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Raiders collapse in 4th quarter, stunned by Rams

Updated December 8, 2022 - 10:50 pm

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The end of the Raiders’ season isn’t official. Not with four games remaining.

But lest anyone try to fool themselves, the Raiders are as done as can be after Baker Mayfield — claimed off waivers Tuesday — and the Rams stunned them with a fourth-quarter comeback for a 17-16 victory on “Thursday Night Football” at SoFi Stadium.

The Raiders, who had won three straight to bring some life to their season, fell to 5-8 and need a virtual miracle to mount any postseason chase.

But that pipe dream takes a decided backseat to the real question from Thursday. The one that asks how the Raiders blew a 16-3 fourth-quarter lead to a wounded and nearly broken team that played Mayfield for all but the first series.

“As a team, we just didn’t close the game the right way,” said quarterback Derek Carr, who completed 11 of 20 passes for 137 yards and two interceptions — one with less than a minute left in the first half and the Raiders at the Rams 10.

Mayfield picked up just enough of the Rams’ playbook to orchestrate one of the most improbable comebacks of all time — and drive a figurative stake into the heart of the Raiders, who controlled the game until the final 3½ minutes, when they gave up 14 points.

It wasn’t as if the Raiders were on top of their game, though. They failed to cash in on promising drives with touchdowns and made huge mistakes down the stretch.

“The bottom line is, until we learn how to stop losing games with mistakes, then it makes it very difficult to win.” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. “You can’t really win until you stop from losing.”

In a frantic fourth-quarter collapse, two plays in particular stand out.

First, with the Raiders facing a third-and-one from their 34-yard-line and clinging to a 16-10 lead, they handed the ball to Josh Jacobs, who was pushed back for a 1-yard loss, which forced the Raiders to punt after a three-and-out.

Second, after Raiders defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones slammed Mayfield to the ground for a first-down sack on the Rams’ ensuing drive, defensive tackle Jerry Tillery swatted the ball out of Mayfield’s hands. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Rather than the Rams facing second and 19 at the 13, they had a first down at their 28.

On the next play, Mayfield hit Ben Skowronek for a 32-yard gain. Then, four plays later, Mayfield threw 23 yards to Van Jefferson for a 23-yard game-winning touchdown.

“They played hard and made one more play than we did,” McDaniels said.

How it got to that point is something that will eat at the Raiders for a long while. But they have only themselves to blame.

For example:

Leading 16-3 early in the fourth quarter, they jumped offsides on a Rams punt to give Los Angeles a new set of downs.

On a third and 4 later in the drive, Crosby lined up in the neutral zone to give the Rams another first down.

Mayfield took advantage of those mistakes by completing nine passes on the clutch drive. The Rams cashed in with Cam Akers’ 1-yard touchdown run to make the score 16-10, setting the stage for a Raiders’ three-and-out and Mayfield’s late-game heroics.

The Raiders led 13-3 at halftime, but it could have been more. Two promising drives stalled in Rams territory — the first at their 34 and the second at the 13 — resulting in field goals by Daniel Carlson rather than touchdowns.

Even more damaging was Carr’s interception late in the first half. He got bumped by a Rams defender as he was letting go of a pass to the end zone, and Ernest Jones intercepted it.

The late turnover ended what had been a solid half by the Raiders that included three catches for 71 yards by Davante Adams, 126 yards passing from Carr and surrendering just 95 total yards.

“I think in the red zone, we just didn’t execute like we should have,” Carr said. “We left some plays out there.”

The Raiders’ best drive was their first, when they marched 75 yards on 12 plays, highlighted by a 32-yard Carr completion to Adams, an 11-yard run by Jacobs and a 13-yard reception by Ameer Abdullah. Jacobs scored on a 1-yard run.

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

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