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Lowell Cohn: Raiders give new meaning to 'small ball'

  • Redskins free safety David Amerison outsprints Raiders receiver Denarius Moore to the end zone on his 45-yard interception return in the second quarter. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

OAKLAND - Let's start with a small point about the Raiders' 24-14 loss to the Redskins. With the Raiders, there really aren't any big points. They do not contend for anything significant. They do not figure in the topography of the NFL. They are a small story.

So, let's start small. Late in the fourth quarter, the Raiders trailed 24-14. The game was pretty much a lost cause. But it was still a game. The Raiders had the ball at Washington's 17 on fourth down — officially it was fourth and 1. What should the Raiders have done?

That's open to debate, a debate we're having right now. Raiders coach Dennis Allen went for it on fourth down, made the fateful decision which brought his team to the brink of defeat. Well, it crossed the brink. Quarterback Matt Flynn dove up the middle, dove into a brick wall, boing, fumbled the ball — inelegant in the extreme — retrieved the ball, got nowhere on the play, and possession went over to the Redskins on downs. Goodbye, game.

Oakland Raiders vs. Washington Redskins

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I asked Allen why he went for it on fourth down — instead of trying a field goal, certainly an option. He looked at me with his Dennis Allen Look, a mixture of sincerity, innocence and dreaminess.

“It was fourth and inches,” he said with force. “It was fourth and inches and we have to be able to make inches. We hadn't been moving the ball up and down the field and to get a chance to be down there when you're in scoring position, you can possibly get a touchdown, we have to make inches.”

It's nice to make inches. But Allen's decision was dead wrong. I apologize for going all football on you. It's just that the Raiders should have kicked the field goal — they were close and the field goal was easy as pie.

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