Sometimes it feels like the negative words section in a thesaurus is too small to describe life as a Las Vegas Raiders fan.
Embarrassing. Pathetic. Depressing. Shocking. Disgraceful.
Week 2. Week 5. Week 8. Week 9. Week 10.
What words are left to use for Week 14?
On Thursday night, the Raiders lost another seemingly impossible — yet very clearly not — game, this time to the depleted Rams, 17-16. While this one didn’t feature a blown 17-point lead (which they’ve done three times this season), it did feature a blown 13-point lead to a quarterback still learning the names of his teammates.
Just another day in the life of the Silver and Black, I guess, right?
Yes, it’s only football — but this sport (and maybe this franchise in particular) is a game that somehow draws us in so seductively only to make the kick to the groin hurt worse.
After a 2-7 start that let fans start to dream about the draft, this group went and won three games in a row — breathing new life into a seemingly dead season. Heck, with Baker Mayfield, Mac Jones and Kenny Pickett next up on the schedule, how could you not get excited?
Still saving the leg swing for the most painful possible moment, the Raiders jumped out to a 10-0 lead against the Rams — marching downfield easily on offense and forcing three-and-outs on defense.
The offense is cruising! The defense may have turned a corner! Let’s gooooooo!
And then: foot, meet groin.
Three days after the Panthers chose Sam Darnold and PJ Walker over him, and two days after signing with the Rams, Baker Mayfield became Joe Montana. After marching his team down for a touchdown once already in the fourth quarter, Mayfield went 98 yards in 1:45 with no timeouts to win the game.
In a way, we should have seen this coming, right? As the seconds ticked away, Kirk Herbstreit turned to Al Michaels and asked: “Have we ever seen anything like this before?”
A key player coming in just days prior, needing to learn the offense, get to know teammates, and then execute at such a high level? Surely this story was so ridiculous that it was unparalleled in football history, right? Right?!?
Well, not if you’re a Raiders fan.
In fact, for Raiders fans, you just need to go back 25 days to realize that history was repeating itself: Week 10, Sunday Night Football, Raiders hosting the Colts. In this case, it wasn’t the arrival of a new quarterback just days before the game, it was a new coach. And it wasn’t off of waivers, it was somehow even more ridiculous as the coach came off the TV set.
So yes, Kirk, to answer your question, we have seen this before: with Raiders fans hopelessly searching for words to describe emotions and feelings that the thesaurus comes up short of.
Offensive Headline: Wha-ha-happened?
Let’s make one thing clear: the Rams stink.
So when the Raiders got the ball to start the game and marched 75 yards on 12 plays for the opening touchdown, it’s what was supposed to happen. This was a game where the 6.5-point pregame spread felt light, and the Raiders offense was going to prove that.
Second drive: eight plays, 46 yards, field goal. 10-0 Raiders. Sure, the 3rd and five-run play up the middle seemed a tad conservative, but whatever — more points.
Third drive: 10 plays, 56 yards, field goal.
Fourth drive: 10 plays, 73 yards, an interception in the end zone. This was one that Derek Carr wishes he had back, but whatever — the Rams stink, it’s 13-3 going into the half, the offense has marched down the field every drive, and we’re good, right?
Second half: three and out, three and out, field goal, three and out, interception. No catches for Davante Adams, just two completions from Derek Carr, two punts on fourth-and-one.
Asked multiple times in the postgame press conference why he got so conservative, head coach (and play caller) Josh McDaniels had no answers. Which is odd considering — as Derek Carr pointed out — he’s the guy calling the plays.
Defensive Headline: LOL
“To be honest, I was completely shocked they lined up in press coverage with 15 seconds left.”
That was Baker Mayfield postgame, describing his thoughts on the 23-yard game-winning touchdown pass in which receiver Van Jefferson got single, press, coverage from undrafted rookie Sam Webb. That touchdown capped off a 98-yard drive that took just 1:35 (with no timeouts).
How’s this for a stat:
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Rams’ 98-yard TD drive was the longest go-ahead TD drive that began in the final 2 minutes over the last 45 seasons.
— Sarah Barshop (@sarahbarshop) December 9, 2022
The Rams’ first six drives ended with three punts, a fumble, a field goal and a missed field goal. Their last two? Touchdowns.
All orchestrated by Baker Mayfield.
All you can do is laugh…
Odds and Ends
- Josh Dubow of the AP shared this stat postgame:
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 9, 2022
- A few key moments, decisions and plays…
- On the Raiders’ first possession in the second half, with a 13-3 lead, they took over on their own 42. Three plays later, facing fourth and one from the Rams’ 49, Josh McDaniels decided to punt. A chance to step on the throat of the Rams and put this game out of reach? Maybe.
- On the Rams’ first touchdown drive of the fourth quarter, the Raiders forced a 4th and 3 from their own 32 after declining a holding penalty. Clelin Ferrell, though, jumped offside on the punt, extending the drive that would eventually cut the lead to six. Six plays later, Maxx Crosby did the same thing on third and four.
- On that drive, the Rams converted two fourth downs (one via the penalty) and two third downs.
- Up six with the ball, the Raiders had 3:19 to burn off the clock while the Rams had just one timeout remaining. After a pair of runs forced third and one, McDaniels got cute — lining Davante Adams up at running back and Josh Jacobs at fullback on the biggest play of the game. Jacobs ran a fullback dive for no gain.
- After AJ Cole’s 64-yard punt was downed at the two, the Rams took over with 1:45 left and no timeouts. After allowing a first down thanks to pass interference, Maxx Crosby sacked Mayfield for a loss of nine with 1:30 to go and the clock running. Except…defensive tackle Jerry Tillery slapped the ball out of Mayfield’s hand after the play, not only stopping the clock, but giving Los Angeles 15 yards and an automatic first down. Next play: 32-yard pass. Next play: eight-yard pass. Next play: eight-yard pass. Next play: spike. Next play: 23-yard touchdown. Ballgame.