3 Takeaways from Raiders' Week 13 Loss
The Las Vegas Raiders gained a lot of momentum during their big Thanksgiving-day win over the Dallas Cowboys. They lost all of it with an abject performance against the Washington Football Team on Sunday.
Against the Cowboys, Las Vegas snapped a three-game losing streak and moved back above .500. Derek Carr and the offense were fantastic, out-dueling Dak Prescott and Co. en route to a 36-33 overtime win. The unit was nearly nonexistent at home against Washington, while the defense had some critical breakdowns late.
Las Vegas is back to .500, and in the AFC, that won't be good enough for a playoff spot. This was a game the Raiders had to win, especially with three of their final five games coming on the road and each of them against a team with a .500 record or better.
Sunday's loss makes the Raiders' path to the postseason extremely difficult, and it suggests that Las Vegas simply isn't a playoff team in 2021. Here's what else we learned during the Raiders' 17-15 loss in Week 13.
Slow Starts Are Likely to Doom Las Vegas
The Raiders should be able to win when surrendering only 17 points at home. However, a slow offensive start once again sunk the team's chances. Las Vegas notched a mere three points in the first half and had only two field goals to show for the first three quarters.
This marked the third time in four games that the Raiders have scored one touchdown at most in the opening half.
"It's very frustrating," Running back Josh Jacobs said, per Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's annoying, really. Starting slow every week I feel like and taking too long to be who we are. It’s definitely frustrating."
While the Raiders did put up nine points in the fourth quarter and briefly take a late lead, it wasn't enough. Had they gotten just one earlier score, they likely would have walked away victorious.
This recent trend of starting slow must stop if the Raiders hope to turn things around in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
This Defense Isn't Good Enough for a Playoff Push
The Raiders defense deserves some credit for limiting Washington to 17 points. However, it also deserves blame for failing to come up with key stops when they were needed most.
Facing a one-point deficit, Washington was able to drive 44 yards and kick a go-ahead field goal with fewer than 40 seconds remaining in regulation. Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke was 4-of-5 in the drive.
This was a trend all afternoon. Washington didn't score a ton of points, but it was able to extend drives and control the tempo. The Football Team converted seven of 13 third-down attempts and held the ball for more than 33 minutes of game clock.
This, combined with Las Vegas' inability to score early, allowed Washington to grind out an ugly road win. Washington, which ranks 30th in total offense and 25th in scoring, isn't exactly an offensive powerhouse. If the Raiders cannot shut it down at home, they are likely to have an even harder time with the Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts on the road.
The Loss of Kenyan Drake Will Be Significant
Las Vegas didn't just lose on the scoreboard Sunday. They also lost a key piece of their offense for the remainder of the season. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, running back Kenyan Drake suffered a broken ankle against Washington and is out for the year.
The loss of Drake is a massive blow to the Raiders offense. He is the only running back on the roster who has averaged at least four yards per carry, and Drake has been a notable piece of the passing attack. The prized offseason acquisition has totaled 254 rushing yards, 30 receptions, 291 receiving yards and three combined touchdowns.
With Drake out, the Raiders will lean even more heavily on Jacobs, who has been average at best on the ground. While it's worth noting that Jacobs has dealt with multiple injuries throughout the season, he's still averaging a modest 3.8 yards per carry.
Jacobs was better against Washington, finishing with 52 rushing yards, 4.0 yards per carry, 38 receiving yards and one touchdown. However, he has rarely performed like the Pro Bowler he was a year ago. With his top complement out for the year, the Raiders will have to hope this changes.