Lions vs Raiders: 6 Things We Learned About Oakland's 28-27 Loss
While having their prayers answered with losses by the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, the Oakland Raiders didn't do their part to put themselves in a better position to make the playoffs this year. A win today would have put the Raiders back in a first-place tie for the AFC West lead.
They also would have been tied with the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals for the last wild-card spot. The Raiders own the tiebreaker with the Jets, having beat them this season, while the Bengals still have to play the Ravens in their season finale.
It was a true heartbreaker for the blown opportunity and the way the Raiders lost this game 28-27. We will truly learn a great deal more about the team next week in Kansas City, facing the Chiefs, as they recover from today's loss.
But we were able to learn quite a bit about the Raiders in their heartbreaking loss today.
Turn the page to see what.
Hue Jackson All In
All those that believe that Hue Jackson should be fired should get their Raider Nation citizenship revoked. The man is clearly doing all he can to win the games with his 4th-and-1 call early, and the 3rd-and-3 call late.
They were both deep balls that had a wide-open receiver, but were missed on long throws. If the 4th-and-1 deep ball had connected, it is likely that the game wouldn't have been in reach for the Lions late in the game.
Then on the 3rd-and-3 late in the game, the Raiders would have put the game away but didn't. Again, they were both brilliant calls that had receivers open but just weren't executed well enough by the quarterback.
You can't put this one on Jackson.
He put all cards on the table, trying to win the game.
Defensive Coordinator Must Go
What was he thinking?
Al Davis has to be turning in his grave right now!
Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan called a Tampa-Two defense with the game on the line. Everyone in the building knew the ball was going to Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and he was covered by middle linebacker Rolando McClain and safety Jerome Boyd.
We all know that McClain can't cover Johnson and Boyd has been consistently beaten in coverage all year. I don't understand why Routt, who's the Raiders best corner, didn't have him with help over the top.
Come to think of it, what was Boyd even doing on the field?
I wonder why he's on the team, but that's a different article.
Darrius Heyward-Bey Not a Go-to Guy
Former first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey has improved and was having a great day, but he's not a go-to guy in the clutch. He had eight catches, 155 yards and a touchdown, but couldn't secure the ball when needed.
With about a minute left in the third quarter, Heyward-Bey made a great catch and run that would have had the Raiders in the red zone. Unfortunately, Heyward-Bey didn't secure the ball, fumbling it, and taking points off the board.
Then in the closing seconds of the game, he drops a pass that would have gotten the Raiders a closer field goal. With all of the money Heyward-Bey has received from the Raiders, he has to be more clutch than that.
Perhaps that's the next improvement he makes to be what the Raiders drafted him for.
Carson Palmer Questionable in the Clutch
After watching him throw a dime to Louis Murphy to set up the winning touchdown against the Bears, I thought Carson Palmer was a good clutch quarterback. Then today, he misses a wide-open Chaz Schilens late in the game that could have put the game on ice.
Which guy is he?
Palmer hit 80 percent of his passes, had 367 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions today. But being a Raiders quarterback is about being clutch and a good thrower of the deep ball.
He was none of those things today.
Was that just today, or is that how he is in the clutch?
Moore Is a Difference Maker
You can see how different the offense is when rookie Denarius Moore is in the game. He would have had a big play for a touchdown today if Palmer would have hit him, but that's not the whole measure of his impact.
The Lions defense really shifted its attention toward Moore after the near miss, leaving the rest of the receiver corps open. You can see now that Moore is the Darren McFadden of the Raiders passing game.
He so dynamic; he draws a lot of attention.
Without McFadden, the offense can move through the air when Moore is playing. But when there's no McFadden or Moore, like there wasn't the last three weeks, the offense can't get things going.
Raider Nation looks forward to the day they can play together again.
McClain Starting To Get It
All the trouble that 2010 first-round pick Rolando McClain is going through this year definitely has him focused. Today, he seemed to be all over the place with nine tackles, a sack and was good in coverage.
I can't count the plays that Calvin Johnson made catches on him because covering Johnson shouldn't be his job. Today is the first time I watched a Raiders game and there seemed to be more than one of him out there.
McClain is one of the few good things I took from this game.
As slim as it may be, there is a slither of hope that the Raiders can still make the playoffs, despite blowing an opportunity to have a better shot today. The Broncos lost to the Patriots today, so it is still possible for the Raiders to win the AFC West.
If the Raiders win their next two, they would win the tiebreaker if the Broncos lose the season finale to the Chiefs. It sure would help to get McFadden and Jacoby Ford back for these colossal games.
Just win baby!