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ST. LOUIS – Sunday’s 52-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams was the Raiders’ worst since 1961. They got pummeled in every facet from opening kick to final whistle, an embarrassment of the highest order.
The Raiders fell to 1-11 on the year with their worst performance in a disastrous season, with little, if anything, to be proud of. Since we’re limited to three negatives in this weekly staple – we could go all day with unlimited talking points – we’ll get simplify things and cover all bases. When everything stunk, there’s no need to get specific:
1. Offense: The Raiders attack went three-and-out five times. They turned the ball over on five other occasions. The offense had 15 series, and one died with the game’s end.
That leaves four series to work with, and nothing much was done. They never reached the red zone and crossed the St. Louis 40-yard line only once.
It doesn’t get much worse, even for an offense ranked dead last in scoring, total yards and rushing.
Quarterback Derek Carr threw two interceptions, one was a poor decision trying to get the ball out while being dragged down. Even fan favorite Marcel Reece lost a fumble. Everything that could go wrong did, and exposed just how bad this unit can be.
2. Defense: The Raiders were 1-for-8 on third down. Think that’s a positive stat? It isn't. The Rams offense was moving so well they didn’t need third downs to move the chains. The Rams only had three third downs in the first half, a period where they scored 38 points offensively.
The Rams scored touchdowns on their first five drives, using short passes and simple runs to gash this defense. Journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill consistently found skill players in space, where the Raiders have had trouble tackling. That was certainly the case on Sunday, when, according to interim head coach Tony Sparano, the Raiders defense was not fundamentally sound. He considered the team’s tackling effort “embarrassing.” It’s hard to disagree.
3. Special teams: It’s safe to say the George Atkinson III experiment has failed. The undrafted rookie running back and son of Raiders legend George Atkinson was promoted from the practice squad to breathe life into the return game.
That didn’t happen. He averaged 15.7 yards on three returns. Five more went for touchbacks. All told, Atkinson had two muffed kickoffs in nine tries. That included one where he decided to picked it up and returned it to the 4-yard line.
Punt returns weren’t much better. TJ Carrie had two returns for four yards, including one instance where he was taken down by his own teammate, Ray-Ray Armstrong.
4. Coaching: I cave. Three just wasn’t enough. After focusing on player mistakes, it just didn’t seem fair for coaches to get off the hook. That means y’all get a bonus negative!!! Aren’t you pumped? Probably not.
We can agree that coaching comes into question when Penn says they weren’t ready to play, other guys said they were out-schemed. Play calling frequently comes into question, but I hate going down that road because the outcome so often isn’t exactly what was called. We’ll just say that coaching didn’t help the Raiders succeed during this game and certainly didn’t mitigate the Rams’ strengths. Talent and execution are far more important to an outcome but, since we’re passing blame around, let’s make sure everyone gets a cut.