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Raiders look far too much like last season in blowout loss

Updated September 22, 2019 - 6:04 pm

MINNEAPOLIS — It dates to Norse mythology and, when played, the Gjallarhorn produces a long and piercing and all-consuming sound.

And each time the Vikings do anything well inside U.S. Bank Stadium, from the most common of first downs to the most electric of touchdowns, it erupts within a sea of purple more than 66,000 strong.

Minnesota hosted the Raiders on Sunday.

It’s a wonder, then, half those attending didn’t go deaf.

If you sketched an outline of how not to begin what are five straight games away from Oakland, a 34-14 loss would have covered all points, significant and otherwise.

In fact, if you simply replace the name Jared Cook with that of Darren Waller, this was a virtual facsimile of last season.

Cook is now in New Orleans, but the constant checkdown decisions of quarterback Derek Carr to his leading tight end are alive and predictable, Waller having offered career highs in receptions (13) and yards (134).

“It gets hard for our fans, because they just want to see us win,” Carr said. “We didn’t have a problem moving the ball …

“We moved the ball, right?”

Um, not really.

Offense sputters

The opponent played a major role. When you get down 21-0 as the Raiders did against a swarming Minnesota defense playing in such a Gjallarhorn-deafening place, well, it’s a wrap more often than not.

That doesn’t change this: The Raiders yet again lack many game-breakers. So when a No. 1 wideout like Tyrell Williams is held to just two catches for 18 yards before posting an 11-yard score on his team’s final drive in a blowout loss, when a rookie running back in Josh Jacobs is sick all week and limited to 10 carries, rallying from down three touchdowns becomes highly improbable.

The Raiders averaged just 4.5 yards on the 50 plays before their last drive.

They had scored just seven points in the previous 17.

Get this: When trailing 31-7 in the fourth quarter, the Raiders over a 6:20 stretch went only 42 yards in 13 plays, the drive ending when Daniel Carlson’s 51-yard field-goal attempt hit the right upright.

So, no, there hasn’t been much moving of the ball.

Nor, apparently, much sense of urgency.

The Raiders are like they were last season. When meeting a playoff-caliber opponent, they own a pencil-thin margin for error, not near good enough to do foolish things at the most important times and have much hope of competing.

They can’t commit stupid defensive penalties and allow teams to extend drives. They can’t drop third-down passes (Waller) when trailing 21-7 late in the first half and driving in opposing territory. They can’t throw a second-quarter interception (Carr) when down 14-0 that the other guys convert into seven more points.

They had electrifying wide receiver Amari Cooper and traded him. They had all-Pro receiver Antonio Brown and (rightly) released him. They cut receiver Keelan Doss, signed him off the Jacksonville practice squad, paid him a guaranteed $795,000, made him active the last two weeks and have yet to acknowledge he’s alive on the sidelines.

They’re still incredibly limited against good teams, and next comes the second of those five straight away games when the Raiders visit Indianapolis.

“It’s not getting any easier for us, but I don’t think guys in this locker room are looking for anything easy,” Waller said. “They’re looking to take on that road that’s going to be as tough as possible, because that will bring the best out of us.”

Looks the same

They weren’t that in any phase Sunday, looking far too much like the 4-12 version of last season. There was a quarterback who was sacked four times and is never stellar under pressure, a defense that couldn’t get off the field on third down due to its own ineptitude, several bodies limping off injured and return units that never seem to present the offense favorable field position.

“We have to play better in all three areas, and it starts with me,” head coach Jon Gruden said.

As he spoke, 20 or so minutes following the game, in the bowels of U.S. Bank Stadium, that loud, piercing, all-consuming sound came flowing through the walls.

It is said the Gjallarhorn was used to announce the arrival of gods.

On Sunday, it declared something else: When it comes to 34-14, we’ve seen this nightmare before.

More Raiders: Follow at vegasnation.com and @VegasNation on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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