It’s amazing how quickly the 2018 NFL season has devolved from being crushed with defeat to somehow being encouraged amidst a 42-28 loss at home to a team that entered the game with just two wins. And yet, here we are.
Yes, you read that right: somehow I was encouraged on Sunday afternoon. So, without further ado, five observations…
1) Raiders offense was just good enough to lose
When your team is tanking, the goal is to look good — to be competitive, and then barely lose. Now, I’m not saying the Oakland Raiders are trying to lose, but, well, they aren’t making the playoffs and so there’s a silver lining even in the midst of a bad loss.
With all the talk (and doubt) surrounding Derek Carr, the reality was that he played fantastic on Sunday. Carr completed 75 percent of his passes, took no sacks, threw three touchdowns (ran for another) and didn’t turn the ball over. In fact, there were multiple times that the allegedly ‘soft’ Carr stepped up into the pocket, waited for a route to develop and took a hit so that his receiver could get an extra half-second of time to come open. While the team didn’t win, Carr and his reputation definitely did.
2) The Raiders defense? Not so much…
I mean, what more can you say? The Indianapolis Colts came into the game at 2-5 and gained 461 yards, gave up zero sacks and didn’t turn the ball over — all in a game that the Raiders offense kept the team alive for as long as they could. Twice in the third quarter, the Raiders took the lead, and twice the Raider defense immediately failed to hold up their end of the bargain, allowing the Colts to come back and tie the game.
In fact, the Colts scored on every drive but one on Sunday. That is simply pathetic.
3) Snap count intrigue
A week after not playing, Gareon Conley played 76 of 78 defensive snaps leaving many to wonder: was this an audition for Jon Gruden? Or for a team interested in trading for him.
On the other end of the spectrum was Bruce Irvin — who played just 24 snaps (31 percent) and failed to record a single statistic.
On offense, the most interesting numbers belonged to Martavis Bryant and Brandon LaFell. Bryant, whom many expected to see more time with Amari Cooper gone, played just seven snaps (14 percent), while LaFell — fresh off not playing — played all 46 snaps.
4) Fourth quarter failings
Much has been written already about Oakland’s inability to finish games and, well, we saw more of the same Sunday. After taking the lead twice in the third, the Raiders were outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter as a game that was close turned into a blowout.
5) Vinatieri, because of course
As if he needed another career-defining moment with the Raiders on the other side of the ball, Adam Viniateri took over the NFL’s scoring record with his second field goal of the day. He would go on to add a few more extra points as he padded his lead, but if this is the last time I ever see him playing the Raiders, I wouldn’t be disappointed.
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