Editor's note: Scott Bair is in London with the Raiders. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com all week for comprehensive coverage of the Silver and Black.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Raiders came out of Sunday’s 16-9 loss to the New England Patriots a bit more optimistic than before.
They played better, but bottom line: The Raiders still lost.
Let’s tear out silver linings and focus on three reasons why the Raiders fell in a game they could’ve and should’ve won.
1) Buckling under pressure: The Raiders have struggled to come through in the clutch in recent seasons, and they imported veterans with winning backgrounds in an effort to change that.
So far, that hasn’t worked out as planned. The Raiders made some good plays in key spots – holding New England to field goals twice in the red zone comes to mind – but there were too many instances where golden opportunities were missed.
The pass that Denarius Moore couldn’t corral that resulted in a Vince Wilfork interception was the gravest error. Although a touchdown was nullified by a holding call a play earlier, the Raiders still had a first-and-goal from the New England 12.
Moore’s inability to secure a catchable ball took away chances to tie and possibly win the game.
There were several other examples: Latavius Murray and the offensive line can’t get a yard in two tries in the second half. The defense gave up a 20-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski on 3rd-and-12.
The Raiders made some good plays in key spots, but not enough of them to persevere.
“At the moment of truth there are times when we have to be able to make some plays,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “We didn’t do that enough today and came up on the short end of the stick.”
2) Receiving problems: We’ve skewered Moore enough in the previous item so we won’t belabor the point, but his struggles on Sunday speak to a larger issue: The Raiders receivers aren’t playing to par.
Even the good ones (James Jones, Marcel Reece) can disappear at times. There are too many drops, too many technical errors that leave good passes incomplete and stall this offense where it stands.
With consistent receiver Rod Streater out an extended period with a fractured foot, that puts greater onus on the healthy ones to step up and stand out.
Rookie quarterbacks like Derek Carr need all the help they can get, even with less-than-perfect passes, and receivers aren’t providing the necessary support.
3) Running game grounded: The Raiders were able to commit to the running game against New England, a luxury not afforded during two games playing largely from behind.
The results weren’t sterling.
They rushed 22 times for just 67 yards, a 3.0-yard per carry average. That wasn’t enough to consistently sustain drives, which stalled out before the end zone.
Darren McFadden hasn’t been great in two games with Maurice Jones-Drew out, totaling 3.3 yards per carry so far this season. That matches his per carry output from 2012 and 2013, pointing to an unwelcome trend that may suggest a lower ceiling than his previous best.
McFadden runs hard, but hasn’t broken a big play like the Raider hope he would.
“The hope is that if we continue to get him [in] those areas where he is close, and eventually we will get the big run,” Allen said. “There were a couple in there that he had the opportunity to have been a big one, but you’ve got to give them credit. This is a good football team we played and they made some plays.”
McFadden holds himself to a high standard, and expects to break big runs like he used to.
“I’ve got to make those plays,” McFadden said. “…That’s one of those things I take full responsibility for and I have to go out there and make those plays. I have to do a better job.”