OAKLAND, Calif. — A smattered chant for “Defense!” began at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Slowly, it built in volume.
What was thought to be a potential shootout Monday evening — at least, with the high-powered Los Angeles Rams in town, it seemed it’d need to be for the Raiders to keep pace — had proved otherwise. Tight end Jared Cook had 7 more yards receiving, 113, than Rams quarterback Jared Goff did passing with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The crowded wanted more defense.
The unit could only do so much.
Nine days after trading its best player, Oakland contained the highest-scoring road offense from last season to 13 points and 187 total yards with most of the game elapsed. But the Rams were contained for only so long, rattling off three consecutive scoring drives while the Raiders’ offense fell silent in a 33-13 loss.
“There was a lot of great effort on that field tonight by our team,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I thank our fans. In a lot of ways, I’m proud of our football team. It was a tale of two halves. Obviously, we did not take care of the ball. That was a critical part of this football game.”
Quarterback Derek Carr threw three interceptions in the season-opening defeat.
Two transpired in the fourth quarter. The final one, courtesy of cornerback and Oakland native Marcus Peters, was returned for a 50-yard touchdown. The Raiders hadn’t trailed all game and were tied 13-13 before the chant sounded. Beginning with an 8-yard Goff touchdown to wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the Raiders surrendered 20 points to cap the night.
By the end, Cook largely was reduced to being the Raiders’ offense.
He caught nine of 12 passes for a career-high 180 yards. That set a franchise record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single game. The performance surpassed the 173 previously established by Todd Christensen on Nov. 20, 1986 against the San Diego Chargers. Cook now owns the positional yardage record for the Tennessee Titans, Rams and Raiders organizations.
Through no fault of the Raiders’ defense, that wasn’t enough.
It largely did its job.
“I knew that when we got (defensive coordinator Paul) Guenther it was going to be good,” Carr said. “Our defense had hands on multiple passes. … I love our defense. I love the way they play. I love the scheme that Coach Guenther brings because it’s difficult on quarterbacks. I’m glad that he’s on our team.”
Los Angeles did not covert a third down until the third quarter, having opened 0-for-3 in the often-critical category. On a third down in the second quarter, defensive end Bruce Irvin strip-sacked Goff to lengthen a field goal try that Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein would miss. Cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Leon Hall were among those to contest passes.
Despite some miscues, the evening only could be viewed a successful first chapter to life without Khalil Mack, whom the Raiders traded to the Chicago Bears following an extensive contractual holdout.
But the offense was stuck on neutral.
It committed seven of the team’s 12 first-half penalties. Wide receiver Amari Cooper was quiet, managing one catch on three targets for 9 yards. No Raiders wide receiver, for that matter, reached 25 yards. The team was shut out entirely in the second half.
On this night, the offense failed to answer the call.