It has now been one week since the Oakland Raiders got their swagger slapped in front of a national television audience.
The game in Washington, D.C. was brutal. The good news is we don’t have to spend a lot of time debating where to place the blame. It goes from sideline to sideline.
Or as offensive coordinator Todd Downing said in a terse, how-soon-can-I-leave presser last week, “Nobody has looked at that game and thought, ‘Man, I’m really pleased with what I put on tape.’”
Still, it is worth doing a little recounting.
The vaunted Raiders offensive line — tied for the NFL lead last year with 10 games allowing one sack or fewer — surrendered four. The pass-rush tsunami had quarterback Derek Carr in duck-and-cover mode before he could raise his arm.
Carr had never been sacked on back-to-back plays (per NBC) but was able to reach that milestone in the second quarter. His first pass — a looping, forever-in-the-air longshot — was intercepted. He didn’t throw two picks in a game all last year, but accomplished that before halftime.
And the defense … as defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said when asked about a breakdown, “Aw, shoot.”
Norton’s point is that the raw and often ineffective defense has made great strides this year, particularly in tackling. Which, actually, I will give him. The D looks much more stout against the run.
“What’s next?” Norton said. “Third down. Let’s master that.”
Uh, yeah. Because that’s the point of getting it done on first and second downs, isn’t it? To put the offense in third and difficult? For instance, they accomplished it nicely in the third quarter, pinning Washington on its own 15, looking at third and 19.
Therefore, the resulting 74-yard screen pass was disappointing.
The Raiders’ defense couldn’t get off the field — Washington had over 17 minutes more time of possession — and the offense couldn’t stay out there.
It’s pretty tough, Downing said, “when you go 0-11 on third downs.”
So after a convincing manhandling like that, you’d expect the team to be testy.
Therefore, full marks to head coach Jack Del Rio, who tweeted a photo of the sun coming up, with the caption: “Yep … it did rise this morning. On to the next.”
You get it. This game wasn’t the end of the world.
And it wasn’t.
This one is.
Denver is not just a divisional rival with a matching 2-1 record — the Broncos are part of a 40-plus-year blood feud. Playing in Denver, whose fans were the 12th man before Seattle thought of the idea, is going to be one of the signature games of this season.
And it might well have postseason implications.
Which brings up one other point. There is a school of thought that the Raiders jetted back east last week a little bit too pleased with themselves.
After a breakout 2016 season, followed by an impressive opening-day win against the emergent Titans in Tennessee, the guys in black were starting to be added to every pundit’s list of dark horse Super Bowl participants.
After all, the players could say we’ve got the QB, the receivers, the offensive line. Who’s going to beat us? Nobody. Yeah, we’re cocky, so what?
At least, that seems to be how it sounded in Washington. Announcer Cris Collinsworth recounted a conversation with Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky before the game.
“The Raiders think they are going to punch us in the mouth and intimidate us,” Manusky said. “I’m telling you right now, that’s not going to happen.”
Exhibit two is the under-the-radar dustup between the Raiders receivers and shutdown Washington cornerback Josh Norman.
After the game, Norman flagged Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper for excessive woofing. Norman said there were promises of more than 200 receiving yards and some general mouth running.
“Two hundred yards?” Norman said. “(Crabtree) didn’t catch two balls. He only caught one, huh?”
If the trash talk was a strategy, it was spectacularly unsuccessful. Cooper and Crabtree were each one-for-one. One catch. One drop.
As far as who was doing the talking, having stood and watched reporters try to pry a quote out of the quiet and reserved Cooper, I doubt it was him. In fact, he told Washington reporters he didn’t say anything.
Crabtree, however, is a likely suspect. Which is at least a little annoying. He can’t be bothered to speak to the media, but he goes clear across the field to call out an opponent?
Crabtree’s done this before. Remember when Richard Sherman called him out — “I just don’t like him” — when he was with the 49ers in 2014? Last year Denver safety Aqib Talib went out of his way to yank Crabtree’s gold chain off during the game. So keep an eye on that Sunday, if Crabtree is sufficiently recovered from his chest injury to play.
Some of the friction is probably inevitable. Crabtree has great hands and he’s got some swerve to his game, but he’s never had elite speed. He can get open, but it takes some bumping and pushing.
And although that may be his game, it doesn’t seem wise to antagonize the guy with whom you are bumping and pushing.
All of which leads us to Sunday’s game. To review:
This is a step-up game for the offensive line. Everybody talked you up, let’s see it.
Carr needs to have time, then find a rhythm on quick-release passes.
The defense needs to get off the damn field.
And Crabtree, if you are on the field, until you do something — pipe down.
Contact C.W. Nevius at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @cwnevius