Red Zone Offense Plagues Raiders In Latest Loss
ALAMEDA (AP) — Sebastian Janikowski’s missed 32-yard field goal on the final play got all the attention.
It’s all the other mistakes that led to a 24-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals that still haunted the Oakland Raiders the most on Monday.
There were 11 penalties for 123 yards, an opening kickoff that was returned for a touchdown and most importantly only one touchdown on five trips inside the Arizona 20-yard line that contributed most to Sunday’s loss.
“We didn’t lose the game on a kick,” coach Tom Cable said. “We lost the game in not doing more in the last 30 minutes to put ourselves in position to not have to go through all that. We left so many plays out there on the field offensively. The players, coaches, we would all tell you the same thing: 1 for 5 in the red zone is not good enough. It’s totally unacceptable.”
The Raiders are tied for the most trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line this season with 13 but have come away with only three touchdowns for the third-worst percentage in the NFL. Oakland’s 3.0 points per trip inside the 20 is also third-worst.
Oakland (1-2) overcame those struggles in week 2 at home against St. Louis but was unable to do so on the road against the Cardinals.
“We’ve got to be able to score touchdowns in the red zone like that,” tight end Zach Miller said. “That’s what we’ve got to keep working on. We’re definitely doing things to try to get matchups and that sort of thing in the red zone and call a few more plays where the ball was going to me. I liked our play calls. A lot of times we just didn’t execute.”
The Raiders made it inside the 20 for the first time midway through the opening quarter shortly after Arizona fumbled a punt. With a first-and-goal from the 7, Darren McFadden ran for 3 yards and Bruce Gradkowski threw incompletions to McFadden and Miller. Oakland settled for Janikowski’s 22-yard field goal.
McFadden scored on a 2-yard run late in the half for Oakland’s only touchdown on a red zone trip, giving the Raiders a 20-17 lead.
The Raiders then got down to the 13 on their second drive of the third quarter before a holding penalty on Mario Henderson knocked them back. Three plays later, Janikowski missed a 41-yard field goal.
Then early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders recovered another fumbled punt at the 16 and were poised to erase a 24-20 deficit.
With a first-and-goal from the 1, Michael Bush was stuffed, the Raiders took a delay of game penalty and then Gradkowski missed twice on throws to Darrius Heyward-Bey. Janikowski’s 23-yard field goal made it a one-point game.
It looked like that missed opportunity wouldn’t matter when Oakland drove the ball down the field in the final minutes, but Janikowski missed his third field goal of the game on the final play.
“It’s a thousand things that you could point your finger at, but at the end, we got to win a game like that,” Heyward-Bey said. “They stole that. They stole that game from us.”
The 32-yard miss was Janikowski’s shortest since late in the 2006 season. He also missed a 58-yarder and his three misses on the day were his most since the 2007 opener against Detroit, but those were from 46, 50 and 57 yards.
“I told him I love him and I’d go to him again in the same situation and he’d probably have to win two or three games just like that for us this year and he’ll probably do it,” Cable said.
Janikowski has already missed five field goals in three games, with another negated by an offside penalty against Tennessee in the opener. His three misses from inside 50 yards are as many as he had the past two seasons combined.
This all comes after the Raiders gave Janikowski the most lucrative contract ever for a kicker in the offseason, a $16 million, four-year deal that included $9 million of guaranteed money.
Janikowski was not in the locker room during the open media period. But he did do extra work on the practice field Monday kicking, looking to iron out whatever was causing these rare misses.
“When you get a setback, you analyze it, you look at it and you say how can I fix it and you go to work. And he did that,” Cable said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)