By Sam McPherson
The Oakland Raiders dropped their sixth game of the 2014 season in as many contests on Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals. The Silver & Black needed a defensive stop late in the fourth quarter to keep the game within one score, and they couldn’t get it.READ MORE: Heat Wave: Mother Nature Turns Up The Heat; Soaring Temperatures To Strain Power Grid
Arizona kicked an insurance field goal and won the game, 24-13, dropping the Raiders to 0-6 and leaving them as the last winless team in the NFL. Against another team, perhaps, maybe Oakland could have won this game with its all-around effort, but week after week, the team is struggling on defense—and putting too much pressure on the offense.
The Cardinals lead the NFC West with a 5-1 record, so there’s no shame in losing to them. But sooner or later, the Raiders need to turn one of these close games into a win—or else suffer the historical shame of going 0-16 this year, which is a distinct possibility.
Derek Carr retreated back into a shell somewhat, completing 16 of 28 attempts for just 173 yards. Give credit to the Arizona defense: they didn’t let the Raiders get going with the vertical passing game, and that is what Oakland needs from Carr to win.
The completion percentage and yards-per-attempt marks here for Carr are mediocre at best, but he also didn’t throw an interception—and he has to get some credit for that in a game where he just took what the Cardinals gave him.
But other than one 55-yard pass, there was a lot of short passing in this game, and that meant just 4-for-12 on third downs and a mere 23 minutes of possession. GRADE: C+
Overall, the offense gained just 220 yards, and after last week’s big offensive output, that’s a disappointment. In addition to the stilted passing game, the Raiders running game disappeared again. Running back Darren McFadden didn’t even gain 50 yards on his 14 carries, although he did score the team’s lone touchdown on the day right inside the first half’s two-minute warning.
In total, Oakland carried the ball 19 times for just 56 yards, and that doesn’t help Carr in throwing downfield at all.
The biggest disappointment for the Raiders was to get the first interception off an Arizona QB in 2014 and not be able to turn it into a touchdown. Starting at the Cardinals’ 13-yard line, McFadden ran for two yards, and Carr threw incomplete twice.READ MORE: California Reopens: San Francisco Celebrates End Of COVID Restrictions; 'You Can Look At People, You Can Smile'
The Raiders settled for a field goal to go into halftime down, 14-10, but that sequence was the day in a nutshell for the Oakland offense. GRADE: C
Charles Woodson’s interception and subsequent return was exactly what the Raiders defense needed at the end of the first half, but in the same situation in the second half, the defense couldn’t get the stop.
Arizona gained 365 yards, held the ball for 37-plus minutes and converted 9-of-15 third downs. It’s nice that Oakland had a chance in the second half, down only eight points in the fourth quarter, but the defense spent a lot of time on the field again for the second week in a row—and that doesn’t help in the fourth quarter at all.
Two Cardinals running backs gained a combined 128 yards on 36 carries, grinding out the yards against a tired defense. Former Raiders QB Carson Palmer was effective enough, throwing for 253 yards and two scores. GRADE: C-
At least kicker Sebastian Janikowski made both his field goal attempts this week. That kept the team close into the fourth quarter. The kick coverage teams were also excellent in this one, allowing just seven yards on punt and kickoff returns combined. GRADE: A
Once More, It’s Just Not Enough
The Raiders did play a second consecutive competitive game, even though it wasn’t a great effort on their part. They just got beat by a better team. But the next four games are interesting.
Oakland travels to Cleveland next week, and that may be their best shot for a win this season; after that game, the Raiders play Seattle, Denver and San Diego. There’s not a win in that stretch for the Silver & Black.
It’s Cleveland or 0-10, Raiders fans. Seriously.
For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: Crews Respond To Structure Fire In Oakland
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on a Examiner.com.