OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The Raiders played, and lost, their biggest game in almost 15 years last night. Quarterback Derek Carr played injured, and played arguably the worst game of his career, but the loss doesn't rest solely on his shoulders.
Going into the Thursday night matchup, Carr had put himself in the conversation to be named the NFL's MVP at the end of the season. This game probably took him out of that conversation.
But, the Raiders' offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, deserves as much blame for the performance as Carr. Despite Carr's injured hand, the Raiders' ability to run with success in the second half, and plenty of time on the clock, Musgrave continued to call pass plays.
The Raiders' running backs averaged 4.7 yards per carry in last nights game, and the running seemed to get easier after the Chiefs lost the QB of their defense, Derrick Johnson, to a devastating injury.
Multiple drives were killed when the Raiders stopped running the ball for, seemingly, no reason at all.
Despite that, thanks to their defense, the Raiders found themselves with a chance to tie the game with a touchdown (and a 2 point conversion) late. But, they didn't move with any sense of urgency. Still, with just over 2 minutes left, they found themselves seriously threatening the Chiefs on the edge of the redzone in a 3rd and 1 situation.
The play call for that situation, considering the flow of the game, would be a run to pick up a first down and then figure out what to do next after the two minute warning, right? No. The play that was called epitomized the night. The Raiders decided to forego the run, put the ball in the hands of the QB (who can't even grip the ball properly) and have him throw a jump ball to the fourth receiver on the depth chart against one of the best young defensive backs in the game. The 4th down call, after a false start penalty, resulted in another incomplete pass, this time to Seth Roberts.
The 4th down call I don't have much of an issue with. The 3rd down call, however, is extremely frustrating.
The best teams in the league put the ball in the hands of the hot/best player. An injured Carr, completing less than 50% of his passes (for less than 3 yards per completion) is not that player in that situation. Even with that said, I could have lived with him throwing it on 3rd and 1... if he was passing to Cooper (Crabtree was out with an injury to his hand sustained on a pass interference call).
A coach is supposed to put his players in a position to succeed. Musgrave didn't do that on Thursday, when he dialed up 41 passes (for 117 yards) against just 28 rushes (for 133 yards) in a frigid environment with banged up players.
Despite losing their 5th straight to the Chiefs last night, I believe the Raiders are the superior team when healthy.
Carr's finger will get better. The Raiders will be fine. In the meantime, get ready to root for Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray for the next two weeks, as the Titans take on both the Broncos and Chiefs.