiders offense playing without Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

It wasn’t his best play of the day. That came on 3rd-and-7 early in the fourth quarter, with the Raiders up just a field goal. That’s when Lynch went full Beast Mode.

Derek Carr found Lynch in the flat, with a defender bearing down. He looped left around one Giant, cut right past another. He ran over the next man up, while carrying somebody else on his back. He trudged another 10 yards after that, with a pack trying to bring him down. Vintage Lynch took 21 yards in total on a play, one that belongs on a highlight reel.

It’s something he often did during golden years in Seattle. It’s something he’s doing more and more down the stretch.

“He’s getting stronger as the season goes on,” running back DeAndre Washington said. “It’s hard to tackle that man for four quarters, you know what I am saying? He is going to wear you down regardless if he is getting two yards or the 50-yarder like he busted today. He is going to wear guys down and at this point in the season we are really going to need him.”

That was especially true Sunday, with so many skill players out. Lynch came through with 101 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, with two more catches for 20 yards. It fits a recent trend of Lynch running strong.

He has 68 carries for 292 yards and four touchdowns over his last four games, averaging 4.3 yards per rush in that span. There’s an easy dividing line in production there. Lynch was just okay, maybe a bit worse, early in the year.

The break isn’t hard to find. There has been a difference in production after he returned from a one-game suspension. Lynch missed the Week 8 loss to Buffalo as punishment for making contact with an official in a Week 7 win over Kansas City. Head coach Jack Del Rio has referenced a post-Buffalo change in Lynch several times, including Sunday night.

“I’ve seen a little more pep in the step,” Del Rio said. “There’s a little more…I can’t speak for him, I just know what I see. It’s been good. I welcome it, and we’re taking full advantage of it.”

It wasn’t just the suspension. Lynch took some time adjusted to the Raiders scheme, and the coaches and blockers to him, early in the year. That adjustment period has wrapped, and Lynch seems to feel more comfortable with his runs.

“He’s finally getting his legs back under him, and it’s showing,” said linebacker Bruce Irvin, Lynch’s teammate in Seattle. “You can tell.”

Lynch didn’t speak for himself after the latest win. He used colorful phrasing to say couldn’t talk due to a random NFL drug test, and didn’t return to the locker room.

The Raiders can see an uptick in production and comfort, and plan to capitalize on it down the stretch.

"He’s running hard, so he’s more confident, and it’s only going to get better from here," Osmele said in an interview with Raiders.com. "He’s rolling right now, so we have to keep doing our job up front and keep him rolling like that.”

As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient

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AP

As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient

ALAMEDA – Donald Penn plans to play two more years after this one. That’s it.

The Raiders left tackle plans to play out a contract extended this fall, which would complete 14 NFL seasons.

Penn wants to make the most of the time he has left. This season hasn’t been good use of an opportunity. The Raiders are on life support following Sunday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders entered Kansas City with a chance to control their own destiny, a shocking and possibly undeserved turn following the Chiefs' midseason collapse. They went from 2-4 to sitting atop the division with four games to play. They had a chance to erase a disappointing start, and ultimately coughed it up. They did that last year, too, and had to settle for a wild card spot.

“One of these days we’re going to stop giving it away. We we’re going to take it,” Penn said Tuesday. “Maybe I, being a veteran, need to do a better job of leading these guys and reminding them that chances are rare. I’m only playing two years after this, so my opportunities are getting shorter and shorter. I want to play in and win a Super Bowl before I’m done. My sense of urgency is at an all-time high right now.”

Salvaging this season might be tough, and players know it. They were just as frustrated as head coach Jack Del Rio was talking to the press a day before. This Chiefs loss stung. They were given a golden opportunity and squandered it. 

The Raiders need to win out and get tons of help to reach the postseason. They can’t get eliminated this week, but an eighth loss Sunday to Dallas would be a virtual death sentence.

“If we don’t beat Dallas, there won’t be a playoff scenario,” Penn said. “All I can focus on is our next game. We have to get that going and do something positive. It has been a frustrating season.”

A victory over K.C. would’ve been huge, but the Raiders never showed up in a terrible offensive effort. The Raiders had three or fewer plays on six of their first eight drives, and were shutout into the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t make plays when we had the chance. Kansas City did,” Penn said. “They made all the plays at the right time they needed to. They made the plays we didn’t make early in the game. We were still fighting. We didn’t make progress with the chances we had.

“We had opportunities but didn’t capture them. It festered all through the game. We did the same thing last year. We went to Kansas City last year with a chance to control our own destiny and gave it away.”

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

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USATSI

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.”