After an embarrassing performance against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, a bounce back win against the Dallas Cowboys would have meant everything for the Oakland Raiders. The Cowboys come into the game having won two straight. Both teams had a lot riding on the outcome of this Sunday night game. A loss to the Cowboys would all but put an end to the Raiders underwhelming 2017 season, which inevitably happened in frustrating fashion. Here are the biggest takeaways from Oakland’s 20-17 defeat.
Week 15 Oakland Raiders Takeaways
Sean Smith Earns Some Money
Oakland’s secondary has been one of the worst in the NFL this season. The unit consistently gives up big plays, and has not been able to turn the ball over. Sean Smith is Oakland’s highest paid corner. Up until this point, Smith has been a free agent bust. But after tonight’s performance, Raider fans can feel a little bit better about giving Smith all of that money.
Sean Smith recorded two interceptions, and his second pick was close to being a pick six. Oakland’s defense has struggled mightily to create turnovers all season long. Even though the Raiders offense had its fair share of struggles tonight, Smith made two big plays that gave them chances to score. He played his best game as an Oakland Raider Sunday night.
A Running Carr
Quarterback Derek Carr found the end zone twice tonight, and connected to Michael Crabtree for both scores. There is no doubt he was the reason the Raiders had a chance to win this game. With less than a minute to go in the red zone, and the game on the line, Carr tucked the ball and ran toward the pylon. After being pushed out by Jeff Heath, Carr fumbled the ball out of the end zone. By rule, Dallas got the ball back, and was able to run out the clock.
Oakland needed Carr to work his fourth quarter magic we saw so much of last season. When the Raiders needed him most, he couldn’t get the job done. This doesn’t happen a lot to Carr, but that play seemed to sum up the Raiders entire lackluster 2017 season. Carr tried to have his heroics bail out the Raiders late in a game once again. Oakland finds themselves in this position too many times. It didn’t help that the Raiders were scoreless through the first half.
If Oakland doesn’t want to be in the position to have to win with the last play, they should be prepared and execute enough throughout the whole game. The Raiders had plenty of chances to score, and could have been leading late in the fourth quarter if it weren’t for a lot of lackluster offensive series.
The Questionable Call
Late in the game, Dallas went for it on fourth and short. Quarterback Dak Prescott attempted a sneak, and was close to the first down marker. The chains were brought onto the field to measure the spot. At first glance, the tip of the football appeared to be completely even with the end of the chain. Referee Gene Steratore folded a couple of pieces of paper, and put it between the football and the chain. After several seconds, Steratore motioned that the Cowboys indeed got the first down.
If the call had gone in favor of Oakland, there is no doubt that the outcome of the game could have surely been different. The Cowboys were able to score a field goal, and took a 20-17 lead. Oakland was forced to come back, and that is when Carr made the fumble that ended the game for good.
The call that Steratore made will definitely be talked about, and will probably get the NFL talking about better ways to measure a spot when it is incredibly close. Conspiracy will no doubt follow, much like it does after other questionable calls. However, that call was huge in this game. The Raiders are wishing they just had the chance to get the ball back before Dallas took the lead.