The Oakland Raiders were close again on Sunday afternoon.
To be fair though, they've been close most of the season, and as Karl Joseph said postgame, close doesn't count as an official statistic.
"Nobody cares if you're right there," said Joseph following the team's 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. "At the end of the day, you lost, and that's what everybody's going to look at. We had our opportunities to seal the game, and we just didn't do that."
The Silver and Black led for most of the Week 6 clash with the Chargers, and up by two points, with 4:09 left in the fourth quarter, the Raiders no doubt had their chances to put a punctuation mark on the game, and earn their third win of the season. Instead, as Nick Novak's 32-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired, the Raiders fell to 2-4, losing their fourth-consecutive game after opening the season 2-0.
"You get them pinned back, we have to get a stop," Head Coach Jack Del Rio said. "We didn't get it done. They milked it. They won the game. They earned it."
"It was there for us," Joseph added. "There were plays there for us to make to seal the game, and a couple of them were on me, I take responsibility for, that I should made. I feel like I should have made those plays, and it cost us, man. They ended up making more plays than we did. They came out with that win."
While Philip Rivers' two big connections to Hunter Henry on the eventual game-winning drive will be spotlighted as one of the main reasons the Raiders lost Sunday afternoon, prior to that, Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.'s group had actually done a pretty decent job of limiting Rivers' effectiveness.
But, the veteran quarterback rose up when his team needed him the most, essentially negating all of the good work the Raiders defense had accomplished up until that point.
"It's just execution and making plays," Joseph said. "There was one play, I was [man to man] on the tight end, and Philip Rivers threw a good, back-shoulder pass, which I should have made the play on. They just kept making play after play, and driving down the field on us. They just ended up making more plays than we did on that last drive."
Following the last-second loss, there was an emphasis put on the "little things," whether it was an ill-timed penalty, an inability to get off the field, or communication issues offensively, both Head Coach Del Rio and his players stressed the importance of doing the little things right if they want to snap their current four-game skid.
"We're very close," tackle Donald Penn said. "We're very close, but we've been saying that for the last couple of weeks. Close ain't getting us nowhere, but these [four] losses we have right now. We have to get over that "close" hump. We have to find a way."
With a Thursday Night Football matchup against the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs looming on the horizon, the Raiders will have to regroup in a hurry if they want to turn around their fortune sooner than later. And even though the team hasn't tasted victory in nearly a month, there isn't any finger pointing going on in the locker room.
"Coach Del Rio sums it up well. I love that quote – it's not even a quote – I love his saying; you get what you earn in this league," Penn explained. "And what did we earn right now? We've earned four L's right now, and that's what we got right now. It don't feel good. It's tough, but we're going to fight. That's what we are. We're fighters."
"We lost four straight, so we have to bounce back" Joseph added. "It's still a long season. We still have plenty of opportunities ahead of us, but we can't keep letting these slip away from us. It's a little, small plays, here and there, that we have to make, and we didn't make them today."
And if the Raiders want to get back to their winning ways, they're going to have to start doing the little things right again; they'd be well served to start doing just that Thursday night.