Isaac Brekken / Associated Press
The Las Vegas Raiders overtook the Los Angeles Raiders during a Thursday night adventure that most would like to forget. In doing so, the once promising season of the Raiders was interrupted, with only a slight mathematical possibility and a lot of help needed to get into the postseason.
A month ago, the Raiders held a 6-3 record with impressive wins over the Cleveland Browns, Chargers and Denver Broncos.
Everything fell apart from that moment, the loss of overtime of 30-27 on Thursday essentially sealing the fate of the Raiders. Las Vegas has lost four of its last five games.
The only victory came with the kindness of a bragart of Gregg Williams – New York Jets should have won the first victory of the season only to let Henry Ruggs III compete behind the defense (without safety help) for one last shot in the area final, so the Raiders could get a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Williams lost his job the next day. The Raiders should reevaluate where they are moving before as a 7-7 team that could miss its franchise defender in the next two weeks, since Derek Carr suffered a groin injury in the first quarter on Thursday and has not back.
Head coach Jon Gruden he told reporters the fact that Carr’s injury is “significant”, although he does not believe that the defender actually broke the muscle.
Marcus Mariota participated in the contest and played relatively well. The expensive reserve brought the Raiders back from a double touchdown deficit and even led a potential winning unit of the game in overtime that led to a goal on the field.
The secondary defender provided 314 total yards, including 88 yards, after entering the game in the second quarter. His presence helped open the offense, as the Chargers had to realize his mobility, making it much easier for the Raiders to move the ball.
However, Las Vegas did not fully capitalize on the fact that Los Angeles was not preparing for Mariota to take over the crime.
With 4:30 left in overtime, Gruden ran Josh Jacobs twice between attacks before attempting a simple action-play pass in a compressed area on the 5-meter line. The head coach then chose to hit a goal instead of trying to end the game right there with a fourth touchdown. In the worst case, the Chargers would have been fixed near their own end zone if the offense could not score a touchdown.
Isaac Brekken / Associated Press
“If it was a little closer, I’d think I’d go for it,” Gruden said he told reporters. “But to take the lead with three minutes left, I thought it was the game to be played at that moment.”
The Raiders deserved to lose because they were not playing to win.
While you’re playing with his backup and several starters are missing, Las Vegas had the chance to steal a game that Los Angeles dominated throughout. Instead, Gruden played it safe and lost anyway.
“It’s me,” Gruden he told reporters. “It was hard. I’m very proud of our coaches and our players. We did a lot of good things tonight. But you have to win these tight games. And a lot of times, that’s a reflection on the head coach.”
On the contrary, the Chargers let their outstanding debutants take over the online game. Herbert threw three direct passes to start Chargers overtime, the third of which was a long finish to the 2-meter line. Three games later, the defender slipped the ball into the final area for the winning score.
In the final race, Herbert became the first rookie to ever throw 300 or more meters and run for the winning score in overtime, according to Statistical performance. Herbert is an ongoing star and first place winner for the 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The Chargers held the ball in their hands throughout the extra frame. The Raiders chose not to do the same with their defender who put them in a position to win.
David Becker / Associated Press
But a single loss does not define a season. Raiders problems are much bigger.
This bad stretch started with a loss to the Kansas City bosses, but the Raiders had no reason to hang their heads. They competed hard and even had a lead in the quarterfinals. But Las Vegas looked deflated coming out of that contest.
One week later, the Atlanta Falcons, who played with interim coach Raheem Morris after firing Dan Quinn, blocked the Raiders by 37 points. The Jets followed, and the Raiders almost fell to the worst team in the league. The Indianapolis Colts scored 44 points last weekend.
The defense in Las Vegas, in particular, was extremely bad. According to the Associated Press Josh Dubow, opponents have had 17 units (not including knees) in the last two games. During this stretch, the Raiders allowed eight touchdowns and four field goals, and their opponents missed two more goal attempts. Las Vegas forced just three points without turnover.
The group fought on Thursday in a short time. Chargers scored quickly before the end of the first half, with only one minute left when they won possession. Gruden admitted that his assistant blew two covers.
“It has been a problem in recent years and it is difficult to recognize it again,” said the coach said.
With or without Carr in line, the Raiders offense showed they could move the ball. However, it does not matter if the defense does not fulfill its role.
Now, the Raiders are a game and a half behind the 8-5 Miami Dolphins and 8-5 Baltimore Ravens for the seventh seed of the AFC playoffs. A win next weekend against Miami would definitely go a long way, but it probably won’t be enough.
The Dolphins could enter their game against the Raiders with a full two-game advantage if they beat the Patriots this weekend.
Isaac Brekken / Associated Press
The Ravens are positioned the best of all three teams, with upcoming contests against the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals.
Maybe 9-4 Cleveland Browns is falling apart, as the Raiders keep the tiebreaker between the two after defeating Cleveland earlier this season. However, the Browns simply have to win a game against the Giants, Jets or Steelers so that doesn’t matter.
From all points of view, the Raiders season is over, and the team is 18-28 since Gruden took over in 2018. What makes things worse is that the organization fell apart at the end of last season. The Raiders finished the ’19 campaign by losing five of the last six contests. It could have another stretch from the end of the 1-5 season losing to the Dolphins next week.
Some serious research of the soul must take place in Sin City. What happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas if the Raiders continue to do so under Gruden’s supervision.
Brent Sobleski covers NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.