By Shawn Lealos
The Oakland Raiders knew that they needed a spark to stop their skid, as the team had lost three games after starting the season with a 2-0 record. Oakland brought back quarterback Derek Carr—who could have missed up to six weeks with a fracture in his back—after missing only one game, hoping he could lead the team to a victory. However, things did not go as planned; the Chargers shut down the Raiders offense in the second half and ended up winning the game with a field goal as time expired, 17-16. Here is a look at the Oakland Raiders team grades following their fourth consecutive loss of the season.
For at least the first quarter, it looked like things were right again with the Raiders offense. Despite an interception on his first pass attempt of the football game, Carr turned things around on the Raiders’ second possession and led them on an 11-play touchdown drive. On those first two possessions of the game, Marshawn Lynch gained 33 yards rushing, and Carr rebounded from the interception to complete 4-of-4 passes for 45 yards, including a nice touchdown strike to Michael Crabtree.
However, the Raiders did not reach the end zone again until Cordarrelle Patterson ran for a 47-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Carr finished with two interceptions in his first game back from the injury, while completing 70 percent of his passes for 171 yards. He was only sacked once, which was a small positive.
Marshawn Lynch, who has struggled to live up to his reputation since signing with the Raiders, had his best game since the season opener. He carried the ball 13 times for 63 yards with a season-high 4.8 yard-per-carry average. Michael Crabtree had six receptions for 52 yards and scored his second touchdown in two games since he returned from his injury stint.
By the end of the game, the numbers might have looked good, but the Oakland Raiders failed to score enough points to win and fell into last place in the AFC West as a result.
Just like the offense, the Raiders defense looked good at times, but fell apart when the team needed them to step up. After limiting the Chargers to just seven points in the first three-quarters of play, they gave up a touchdown in the fourth quarter and then allowed Philip Rivers to lead the Chargers on a game-winning drive to win the game with a last-second field goal.
When it came to stopping the run, the Raiders did their job, limiting the Chargers to 80 rushing yards and star running back Melvin Gordon to only 83 yards. However Rivers threw for 268 yards and a touchdown, was just sacked once, and did not throw an interception in the game. The damage came in the fourth quarter. Rivers led his Chargers on a 10-play, 59-yard drive, completing 5-of-7 passes, including a six-yard touchdown strike to Gordon to take the lead. After the Raiders retook the lead on their next drive, Rivers had one more chance with four minutes to play. The Chargers QB completed a 34-yard pass to Hunter Henry and then a 23-yard pass to Henry, and that was all it took to kick the field goal and win the game.
The Raiders used up all their timeouts on this drive, but their defensive line couldn’t stop Gordon from moving the chains and letting the time tick down. The fact that the Raiders couldn’t stop the Chargers when they needed to cost them the game.
Special Teams: D
The Raiders have been pleasantly surprised by kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, who stepped in for the injured Sebastian Janikowski and has been spotless this entire season. After starting the season off a perfect 8-for-8 on field goals and 12-for-12 on extra points, he had his first big miss of the season and is a big part of the reason the Raiders had no chance to win this game. After the Raiders scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to retake the lead, Tavecchio missed the extra point. What should have been a three-point lead was now a two-point lead, and the Chargers kicked the game-winning field goal to win by one point.
On the positive side, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jalen Richard combined to average 22 yards on kick returns, and punter Marquette King put all four of his punts inside the 20.
The Raiders have now lost four straight games. Bringing back Derek Carr early wasn’t enough to get this team back on track. The Raiders can’t seem to run the ball regularly to control the clock, and their defense has holes in it that makes it almost impossible to stop teams from scoring on them. The fact that the Raiders had timeouts to spare at the end meant nothing when their defense couldn’t stop the Chargers from running the ball when it counted. This team has major problems right now, which is surprising after how well they played last season.
The Raiders are now 2-4 and in last place in the AFC West thanks to the tiebreaker loss to the Chargers. The worst news is that they only have four days until they retake the field and face the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs, who just suffered their first loss of the season to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs will want to rebound with a big win, and the Raiders have to figure out how to turn their season around before it is too late.