OAKLAND – The Raiders' offense was humming to start Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. They found end zones on three of four first-half drives, and entered the halftime break with the score tied at 21.
Then, the wheels came off. The offense never scored during a disastrous second half that featured four punts, a lost fumble and a turnover on downs following a fourth-and-goal throwaway. Things never got better in another terrible result, ending with a 42-21 loss to the Titans at Oakland Coliseum.
The tide turned in the third quarter, after consecutive, fruitless three-and-outs. After the second one, boo birds came out. They were chirping a bit before that, but the Oakland crowd voiced displeasure in unison. Fans were frustrated with the offense and seemed bothered most by quarterback Derek Carr’s play at that point.
They didn’t like the optics of the Raidres QB tossing a pass out of bounds on fourth down, even with time winding down and the game out of reach.
Home fans have booed Carr before. They can be short-tempered, especially when things aren’t going right.
But Carr put the boos in perspective and didn’t take them personally after a third-straight blowout loss.
“It’s happened before. You play here long enough and that will occur,” Carr said after the game. “We have a rowdy group and that’s why we love them. They’re passionate, and they just want to win. It’s just like family. Even when they’re mad at you, they still want to hug you. They still want you to do well. I understand that frustration. I think I showed some emotion, too. I don’t think anything of it. It has happened for six years.”
Carr’s final line looks pretty nice. He completed 25-of-34 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, good for a 115.2 passer rating. The outcome and second-half fade didn’t feel quite as good, but the Raiders were proud of their quarterback’s effort in a third consecutive blowout loss.
“I think he played really well today, Carr did, given what’s going on around him,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I think there’s a big story there. At least we recognize it. We’re really proud of the way he’s competing and performing with all the moving pieces.”
Gruden is referring to the offensive injuries piling up over the last few weeks, with a list of key players sidelined for Sunday’s game. Running back Josh Jacobs finally succumbed to a shoulder injury after playing through it since Week 7. Right tackle Trent Brown is down with a pectoral injury. Receiver Hunter Renfrow is down another game, at least, with rib injuries and a punctured lung. Foster Moreau suffered a knee injury Sunday and might be done for the year. That’s another huge blow to the offense, and it’s surely impacting execution and an ability to sustain drives.
Carr didn’t want to hear that and didn’t want injury setbacks to excuse poor play.
“This game is next man up,” Carr said. “Nobody cares about our situation. Nobody cares who is playing. Nobody cares who has been here, who has not been here. The people who have played this position, played that. I have learned that in my six years. Nobody cares. We didn’t win the football game and it is what it is.”
The Raiders haven’t won since Nov. 17, when they beat the Bengals at home. They have been outscored 116-33 since. It sure seems like the Raiders have run out of gas down the stretch, unable to perform to earlier levels due to attrition and lack of execution. They can look good in spurts – take the first half against Tennessee for example – but can’t sustain it.
The Raiders have struggled on both sides of the ball and have hit a rough patch that they might not leave before the season is out.
“We’re a tight football team that is competing hard,” Gruden said. “We’re missing some of the players that helped us win those three straight games. The Golden State Warriors are going through a similar process. It’s not as easy to win when you’re not playing with your frontline guys. It works out for the development of some young players, but it’s on me. It’s my responsibility to fix it and it certainly doesn’t look good the last few weeks.”