KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano uses the term “Oakland beating Oakland” to describe his team’s self-inflicted wounds. He’s gone away from it in recent weeks, mostly because it hasn’t happened.
The Raiders won two of the last three. In a loss to St. Louis, they got smoked. No business is sugar-coating that.
“Oakland beating Oakland” was revived following a 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I’m a little surprised by that, to be honest with you,” Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “You’re never completely past (beating yourself), but at this point I thought we were out in front (of those problems).”
In several ways, the phrasing fit.
The Chiefs didn’t force Derek Carr to bungle a snap and lose possession on his own 21-yard line. They didn’t require Justin Tuck earn a rough the passer at a pivotal moment or cause Khalif Barnes to false start twice. The Raiders could’ve played smarter than 10 penalties for 75 yards. They certainly could’ve been in better position to stop De’Anthony Thomas on an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown.
“We aided in our demise today,” Tuck said.
There were many areas, more no doubt, where the Raiders got flat beat. Sparano offered a tip of the cap to the Red and Gold, giving credit for punches well thrown.
Free safety Charles Woodson didn’t believe there was a split, and offered a not-so-subtly rebuked Sparano’s catchphrase.
“Kansas City beat Oakland,” the veteran said. “That’s what it boils down to. I think we failed to rise to the occasion this week. We had a great team victory last week. Today, I give credit to Kansas City, regardless of what we did. When you get beat in all phases of the game, that’s kind of what happens.”
It was an apt observation on this day, when Kansas City manhandled the Raiders’ offensive front. They rattled a rookie quarterback and threw an offense off its axis. The defense gave up big plays to an offense without such capability. The Raiders allowed six plays of 20 yards or more, which accounted for 216 of the Chiefs 388 yards. The Raiders were beat too often in one-on-one matchups, whether it was Miles Burris or DJ Hayden in coverage, Barnes in pass protection or receivers running routes.
Woodson’s take evokes a bigger truth, that the Raiders simply aren’t as talented, man-for-man, as the opposition. Sparano has helped his team overachieve twice now and compete in several other games, but he’s fighting an uphill battle.
The Raiders simply don’t have enough quality depth to stand toe-to-toe and swing. That will be the case over the final two games against Buffalo and Denver, respectively.
No coach can change that.
That doesn’t mean they won’t win. It just means they’ll have to overachieve, avoiding self-inflicted wounds others can withstand.
Doing it sometimes doesn’t get you anywhere,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “It gets you 2-12. We have to (execute) more consistently.”
Inconsistency is the blight of the underdog. They scrap, but rarely win.
That’s why “Oakland beating Oakland” can’t be tolerated. That’s especially true now, after season-ending injuries to six impact players. As currently constructed, the Raiders are too thin, too inexperienced to win with less than their very best.
They weren’t very good by any standard on Sunday afternoon, and got thrashed because of it.