ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Raiders know the narrative.
They’ve lost four straight games. They sit in last place in the AFC West. Last year, they defeated the San Diego Chargers following a botched hold on a fourth-quarter field goal in Oakland. On Sunday, it was they who failed to execute a fourth-quarter kick, a high snap disrupting an extra point in a one-point loss to the Chargers in Oakland.
An offense that was expected to be dominant hasn’t been.
A recent knack for winning close games has faded.
On Tuesday afternoon, music blasted inside the team’s locker room as reporters entered. Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. cranked his jams near the entry way. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was the DJ in the middle of the room. The collective volume subjectively was at its loudest of the season.
With harmony, the Raiders are blocking out the noise.
The team is well aware of the predicament it finds itself entering Thursday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. A loss would position the Raiders four games back in the AFC West with nine to go. As the season standings threaten to come apart, coaches and players are making a point to stay together.
Some locker rooms may divide. This one, by all indications, has not.
“No one is pointing fingers,” cornerback TJ Carrie said. “No one is calling each other out. We’re all criticizing each other in the right way. I think that’s the biggest thing I feel has helped us to continue to be a solid team. We’re not blaming this player for that play or this player for that play. It’s, ‘No, this is how we fix that play.’”
“We’re good, man,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “We’ve just got to keep working. It’s all you can do. Just keep doing your job. If every man focuses on that, we’ll be all right. We’ll be good.”
These words are not delivered off-handedly.
Despite recent developments, a strong belief is sensed behind them.
The Raiders (2-4) have lost the same number of games in the past four weeks as they did all of last regular season. They finished 9-2 in one-score games in 2016 and 5-0 in games decided by three points or fewer. This year’s club is 0-2 and 0-1 in those categories, respectively.
Coach Jack Del Rio often refers to each regular-season game as a chapter to a larger book. Such is the message this week.
The narrative from the past month won’t be what defines the Raiders. Their response will be.
“Since I’ve been a part of this organization, we’ve been really good at dealing with adversity,” wide receiver Amari Cooper said. “All we can do is take it one week at a time.”
“The coin just hasn’t fallen our way yet,” Carrie said. “When you go back to last year, a lot of these situations fell our way. Looking back and being on the other coin, it’s difficult because we were able to overcome a lot of these critical situations that happen in a game. Now, being on the other side, we’ve really got to dig deep and find out how we can continue to move forward, correct the past and be successful.”