When was the last time a last-second, heartstopping win felt so much like a loss? Following the demoralizing 43-6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Jon Gruden expected to light a fire under the team. Sunday needed to be a get-right game against the New York Jets. The Raiders need answers down the stretch. Four games left, and the playoffs remain possible.
Instead, the Raiders mismanaged an 11-point lead late in the third quarter and needed a 46-yard receiving touchdown from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs with the clock ticking down into the single digits to emerge from East Rutherford victorious.
Other than a win in the standings, this game is not to be celebrated. Ruggs dropped a pass leading to an interception and lost a fumble on third down. Carr could not connect deep with Nelson Agholor like he has done well all season. The run game could not roll a brakeless truck down a hill in an avalanche. And the defensive effort as a whole showed the nation that the Las Vegas Raiders are leaps and bounds away from registering as a playoff team.
Ugly Day, Ugly Year
Coming into the game, the New York Jets averaged 13 points a game, a mark the Jets reached with 12 minutes left in the second quarter. Ty Johnson, a former Detroit Lion,cut mid-October, rushed for 104 yards and Josh Adams added 74 on a mere 8 touches (9.3 yards per carry). While Sam Darnold was held under 200 passing yards (186), he did not have to throw much, despite trailing, due to how easily the Jets were running the ball.
The biggest takeaways from this game is that this game never should have been this close. What happened to the team that held Christian McCaffery, Alvin Kamara, and Kareem Hunt to under 100 yards? Now the Raiders look extremely vulnerable to the run.
Moment of Truth
It has been said all year that this should be defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s “prove it” year, and he has failed to prove anything except that his hiring was a mistake. The argument could be made that the Raiders had three sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception, but that is only six stat-worthy defensive plays of the entire game (all of which coincidentally happened on plays where Darnold dropped back to pass).
To keep things short, the Raiders’ run defense is outright lost right now. Is it too much to ask to get an adequate pass rush and run defense at the same time? This performance today felt like a bad defense sells out to do one thing right while ignoring everything else. Even if the team was selling out to pressure Darnold, they failed to deter him from making them pay.