The complete, 60-minute performance – as has been the case for much of 2018 – just wasn’t there for the Oakland Raiders Sunday.
The Silver and Black struck first against the Baltimore Ravens, clinically marching 81 yards on the opening drive of the game, eventually taking an early 7-0 lead at M&T Bank Stadium by way of a one-yard Doug Martin dive over the goal line. And although they surrendered that lead early in the second quarter, at halftime, Head Coach Jon Gruden’s squad was down just 13-10 and had forced rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson into a pair of interceptions en route to a pedestrian first half for the electric signal-caller.
At the start of the fourth quarter even, the group was still down just three points to a Baltimore team that boasted the top statistical defense headed into Week 12 action.
But, by the time the clock hit triple zeroes, the Raiders found themselves on the unfavorable side of 34-17 result, which dropped their record to 2-9 in the process.
“I was pleased with a lot of things, the way we started the game on offense, the way we came out in the second half, scored a touchdown against a great defense, just haven’t been able to put four quarters together,” said Coach Gruden postgame.
That theme, coming out of the gates well, but then tapering off as the game wears on, has been a familiar one for the Raiders this season, and unfortunately for the Silver and Black, it reared its head Sunday – on both sides of the football.
“We have to start fast as an offense, and we have to keep that tempo going no matter what, no matter what the defense does,” Doug Martin said. “And no matter what happens, we have to keep the tempo going, moving forward, pushing forward. Just keep it up throughout the whole game, but it’s something that we’re going to get better at, and I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
And while the offense struggled after the break, manufacturing just seven points after halftime, the defense also couldn’t maintain its fast start in Baltimore, and rookie linebacker Jason Cabinda thinks it’s come down to just one thing – urgency.
“We need to have a sense of urgency off the top,”’ Cabinda explained. “We have to fight like our hair is on fire all the time. We have to be ready all the time. We aren’t the kind of team that can afford mental mistakes or any kind of things like that. We have to be on top of things at all times. It’s the only way I can describe it. We have to do a better job of playing off of each other, when the offense makes a big play, that should be a big boost for the defense, and same thing, vice versa.”
The Ravens totaled 64 rushing yards in the first half, but the collective levy appeared to break after halftime, as they rumbled for an impressive 178 rushing yards in the second half, and combined with the Raiders’ offensive woes, that dominance on the ground is a big reason why Baltimore earned a Week 12 “W.”
But, that first half, and really many of 2018’s first halves, give Cabinda the confidence that the Silver and Black have the ability to put together a complete effort sooner than later.
Photos of the game action during the Raiders' Week 12 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
“That’s why it’s the most disappointing, because we’re seeing it ourselves do it, and play things the right way, and then there’s always the one or two plays that screw us,” the rookie said. “Those are plays we have to get rid of, obviously, and don’t get me wrong, that’s the NFL. People are going to make plays. Period. End of story. That’s fact, but the plays that we’re giving up, we’re giving them, you know what I mean? They’re not earning them. You have to make people earn more plays. You can’t give up stuff, because of mental mistakes, wrong coverage, whatever it is.”
As a result of Sunday’s loss, the Raiders now have nine losses on the year, and have dropped six of their last seven, and while the results might not be there for the Silver and Black in 2018, Cabinda still believes that there has been improvement.
“It’s those things, but we’re getting better, man,” Cabinda said. “We’re getting better. It’s going to come. I’m not worried, but it’s just frustrating to see how well we can play at times, but not all the time.”
The Raiders now return home for back-to-back home games, and they’ll have five more opportunities to put together a complete team effort in 2018.