By Abraham Gutierrez
Even though the future of the Oakland Raiders organization seems bright, the feeling inside the Silver and Black locker room this afternoon was disappointment. After raising many eyebrows in Jack Del Rio’s first season as head coach, the Raiders closed out the year with a lackluster 17-23 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs.READ MORE: UPDATE: Phish Fan Injured After Being Fallen On at SF Chase Center Concert Describes Brush with Death
The loss dropped the Raiders to 7-9 on the year, and enabled the (11-5) Chiefs to head into the NFL playoffs ridding the momentum of a 10-game sin streak. After the game, Del Rio did his best to find the silver lining as he addressed a Raiders bunch clearly disappointed by the way the regular season played out.
“I appreciate the men in this room for the commitment that was made, because this year, was the beginning of what we are building here. That’s what it was,” Del Rio said in his post-game locker room speech. “I set expectations high cause I’m not afraid and I believe in the men in this room and I appreciate the effort and the sacrifice and the commitment that you made. We’ll work, clean things up and be stronger going forward.”
Offensively, the Raiders struggled to get going against a sturdy Chiefs defense, and the numbers tell a very compelling story. Oakland finished the game with 14 first downs and only 205 yards of total offense, out of which, 157 came through the air and a dismal 48 yards on the ground.
This team also struggled to stay on the field, evidenced by the fact that they were only able to hold on to the ball for 25 minutes and five seconds. They also struggled on third down situations, converting on only three of their 14 opportunities. The team was also penalized seven times, which caused them 59 yards to go along with a pair of fumbles.
Going up against the Chiefs pass rush, quarterback Derek Carr had another tough outing, despite completing 64 percent of his passes. The Fresno State product went 21-for-33 for 194 yards, a touchdown and an interception for a quarterback rating of 77.1, as he was sacked six times for 37 negative yards.
The Raiders running game was non-existent yet again, as the leading rushers included Latavius Murray (11 carries for 31 yards) and Carr, who was second on the team with two rushes for 12 yards. And finally, the Raiders receiving standouts included Clive Walford (4 catches for 46 yards), Michael Crabtree (3 catches for 34 yards, TD), Murray (4 catches for 25 yards) and Roy Helu Jr. (2 catches for 23 yards).READ MORE: COVID: Marin Health Officials Urge Seniors To Get Booster Vaccine Shots As Holidays Loom
There’s no way to sugarcoat the Raiders defensive performance this week, as this unit had a nightmare of a time trying to keep up with Kansas City’s bullying style. Not only did Oakland surrender 23 first downs on the afternoon, but out of the 339 yards yielded, 189 came on the ground and 150 through the air. With those numbers, it comes as no surprise that the Chiefs dominated the time of possession battle, as they kept the Raiders offense off the field for almost 35 minutes of game time.
The Chiefs literally ran wild in this one, as Spencer Ware ran for 76 yards on 16 carries and a score, followed by Alex Smith’s 61 yards on 9 carries and Charcandrick West’s 34 yards on 13 carries. Smith also threw for 156 yards on 14-for-24, along with two touchdowns and as many picks.
The Raiders defensive standouts on the afternoon included Khalil Mack (10 tackles), Charles Woodson (7 tackles), TJ Carrie (5 tackles, INT) and David Amerson, who finished with two tackles, a pass defended and a pick-six.
Special Teams: B
While kicker Sebastian Janikowski (five points on 2-for-2 on extra points and a 29-yard field goal) closed out the 2015 NFL campaign perfectly, other special teamers struggled a bit. Punter Marquette King, who had a punt blocked that resulted in a safety before finishing the year averaging 45.2 yards on six punts, which includes a long of 57 yards and one inside the Chiefs 20-yard line.
If one thing is certain, it’s that the Raiders were nowhere near ready to match the Chiefs’ intensity in the season finale. And while it’s clear that one team’s superiority over the next was evident, the lack of adjustments by Del Rio and his staff prevented the Raiders from completing their comeback.MORE NEWS: San Francisco, Tourism Industry Offer Cash Rewards To Stop Auto Burglary Fencing Operations
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, aExaminer.com and other online publications.