“In the end, the man said we will win”, said head coach Hue Jackson in last week’s press conference, referring to the late, grate Raiders’ owner, Al Davis.
In the end, all they had to do was win to wrap up the AFC West division title, with the Denver Broncos losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 7-3, Sunday evening. But in the end, fate flips the script on the Oakland Raiders, as they failed to win when it mattered most, losing to the San Diego Chargers 38-26.
After going through so much adversity this year, this was suppose to be their time, but instead it will be there ninth straight season missing the playoffs.
To say that coach Jackson let it be known how disappointed he was in his team is not only an understatement, it clearly would be inaccurate diagnosis of what would take place yesterday evening at the Raiders post-game press conference.
It seemed like coach Jackson was reading emails from Raider Nation fans who were enraged with anger, by the outcome of Sunday’s game. He was so livid, that this felt like I was watching an intense scene from a movie, where you just hoped that Hue wouldn’t throw anything before the conference was over. Unfortunately, this is not a movie, and there are no guarantees that they will be in this position again come next year.
Let’s take a quick look at the recap from yesterday’s game.
The Raiders would jump on the board first, fresh off of an interception thrown by Chargers’ quarterback, Phillip Rivers. Raiders’ quarterback, Carson Palmer, would lead Oakland down the field, and would eventually hook up with wide receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey, for a 3-yard touchdown pass. After that drive, the Raiders would get outscored 24-6 in the first half.
Momentum killers in the first half were a 105-yard kickoff return by Chargers’ return-man Richard Goodman, and a missed opportunity by the Raiders to possibly kick a field goal before the half ended.
By the beginning of the fourth quarter, Oakland had narrowed the gap with them only trailing 31-26, thanks to a Palmer to tight end, Kevin Boss 22-yard touchdown connection. But here comes another momentum killer yet again. The Chargers would be pinned on their own 1-yard line, and found a way to go 99-yards for another touchdown score.
With a lot of time still left in the ball game, the Raiders were on the move for another score, when last year’s version of Palmer reared its ugly head once again, as he threw an untimely interception, sealing the fate of Oakland.
For the game, Palmer threw for 417 yards, two touchdowns and of course the untimely interception. Heyward-Bey had a monstrous game, with nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown score. Wide receivers Denarius Moore and Louis Murphy also had big games. Moore had three catches for 101 yards, while Murphy had five receptions for 72 yards. Michael Bush had another solid day with 66 rushing yards, but it wasn’t near the productivity he had in week 10 against the Chargers. The Raiders put up great numbers statistically, but had nothing to really show for it, as the one common denominator for the last three players mentioned is simple, no touchdowns scored.
Oakland’s defense looked so helpless, against the Chargers, that it forced coach Jackson to say that he was going to have more of a hand in the defensive play calling next year. Giving up over 300 yards passing, and 100-plus rushing yards in the last game of the season begs the question, will their be an overhaul of players on defense next year? They allowed 31 passing touchdowns, a franchise worst, so changes in the secondary will have to be in order come this off-season.
What resonates with coach, the players and Raider Nation is two things. First, the way they lost and second, where they lost at, as they finished their season at the Black Hole two games under .500. It’s like coach Jackson said, “This team needs an attitude adjustment and to develop a killer instinct.” When the Raiders looks back on this season, there will be five games that will haunt them (Buf, Den, Mia, Det, SD).
Maybe the Silver and Black needed to have a season of close, but no cigar, to truly re-establish their commitment to excellence. Well unfortunately for them and Raider Nation, they will get a head start on that process.
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Written by Arthur Kai