The Raiders held a halftime lead for the third time in as many weeks. They let yet another one slip.
That put the Silver and Black in a bind. They aren’t adept getting out of chokeholds.
That, above all else, is why the Raiders haven’t won.
The Silver and Black remain winless after Sunday’s 28-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.
They just can’t close, on offense or defense. They are better than 0-3 suggests, but that doesn’t matter at this point. A season that suffered a blow before its start with the Khalil Mack trade still has the Raiders stumbling through three games, and has the season heading downhill fast.
Can they turn things around? Time will tell on that front, but a prolonged winning streak is required to ignite the season. Right now, the Raiders can’t even get the car to start.
Here are three quick takeaways from Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.
Raiders still can’t finish
The Raiders have struggled mightily to close out games, albeit against tough competition. The offense slowed as the game wore on, and the defense got beat on a pass from receiver (!!!) Albert Wilson to Jakeem Hunt to take a fourth-quarter lead.
Derek Carr and the Raiders offense had plenty of time to snatch it back, but the team’s signal-caller threw an interception in the end zone. Two plays later, Albert Wilson took a shovel pass 74 yards to go up two scores with two minutes remaining.
The 2016 Raiders had the fourth-quarter magic, which worked out well in a 12-4 season. That is long gone. The Raiders start hot and clearly have solid gameplans, but they have struggled to make adjustments late in games and haven’t executed well enough down the stretch to earn a victory.
As long as this is the case, the Raiders will struggle. Their fans, in turn, will have hearts broken far too often.
Struggling to break through
The Raiders offense can move the football. The Silver and Black racks up yards with the best of them, but has had trouble crossing the goal line this season. That has been problematic each week, and the trend continued against the Dolphins.
The Raiders could’ve gone up big in the first half, but only scored one touchdown despite being in the red zone three times. That kept the game close, and a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run put the team up two scores late in the third quarter. It could’ve been a blowout by then, if the Raiders converted on proper chances. Instead, the Dolphins raged back, took a fourth-quarter lead, and sustained it.
The Raiders didn’t exceed 20 points in either of the first two games for the same reasons, and the team needs work inside the 20-yard line to operate at maximum efficiency. It cost the Raiders on this day, and put them in an uncomfortable, yet familiar position with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Jordy Nelson had 53 receiving yards through two games. Then he exceeded that on one catch. Nelson went 61 yards on the game’s second play to set up the Raiders’ first score. He hit another long one later in the game, all while in a matchup Jon Gruden exploited on several occasions.
This comes after Jared Cook was the primary target in Week 1 and Amari Cooper went off in Week 2.
Nelson had six catches for 173 yards in this one.
Nelson is getting used to a new quarterback and offensive scheme after a decade in Green Bay, but he found a rhythm early against Miami and made a few big plays. It shows he can be a weapon in the passing game, and should force defenses to play honest with Cooper and Cook. That will be a long-term positive for an offense with plenty of weapons.