The Oakland Raiders didn't need to be perfect Sunday afternoon.
With a dominant offensive line, a defense that had been increasingly opportunistic in recent weeks, and a rookie running back who seemingly shattered a franchise record each Sunday, the Silver and Black didn't need perfection to take down the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, but, at the same token, they couldn't hinder themselves in one of the most formidable road environments in the NFL either.
Well, a trio of turnovers certainly didn't help – as evidenced by the Raiders' 40-9 loss – but neither did the team's 12 penalties, many of which came at the most inopportune times for the Silver and Black.
"I think just our inability to stay away from the penalties," said Head Coach Jon Gruden postgame when asked about the most disappointing facet of the Week 13 loss. "We put ourselves in horrible situations. We had the turnovers in the kicking game. We had, I think, four defensive false starts. We had a pick-six, and we just never found our rhythm at all. That's disappointing, but I know where we are. I know where they are as a football team. We have work to do and we're going to continue to try to catch the Chiefs."
As Gruden acknowledged, the penalties on the Raiders Sunday afternoon threw a wrench in what the team wanted to do both offensively and defensively, and while the 12 flags weren't the reason the team now sits at .500 heading into the final quarter of 2019, they unquestionably didn't help the group's bid for its seventh win of the regular season.
"Penalties and turnovers, those are killers, no matter when or what they are," Derek Carr explained. "No matter how they happen… It sets you back behind the sticks. It's hard to stay on schedule in this league, let along [with] stuff like that. We'll look at them on tape and correct what we need to correct on those. Our guys are fighting. It's a violent game and sometimes there are close calls."
With 12 penalties against the Chiefs, the Raiders have now been flagged 104 times in 2019, compared to just 68 times for their opponents, and while at times penalties can be a bit of a misleading stat, especially as of late, those missteps have had serious ramifications for the Silver and Black.
"Too many jumping offsides," Maxx Crosby conceded postgame. "Too many penalties in general, so we have to be more disciplined, and just be better as a team."
So, how exactly does a team with four – now critically important – games left on its regular-season docket, go about correcting the self-inflicted wounds?
"It's practice," Gruden explained. "It's discipline. It's understanding [Patrick] Mahomes. The guy has a tremendous snap count, he gets a lot of people, and he got us big time today. I'm not going to make excuses, young player, veteran player, cold weather, great hard count. You have to watch the ball, you have to have more discipline than we had today, and that's a reflection on me, guys."
Although the Raiders have lost back-to-back games, they're still 6-6, and with a home date against the now-surging Tennessee Titans next weekend at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the Silver and Black remain in the thick of things in the AFC playoff picture.
And with a quarter of the season left in front of them, the Raiders won't have to be perfect to achieve all their goals, but they'll have to ensure that they limit hurting themselves – something they were unable to do Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.
Take a look at photos from the Raiders' Week 13 game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.