The Oakland Raiders have serious problems finishing out games. For the majority of Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, the Raiders played very well. Unfortunately, when it came down to crunch time, the Raiders were unable to round out their solid performance with a solid finish, allowing the Lions to come back and get the win.
Passing Offense: Carson Palmer had a pretty good day against the Lions. Palmer completed 80% of his passes going 32 for 40 while putting up 367 yards and a touchdown. Though it would be nice to have seen him throw one more touchdown, these numbers are actually pretty darn impressive. That being said, two of his 8 incompletions were so bad, I just cannot give him an A. In the first quarter, Palmer over threw a wide open Denarius Moore for what would have been an easy touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he overthrew Chaz Schilens for a first down that would have all but sealed the game. Both of those throws were throws that an elite quarterback MUST make.
Rushing Offense: The Raiders run game was much better this week than it had been in past weeks, but it still was not the dominant force it has been at times this season. The Raiders combined for 132 yards on the ground. However, lead back Michael Bush was only able to put up 77 yards and did not find the end zone.
Passing Defense: The Raiders showed why they have one of the worst secondaries in the league. I know that Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in professional football, but you can never allow any player to have a career day against you. Matthew Stafford threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns. 214 yards and two of those touchdowns went to Calvin Johnson. This was a terrible effort by the Raiders secondary.
Rushing Defense: The Raiders run defense decided it wanted to play again after not showing up for two consecutive weeks. The Lions as a team combined for 57 yards on the ground and did not score a touchdown. That is a great number and a solid performance for the Raiders. While it is true that the Lions have not been a very good run team, the Raiders defense has made terrible running backs look amazing this season, so they still need to get some credit for getting the job done.
Special Teams: The Raiders special teams continue to the best unit on the Raiders. Shane Lechler continues to have one of the best seasons a punter has ever had. At the end of the game, he could not have performed any better in a clutch situation. The Raiders had a 6 point lead and were about to punt the ball. Lechler kicked one of the best punts I have ever seen as he pinned the Lions at their own two yard line. Sebastian Janikowski had a good game as well, hitting two of three field goals with his only miss coming on a blocked 65 yard attempt to end the game.
Coaching: Much like blowouts, I place a large amount of blame for a late game collapse on the coaching staff. The Raiders came to play on Sunday, but simply could not finish off the Lions. The Raiders consistent inability to finish games strong has got to be put on the shoulders of the coaching staff. There is a reason you consistently hear coaches talk about the fourth quarter being of utmost importance. The California Golden Bears, under coach Jeff Tedford have a saying, "The fourth quarter is ours". Hue Jackson needs to begin making the fourth quarter the most important part of every game in the minds of his players, or else the Raiders will continue to allow late game comebacks.
Overall: This was a really tough loss. For the majority of the game, the Raiders played solid football. That being said, allowing a team to come back from a 13 point deficit with under 7 minutes left in the game erases any and all good play they had exhibited up to that point.
The Raiders playoff hopes are all but gone for this season with two divisional games remaining. While their hopes of playoffs are still alive, they must win these games, not only to get into the playoffs, but to ensure that they go into next season with confidence and the ability to improve off of a good season.