Just a week ago, the Raiders were holding their own against the Kansas City Chiefs. They did not “win” that Sunday night game, per se, but it was promising as losses go: Derek Carr played one of his better games as a Raider, completing 23-of-31 passes for 275 yards, three touchdowns and an interception; the offense looked strong for the most part; a wild-card playoff spot seemed achievable. Only Mahomes’s heroics in the last minute and a half denied the Raiders their second win over the Chiefs this season. Not bad at all.
What exactly happened today? The Raiders lost 43-6 to the Falcons, and not a particularly imposing Falcons team either. Atlanta entered the weekend 3–7 on the season, with one the worst defenses in the league, without receiver Julio Jones, and fresh off a loss to the Saints. It does not quite compute that Las Vegas would really be bothered by this opponent, let alone thumped by them, but man did the Raiders suck!
Carr lost a fumble early in the game, and things did not improve for Vegas from there. He finished with a total of three fumbles, which the Falcons converted into 13 points, and a deal-sealing interception. When the Raiders, still sort of in the game, blocked a punt to set up a drive at the Falcons’ 36-yard line in the third quarter, Carr’s pass was picked off by Deion Jones, who ran it 67 yards for a touchdown.
At this point, having made the Falcons defense look great, the Raiders seemed uninterested in putting up anything resembling a fight. Down 23–3 in the red zone later in the third, they elected to kick a field goal, making a three-score game a three-score game. Carr was mercifully allowed to exit for Nathan Peterman early in the fourth quarter.
The lesson here is that a Jon Gruden–coached team that appears decent should only be regarded with suspicion and distrust. To his credit, Gruden pretty much foretold this himself a few days ago:
The Falcons move to “best 4–7 team he has ever seen.” The Raiders will probably need to win the rest of their games to make the playoffs. Next up is the Jets. After today, who can say how that will go?