Sunday Funday for Saturday in Las Vegas

Jeff Saturday wins his debut as the Indianapolis Colts coach, 25-20 after the Raiders once again fail to execute late in the game.

 LAS VEGAS — I’m not sure where this latest setback for the Raiders ranks in what has evolved into an abysmal season, but Sunday’s 25-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium might be close to, if not at the top in this 2-7 campaign.

 Yes, there was the agonizing loss to Arizona in Week 2 where the Raiders blew a 20-point lead. There was the no-show in New Orleans two weeks ago where they were shut out by the Saints. They squandered an opportunity to win at Jacksonville last week. 

 You would have thought the struggling Colts, who were 3-5-1 coming into Sunday’s game, would have been the perfect elixir for what has been ailing the Raiders. Consider Indianapolis had fired its head coach Monday, hired his replacement, Jeff Saturday, from the television studio at ESPN and then brought back their starting quarterback who had been benched. 

 Yet, it was Indianapolis, not Las Vegas, which found a way to close out the game as veteran QB Matt Ryan made two huge fourth-quarter plays — one with his legs on a 39-yard scamper, the other with his arm, connecting with Parris Campbell for a 35-yard touchdown pass after Michael Pittman had fumbled the play before and the Raiders failed to jump on the free ball which would have kept them in the lead.

 When you think about losing to a team coached by a guy whose resume consists of coaching in high school and has been preaching wisdom from a set of a television studio in Connecticut, sorry, that one becomes the leader in the clubhouse.

 It’s the sixth loss this year by one score for Las Vegas and it left Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on the verge of tears afterward.

 “I’m not perfect; I take accountability,” he said, his voice filled with emotion. “The NFL has one-score games all the time. You flip those and everyone is feeling good.”

 The reality is, things are not good. Carr and the other captains addressed the team after the game about not quitting on each other following Las Vegas’ third loss in a row.

 “For what we do, put our bodies through what we do every day to prepare to play and see the results, it pisses me off,” Carr said. “I’m sorry I’m so emotional. I wish everybody in the room feels the same way. We had our leaders address it just now. It was good and it needed to be done.”

 Carr also said he and embattled first-year coach Josh McDaniels are on the same page, despite what appears to be the contrary.

 “I don’t think so,” he said when asked about a disconnect between quarterback and coach. “I love Josh. I love our coaches. They’ve had more success than I’ll ever have.”

 McDaniels is also frustrated.

 “There’s only one way to do it — keep working and keep grinding,” he said.  

 The playoff talk for this team is pretty much over with. There’s still eight games remaining, starting next week in Denver. It is now a matter of pride and accountability for the Raiders.

 They still haven’t figured out how to quit giving up the big play on defense. Witness Jonathan Taylor’s 66-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the Colts back on top, 19-14. The penalties continue to be an albatross as the Raiders had 10 penalties for 74 yards. The offense continues to be inconsistent as Carr and the offense had a grand total of five yards through their first three series. Within that was a 2nd-and-34 situation and even Davante Adams and his wizardry couldn’t bail the Raiders out of that one. 

 Ryan, who had been a bust in an Indy uniform so far, had a resurrection Sunday, throwing for 208 yards on 21-of-28 passing and a TD. The Colts averaged seven yards a play in amassing 415 yards of offense to the Raiders’ 309.

 The real question now is will the team’s fan base bail on it? The Raiders left the field to a chorus of resounding boos after the final  kneel-down by the Colts and McDaniels couldn’t blame the fans, who have purchased pricey Personal Seat Licenses, pay triple-figures to park at home games and have one of the most expensive game-day experiences in the NFL when it comes to food and beverage inside the stadium, for being perturbed. 

 “We have great fans,” he said. “They want and deserve better than this.”

 It’s up to McDaniels, his staff and his players to fix it and I’m not sure they have the answers or the means by which to correct what’s wrong.

 “I thought we played hard, but we didn’t play clean,” he said. “We’re going to have to find a better formula here to close out games. It always starts with us, with me.”

 Accountability is nice. But it’s going to take more than that to get this turned around. Right now, there are too many questions and not enough answers.” 


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