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.