ALAMEDA (AP) — After three straight wins put the Oakland Raiders in good shape in the AFC West playoff race, a flat performance against the New York Jets tempered that talk.
While some outsiders may speculate that the young Raiders could have been overlooking the struggling Jets and looking ahead to this week’s showdown at Kansas City, coach Jon Gruden has plenty of other reasons why Oakland lost 34-3 Sunday.
There was fatigue from four straight games that went down to the wire; a cross-country flight that was delayed; an early East Coast start; and cold, wet weather that the Raiders (6-5) aren’t used to.
But none of that played as big a role as the lack of execution in every facet of the game against the Jets. The offense was plagued by dropped passes and an ineffective running game and didn’t score after the opening drive.
“I’m not making any excuses,” Gruden said Monday. “Hopefully that got our attention as we prepare for one of the best teams in football in another cold, nasty place.”
Instead of dwelling on the loss, the Raiders are looking to use it as a teaching tool of what to avoid down the stretch if they are going to contend for the franchise’s second playoff berth in the past 17 seasons.
Oakland trails the Chiefs by one game in the AFC West race and is one of four AFC teams tied for the final wild-card spot along with Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Tennessee.
The Raiders have little margin for error left after this latest loss if they are going to get into the postseason in their final season in Oakland.
“I think this will be good for us,” said receiver Tyrell Williams, who had a key third-down drop on Oakland’s second drive of the game. “We have a stretch of five games left, and we’re going to make a playoff push. So I think this was a good test for us. We have to look at ourselves and get right back to where we want to be.”
WHAT’S WORKING: The Raiders once again scored on the opening drive, going 46 yards to set up Daniel Carlson’s 46-yard field goal. That gave Oakland 33 points on opening drives, tied for fifth most in the league this season.
WHAT NEEDS HELP: Just about everything else. The Raiders didn’t score again after that first drive, punting seven times, turning it over twice, missing a field goal and getting stopped on fourth-and-short. Oakland finished with a season-low 208 yards, struggled to slow down Sam Darnold and the Jets offense, and took their most lopsided loss of the season.
STOCK UP: DE Maxx Crosby had another sack, giving him 7 1/2 as a rookie this season. They have all come since Week 5 and he’s tied for fourth most in the league over that span. Crosby could have had another but it was wiped out by a questionable roughing- the-passer call against Maurice Hurst, setting up the Jets’ first touchdown.
STOCK DOWN: K Daniel Carlson. Carlson missed a 43-yard field goal try on Oakland’s third drive of the game. That was his third miss in the past four games after setting a record for efficiency his first season with the Raiders when he made 16 of 17 tries.
INJURED: WR Hunter Renfrow injured his ribs and will be out for a while. ... CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring) could return this week. ... LB Marquel Lee is eligible to be activated from IR this week and said he’s ready to go, but Gruden will wait to make a decision depending on roster needs.
KEY NUMBER: 30 — The Raiders have a league-worst 14 losses by at least 30 points over the past 13 seasons. But this marked the first time they lost a game by at least 30 points when entering with a winning record, having last done it in 2010 against Pittsburgh. This was just the second time a Raiders team with a winning record lost to a team with a losing record by at least 30 points. The other came in 1975 when the 3-0 Raiders lost 42-10 to the 0-3 Chiefs.
NEXT STEPS: The Raiders travel to Kansas City to take on Chiefs with a chance to move into a tie for first place in the AFC West. The Chiefs won their first meeting.