ALAMEDA (CBS / AP) — A cross-country flight and a day to reflect did little to ease the pain of a memorable collapse by the Oakland Raiders defense.
Giving up five touchdowns on five second-half drives can have that effect.
The Raiders returned to work Monday still trying to figure out what went wrong in a 38-35 loss to the Buffalo Bills the previous day. There was plenty, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The formidable defensive line was unable to generate a pass rush or stop the run in the second half, the defensive backs struggled in coverage and tackling, and a major miscommunication left David Nelson wide open in the end zone on the fourth-down touchdown pass to win the game with 14 seconds remaining.
“Any time you lose, especially in that fashion, it’s very disappointing,” defensive tackle Richard Seymour said Monday. “But one game doesn’t make the season. You move forward. I’ve been in many games in my career, and that’s one of the most heartbreaking ones I’ve had. You move forward, and you’ve got to get better as a team.”
The Raiders have little time to mope with three straight games coming up against teams that have started the season 2-0, beginning with the home opener Sunday against the New York Jets. That is followed by a home game against New England and a trip to Houston.
The message on Monday from coach Hue Jackson to his players was the same as it was after the game: The Raiders need to finish.
“You can’t take a play off, you can’t take an opportunity off, you have to finish everything you do,” he said. “It’s tough in the NFL. We have a good group of men in that locker room who, hopefully, have learned a very valuable lesson that we can learn from this and move forward, that we have to play Raider football all the time. Not just for a half, but you have to do it for 60 minutes.”
The loss featured quite a few notable statistical lows for the Raiders, who according to STATS LLC are the only team since at least 1993 to allow five touchdowns on five drives in the second half.
The 25 first downs in the second half by the Bills were the second most since at least 1991 and the Raiders lost a game in which they scored at least 35 points for the first time since 1988.
“That’s about the worst one since I’ve been here,” said defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, who joined the team in 2004. “In eight years, we have never been up on anybody 21-3 and lost. We have never been up on anybody 21-3 that many times since I’ve been here. We just got to go back to the drawing board. It’s just a real tough pill to swallow. Real tough.”
The Raiders allowed 217 yards rushing, 264 more through the air and gave up three go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The most devastating came in the closing seconds. Chris Johnson, who struggled in coverage all game, had a pass in his hands in the end zone with 27 seconds left before Donald Jones broke up the potential interception.
Two plays later on fourth-and-1 from the 6, Nelson broke open over the middle of the field for the easy touchdown. Johnson, who lined up on Nelson, broke immediately to the flat after the snap to cover running back C.J. Spiller. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain also covered Spiller, leaving no one on Nelson.
While some players talked after the game about unidentified players not doing their job on the final play, Jackson wanted to make sure there would be no more finger pointing.
“I believe that is done,” he said. “There is no more frustration. There will be nothing addressed at a teammate anymore. Let me make that very clear. There will be no more addressing players, names, positions, any of that, as long as I’m the head coach here because here’s the deal. You’ve got to look in the mirror first as a football player. … If they want to comment about themselves, they’re more than welcome to, but we’re done. That is over. Over. Those days are done.”
It was those types of short passes that did in the Raiders all day. A week after getting five sacks against Kyle Orton in a 23-20 win at Denver, Oakland managed none against Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick frequently got rid of the ball almost immediately, with defensive linemen having no chance at a sack even when they beat the blocker at the line of scrimmage.
“It’s frustrating,” linebacker Kamerion Wimbley said. “He was making quick decisions and getting rid of the ball. He definitely wasn’t holding it. I think he knew where he wanted to go before the snap and he made some good completions.”
(Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)