CARSON -- The Raiders finally won a game last week. It was a nail biter for sure when the Raiders finally finished strong.
Turns out that game was an individual entity, not something that kick-started a season turnaround.
The encore might’ve been the Raiders’ worst performance to date, and eventually became a 26-10 loss to the Chargers on Sunday at StubHub Center.
The Raiders proved deficient in every phase, and were flat beat by a good Chargers team.
Here are three quick takeaways from this result:
Blown out by the better team
The Raiders played four close games with only one victory to show for it. They hung tough against all comers, including a Rams team that is a bonafide juggernaut. They blew second-half leads in each one but struggled to finish strong.
That wasn’t the case Sunday. The Raiders were blown out by a superior team and couldn't bridge the talent gap clear in most contests.
The Raiders went down 20-3 late in the third quarter, dominated on most fronts by an explosive offense and a defense making do without Joey Bosa.
The season’s in peril -- not that expectations were high to begin with -- at 1-4 with a trip to London next week. Things could get worse before they get better, especially if the Raiders keep making similar mistakes from week to week.
Big plays still a big problem
Allowing plays of 20 yards or more have plagued the Raiders all season. They cost the Raiders a win in Denver and again in Miami, and they made last week's Browns showdown close well into overtime.
That has frustrated defensive coordinator Paul Guenther to no end, and he has vowed to fix the problem. One issue: He might not have enough defensive talent to stem the tide.
He definitely doesn’t have enough speed on the second level to prevent significant yards after the catch. The Silver and Black gave up three 20-plus plays in the first half alone, with countless chunk plays that didn't quite reach the mark.
The defense can be effective at times, forcing three-and-outs on a regular basis. Lapses have proven costly, and make life hard on the Raiders' offense.
The Raiders were down 17 points in the third quarter, but they used a nice length-of-the-field drive to set up an ideal scoring chance. They had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line -- and chose a play-action pass that was intercepted.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has thrown three interceptions in the end zone over the first five games. That’s as costly as it gets, and his latest red-zone pick put this game to sleep at the start of the fourth quarter.
Carr’s throw was ill advised. There’s no doubt about that. Lee Smith was the primary target and never opened up, so Carr threw across his body for Derek Carrier, who was covered well. He never saw Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram, who easily picked off the pass.
Mistakes happen. That one was on Carr. But one has to wonder why Marshawn Lynch doesn’t get the football three times from the 1-yard line. The veteran running back was visibly upset after the turnover, faking to throw his helmet after the play.
Carr now has thrown picks in the end zone against the Rams, Dolphins and Chargers, which hurts a Raiders team that can’t afford mistakes like that.