Head Coach Jon Gruden summed it up it up perfectly postgame.
Standing at the podium following the Oakland Raiders 33-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams – a game his team led 13-10 in the third quarter – Gruden summarized the Silver and Black’s Monday night matchup with just seven words.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said the Raiders head coach.
And indeed, it was.
After 30 minutes of play, Gruden and Co., returned to the locker room up a field goal against a Los Angeles Rams team that many consider a favorite to be playing for it all early next year in Atlanta.
Derek Carr looked every bit the franchise quarterback the Raiders expected to see Monday night, having completed 20 of 24 passes for 199 yards at the half – 113 of those yards which belonged to tight end Jared Cook, who finished Week 1 with a career night.
Meanwhile, the Raiders revamped defense was pulling its weight, limiting the high-flying Rams offense to just 10 points, while allowing Jared Goff to complete just four passes for 60 yards.
The Silver and Black hadn’t allowed the Rams to convert a third down and had out-gained Sean McVay’s group by an impressive 254-98 mark.
Then, it all changed.
The Rams came hot out of the gates after halftime, proceeded to go on a 23-0 run to end the game, and secured a Monday night win over the Silver and Black after pitching a shutout in the second half.
“They were impressive,” Coach Gruden said when asked about the Rams offense. “They had balance today. They could run it and throw it, and they proved their stuff tonight, I think, in the second half, and offensively, we couldn’t get anything going. We turned the ball over. We failed to pick up a blitz one time, very disappointing.”
As Gruden said, Carr and the offense stalled over the final 30 minutes of play, as No. 4 threw for just over 100 yards over the final two quarters and was unable to manufacture any drives that resulted in points.
So what was the difference between the first half, where the Raiders offense was in rhythm, compared to the second half where nothing seemed to fall their way? According to Carr, it was just execution.
“To be honest, we did some of the same stuff,” Carr said. “We just executed it better in the first half, to be honest.“
“I thought we moved the ball exceptionally in the first half against a very good defense with a lot of highly-touted players, and Marshawn’s finish was vintage Marshawn Lynch,” Gruden added. “The crowd was in it. It was electrifying. Unfortunately, we could not bottle it, and sustain it.”
While the positives of Monday night’s loss will likely be just a footnote on the story of the Raiders Week 1 outing, even in defeat, the locker room stayed positive, because one loss – even a 20 point one – won’t define a team this early in the year.
“There was a lot of great effort on the field tonight by our team,” Gruden said. “I thank our fans, and in a lot of ways, I’m proud of the football team, the way they competed.
“I can tell you this, also, that losses with Coach Gruden feel a little bit different, then I’ve ever felt before,” Carr explained. “Just the positive coaching, next step, demanding what he needs from you next time, all these kinds of stuff… I just talked to him for 10 minutes, and I feel like, yeah, we’re already going to be better next week.”
Next up for Carr and the Raiders is a Week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos, where the team will try to officially secure its first win of 2018.
“It’s always disappointing to lose,” Carr said. “We don’t want to do that, especially in the first game, but we have 15 more, and I think that we’re going to be pretty good.”