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Jekyll and Hyde Raiders fall to 0-3 after loss to Titans

Updated September 25, 2022 - 7:55 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For three straight weeks, coach Josh McDaniels, quarterback Derek Carr and anyone else associated with the Raiders has stood by podiums and lockers trying to explain the misery of losing winnable football games.

Such was the case again Sunday after the Raiders delivered yet another Jekyll and Hyde performance in a 24-22 loss to the Titans at Nissan Stadium, where the Raiders fell short when Carr’s two-point conversion throw to Darren Waller fell incomplete.

And just like that, the Raiders dropped to to 0-3, putting in jeopardy a season that began with so much expectation.

The Titans (1-2) deserve credit, but, as was the case in the Raiders’ first two losses, it was mostly self-inflicted wounds and an inability to string together four solid quarters that cost them.

“We have to learn how to start well, play well in the middle and finish well,” McDaniels said. “Right now, we’ve not figured that formula out yet.”

Six trips to the red zone resulted in just two touchdowns. Two other promising drives fizzled because of a series of errors that included penalties and two dropped passes by Waller, one that resulted in an end zone interception by Kevin Byard when the ball grazed off the tight end’s hands.

The miscues denied the Raiders a chance to overcome a 24-10 halftime deficit and wasted the defense’s second-half shutout.

Also lost in the defeat were the career-high eight catches and 158 yards from Mack Hollins, Carr’s 303 yards passing and two touchdowns, and a promising day from a rebuilt offensive line that featured new starters in Alex Bars at left guard, Jermaine Eluemunor at right guard and rookie Thayer Munford at right tackle.

The Raiders have outplayed all three of their opponents in one half of each game. In the first half of the Cardinals game and the second halves of the Chargers and Titans games, they have outscored the three 48-7.

But their ineffectiveness in the other quarters has buried them in last place in the AFC West, one of the NFL’s best divisions, and forced them to take a hard look at themselves less than a month into the season.

“We’re gonna have to learn how to play a full 60 minutes and earn the right to win,” McDaniels said. “It’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

By now, their frustration is matched only by their anger at the redundancy of it all.

A football version of Groundhog Day has beset the Raiders, one in which a lack of focus, attention to detail and inefficiency continue to cost them at the most inopportune times.

And as Carr alluded to in another postgame synopsis, the self-induced errors stem from moments that unfold long before the Raiders even take the playing field.

“If you don’t do it right at practice, you can’t expect it to go right in the games,” he said.

Carr didn’t get into details, but did say “the execution wasn’t at its best on some days” during the practice week. When asked to elaborate, he hinted that not everyone is as focused as they should be.

“The meetings, the practices, the walk-throughs, all matter,” Carr said. “If you’re on it on all those things, you usually go out and you’re on your assignments. … When we go to the meetings, take what they’re saying and go do it on the field. Then it’ll start happening more and more in games.”

Until then, the Raiders will take the same roller-coaster ride they have boarded for three straight weeks.

“We have to be better, and if we’re not, we’re gonna have a sucky feeling after every game,” Carr said.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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