By Sam McPherson
Maybe the Oakland Raiders had too much time off after their first win of the season on November 20 against the Kansas City Chiefs at home.
Given nine days to prepare for the St. Louis Rams, the Silver & Black took it on the chin—again and again and again—in a 52-0 loss on the road Sunday, and it’s pretty clear the team is going to mail it in for the rest of the season.
The coaching staff failed, and the players failed—miserably—in this one. With the desperate San Francisco 49ers coming to the Coliseum next weekend, it’s not going to get any easier for Tony Sparano and Co.
Derek Carr turned in a familiar performance: 24-of-39 for 173 yards and two interceptions. His completion percentage was fine, his yards per attempt was not, and the turnovers were bad.
This has kind of been the norm for his rookie season in the NFL, and a lot of it is due to the lack of a running game (see below). Carr is a rookie, and defenses aren’t going to make it easy for him to beat them by himself when nothing else in the offensive game plan is working.
Overpriced backup Matt Schaub came in for some mop-up duty, and he was typically bad, too: just 57 yards in nine attempts, plus two turnovers of his own. GRADE: F
Without Latavius Murray to run the ball and stretch out the defense, there was no running game—again. The Raiders totaled 61 yards on 21 carries to return to their anemic rushing efforts of the first 10 games of the season. They’re not on pace for the worst rushing season in a 16-game season any more, but that doesn’t really matter.
If the Raiders can’t run, the defense collapses on a rookie QB. And that doesn’t win games in the NFL, period. Ten different receivers caught passes against the Rams, but they didn’t go anywhere with them. No pass play went for more than 18 yards all game.
The team gained just 244 yards total and was 4-for-18 on third downs. Somehow, though, the Raiders held the ball for almost 37 minutes in this game—probably because the Rams scored so quickly on offense themselves (see below). GRADE: F
The St. Louis offense was on the field for slightly more than 23 minutes of game time, but it scored 45 points nonetheless. The Raiders defense made an ordinary offense look very good, no matter which way you slice it.
Rams QB Shaun Hill threw two TDs, while rookie RB Tre Mason ran for two scores; he also had 117 yards rushing on just 14 carries. Mason tossed in a touchdown reception, too.
St. Louis averaged 7.1 yards per play, and no defense can give up yardage like that and expect to have a chance to win. The highlight for the Raiders? The Rams went just 1-for-8 on third downs. GRADE: F
There was nothing to note here, positively or negatively. The return game was terrible, as four kickoff returns netted just 53 yards while two punt returns got Oakland just four yards. Marquette King was more than adequate punting the ball—as usual— and Sebastian Janikowski was irrelevant in this game. GRADE: D
Dead Team Walking
Maybe all the Raiders wanted to do was win one game, because they looked dead on Sunday in St. Louis. And they won’t be winning another game with four contests left against teams fighting for playoff positioning.
Next up, the 49ers. After that, a trip to Kansas City—a team that will want some serious revenge. The last home game in Week 16 is against the Buffalo Bills. And then there’s that final road trip to Denver for the last game of the season.
Say hello to 1-15, everyone.
For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on a Examiner.com.