The Raiders' playoff hopes took a huge blow last weekend, as they were unable to sustain early dominance and essentially gave away a 38-31 win to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
One encouraging thing from this game was that the Raiders, who typically do not travel well to the East Coast, showed none of the usual malaise or rust after a cross-country plane ride. They came out on fire and took the fight to the Jags, and entered the locker room with a 17-7 lead.
Jacksonville, though, put up 31 points in the second half, made big plays when it mattered, and held the Raiders when they needed to.
Although San Diego's decisive victory over the San Francisco 49ers last night wasn't the death knell for the Raiders playoff chances, it didn't help. The Raiders are in a position where they must win out and get some help in order to have a chance to be playing for the division in week 17 in Kansas City.
The Raiders hold every meaningful tiebreaker over the Chargers, and the divisional record over the Chiefs. But, being two games back with three to play is a precarious position, and that's where the Raiders currently find themselves.
Because their playoff hopes are still alive, and because they want to end a dubious string of seven straight 10+ loss seasons, this team will remain focused, with no worry of a late season swoon or packing it in.
Coach Tom Cable, OC Hue Jackson and the majority of players are talking playoffs. They know that they aren't dead yet, and they won't give up until they are for sure. In fact, unlike Raider teams of recent vintage, this team simply doesn't give up and fights to the very end. That was evident in the comeback effort that unfortunately fell short in Jacksonville last week.
This team has improved in so many ways over recent squads, but they still must learn to close games out better and keep their focus for a full sixty minutes. With that in mind, here is this week's pressures, hurries, and knockdowns.