OAKLAND – The Raiders faced a 4th down-and-3 in Baltimore territory with nine minutes left. The Ravens were 10 points up at that stage, putting Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio in a tough spot.
The crowd wanted him to go for it. That part was clear. The football man went against the mob, and deciding on a Marquette King punt.
Del Rio’s decision was booed. So was the ultimate outcome.
King put one in the end zone for a touchback. Then the Ravens took six minutes off the clock. They added another field goal and left the Raiders without time to mount a legitimate comeback.
That locked down Sunday’s 30-17 result and the Raiders’ third straight loss.
Del Rio weighed that decision to punt carefully, and ultimately chose to boot it.
“It’s not easy,” Del Rio said. “Hindsight is always 20/20 on things like that. You’re thinking you’re going to pin them inside the 10. We didn’t. You’re thinking the defense will give us a stop and get us the ball back. We didn’t. We get the ball back after having to call timeouts on the plus side of the field. It didn’t go anything like what it needed to.
“A fourth-down call with nine minutes left in the game, was that the difference today? I don’t think so.”
Del Rio’s right. There were several factors at play in the home team’s latest disappointment. The Raiders went down 14 points early and never recovered. They couldn’t take the ball away and let too many third-down opportunities go.
The Raiders defense played better in the second half, and a short field could’ve been available had things gone right.
Even so, a punt was a rare decision under those circumstances.
According to the Associated Press’ Josh Dubow, the Raiders are the first team to punt on 4th-and-3 or less in the fourth quarter down two scores in an opponent’s territory since 2012.
The players didn’t second-guess the choice. There were plenty of ways that decision could’ve proved effective. Ultimately, it did not.
“You don’t expect the clock to run out the way it did,” tight end Jared Cook said. “Everybody thought we had more of an opportunity to go ahead and put more points on the board. The clock ran out on us.”