When the Oakland Raiders headed to the locker room at halftime, all things considered, they had to feel pretty good about themselves.
While they were being outgained by the Tennessee Titans 352-198, the Silver and Black were tied with Ryan Tannehill and Co., 21-21, and following a Ryan Succop missed field goal as time expired in the first half, the Raiders returned to the locker room with a little momentum at their back, along with the first possession following the intermission.
The group's first drive of the third frame started out pretty well, as Derek Carr led the team into Tennessee territory, but a Jeffery Simmons sack ended the drive outside Daniel Carlson's field goal range, and that was where the tide turned in the Raiders' 42-21, Week 14 loss.
"I like the way we come out offensively," said Head Coach Jon Gruden postgame. "Unfortunately, we couldn't sustain it."
The Raiders tallied just 198 yards in the second half – and zero points – while the Titans' took full advantage of each Silver and Black misstep, ultimately putting up 21 points over the final 30 minutes of game action.
"On offense, we just bogged down, three and outs [are] our Achilles' heel," Richie Incognito reflected postgame. "When we're going three and out, and not picking up first downs, and not going down and scoring points, it's tough. The offense, I think, put the defense and the rest of the team, in a tough position, to start out that second half, and they just exploded on us."
Explode is an apt term for what happened, as the Tennessee offense registered 552 total yards, a number that even the best offenses, on their best days what would have a hard time matching.
"You're not going to beat anyone like that," Gruden said when asked about the Titans' offensive output. "We gave up a 90-yard touchdown pass. We missed some tackles. They missed a field goal at the end of the first half – they would have had three more points. We'll take a good look at it, a lot of it had to do with their ability to make plays. They made some unbelievable catches and throws, and we didn't today."
So, how did the Raiders go from tied with a Titans team that looks like one of the best in the AFC, to suffering their third, consecutive 21-point loss? The turnovers certainly didn't help, but all three phases of the game needed to be better following the halftime intermission.
"They [Tennessee] definitely changed some stuff up because we had a good beat on some things, and they tried to just keep everything in front of them," Derek Carr said when asked about the Titans' halftime adjustments. "It gets annoying. Especially when someone gets a lead. I think we saw a couple of times where I tried to pump fake, and launch one deep, and things like that, and just trying to make a play, trying to get a touchdown, and things like that, because even the routes that are 18 to 20 yards that we were running, they have everyone underneath those."
"We gave up a couple plays on defense," added Marquel Lee. "They capitalized on a lot of plays on offense. It was a collective. Special teams, we have to be better. All around the board we have to be better. We have to be better as a team."
Sitting at 6-7, the Silver and Black's postseason hopes are still technically alive, but now two games out of the final Wild Card spot with just three games left, they're hanging on by a thread.
Next week, the Raiders will welcome in Gardner Minshew and the 4-9 Jacksonville Jaguars, and if Gruden's team wants to keep the heartbeat of those postseason aspirations beating, they're going to need to come away with a win in their final home tilt of the season.
"We got a long way to go," Gruden said. "We're going to continue to fight to get there."
A full, 60-minute effort against the Jaguars would be a great place to start.
Check out photos from the Raiders' Week 14 matchup against the Tennessee Titans at the Coliseum.