Those were the words of Josh Jacob’s postgame interview, and all I could think was: Yep, that about sums it up.
10 points from a fully healthy offense against a mediocre defense? A wide-open receiver in the end zone with 46 seconds left on the clock? Three second-half interceptions? Three total first downs in the second half?
Yeah, what he said.
The Steelers defense came into the game 21st in yards per play, 19th in yards per game and 13th in points allowed per game. But on Saturday night? They may as well have been the 1985 Bears.
Despite having a fully healthy Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow back alongside Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs, the Raiders offense looked — stop me if you’ve heard this before — completely disjointed. On the first drive of the game, they marched 72 yards on 14 plays for a touchdown, running 8:22 off the clock in the process.
After that? A whole lot of nothing.
Punt. Punt. Field goal. Interception. Interception. Punt. Punt. Three-and-out. Interception.
In the second half, the Raiders gained a total of 30 yards. With an “offensive genius” calling plays, plus a Pro Bowler at receiver and at running back.
Six possessions, 30 yards.
How in the world is that possible? Honestly…
I mean, if you’ve been following this space throughout the season, you’ll know how critical I have been of the defense — but they absolutely did their job. Heading into what became the game-winning drive, they had allowed just 253 total yards and six points — in fact; they hadn’t even allowed Pittsburgh into the red zone all night.
But it was all for naught — partially because of a defensive breakdown on the decisive play, but mostly because the offense couldn’t figure anything out. As for why that was? Jacobs had some thoughts.
“I feel like, in times where we were close and we felt like we were going to get a big one, we went away from (the run game),” he said. “To win these games, especially at the end of the stretch, especially when you’re up against a team like this, in the cold, you’ve got to run the ball.”
By the time the game ended, the quarterback Derek Carr had twice as many pass attempts (30) as Jacobs had carries (15). In a game played in 14-degree weather and in which the Raiders led for the first 59 minutes.
Offensive Headline: Carr and McDaniels Not Good Enough
“We were outplayed and out coached,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said after the game.
Wait, was that from this week’s press conference or a previous one?
At least McDaniels (kind of) owns the role he has played in this disaster of a season. With a fully healthy offensive unit, a lot of this falls on the play-calling — and yet, on Saturday night, his quarterback deserved his fair share of the blame.
Carr finished 16/30 for just 174 yards and three interceptions — each varying degrees of his fault. The first one bounced off of Foster Moreau’s hands — Carr Blame Meter: 2/10. The second was behind Renfrow and off his hands — Carr Blame Meter: 5/10. The third one was the dagger, though. On the final drive of the game, needing a field goal to force overtime, Carr had Renfrow open down the middle of the field and proceeded to hit the defensive back in stride — Carr Blame Meter: 10/10.
When your quarterback stinks, and the play caller is clueless, it’s a bad combination — and that’s what Vegas got on Saturday.
Defensive Headline: “Yes…yes…yes…yes…no”
Yes, there was some luck in a pair of missed field goals, but it’s hard to take anything away from how the Raiders defense played on Saturday night — especially after losing both Chandler Jones and Denzel Perryman at various points in the game.
I mean, if you looked at the Raiders’ first-choice depth chart, they finished the game missing two of their three preferred corners (Rock Ya-Sin, Anthony Averett), all of their preferred linebackers (Perryman, Jason Brown, Divine Deablo) and Jones — their second highest paid player on defense. And yes, it was Kenny Pickett and the Steelers in below-freezing weather, but you take what you can get with this unit, and they were good enough to win.
And yet…they were one drive short.
With 2:55 remaining, the Steelers took over on their own 24 — marching 76 yards in 10 plays to take the lead. The dagger came with 46 seconds left, having just converted a fourth-and-one and burned their final timeout. From the 14-yard line, Pickett found rookie receiver George Pickens wide-open in the end zone.
Good, but not good enough, I guess.
Player of the Game: Luke Masterson
A rare bright spot in a pretty depressing season, the undrafted rookie linebacker has made the most of his opportunities this season. Masterson finished with 10 tackles (one for a loss) as part of a unit that allowed just 3.9 yards per carry against one of the better backs in the league, Najee Harris.
Odds and Ends
- This was the Raiders’ third prime-time game of the season, and all three have been disasters: a 17-point blown lead against the Chiefs, a 13-point blown lead against the Rams, and now a 13-10 loss to the Steelers. As bad as this season has been, the fact that some of the worst moments have come in the spotlight somehow makes it worse.
- The last pass that Davante Adams caught game with 11:48 remaining….in the second quarter. He finished fifth on the team in yards (15) and has now caught just nine passes in the last three contests on 25 targets.
- Derek Carr’s three interceptions are unfortunately not a fluke — he has now thrown at least one pick in his last five games, and nine total over that stretch.
- Josh Jacobs’ 2.9 yards per carry on Saturday was a season-low by nearly a yard, as was his 50 total yards (44 rushing, six receiving).