On paper, Sunday’s Raiders vs. Lions game favored Oakland.
Detroit was just 2-7, struggling on both sides of the ball and banged up in the secondary. Oddsmakers made the 4-5 Raiders slim favorites to rebound after consecutive losses and get back in the hunt for the AFC wild card.
Yet Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was wary.
“I expect them to come out fired up, playing their tail off,” he told the media this past week. “… They run around, they make plays and they’re passionate about it. Like I said, we have our work cut out for us.”
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Carr was right.
On Sunday in Michigan, the Lions surprised the Raiders, dropping them 18-13 in what was a must-win game for an Oakland team that needed to get back on track. Now 4-6 with six games remaining, it now appears the Raiders’ hopes for breaking their decade-plus playoff drought may be dead.
The Oakland offense, which had turned into an explosive unit in late October/early November – scoring 37, 34 and 35 points in consecutive weeks – again was as flat as it was in last week’s loss to Minnesota.
Against the Lions, Carr completed just 13-of-25 throws for 169 yards and no touchdowns. As a team, Oakland could muster just 214 total yards on a defense that looked vulnerable coming into the game.
A patchwork Lions secondary – missing two of its top three cornerbacks – allowed super rookie Amari Cooper just one catch for 4 yards (though Carr also dropped at least three throws) and Michael Crabtree six for 50. The Oakland running game, meanwhile, was sluggish, with Latavius Murray getting just 28 yards on 13 carries.
The Lions took a 9-0 lead into halftime on three Matt Prater field goals, but Oakland responded well in the third quarter, driving 80 yards for a TD on Murray’s 1-yard run, then getting two long Sebastian Janikowski field goals of 48 and 56 yards.
But up 13-9, the Raiders couldn’t hold the lead. Detroit went up on Matthew Stafford’s 5-yard run on a quarterback draw, then added a safety for the final margin of victory on tackle Donald Penn’s holding infraction in the end zone.
The Raiders will try to get back on the winning track in Tennessee this coming Sunday against the Titans.