By: Kevin Le
The Las Vegas Raiders came into Atlanta with playoff aspirations on their mind, but lose 43-6 to the Atlanta Falcons. This matchup against the Falcons had the makings of a trap game the Raiders wanted to avoid. With this loss, the road for a playoff birth just got harder for Jon Gruden’s group. Last year at 6-4, the Raiders had a similar loss to the New York Jets 34-3 and ended the season 1-5. This was the first time both the offense and defense did not show up in a game this season. A thirty-seven point loss was the furthest thing to expect from the Raiders heading into this game. The Raiders leave Atlanta with a lot of questions to answer and cannot think about the playoffs just yet.
Carr on Empty?
Heading into this game, the Raiders were one of the best third-down conversion teams. The Raiders were 3-12 on third down which made them punt an unusual amount. Turning the ball over on the road will never help your chances of winning and the Raiders turned it over five times. Derek Carr fumbled three times, threw an interception, and Josh Jacobs would also lose a fumble in this game. It was very uncharacteristic for this team to turn the ball over five times and lose the time of possession battle. Carr got sacked five times, and the offense only had thirteen first downs to Atlanta’s twenty-three. Not having Trent Brown hurt Derek Carr in the pocket and it was the first time the offense did not look explosive.
To start the game, the Raiders had a fourth and one where Josh Jacobs got stuffed and did not convert. Raiders had eleven penalties for one hundred forty-three yards which hurt their drives and helped the Falcons. A costly penalty was in the second quarter where Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo got ran into by Raiders safety Dallin Leavitt. This granted the Falcons a first down and Matt Ryan found Calvin Ridley for a touchdown a couple of plays after. In the red zone, the Raiders were shut out in a spot where they were very consistent. The Raiders did not score a touchdown in this game which was very uncharacteristic due to recent offensive success. All of these miscues led to the blowout loss for the Raiders who were looking like a playoff team.
After losing to the Chiefs by four last week, the Raiders follow up with a thirty-seven point loss to the Falcons. Maybe the Raiders looked too far into the schedule and wrote off the below .500 Falcons, but this loss will raise some questions. The Raiders remaining schedule had two games that looked easy on paper. It started with the Falcons and then the Jets, but it was the opposite of easy for the Raiders. This was a game to forget for both the offense and defense because of the many mistakes. In the NFL there are no easy games to play in so the Raiders got their much-needed wake-up call. Back to back disappointing losses have the Las Vegas Raiders at 6-5, still with a chance at the playoffs.
Don’t worry Raider fans, there is still hope for the playoffs even with this blowout loss to the Falcons. The Raiders are headed back to the East Coast with a matchup against the New York Jets. Losing from here on out is not an option with the tight race for the three AFC Wildcard spots. Getting a win in New York next week will get the confidence back which was lacking against the Falcons. A wake-up call was needed for this Raiders team to remind them who they are and what they can become. The Raiders still control their destiny and can choose which path they go on. It is not time to hit the panic button yet, but this loss to the Falcons can make or break the season.