The Raiders had the perfect opportunity to go to the playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs had done their job and beaten the Denver Broncos, and the Raiders had the San Diego Chargers at home. Unfortunately for the Raider Nation, the Raiders were unable to pull off a win that was in their grasp.
Passing Offense: Carson Palmer had a pretty good day. He threw for over 400 yards, one of the highest totals in Raiders history. He also threw for two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he threw one pick at an incredibly important time. His interception came late in the game as the Raiders were driving and attempting a come back. That pick killed momentum and eventually put the Raiders away for good. While you cannot blame the loss on that one throw, it is the kind of throw Palmer cannot afford to make.
Rushing Offense: While Michael Bush wound up with impressive numbers for the season, finishing just below the thousand yard mark, his last four games were very unimpressive, and the Chargers game was no different. Bush finished the game with 66 yards on 19 carries and was not able to find the end zone. The Raiders as a team barely scratched out 100 yards.
Passing Defense: Not surprisingly, the worst part of the Raiders team had the worst performance on Sunday. The Raiders secondary has been abysmal all year. While the safety play has actually been pretty good, the corners have been atrocious. Stanford Routt leads the league in penalties and the Raiders cannot stop any team's passing game. Phillip Rivers finished with over 300 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception that came early in the game.
Rushing Defense: If not for a 41 yard run by Vincent Jackson late in the game, the Raiders run defense numbers would not look so bad. Before that 41 yard scamper, the Raiders had held the Chargers to just over 100 yards as a team. Neither Mike Tolbert nor Curits Brinkley had very big individual days for the Chargers and only Tolbert was able to get into the end zone. Not a bad performance, but not a good one either.
Special Teams: Sebastian Janikowski kept the Raiders alive in the game by making all four of his field goal attempts. Shane Lechler was only asked to punt once and put up a 58 yard punt. However, as good as the kickers were, the rest of special teams was not. The Raiders allowed a 105 yard touchdown return that killed momentum and kept San Diego in the game.
Coaching: The Raiders defense was nothing short of pathetic at times this season. Allowing 38 points at home to a team you have beaten once when the playoffs are on the line is simply unacceptable. While the Raiders defense is not stacked with talent, it has enough talent to play much better than it has been. There was no creativity with the defense and the use of personnel was stunningly bad. This loss, like many this season, needs to fall heavily on the coaching staff.
Overall: Not only was this a winnable game, it was the most important game played in Oakland since 2002. The Raiders had a golden opportunity and they flushed it down the toilet. The Raider Nation should be angry, this team did not deliver to its fans at home this season.
Up next, the off season and likely a large number of changes.