Raiders

Win and they're in: Raiders allowed to think playoffs

Win and they're in: Raiders allowed to think playoffs

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have kept playoff talk at a stiff arm’s length. Coaches and players prefer the ol’ one-game-at-a-time mantra, especially while working through a long season with the finish line well off in the distance.

Now a footstep separates them from a postseason berth, with math so simple the Raiders can’t avoid playoff talk.

Win and they’re in.

If their focus is always on winning the next game, it’s hard to avoid a Sunday game at San Diego that could provide playoff security.

“We want to be playing in the postseason, so we can give ourselves a chance to play for the big one,” running back Latavius Murray said. “It starts Sunday. We’re excited for that opportunity to continue playing later, into the postseason.”

A win Sunday would guarantee at least the final wild card spot. The Raiders still have the AFC West in their sights. They lost control of the division title on Thursday night in Kansas City, and now they need the Chiefs to trip over the final three games.

The Raiders hope to win out and lock in a top seed, but just getting to the playoff tournament is a monumental step. That’s especially true for a recently downtrodden franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002. This group isn’t battling history. They are firmly grounded, remaining in the present tense as often as possible.

A win on Sunday would accomplish a major mission, one these Raiders have been questing for this season.

“It’s always in your mind because that’s the goal,” edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “We want to reach the playoffs. It’s not easy to get there, and that’s the challenge. We’re trying to clinch a spot by any means. We’re working this week to get a win. That’s the goal for us.”

Ice Cube calls Raiders' winless start after Khalil Mack trade 'Football 101'

Ice Cube calls Raiders' winless start after Khalil Mack trade 'Football 101'

Sunday wasn't a good day for the Raiders and superfan Ice Cube.

Amidst reports of a divided Raiders front office, the rapper watched his team fall to 0-3 after the Silver and Black blew another fourth-quarter lead. 

To make matters worse for Cube and the rest of Raider Nation, Khalil Mack kept doing Khalil Mack things for his new team.

Mack forced Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford to fumble early in the fourth quarter, and the Bears kicked a go-ahead field goal on the ensuing drive. 

The Bears held on, improved to 2-1 and took sole possession of first place in the NFC North. 

The Raiders, meanwhile, still are searching for their first win of the Second Jon Gruden Era. Minutes before the Bears kicked off in the desert, Ice Cube gave his diagnosis of what ails the winless Raiders.

The season isn't yet halfway home, and this Raiders trade keeps blowin' up

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Raiders report card: Grades on offense, defense in 28-20 loss to Dolphins

Raiders report card: Grades on offense, defense in 28-20 loss to Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Raiders were far better than the Miami Dolphins for three quarters Sunday.

They picked the wrong time to lose control.

The Silver and Black let another halftime lead slip away in the fourth quarter, coughing up a 28-20 decision at Hard Rock Stadium. They fell to 0-3 after losing a game they should’ve won, yet they remain steadfast in their belief they can turn around their season.

They weren’t able to do so in this one, and remain winless on the year.

Here’s a look at this week’s grades by unit:

Rushing offense

Marshawn Lynch churned out steady yards, finishing with 64, and Doug Martin impressed for the first time all season (43 yards on nine carries). The Raiders' run game was going strong throughout this game and certainly wasn’t responsible for the poor result.

It could’ve turned the tides, however. Keith Smith failed to score from a half-yard out on a crucial fourth down -- maybe just hand it to Lynch there -- that forced a turnover on downs and took seven points off the Raiders' tally. That hurt.

Grade: C

Passing offense

Derek Carr threw for 345 yards, but he'd certainly like to have two throws back. His first interception came when Amari Cooper thought the play was over and he stopped running his route. Carr's second pick came on a throw that was a bit short, allowing Xavien Howard to snatch it in the end zone. That’s a killer.

Jordy Nelson woke up and had a big game (six catches for 173 yards and one touchdown), though Cooper went underground after a big game last week. The Raiders didn’t score enough, which takes away all the good done driving down the field. And critical mistakes ultimately proved costly.

Grade:C-minus

Rushing defense

The Dolphins' ground game was bottled up nice and tight. They averaged just 2.9 yards per carry -- far lower than Frank Gore and Kenyon Drake normally go. That was a plus, especially considering how thin Oakland is along the defensive front.

Grade: B-plus

Pass defense

Ryan Tannehill had a near-perfect passer rating, with 289 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Ryan Freakin' Tannehill. That’s a sign things went wrong for a virtually nonexistent pass rush and a secondary that could corral a less-than-dynamic receiver corps. Even wide receiver Albert Wilson got in on the act, taking an end-around hand-off before launching a 52-yard touchdown pass to Jakeem Grant.

Raiders cornerbacks were beat too often, and safeties took poor angles to the ball and increased gains. And, when they absolutely had to get a stop, they were fooled by a trick play where Wilson’s TD pass gave Miami a lead it didn't relinquish.

Grade: D-minus

Special teams

Johnny Townsend struggled in this one. He averaged just 37.3 net yards punting, and gave up valuable field position by not booming a kick from the back of his end zone. The return didn’t provide much.

Mike Nugent was fine, hitting two field goals and two extra points, and the coverage teams were just OK.

Grade: D-minus

Overall

The Raiders are 0-3. Winless despite having three halftime leads. That’s unacceptable by any standard.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden and offensive coordinator Paul Guenther came up with another good game plan, but they couldn’t find a way to bring it home. Execution waned down the stretch, and the Raiders lost another game they should have won.

Grade: F

MORE ON THE RAIDERS

Team vows to halt untimely fourth-quarter collapses

Not a good day for Ice Cube, Raider Nation

Carr wouldn’t change decision on interception

Lynch believes team really “just a play away”