Oakland Raiders: After Loss to Detroit Lions, Things To Fix for Week 16

Craig HortonCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2011

Carson Palmer can't make mistakes in Kansas City.
Carson Palmer can't make mistakes in Kansas City.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In NFL history, not many teams have seen the ups and downs of a season more than the 2011 Oakland Raiders.

They lost their starting quarterback for the season, their star running back hasn't played in two months and iconic owner Al Davis died in October.

Losing to Detroit was just another gut-wrenching moment in the 2011 season. It wasn't the first time they gave up a lead late—and lost. This time, it seems like rock-bottom, as if there's no postseason hope.

Really, it's just one game.

However, one game, or even a tiebreaker can separate teams that win the Super Bowl—last year's Packers—from teams that miss the playoffs—last year's Giants.

The Detroit game left me shaking my head in disbelief.

So I watched the game again to see just how bad it was and things to fix before going to Kansas City on Christmas Eve. I am still shaking my head.

1. Don't panic.

There are two games left; there's still hope.

2. Do the things that give a team the best chance to win.

The Raiders defense needs to play for 60 minutes.
The Raiders defense needs to play for 60 minutes.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Raiders built a big lead against Detroit. They did it with good defense, running the ball and having control of the clock.

3. Offensive mistakes must be corrected.

While most who watched the game will blame the defense for the loss, the offense had their share of mistakes. On the Raiders' opening drive, with a 4th-and-1 on the Detroit 24, Carson Palmer missed a sure touchdown pass to Denarius Moore.

Leading 17-14 late in the third quarter, Darrius Heyward-Bey fumbled in the red zone. The Lions recovered at the 8-yard line.

Leading 27-21 late in the fourth quarter, the Raiders had a 3rd-and-3 at the Detroit 48. Palmer missed on a pass to Chaz Schilens. The next play, the Raiders punted to the Detroit 2, where the Lions began their game-winning drive.

If the Raiders had properly executed all three of those plays, they might have won by 20 points.

4. Quarterback awareness must improve.

Carson Palmer got sacked at the Raiders 47 with 13 seconds left, forcing the Raiders to use their final timeout. A veteran QB can't make that mistake.

5. Play good defense for 60 minutes.

Through three-and-a-half quarters, the Raiders defense held Detroit's potent offense to 263 total yards and 14 points. Then they fell apart, looking almost clueless at times.

Never, under any circumstance, under any defensive scheme, ever use a linebacker to cover a premier NFL wide receiver like Calvin Johnson 48 yards downfield.

6. Refer back to No. 1.

Don't panic. I was as skeptical as anyone about this team coming out of the lockout. The win in Houston convinced me the Raiders were for real. They are capable of finishing the season at 9-7.

What it will require is a full 60-minute game each week.