Nobody Builds And Blows A Lead Like The Raiders
10:45 AM EST on December 9, 2022
We open today's Cave Of Misery with this, from the redoubtable Josh Dubow of Associated Press, who lives to unearth these gems and deserves to live forever because of them:
That's right, the metaphor-drenched Las Vegas Raiders have done something that hasn't been done since at least three years before Chuck Grassley was born, which is to say since the Earth cooled. In managing to lose 17-16 to the Los Angeles Rams and inflatable Christmas decoration Baker Mayfield, the Raiders blew their fourth double-digit halftime lead of the season. Fourth. In eight losses. In 13 games. The hows and whys of that achievement have now given way to the more elemental "WTF?" I mean, Baker Mayfield had just arrived with the Rams during Al Michaels's pregame show, and HE figured out how to beat the Raiders, which is to fall behind by two scores and let nature take its course.
Do you have any conception of how hard it is to be good enough to build sizable halftime leads and so bad that you always give them away? Of course you don't. That's because nobody's ever done this going back to at least 1930, which means probably ever, since most games in the 1920s ended up 0-0, or worse. Before there were facemasks, before there were helmets for everyone on the team, before grass had replaced gravestones as the preferred playing surface. When the Frankford Yellow Jackets were the Raiders of their time.
Other than inspiring an entire new wave of in-game betting by folks wanting to get in the free money that springs forth from fading these masters of the self-tracheotomy, the Raiders have accomplished nothing of value this season. They have forgotten about Josh Jacobs, then remembered him, and are now using him like the neighbor's mule in an attempt to see how soon they can injure him. They are wasting Davante Adams in ways that the Angels couldn't conceive of wasting Shohei Ohtani. They've made Derek Carr cry, and that's only the one time we caught him. They've made Mark Davis become more interested in the WNBA without actually ruining his team or that league. They've pretty much put a new face on quitting. They have now lost games to a coach who'd been on the job for six days (Jeff Saturday) and a quarterback who'd been on the job for two (Mayfield). The only thing they haven't done is fire Josh McDaniels for not giving the abdication speech everyone begs to hear.
After last night, Davis didn't even bother to have a postgame heart-to-heart/come-to-Jesus/stop-doing-this-crap meeting with his beleaguered coach. He just went back to the hotel, got on the plane, and went back home to consider yet again what his father bequeathed to him 11 years ago. Of his seven coaches, only two have had winning records, one of whom was fired the next year (Jack Del Rio) and the other of whom was never technically hired (Rich Bisaccia). Thus it should not be surprising that they are again leaving a trail of methane and half-eaten tuna melts behind them as they complete their annual march toward hell.
But this is something new—yet classically Raider, too. You could not conceive of another team that can build and blow leads this consistently. By this point of the season, most teams have decided whether to be good or bad, but not both, and definitely not both in the same game, repeatedly. The Raiders are so untrustworthy that they have created an aura of trustworthy untrustworthiness. They have created that rarest of combo-occupations: the architect-arsonist.
And with only four more leads left to squander, these Raiders could become … what, more Raiderlike? If there is a team poised to lose a game after it has taken a lead into overtime, and then lose that overtime game by two touchdowns, this is the one. They can do anything, as long as it starts well and ends badly.