February 21, 2018

Dropped Frozen Balloons

Next on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a Thursday night game in frigid Kansas City, Missouri to play the Chiefs.  The Raiders were coming off a 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills and the Chiefs were coming off a 29-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons.  The Chiefs won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Cairo Santos kicked the game off and return man Jalen Richard was brought down at the 23.  The Raiders had a quick three and out and punter Marquette King punted the ball away to speedy return man Tyreek Hill.  The ball went right through his arms and was recovered by defensive end James Cowser at the Kansas City 38-yard line.  Quarterback Derek Carr and the offense still couldn’t get out of their own way as the receivers were dropping passes all over the field.  On third and eight from the 26, Carr threw a perfect pass to Seth Roberts and he dropped it.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came into the game and his 44-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 11:34 to go in the first quarter, the Raiders led 3-0.

Neither offense could do much with the ball in the frozen conditions until the 1:29 mark of the first quarter.  Quarterback Alex Smith completed passes to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce.  That moved them from the 30 to the Oakland 36.  From the 36, Smith threw a perfect pass to Hill and he caught it for a touchdown.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs led 7-3 with 14:51 to go in the second quarter.

Despite some good running by running back Latavius Murray, the Raiders ended up punting again.  The Chiefs took over at their 22 and once again, Kelce was open for a gain of 28 yards.  A holding penalty moved them back ten yards.  But Smith went to the air on the next play and wide receiver Chris Conley hauled the pass in for a gain of 31 yards and a first down at the Oakland 25-yard line.  An offside penalty on the Raiders and a 16-yard pass to Hill put the ball at the four.  Two plays later, running back Charcandrick West took it into the end zone.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs led 14-3 with 8:34 to go in the second quarter.

Guess what the Raiders did on their next possession?  Yup.  They punted again.  Tyreek Hill was dropped for a loss of four and the Chiefs had the ball at their 29.  But Raider running back Taiwan Jones was flagged for running out of bounds during the return.  That’s a five-yard penalty and the Chiefs opted to have King punt again.  Before the punt, announcer Cris Collinsworth made the comment that the Raiders already ran all the way down the field once and that they were probably tired.  It pains me to say that he was right.  But, he was right.  Hill fielded the punt at the 22 and ran untouched 78 yards for a touchdown.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs led 21-3 with 6:25 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders really needed to get some points on the board and they would be starting at their eight-yard line.  Seeing as Carr has an injured pinky, they were forced to operate out of the shotgun and pistol formations.  This drive started out with a ten-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper.  A couple of carries by Murray and a pass to tight end Clive Walford gave the Raiders a first down at the 41-yard line.  Three more carries by Murray and a pass to tight end Mychal Rivera put the ball at the Kansas City 28-yard line.  Wow! The Raiders finally made it into Kansas City territory with two minutes remaining!  Isn’t that amazing?

From the 28, Carr went deep for Richard in the end zone.  But the pass was overthrown.  Richard was open, but the ball floated over his head like a balloon.  Another pass to Cooper and a five-yard carry by Murray netted a first down at the 14-yard line.  Three plays later, Murray took it into the end zone from one yard out.  The play was reviewed and Collinsworth chimed in again.  He said “Huh…Well…I don’t think he got in.  Uh…Huff…Ahem…It looks like his…uhhh….knee was down before he got the ball across the plane.”  What game are you watching, Collinsworth?  Murray CLEARLY got the ball across for a touchdown.  Just because you and your buddy Al Michaels were obviously rooting for the Chiefs doesn’t mean you’re always going to get your way.  The call stood and Janikowski made the point after.  At halftime, the Chiefs led 21-10.

What’s the most consistent thing the Raiders have done all year?  The offense has scored a lot of points and the defense has surrendered a lot of points.  Well, in the second half, the defense didn’t allow the Chiefs to score a single point.  If you count the fumble recovery in the first half,  the defense forced three turnovers in Kansas City territory.  Early in the third quarter, cornerback T.J. Carrie picked off Smith and set the offense up at the 18.  But they couldn’t capitalize and had to settle for a field goal.  That made the score 21-13.

