This season has been a year of frustration for the Oakland Raiders. There has already been a switch of defensive coordinators, persistent talk of firing the offensive coordinator, and in recent weeks, talks of even letting go the head coach. While the record isn’t what anyone expected, if there was any thought that Jack Del Rio had lost the locker room, those thoughts were put to rest with the strong effort put forth during last night’s game.
Oakland Raiders Show Fight in Loss to Dallas Cowboys
Head Coach Jack Del Rio talked all week about “letting it rip”, but the offense again got off to a slow start, being shut out in the first half for the second week in a row. Things got rolling in the second half though, specifically with Derek Carr, showing the same type of grit that helped propel this team to a playoff berth last season. Carr finished 21 of 38 attempts, 171 yards passing, and two touchdowns, but also contributed 47 yards rushing.
The last rushing attempt proved costly though, as Carr stretched for the pylon to win the game, only to lose possession short of the goal line. The ball went through the end zone resulting in a touch back.
Said Carr of the final play. “I left it all out there. I’m just trying to win for my teammates. No excuse, I have to hold onto the ball. You know, the fight our team played with today – that was familiar, that looked like us. Did we execute 100% of the time? No. Did we play a really good defense? Absolutely. We played a really good team, but at the end of the day – we lost. It is what it is. I can say that we left it out there.”
The offense has been an issue for most of the year, and changes are expected in the off-season.
The defense though has shown great improvement since replacing Ken Norton Jr with John Pagano. The defense put on another strong showing yesterday, sacking Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott twice, both by Khalil Mack, and intercepting him two times, both by cornerback Sean Smith.
Del Rio praised the defense for it’s effort yesterday. “Yeah, it was the first drive, maybe the first two drives, they hit a couple. We just settled down. We had a good feel for what we had to do to defend them. I thought we were ready. I thought we did a good job of it. We got off on third down. I think they were 2-for-10 or something like that. So, we did a good job there. We got some turnovers. We had a chance for a couple more. I thought it was pretty solid.”
The defense now has 14 sacks, four interceptions, and three forced fumbles in the past four games.
The type of close game the Oakland Raiders lost last night they found a way to win last year. If they overachieved last year, they underachieved this year. With an improved defense, and an offense that resembles last years, this team should be challenging for the AFC West crown next year.