What do you call it when you have a big halftime lead, score 35 points on offense and then give up five-second half touchdowns -- the last in the final moments – to lose a game that seemed to be already locked away in the win column?
Frustrating? Disappointing? Inexcusable?
Pick your word of choice. There are plenty available for the Raiders’ 38-35 loss in Buffalo Sunday.
Columnist Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News called it “atrocious defensive football.” The San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler wrote that the Raiders’ defense “got undressed in broad, sunny daylight.” The Chronicle's Vittorio Tafur weighed in, too, calling the performance “a stinker,” noting there were “no sacks, hardly any quarterback pressures” and the defense could neither tackle or cover anyone in the second half.
That pretty much covers it.
As the Bills marched time and again through the Oakland D in the third and fourth quarters Sunday – amassing 25 first downs and 326 yards -- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick picked time and again on cornerback Chris Johnson, who seemed overmatched against wideout Stevie Johnson. Chris Johnson also drew three pass-interference flags in the game, two that were costly in the fourth quarter, and let what would have been a game-saving interception slip through his hands with 32 seconds left.
Moments later Fitzpatrick then hit a wide-open David Nelson in the end zone from 6 yards out for the game-winning touchdown.
The defensive breakdown left several Raiders barking. A team (now 1-1) that hopes to make a run to the playoffs can’t let a game like that slip away.
Said defensive tackle Tommy Kelly: “For a guy to score on the last play of the game wide open – come on man, do your job.”
Said Chris Johnson: “It was blown coverage.”
Said defensive tackle Richard Seymour: “It shouldn’t have come down to that.”
“How do you explain the second half? I really can’t,” Raiders head coach Hue Jackson told reporters after the game. “We have good enough players, and I have to get to these guys and make them understand we have to finish games. I didn’t get it done.”
The Raiders’ road doesn’t get any easier, either.
Coming into Oakland Sunday are the 2-0 Jets, coming off a 32-3 win over the Jaguars.
As Kelly told Ostler, the Raiders this week better “figure out what to do,” and fast.