The National Football League doesn’t care if you come close.
Above all else, the NFL is a league supremely driven by results, or a lack thereof.
Following a Week 13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders now own a 2-10 record, and while history will just remember that the Silver and Black fell 40-33, Sunday’s game featured glimpses of what this team could look like when it’s all clicking.
“It’s kind of like a nightlight in a dark room,” said rookie tackle Brandon Parker. “Obviously, you have to fight the darkness a little bit with all the losses we’ve got, but when you show signs of promise like that, [being] that close to winning, just fighting our tails off no matter what, we can always be proud of that.”
As Parker said, the Raiders were indeed close – they were a converted onside kick away from having a shot to tie the game in the final seconds – but the reality of the situation is, there’s no such thing as a moral victory… but Sunday’s effort might be a close as it gets.
Entering Week 13 action, the Raiders and Chiefs were teams headed in different directions; the Silver and Black had only pride to play for down the stretch, while Andy Reid and his team have their sights set on a trip to the AFC Championship, and possibly a berth in Super Bowl LIII.
But give the Raiders – from top to bottom – credit; they weren’t intimated by the Chiefs explosive offense, and even after falling behind 13-0 in the early goings, stayed the course and had a chance until the final seconds of regulation.
“We see it,” Arden key said postgame when discussing the team’s potential. “We see it with clear vision, but we haven’t put all the pieces together. We haven’t played a full, complete game. Once we play a full, complete game, then a lot of teams around the league will respect us.”
“We’re playing good football,” Head Coach Jon Gruden explained. “We played good last week in Baltimore. They’re a good team. I don’t know how they did today, but we were close with them going into the fourth quarter. I’m really proud of our coaches, proud of our players. We had a chance. We got beat by a hell of a football team.”
Albeit it in a losing effort, the spurts of productivity were there; Carr had another efficient ballgame – becoming the team’s second-leading passer in franchise history with his outing – the defense forced some big stops when they absolutely needed them, and the team’s rushing attack got rolling once again, finishing Week 13 with 171 yards on the ground.
Oh, and not to be left out, rookie kicker Daniel Carlson was lights out once again, connecting on all of his kicks, including a career-high 50-yard boot.
The young Raiders are growing up in a hurry, and while the results haven’t manifested in 2018, Sunday’s effort – with nothing but pride to play for – showed that the team is on the way to building something they can be proud of.
“A lot of us still have a lot of work to do, so we all just come to work every day, show up, try to get better,” Parker said. “We all have these high goals we want to reach, and even though we’re not going to reach them in the first year, we know if we keep sticking together, and keep our heads down, we’re going to be there.”
“I feel good anytime one of my rookie teammates makes a play, because we are going to be here for the next three or four years, and we have to build the bond together,” added Key. “And I feel like we’re doing that. There’s a lot more rookies playing now.”
Photos of the game action during the Raiders' Week 13 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs at the Coliseum.
The Raiders are now eight games under .500 and were officially eliminated from postseason play with Sunday’s loss, but with four games left on the docket, the team still has work to do, and things to accomplish headed into the offseason.
“Just keep learning,” said Key. “Just keep learning, keep progressing, and next year the game will be so much slower, but I just want to keep improving, and keep allowing the game to slow down.”