If the Raiders are to take a big step forward in 2015 and contend for a playoff spot, they’ll need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.
But on Sunday in Chicago, the Raiders let a potential victory slip through their grasp.
In losing to the Bears 22-20, Oakland couldn’t protect a late 20-19 lead, allowing a long, late drive for a field goal.
And twice, the Raiders gave the ball to the Bears defense on first-down plays. As head coach Jack Del Rio noted to the Bay Area media Monday, those turnovers could have been the difference in the game.
One came when starting running back Latavius Murray fumbled a pitch from Derek Carr. The other came when a short Carr pass popped out of Murray’s hands and into the arms of a Bears defender.
“Two real, problem turnovers for us really eliminated first-down plays,” Del Rio said. “How many plays in that drive are you taking away? Six, seven, eight, nine? Who knows? Two drives taken off the board with a first-down turnover and just add that in right there … It (the game) might feel a little different, look a little different.”
Despite Murray’s two errors, Del Rio said the running back remains the team’s No. 1 ballcarrier. Though Roy Helu Jr. was in the Raiders’ backfield on the team’s final drive vs. Chicago Sunday, Del Rio said it was just a case of coaches believing Helu gave the team its best chance in the situation.
Del Rio told reporters he’s certain Murray will rebound this coming Sunday when the Raiders (2-2) play host to the 4-0 Denver Broncos (1:25 p.m. kickoff).
“I remain confident,” Del Rio said of Murray. “None of us are perfect. We all are capable of making mistakes. I think the sooner you own up to mistakes, the quicker you can put them behind you and move forward.”
After Sunday’s loss, that’s exactly what Murray did. He blamed himself for the loss, saying Oakland’s problems started “with turnovers.”
“I was the root of those,” he said. “It’s hard to win like that. I think that’s where it starts.”