Updated November 7, 2021 - 2:59 pm
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The natural inclination would be to explain away the Raiders’ 23-16 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday as the inevitable aftermath of an incredibly emotional week.
But that would be too easy.
“I thought mentally, we were ready,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow dismissed the Henry Ruggs situation as an excuse. “Things happen in y’alls life and you’re all still professionals and do a great job. Same thing with us. We can’t let that affect us, no matter what it is.”
Or, as tight end Darren Waller put it: “I didn’t see anything in practice that had me worried going into the game.”
The reality is the Raiders (5-3) were emotionally healthy enough to push the Giants up and down the field at MetLife Stadium while nearly doubling them up in total yards, 403 to 245. Defensively, they sacked Giants quarterback Daniel Jones three times and surrendered a meager 110 yards through the air.
“We moved the heck out of the ball,” Carr said.
They were, in fact, the superior team to the Giants in a number of ways.
Expect on one fundamentally critical level. And it had nothing to do with the trying events over the last six days. When it got right down to it, the Raiders continually shot themselves in the foot in the key moments that typically decide games.
“It was things that happened in the game that made the difference,” Waller said.
Sometimes the explanation is just that simple.
Six Raiders trips to the red zone resulted in one touchdown, three field goals, a huge turnover and a critical missed field goal.
That doesn’t even get into the pick-six interception Derek Carr threw to start the second half to give the Giants a 17-13 lead, or how he overthrew a wide-open Waller in the end zone near the end of the first half.
“It’s plays that need to get made that didn’t get made by us,” Waller said.
The handful of penalties the Raiders committed to either sabotage red zone visits or aid scoring drives by the Giants didn’t help either. The Raiders were flagged six times for 65 yards.
Among the most egregious:
Offensive lineman Nick Martin was called for unnecessary roughness when he tried to push a pile containing Kenyan Drake, who had reached the Giants 10-yard line on a 22-yard catch and run from Carr. The 15 yards moved the Raiders back to the Giants’ 25. The Raiders not only missed a chance to take the lead with a touchdown, but Daniel Carlson ended up missing a 25-yard field goal that would have made it a one-point game.
Meanwhile. cornerback Nate Hobbs was flagged for roughing the passer on a Giants drive that ended in a field goal and a 20-16 lead.
“Some uncharacteristic penalties,” interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said.
Carr had two interceptions and a fumble, with the latter ending the Raiders last-gasp effort. After pushing the offense to the Giants’ 13 and the cusp of a potential game-tying touchdown in the closing minute, Carr never saw Quincy Roche fly off the left edge as he set up to pass. Roche crashed into Carr and forced the ball loose for a game-ending fumble recovery by the Giants.
“They’re all self-inflicted,” Renfrow said of the handful of Raiders miscues. “Offensively, we just turned the ball over.”
It wasn’t the emotional drain of one of the most gut-wrenching weeks in franchise history that beat the Raiders. It was an inability to play a clean 60 minutes of football on Sunday.
“That’s why we lost,” Carr said. “Please, just talk about me turning the ball over.”
The result is the fifth straight loss for the Raiders coming out of the bye week, an especially frustrating turn of events given the next three weeks bring the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals to Allegiant Stadium followed by a trip to play the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.
Rather than setting themselves up in a strong position to prepare for those games, they now have to figure out a way to get back on the right track in a hurry,
“It definitely sucks,” said Waller. “Makes for a long flight home, questioning what you could have done. But once tomorrow comes, we’ve got to put it behind us. There’s plenty of games left.”