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ALAMEDA – The Raiders signed several free agents with winning pedigree, players who could teach the inexperienced how to close out game.
That may happen in the future, but it certainly didn’t happen on Sunday afternoon. Despite being outgained by a ratio of 2.5 yards to 1, the Raiders were just six points down entering the fourth quarter against the New York Jets, just one score away from stealing victory.
The Silver and Black couldn’t flip the script.
[RELATED: Raiders Week 1 loss to Jets: Three positives]
The Jets tightened their stranglehold on the line of scrimmage and emerged with a well-earned 19-14 victory.
It didn’t sit right with Raiders head coach Dennis Allen, who wants his team to dominate games when they can and be crafty when they can’t.
“I don’t believe we played as well as we’re capable of playing, but we were in a one-score game with about seven minutes to go. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win,” Allen said in a Monday press conference. “… One of the reasons why we brought in a lot of these veteran players is to help us get over that hump in close games.
“The majority of these games in the National Football League, are close. A majority of them end up being one-score games and we’ve got to find a way to be able to come up with the plays in the critical moments of the game so that we can come out and win these football games.”
The Raiders should be in several close games this year. They were last season with lesser talent and routinely ended up on the losing. Part of the logic behind adding winning veterans were 2013 troubles, where the Raiders were 3-6 in games within one score at the half and 2-4 in games where the Raiders were ahead or within one score in the fourth quarter. The Raiders ended up a disappointing 4-12 last season
In 2014, the difference between a season of progress and one that ends with pink slips could be a couple big plays in the clutch.
[RELATED: Raiders Week 1 loss to Jets: Three negatives]
The Raiders didn’t get that on Sunday. The offense continued to struggle in the second half, with one three-and-out after another. The defense couldn’t slow the Jets run game, and ultimately gave up a 71-yard touchdown run to establish a two-score lead.
It left Allen disappointed and Raiders players kicking themselves over opportunities lost.
“I think we could have put this game firmly in our favor if guys would have taken advantage of our opportunities,” defensive tackle Antonio Smith said. “We had the chance to make them one-dimensional and force them to sit back and pass, which allows our defense to do what it’s bred to do. We didn’t do that. We’ve got to do that in the future.”
The offense also took responsibility for missed chances. There were chances for a big strike. Derek Carr's 30-yard touchdown pass to James Jones was an example, but that score came too little too late. There were earlier opportunities as well, which were highlighted in a Monday film session.
"Watching the film, you could really see that, if one or two plays would have gone our way, we would have ben right there in the game," Jones said. "Our defense played their tails off. They were holding them in that third quarter, basically the whole game. The offense has to help them out a bit. We have to convert more on third downs, stay on the field a little bit more. If we do more of that it would have given us a chance to win the game."