ALAMEDA (AP) — Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders’ high-powered offense have struggled to score in recent weeks.
After being shut down in the cold in Kansas City, the Raiders managed just one touchdown in far more favorable conditions last week in San Diego when Oakland clinched its first playoff berth in 14 years.
The problem against the Chargers wasn’t moving the ball, it was punching it into the end zone. Oakland (11-3) moved inside the San Diego 20-yard line on seven of 11 possessions but made it into the end zone only on a late drive in the first half, turning the ball over twice, settling for three field goals and ending the game with a kneel down on the other possessions.
That came a week after Oakland was held to one field goal on three second-half red zone trips in a 21-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We’re ready to get back on track, that’s for sure,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said Wednesday. “We want to come away with touchdowns when we get down there. It’s tough enough to get down there. We want to finish the right way. So, we’re working hard on that, count on being better moving forward. A couple uncharacteristic mistakes. We don’t want to just sweep them under the rug. We want to address them, get them fixed and get back on track.”
The Raiders were quite good at that to start the season, scoring touchdowns on 10 of their first 11 trips into the red zone. Those kinds of performances have helped Oakland become the third highest-scoring team in the league in the team’s best season in years.
Oakland hasn’t been nearly as efficient of late, scoring touchdowns on just 9 of 24 trips inside the 20 the past five weeks, including the 2-for-11 performance over the past two weeks.
“We played two good defenses,” Carr said. “Obviously, we had our plays that we could have made and should have made and I think that it just comes down to we didn’t do a good job of making those plays, to be honest. On third down, they got us off the field and we kicked field goals. Which is good, you always want the points. But, anytime we can get the touchdowns, obviously that’s what we want.”
One difference the past few weeks has been that the Raiders have been operating exclusively out of the shotgun or pistol formation ever since Carr injured his pinkie on his throwing hand in the third quarter of a win against Carolina on Nov. 27.
Carr has not taken a single snap under center since returning after missing one series that game, although he did line up there to draw an offside penalty against San Diego’s Joey Bosa last week.
The Raiders have gone to the shotgun or pistol even near the goal line or in victory formations but Carr downplays that factor, pointing to the team’s 419 yards rushing the past three weeks.
“We ran for more yards those last three games than before,” Carr said. “So, I think it’s a myth when it says under center and those kinds of things. We ran the ball just fine.”
NOTES: S Karl Joseph (toe) remains out of practice after missing the past two games. ... DT Stacy McGee (ankle) also is not back on the practice field yet after missing three games. ... LB Shilique Calhoun (knee) returned to practice after missing the past four games.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL