Last week was emotionally draining for the Las Vegas Raiders, and that’s putting it lightly. It was unlike anything most teams in NFL history have ever had to deal with. It proved too much to overcome, and another winnable game went the opposite way. Just like the loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 5, it had a whole lot more to do with what happened off the field over the matchup on it.
The Raiders gave everything they had against the Giants in the Meadowlands. Sadly, they still came up short on too many of their drives. Their red zone offense inefficiency was their biggest downfall. Not having a speedy receiver to take the top off of the Giants defense obviously impacted them.
Vegas has relied on their deep ball a lot this season. They just could not make the deep ball work in this one. In fact, their longest play of the game was only 24 yards. Vegas has made their money on the deep ball all year long, a long of 24 yards is not going to cut it.
Settling for field goals is not usually a winning formula. Unfortunately that’s exactly what the Raiders did. Daniel Carlson was three out of four on the day with a long of just 32 yards. However, it was his catastrophic miss from 25 that was truly dooming.
Las Vegas Went Conservative
It had already felt like the wrong decision to kick the field goal instead of go for it on 4th and 3 from the 7 anyway. The Raiders had previously wasted three red zone trips by settling for field goals at that point. Rich Bisaccia’s decision to settle again felt weak and it was ultra conservative play calling. Vegas needed to enforce their will on the Giants in that moment. Instead they kicked what should have been a sure fire field goal and missed.
In Bisaccia’s defense, if Carlson doesn’t miss that field goal, Vegas would have only been down one with the ball with 6:10 left in the game. It would have changed the team’s play calling on their drive and Derek Carr wouldn’t have been intercepted trying to force a deep ball to Zay Jones.Â
It was Carr’s other two turnovers on the day that were even more damaging in Sunday’s loss though. One was an interception returned for a touchdown and the other was his fumble on their final drive. Neither should have happened.
The floated pass to Hunter Renfrow was way out to the sideline on third down was one of Carr’s worst throws of the season. It is a quarterback cardinal sin to throw such a slow moving pass out to the far sideline. Making it worse was that the pass was to the most obvious target in a third down situation. The Giants defender easily read the play and took it to the house in the opposite direction.
More of the same…
The Raiders had just taken the lead, 13-10, going into the half and this was the first of the second half. It was a pivotal drive for the Raiders. They hadn’t played well but still had this golden opportunity to take control of the game with a touchdown. Instead, they ended up with a devastating interception. The turnover ended up being the difference to the game in the end.
It was another classic Carr fumble on the final drive. He should have had better pocket awareness. Carr didn’t have any idea how badly Kolton Miller got beat off the line and it cost him dearly. He should have noticed his left tackle fall to the ground so quickly and known to protect the ball.
What’s really sad is the play ended two impressive streaks on the one play. It was the Raiders’ first lost fumble of the season and the only sack Miller has given up this season. A thumbs down on the play also goes to Josh Jacobs who missed while trying to scoop the recovery instead of just jumping on the ball.
What about the defense?
Las Vegas’s defense once again played well enough to win this game though, that’s a plus worth mentioning. Especially Yannick Ngakoue, he had two sacks and a forced fumble in the loss. Another plus worth highlighting is that Jacobs and Kenyan Drake combined for 106 yards on just 17 carries, a staggering 6.2 yards per carry. They are going to be needed more than ever now, so it’s good to see the running game getting out of it’s funk.
The biggest plus worth mentioning though, the team played with all their heart despite the horrific tragedy they endured last week. Carr didn’t play well enough and the team didn’t score enough in the red zone, but they did give their all in an impossible situation.
Next up, the Raiders have the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that for the first time in years looks fallible. KC is coming off a win against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers that was anything but convincing. Vegas can get back on track with a win against their biggest rival, it is the most pivotal point so far in this bizarre season.
It’s also a Sunday Night, prime time game. Those tend to bring another level to Derek Carr’s play, and they are going to need it. It’s reasonable for Carr to not play his best this past week, but this loss to the Giants still hurts. Another loss on Sunday and the hot start to the season will once again have been wasted.
Even though the reasons for the deflated offense are obvious, the show must go on. There are many that are willing to forgive this loss to the Giants as a victim of circumstances and that’s fair. A loss next week to KC though? This is rivalry week and pivotal to the Raiders chances this season. They can not afford another flat performance no matter what the circumstances.
*Top Photo: Chris Unger/Getty Images