Then, defensive end Khalil Mack knocked the ball out of Smith’s hand and defensive end Denico Autry recovered it at the 18.  Now the Raiders really had a great chance to tie the game.  An 11-yard carry by Murray netted a first down at the seven.  But a holding penalty destroyed any chances of the Raiders finding the end zone.  That’s due to some horrible play calling from offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.  On third and goal from the 17, Carr threw a short pass to Roberts and he dropped it.  Why the hell are you throwing a short pass?  The situation was THIRD AND GOAL!!!!  That means you have to get the ball into the end zone!  Did the cold weather freeze your brains?  Do you need a cat scan?  Maybe a nice cup of hot chocolate and a portable fireplace?  What the hell is wrong with you?  The defense set the offense up TWICE in the red zone!  They did their job and the offense failed miserably.  To top all this madness off, the snap was bad on the field goal attempt.  King couldn’t control it and the Raiders got zero points out of that “drive.”

One bizarre play that happened in the fourth quarter was a deep pass to Cooper.  Carr stepped up in the pocket and saw that Cooper had gotten behind the secondary.  He lobbed a pass and it fell incomplete.  It looked like a frozen balloon floating through the air.   Rumor has it that the ball hit a camera wire and that caused it to fall to the ground.  Whatever.  If he had put some zip on the ball, it would have gone for a touchdown.  With 7:25 to go in the game, the Raiders got the ball back at their 15-yard line.  An eight-yard carry by Richard and a short pass to Crabtree got them moving in the right direction.

Two more carries by Richard and one by Murray put them at the 39.  From there, Carr looked for Crabtree.  The pass was incomplete, but the Chiefs were flagged for pass interference.  That gave them a first down at the Kansas City 42-yard line.  On fourth and four from the 36, Roberts finally caught a pass for a gain of 13 yards.  Richard ran up the middle for nine more yards on first down.  On third and one from the 14, the idiot struck again.  Instead of running the ball with Murray or Richard, Musgrave called for a pass play.  It was incomplete and that made it fourth down.  Why would you pass the ball?  Murray had over 100 yards on the ground.  That was without starting guard Kelechi Osemele in the lineup!  Then, it got worse.  Right tackle Austin Howard was flagged for a false start and that moved them back five yards.  On fourth and six from the 19, Carr threw a pass up the left sideline intended for Roberts.  That pass had a very low percentage of being caught.  It was incomplete and that was it.  The Chiefs came away with a 21-13 win.  The loss dropped the Raiders to 10-3 and the win gave the Chiefs a 10-3 record.  That put them in first place in the division  because they won both games against the Raiders this year.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 17 of 41 for 117 yards.  I cannot count how many passes were dropped by his receivers and how many passes were tipped at the line of scrimmage.  He said his pinky wasn’t bothering him.  I beg to differ.  Amari Cooper led the team in receptions with five and receiving yards with just 29.  Running the ball was where the Raiders had some success.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 135 yards on 31 carries.  Latavius Murray led the way with 103 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown.  Defensively, safety Nate Allen led the team in solo tackles with nine.

For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 17 of 26 for 264 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  Travis Kelce led the team in receptions with five and receiving yards with 101.  The Chiefs couldn’t find much daylight on the ground and finished the game with just 65 yards on 27 carries.  Spencer Ware led the team in rushing with 56 yards on 20 carries.  Defensively, defensive back Daniel Sorensen and linebacker Ramil Wilson led the team in solo tackles with six apiece.  The Chiefs got some bad news after the game as they learned that linebacker Derrick Johnson would miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Well, the Raiders certainly had their opportunities in this game.  But they came up short and dropped from the number one seed in the playoffs to the number five seed.  Still, there is time to right the ship.  Up next is a road game at San Diego.  The Chargers are out of the playoff hunt and rumors are flying that they are headed to Los Angeles.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the crowd at that game is 75 percent Raider fans.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy


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