Raiders playoff hopes flickering after latest loss
During a nearly decade-long stretch of ineptitude, the Oakland Raiders have managed to find all sorts of ways to lose games.
None of those 90 losses since the start of the 2003 season were quite like the most recent one at Jacksonville, or nearly as painful.
With a chance to move within a game of Kansas City for the AFC West lead and have control of their playoff fate, the Raiders (6-7) put together one of their most complete offensive games in recent memory but still ended up on the short side of a 38-31 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday.
''We had a real opportunity yesterday that got away from us,'' coach Tom Cable said. ''The reality of it is we have to win out and we need a little help here, but if that's the way it's supposed to turn out it will and we'll find a way to get it done.''
Oakland built a 10-point halftime lead, got a standout performance from quarterback Jason Campbell and a historic effort from running back Darren McFadden but lost anyway.
Campbell completed 21 of 30 passes for 324 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 127.6 that was the second best of his career.
McFadden had 209 yards of total offense on 19 touches, scoring on runs of 51 and 36 yards, as well as a 67-yard pass. He became the first Raider to score on a run and catch of at least 50 yards in the same game since Clem Daniels in 1963.
Oakland gained 476 yards of total offense and scored 31 points in the latest sign of how far things have progressed from the past few years. But that improvement won't matter if the team doesn't make the playoffs.
''You have to break through that last barricade,'' Cable said. ''That will be a success to me, if we're one of those 12. If not I'll look at it and say there are a lot of successes in it, and there's a lot of good that came out of it. The next step ultimately has to be winning our division and being a playoff team.''
The Raiders had won 30 of their previous 31 games when scoring at least 30 points and gaining at least 475 yards, with their only loss ever coming on Sept. 22, 1996, when they fell 40-34 to San Diego despite gaining 553 yards of offense.
This also was just the first time since 2001 that the Raiders lost a game when scoring 31 or more points.
While poor offense has often held the Raiders back in recent years, it was the defense that struggled this game. Oakland allowed 31 points in the second half, forcing only two punts in the final 30 minutes.
The Raiders allowed three touchdowns of at least 30 yards: a 48-yard pass to Jason Hill that got the Jaguars started in the second half, a 74-yard run by Rashad Jennings and then the game-winning 30-yard run by Maurice Jones-Drew with 1:34 remaining.
That run came immediately following Deji Karim's 65-yard kickoff return, one of two big special teams blunders by Oakland. Rookie Jacoby Ford also lost a fumble on the kick return following Jennings' touchdown, setting up Jacksonville's go-ahead score.
''We played very hard, did a lot of good things, but it's not good enough in a game like that,'' Cable said. ''You've got to finish the deal, and we had an opportunity to do that, win a big game on the road.''
Now the Raiders need to win their final three games against Denver, Indianapolis and Kansas City and hope the Chiefs lose one other game and San Diego drops at least one contest down the stretch in order to win the division.
Kansas City plays at St. Louis this week and at home next week against Tennessee. The Chargers finish the season with a home game against San Francisco on Thursday and then games at Cincinnati and Denver.
''We know we have to win out,'' tight end Zach Miller said. ''We know that starts this Sunday. We've got to learn from this loss and get over it as quickly as we can and just be ready to go, and this week have a good week of practice and move on because we can't be feeling sorry for ourselves.''
The Raiders have already beaten the Chiefs and Broncos in their first meeting and swept San Diego. If they manage to win again against Denver and Kansas City but do not make the playoffs, they would be the first team since at least the 1970 merger to go undefeated in a division and not finish in first
NOTES: Cable said there is no truth to a Yahoo! Sports report about tension between him and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, saying the two laughed about it earlier in the day. ... PR Johnnie Lee Higgins has a sprained ankle that could slow him this week. ... Cable said the Raiders need to research what is wrong with MLB Rolando McClain's foot. He missed the game with what the team is calling tendinitis.