ST. LOUIS –- The Raiders have fallen behind several times in this rough season, but generally found a way to fight back and keep games close.
Not so on Sunday.
The Raiders got walloped from the get-go, a perfect storm of ineffectiveness in all three phases.
To wit: The Raiders went three-and-out on three first-quarter drives. St. Louis scored touchdowns on equal series. The Raiders were down 21 points in a flash, and didn’t have the fortitude to keep it competitive in a 52-0 loss to the Rams.
It was embarrassing for a group of proud veterans not used to losing like this.
“We got slapped. We got beat up,” receiver James Jones said. “The Rams came out and played better than us in every phases. We got hit in the mouth and didn’t punch back.”
The Raiders never did, not even in the second half, when St. Louis mercifully took its foot off the game. The Raiders never scored, never even reached the red zone.
The defense didn’t force a punt until the third quarter, though St. Louis ran out the clock and threw just seven times in the second half.
The Raiders committed four turnovers and didn’t take one back. They tackled poorly, at times showing lackluster effort uncharacteristic of this unit.
“If you don’t come out strong against a good, hungry team, you’ll be in trouble,” strong safety Brandian Ross said. “When you come out flat against good teams, that’s what is going to happen.”
It seemed odd given recent efforts, including a 24-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs that was the Raiders’ first win. They played well, and always fought hard. It’s hard to say that happened here at Edward Jones Dome. To respond like that was difficult to swallow, but nothing outweighed the final score.
“I don’t know if it hurts worse (coming after a win), but it hurts,” said defensive end Justin Tuck, a bright spot with a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass defensed. “I don’t care where you are as a team. When something like this happens, it hurts.
“I really don’t have any words for what this feels like. If I sound dumbfounded, that’s because I am.”