It was a tough loss for Las Vegas Raiders fans to stomach. The Arizona Cardinals were shut out at halftime by the Silver and Black, as the Raiders’ offense efficiently dropped 20 in the first half. Even so, whether Raider Nation wants to admit it or not, Kliff Kingsbury’s team fought until the final whistle.
At first glance, that game shouldn’t have been that close. Rather than keeping the foot on the pedal, Josh McDaniels reverted to a more conservative game plan. In fact, the Raiders scored just one field goal in the entire second half. The offense simply didn’t get anything going, giving Arizona ample time to get several drives going. You could see the defense was getting gassed, and quickly. It’s easy for fans or “armchair GMs” to say what the team should do, but, in this case, a touchdown in the third quarter puts it away.
Josh Jacobs amassed 15 yards in the third-quarter drive that resulted in the previously mentioned field goal. Regrettably, the next two Raiders’ drives resulted in punts. But it should be noted that Jacobs continued to run the ball with efficiency. He had tacked on another 10 yards in the final drive of regulation but lost four yards when Rashard Lawrence stopped him up the middle. What followed was a drive that decimated and picked apart the Raiders’ defense. Kingsbury’s team, with Kyler Murray at the helm, drove down Allegiant’s field for 18 plays, totaling 73 yards and taking off the final minutes of regulation.
The Cardinals made plays, the Raiders didn’t, simply put.
While speaking to the media following the game, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury talked about the grit and determination his team showed.
“Just fight. Fight. There were so many do-or-die plays, I lost count, where we had to have this stop, had to have a two-point conversion, had to score, had to have this fourth down. And the guys just kept fighting. Nobody blinked. At halftime, it was ‘Hey, we have to settle in and do what we do.’ We played about as bad as you could in the first half, didn’t play great the second half, but the effort was incredible.”
You could make the case that the Raiders lost this one more than the Cardinals won it, for obvious reasons too. When looking at the second half, the Raiders let Kingsbury’s team hang around. Championship-caliber squads put away their opponents, simply put. You step on their throats, punch another score in, and leave no doubt. Instead, McDaniels opted to abandon the run game (again). Obviously, the head coach didn’t trust his unit to keep the run game going. Instead, you saw Derek Carr revert to short passes late in the fourth quarter, which resulted in being unable to convert the first down. That failure led to the Cardinals’ score to tie it up.
Kingsbury and the Cardinals cashed in on the Raiders’ mistakes
In the end, the Cardinals cashed in on the Raiders’ mistakes, especially Hunter Renfrow’s fumbles. Renfrow’s second was the one that led to the Cardinals’ defense scoring the game-winning touchdown in overtime. As Kingsbury alluded to, in a game where little went right, save for the final quarter, to win it in that fashion was remarkable.
“To be in that hostile environment, everything is going wrong, down 20. We had some tough plays that we could’ve made and didn’t make, and had that fourth down, [Marquise] Hollywood [Brown] had a good play. The safety made a great play on it, and then to come back and win it like that was just a tremendous effort.”
There’s going to be a lot said this week by the Raiders, the media, and fans. In fact, it’s already started. However, at the end of the day, the Cardinals were allowed to hang around and they made McDaniels and Co. pay. The Raiders literally coughed this one up. It’s going to be a long week for Raider Nation.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports