Mistakes squelch Raiders chances in Packers loss

The Raiders’ best efforts Sunday fueled a comeback from a 14-point deficit stemming from a pair of interceptions, but weren’t enough to send playoff-bound Green Bay packing.

Oakland lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 30-20, and maintained their position of NFL mediocrity, though they also weren’t playing with a complete faculty.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Raiders locker room at O.co Coliseum.

Head coach Jack Del Rio said:

“Tonight we understand that we weren’t good enough to beat the Packers in today’s game. We had some chances, they made more plays than we did. They did a better job, coach Mike McCarthy did a better job than Jack Del Rio did with his football team. That’s just how it is. It’s a business where you look to put together your best effort each week and put it on the line, and we just didn’t quite get it done today.”

The Packers held running back Latavius Murray to 78 yards on 21 carries, though he nearly hit two home runs.

Nearly was the word of the day for Oakland.

Quarterback Derek Carr nearly outplayed Rodgers, but his two first-half interceptions, one of which was taken for a touchdown, killed any argument that he was the better player.

Carr did throw for more yards, though, 276 to 204, along with two touchdown passes to Rodgers’ one.

Photos by Jeffery Bennett/SFBay

The difference was two underthrown passes in bad spots, and with bad decision-making on behalf of Carr. The first was picked off by Packers corner Micah Hyde on a deep pass toward the right sideline in the direction of tight end Clive Walford.

Said Carr:

“They were playing two-man, and the guy’s back was to me. So I tried to sneak it in without the guy seeing it. And he turned his head around and caught it. He made a good play.”

Hyde took it all the way back to the 2-yard-line and nearly made it all the way before Walford made the big-effort stop at the goal line. Fullback John Kuhn ran it in three plays later for a 7-0 lead.

Carr’s second pick, the big one, was another thrown to the right side and nine yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Receiver Seth Roberts was the target, but Damarious Randall was the one to come down with it. Six points.

The Raiders trailed 14 points with fewer than 15 minutes gone, even with Green Bay playing a pretty awful kind of football, largely departed from the kind the team has become known for over the last 30-or-so years.

Late in the first half, the Raiders mounted a drive that got them back in the game, following a pair of field goals after two missed opportunities.

Starting with less than 90 seconds before the half, Oakland marched 79 yards on three passes and one run, capped by a beautiful leaping grab by rookie Amari Cooper.

Tight end Mychal Rivera and fullback Marcel Reece chipped in with one catch apiece, and Carr’s 17-yard run injected a little magic into the clutch drive that trimmed the Green Bay lead to 14-13 at the half.

Cooper caught a third quarter touchdown as well, a 26-yarder with plenty of good momentum coming with it to take  a 20-17 lead on an eight-play drive that started at the Raiders 19-yard line and featured a near-interception from Carr.

The field was watered by mother nature all game long, which put the skids on a productive day for either offense, thought the Packers’ defense was the stalwart of the game.

Specifically the Green Bay secondary, who controlled the game and ensured the Raiders fate. Murray said:

“We wanted to win the division, that was our goal and we didn’t do that. We wanted to play in the postseason and we came up short. We’re not happy with that. We’re not satisfied at all.”

Raiders season not successful

The regular season isn’t over just yet, but the season, according to players, hasn’t been successful. Oakland’s loss puts them in the same situation the franchise has been in for 13 consecutive years, short of a winning record and without a postseason berth.

This, even with several individual and team accolades.

Murray is the current rushing leader in the AFC, topping LeSean McCoy and a crew of others. Carr is statistically elite. He’s got a better touchdown to interception ratio than any NFL quarterbacks with more than 30 touchdown passes not named Tom Brady and Cam Newton.

He’s proved the most clutch passer drafted in the last three years.

Cooper leads rookie receivers in yards, and by more than twice that of the next best, Washington’s Jamison Crowder. The only receivers drafted over the last three years that have more yards are Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins.

Defensive end Khalil Mack leads the league in sacks, and he’s been even better stopping the run. Cornerback David Amerson, a waiver wire add, entered week 15 tied for the most passes defensed in the NFL, and added three more, totaling 23. That’s the best in franchise history.

How is that not success? Defensive back Charles Woodson said:

“There is no success without a super bowl.”

Fair enough. Murray added to the conversation:

“Nah, not a success at all. We wanted to win the division. And we want to be playing in the postseason. So no it was not a success.”

The Raiders, for all their accolades, still have a ways to go before they can be crowned among the NFL elite. They do, though, have substantial reason to be considered favorites for the 2016 season and the AFC West, especially with the demise of Peyton Manning.

They have proven to be in the same category as the other teams within the division, and have more young talent than any. An improved secondary, and a few other upgrades are the difference. Maybe even something as simple as experience.

But the 2015 season is not the one.

Notes

Amari Cooper became the first Raiders receiver to amass 1,000 yards receiving since Randy Moss in 2005, ending a decade of miserable to mediocre runs which featured nobody wearing Silver and Black. Cooper also became the first rookie wide receiver in franchise history to rack up that yardage total, and the rookie class has tallied nine touchdowns through the air, the most in Raiders history. … The crop of 2014 and 2015 continues to post big numbers, and could finish the year as the best tandem of draft classes in Raiders history from a statistical point of view.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.