The Raiders blew up Sunday, did so spectacularly, and didnt have the strength of will to joust with the assumptions that come from such an explosion.All they did, then, after saving so many teams but not themselves, was restate the obvious, or resort to deadened platitudes.We had plays we needed to make, and we didnt make them in crucial spots, defensive tackle Richard Seymour said after Oakland blew a 13-point lead with 7:47 to play and stunningly lost to the Detroit Lions, 28-27 . They went 98 yards to score a touchdown, and thats really tough.We had our chances and we just didnt convert on them, said head coach Hue Jackson. Right now, Im 7-7, and Im not a .500 coach, and I dont like it. We have to get better, and we will. People thought we wouldnt come back after Miami and Green Bay, but we did.But no they didnt. They didnt come back at all; they actually lost more revoltingly, and in doing so helped not only Detroit, but Denver, San Diego, the New York Jets, Tennessee and Cincinnati as well.
Comrade Gutierrez outlines the plays that killed them in the end Sunday, but the loss was comprehensively far worse than the sum of its shards. They all add up in the end, from the incompletion from Carson Palmer to Denarius Moore on fourth-and-one from the Detroit 24 on Oaklands first possession, to the Tampa 2 coverage that left middle linebacker Rolando McClain and safety Jerome Boyd on Calvin Johnsons 48-yard catch with 1:33 to go.Calvin Johnson, of course, being the best receiver in football as well as Detroits only truly reliable weapon, Boyd being a rookie, and McClain being a linebacker.But mostly, this was the revelation that the more lopsided losses in Miami and Green Bay didnt provide. This was the one that shows that the Raiders arent yet ready for the next step, the one that mediocre teams need to take to become good ones.I feel like were better, Seymour said, staring into space with an odd sense of detachment, but we have to prove it, and were not. No excuses about it. We have lapses in crucial situations, and we cant have it.That is the dagger, right there. A 7-4 team now 7-7 and on the verge of extinction because it cannot hold serve at home against a reeling one-dimensional team. It is telling alone that the Raiders put its last egg in Sebastian Janikowskis left foot from 65 yards away with four seconds left, an act of desperation even for the strongest kicker in the game.Janikowski told a Polish reporter afterward that the snap and placement on the kick were perfect, and that he hit the ball as well as he could have hoped. But Detroits Ndamukong Suh deflected it into a harmless low-spinning spiral that fell well short of the target.And now, all there is left is Kansas City next week, and San Diego to close the season. The Raiders are not eliminated from the postseason yet, but they have to win twice and hope that Denver loses twice. Their wild card hopes are even less inspiring, as they currently stand as the ninth of six in the AFC, exactly that 7-7 team Hue Jackson says they arent, and him exactly that 7-7 coach he says he hates.One can make the case that the Raiders would have been a different team without the injuries to Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford and Michael Huff and on and on and on, but the parallel universe game is a loser. You are, as Bill Parcells famously said, what your record says you are, and what could have been means nothing.The plain stabbing fact is that the Raiders positioned themselves to win this game with all those injuries, and keep themselves in a discussion they were dominating three weeks ago. Instead, they failed, swallowing soot and bile all the way down the stretch. They are now the longest of shots, and as famous for blowing big leads (Buffalo, Denver and now Detroit) and fourth quarter leads (Buffalo and now Detroit).They are, to sum up, not ready for the bright lights yet. Even if they do the highly improbable and reach a 17th game, it will be because the rest of the AFC imploded around them. They are moving backwards in December, the worst time of all to be doing so, and it will take some months to convince the customers that 2012 will be different.Oh, the fans come around eventually, full of hope again and dreaming the dream, but they did that this year and are now ruing that decision. Sunday surely convinced them that their future is still in the future, because the right now feels lousy.