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?