MINNEAPOLIS – The Raiders offense is in a rut. The attack has scored twice in its last 18 drives, dating back to the second quarter of last week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tough times continued Sunday in a 34-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium that was never close. Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes, though one was on a trick play and the other came in garbage time. The Raiders went three-and-out twice and Carr threw a pick, unable to generate the points required to keep up with the Vikings. The Raiders travelled just 19 yards on their first three series, while Minnesota built an insurmountable 21-point lead.
Carr agrees this production level is unacceptable, but he doesn't think the offense is in dire straits.
"We definitely moved the ball," Carr said after the loss. "I'd say we didn't finish drives, so that's the point right there."
The Raiders had 302 yards on 58 plays, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and 5.6 yards per pass. The Silver and Black didn't take many deep shots, seemingly content to work underneath and take what Minnesota's defense gave up. The Raiders always had to work the length of the field.
In a lost battle for field position, the Raiders never started beyond their own 25-yard line. They weren't crisp enough to sustain drives and score enough to keep up with the Vikings attack.
Carr pointed to a Darren Waller drop at the end of the first half that the tight end said cost the Raiders points. They couldn't convert on fourth-and-half-a-yard and were a dismal 3-for-11 on third down.
Carr isn't sipping tea while the house is on fire. This offense can move the ball and the chains, but must score more efficiently. That's a correctable problem after working out some kinks.
"This is not the same feeling I've had in the past, where it's hard to get a yard, you know what I mean?" Carr said. "Right now we feel very confident, but we just didn't finish our drives in this game."
Carr pointed to a Week 1 victory over Denver as the difference between proper execution in big moments versus the struggles at important times over the last few games.
Offensive execution got better after the third series Sunday, when Carr sailed a pass over Foster Moreau's head that Vikings safety Harrison Smith intercepted easily.
"I kind of got pissed at myself," Carr said. "… I had a terrible play, a bad rep. But when you look at the whole math, I felt like I competed. I feel like I saw things pretty well, especially against that defense. It was not good enough, though, to get a win."
The Raiders lacked an offensive rhythm and had to throw a balanced game plan out the window after going down three scores in a flash. They weren't able to recover enough and primarily worked underneath with Minnesota sitting in a Cover 2 while generating pressure with a four-man rush.
Tyrell Williams wasn't targeted early. Waller had 13 catches, but he didn't see his first target until midway through the second quarter.
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There wasn't much space to catch and run, and the Raiders weren't consistent enough to generate points with long, sustained drives. That's a problem, but it's one the Raiders believe they can fix.
"We have a lot of rookies and new guys in here, and it's about getting that rhythm," Williams said. "Once we finally hit that rhythm, I think we are going to shock a lot of people. It's just getting into that and feeling each other out, getting on the same page with everything. I definitely feel like we performed well Week 1. We just got to get back to that same rhythm we had [against Denver]."