Programming note: Watch Raiders Press Conference Live with Tony Sparano today at 2:00 p.m. on CSN California, or streaming live right here.
The Raiders played some inspired football on Sunday, just not enough to beat the San Diego Chargers.
They had several opportunities to score more, defend better and consequently win the game. Didn’t happen. They let a late lead slip and lost a 31-28 heartbreaker at O.co Coliseum.
Here are three missteps that cost the Raiders in a tightly contested game:
1. Stone hands in the passing game: Quarterback Derek Carr was locked in from the outset, proven by a perfect strike to Andre Holmes that went 73 yards for the opening touchdown.
He made several quality throws, however, that fell to the turf. The Raiders had five in the first half alone, which slowed the offense down enough that the Raiders entered the halftime break tied at 14-14.
Receivers made several solid catches and improved in the second half, but any catchable ball must be secured. They’re in the perfection business, and the receivers made too many mistakes to get a free pass.
“When I say Oakland beats Oakland, we had five drops in the first half of the game,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “When you look at Derek’s numbers, and you guys were watching the game, we need to make some of those plays for him.
"Our players know that. They understand that. We’ll see it on the tape.”
2. Raiders blow late lead: Linebacker Sio Moore was enraged after Sunday’s game because his defense let the Chargers off the hook.
That’s an accurate description of what happened late on Sunday. The defense gave up yards after going up seven points, but preserved the lead by holding San Diego to a field goal.
Offense and special teams didn’t do the ‘D’ any favors with a three-and-out and lackluster punt coverage, but that unit had a four-point lead to protect and couldn’t do it. The Chargers marched 39 yards in six plays – most of it on the ground -- and stole victory.
“As a defensive player, you always want to be in that situation,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to today, but you always want to have the opportunity to stop an offense and preserve a win.
"Like I said, it didn’t happen for us. … We’re proud of the effort we had and things like that, but we’ve got to find a way to get off the field or at least hold them to a field goal or something.”
3. Ending it with an interception: I’m not one to second-guess play calls or quarterback decisions, but the situation that preceded Carr’s game-sealing interception might’ve necessitated a more conservative approach on the Raiders final drive.
I understand coverage dictated that throw, that Jason Verrett made an outstanding play and that Carr would throw it again – love the confidence, by the way – but you’re 10 yards outside field goal range with a three-point deficit.
Work your way in there, give your kicker a chance and live to fight another period. Or simply take less risky chunks of yardage. Armchair quarterbacks have hindsight in the holster, an unfair benefit to be sure.
I like the attitude and desire to go big, but ending a comeback on that play is tough way to go out.