Complementary football was there, then it wasn’t. What gives, Las Vegas Raiders?
The Silver and Black showed how the three parts of footballâ€”offense, defense, and special teamsâ€”work together. This helped them jump out to a 17-0 lead against the Kansas City Chiefs in the very hostile Arrowhead stadium.
It was such an outlandish advantage that even TV announcer Joe Buck led viewers back from a commercial, noting that if you just tuned in, that 17-0 score in the Raiders’ favor was indeed real. By halftime, the Chiefs had cut the Raiders’ lead to 20-10, but the beating KC took from the desert marauders was real.
Then, complementary football disappeared.
And like a Randy Orton RKO outta nowhere, the Chiefs floored the Raiders by outscoring them 14-0 in the third quarter to take the lead.
Yes, officiating and coaching decisions loomed large for both teams. — Both Andy Reid and Josh McDaniels dared to go for two-point conversions, and both failed. But despite the officials, the mighty Chiefs, and the stumbling mixed in between, the Raiders still had the opportunity to escape with an upset win on the road. The defense rose to the occasion by forcing a punt and giving the offense the ball with 2:29 left to play. Sure, the Raiders drive started on their own seven-yard line, but there was plenty of time to get within range of the ever-reliable Daniel Carlson.
It wasn’t meant to be…
The Raiders joined the Ravens as teams to lose multiple games this season after leading by 17+ points.
Only 2 teams had lost multiple games after leading by 17+ points in the first 5 weeks of a season in all of NFL history prior to this year (2020 Chargers and 2011 Vikings).
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 11, 2022
“This is a marathon. If it was a sprint, we lost the sprint. Fortunately for us, it’s a marathon,” Raiders head honcho Josh McDaniels said in his postgame press conference. “We understand what these games mean. They each matter. They’re each significant at the end of your season, we know that. They add up. But I think the thing we have to focus on is taking the positives and then also trying to learn from the things that we’re not quite doing well enough.
“That’s our job [and] that’s what we’re going to continue to do. That’s what we’ve done after we’ve won, that’s what we’ve done after we lost, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
The Raiders got to their own 46-yard line and things fell apart. Las Vegas’ last gasp culminated in wide receivers Hunter Renfrow and Davante Adams comically colliding with one another and wiping each other out on a 4th-and-1 play with 47 seconds left, as they saw quarterback Derek Carr’s lob hit nothing but the grass at Arrowhead. Adams couldn’t give any explanation for the terrible play right after the game.
“I didn’t see anything after I released and got back vertical,” Adams said in front of reporters postgame. “We ended up running into each other. I don’t even know where the ball went or anything. I was just on the ground.”
Before that play, Adams couldn’t maintain possession and tap his toes inbounds on a Carr 15-yard pass that would’ve given the Raiders a new set of downs on the Chiefs’ 39-yard line. The play was reviewed automatically (due to being under the two-minute mark), setting up the fateful 4th-and-1 faceplant.
The Las Vegas Raiders QB talks about the many regime changes…Â
“I’ve been around a lot of new regimes, and I think the frustrating part is that it takes time for everyone to get on the same page,” Carr said postgame. “We’re right there, but close doesn’t count in this game. It is frustrating. I’m human — but I believe in it.”
McDaniels stressed the need for his team to learn how to win, and based on his squad’s 1-4 overall record, the Raiders appear to still be in the remedial-level courses when it comes to victory. The desert marauders are apt to find ways to lose rather than win. Yet, in that same breath, it’s not like the Raiders have been blown out in their four defeats. The largest gap in scores this year was six — 29-23 to the Arizona Cardinals — with Vegas losing by five, two, and one point in the rest of the Ls.
“We’re right there,” Adams said. “It’s not like we’re getting blown out and we don’t have answers. We’re playing good football. We’re just not playing 60 minutes of it. You have games like this where you have the lead â€” and we don’t feel comfortable â€” but having that 10-point lead or whatever it was at halftime, it’s not a bad spot to be in. You just got to find a way to finish them out.”
And herein lies the most glaring thing about the Raiders: Five games into the 2022 campaign and the team still can’t execute and finish. Instead of pointing to one particular aspect of the team, let’s put the onus on where it truly belongs: Everyone.
We can question McDaniels’ play-calling till we’re blue in the face. We can ramble on about the players’ need to execute the play calls until we get cotton mouth.
“I was all in on it,” says Las Vegas Raiders WR Davante Adams
“I was all in on it,” Adams said regarding McDaniels’ decision to go for two instead of taking the extra point to tie it at 30 apiece Monday night. “We got to buy in; that’s the only way you can make a play work is if you’ve got to be for it. It’s their job to make that call. I was fine with it because I felt like we had a shot to put it in.”
In the end, the result speaks for itself. One win and four losses in the first five games heading into the bye week.
Two long weeks for the Raiders to stew on how close they are, but how far they are too. A Silver and Black paradox, if you will.
What was a playoff team in 2021 is in relative shambles with the worst record in the league. The bright side? The Raiders own the No. 1 overall pick. Not a flattering distinction for a team that went all-in for 2022 — trading for Adams, re-upping Carr, Renfrow, tight end Darren Waller, and pass rusher Maxx Crosby to big-money deals.
All is not lost, of course. The Raiders may have stumbled in the first five games, but the remaining schedule is favorable on paper. The bye week is followed by matchups against the Houston Texans (1-3-1), New Orleans Saints (2-3), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3), Indianapolis Colts (2-2-1), Denver Broncos (2-3) and Seattle Seahawks (2-3). That’s a combined 11-17-2 as of this past Monday. But just as conceivable as it is for the Raiders to make a dramatic run and turnaround, the same can be said of any one of those aforementioned teams.
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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports