OAKLAND – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 30-17 loss to the Ravens in Week 5 on Sunday:
1. Raiders aren’t rebounding well
The Raiders have lost three straight games, and looked terrible doing it. They’ve started slow, struggled on third down offensively and defensively. Perceived strengths now look suspect, and the Raiders are reeling after failing to the Ravens Sunday afternoon.
The biggest takeaway: The Raiders haven’t responded well to adversity.
They were beat soundly by Washington in Week 3. They didn’t get off the mat against Denver in Week 4. They fell behind early against Baltimore and never recovered.
That leaves the Raiders in a rough spot, below .500 for the first time since 2015. They deserve to be there after a brutal stretch of play.
“It hurts, but Coach Jack said it best. You get what you earn,” strong safety Karl Joseph said. “We’ve earned 2-3. We have to dig ourselves out.”
2. Turnover drought continues
The 2016 Raiders defense wasn’t great. They allowed too many yards, too many points for Raider Nation’s liking. They made up for last year’s shortcomings by performing well under pressure.
They were solid in the fourth quarter and tallied 30 takeaways across all periods.
They can’t fall back on that early this season. The Raiders are struggling to create turnovers.
They have two defensive takeaways in five games now – two more came on special teams – and no interceptions to speak of. By contrast, the Ravens have nine.
The Raiders had a plus-16 turnover ratio last season. This year, they’re even.
That makes it especially hard to overcome slow starts, without the big plays required to turn on a dime.
“You have to be more opportunistic in practice, going after the ball,” Bruce Irvin said. “It starts there. You develop the second nature when you continuously do it in practice. It translates to Sunday. Be more aware of trying to get the ball in practice translates on Sunday.”
3. EJ Manuel a solid secondary option
Starting quarterback Derek Carr pushed to play Sunday, exactly a week after suffering a transverse process fracture in his back. That didn’t happen.
The Raiders started backup EJ Manuel, who was decent in extended action. He completed 13-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s loss. He extended drives with his legs, and came up big on several third downs.
“EJ pulled his heart out of his chest, especially on a few of those scrambles, getting the ball to playmakers to make plays,” tight end Jared Cook said. “He had one heck of a game, in my opinion.”
He ultimately didn’t score enough to erase a 21-3 lead, but certainly inspired confidence should he be called upon again.
He might not. Carr’s expected to play next week against the Los Angeles Chargers, and would take every snap thereafter if he remains healthy.
“I thought he did a pretty solid job as a backup guy coming into a tough situation and handled himself well,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Made a couple of third downs. Kept the drive, couple of key third downs and took them down to their lake to get within a score. We’ve got to do more defensively to get him more opportunities.”