Raiders can’t believe they blew this one


News, notes, quotes and observations following the Raiders’ 17-9 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park:

— When you haven’t won back to back games since 2008 and have a seven-plus year history of losing, it’s hard to take anything for granted.

And while no one appeared guilty of mentally putting one in the win column beforehand _ the Raiders problem wasn’t effort, it was their own sloppy play _ the reaction afterward indicated this was a game they didn’t expect to lose.

“Coming into this game, you know they were going to play hard, but ain’t no way I didn’t think we’d lose the game,’’ Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. “We knew they were going to run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, then take a shot.

“We were on point in the first half. We just didn’t adjust . . . I’d rather get blown out like we did in Tennessee than to lose like that. If we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, this team isn’t supposed to beat us.’’

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha agreed the locker room anguish has not been exceeded this season.

“After that San Diego win, it was like, let’s get this ball rolling, let’s get the momentum going. And then to lose like this . . . I mean, we were in the ggame the whole time . . . it really hurts,’’ Asomugha said.

— There was lots of focus on the Raiders renewed problems in the red zone. On the first three possessions, the Raiders had a first-and-goal at the 8 and settled for a 27-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal.

They had a first-and-10 at the 12 and didn’t make it farther than the 6 before Janikowski connected from 24 yards.

On that possession, from the 12, the Raiders gave the ball to Michael Bush three straight times _ the last time out of the shotgun and got six yards.

“To not come out with points, it seemed like the air kind of went out of us, for whatever reason we just didn’t get into a rhythm in the second half,’’ Campbell said.

Said coach Tom Cable: “The game really comes down to opportunity. We had a ton of opportunity offensively to score. We did not score, and we’re not very good in the red zone. We let them hang around.’’

I asked Asomugha if it was in the back of his mind that there could be problems after the red zone failures and he said, “No, it was in the front of my mind. We have to punch it in. And the offense knows that. And on defense we can’t let ‘em score.’’

— Campbell’s game was as bad statistically as it looked in person and, I assume, on the television screen at home.

He was 8-for-21 for 83 yards with a pair of interceptions. His quarterback rating of 10.7 was the lowest of his career by a wide margin (his previous low was 42.9 in the first half of the St. Louis game) and it came just one week after a 117.6 that was the second highest of his career.

As a point of reference, the worst game ever by JaMarcus Russell in terms of quarterback rating was 17.4 in a half of play against Jacksonville as a rookie. The infamous Atlanta debacle of 2008 had a 19.0 quarterback rating by Russell.

For what it’s worth, Cable said he never considered removing Campbell in favor of Kyle Boller.

“You want to try and make a big play, and you want to try and do some things to drive and get some points on the board, at least help the defense out,’’ Campbell said. “The defense was doing a good job keeping them out of the end zone, you stall, you kind of get upset, you’ve just got to find a way. ‘’

The Raiders ran only three plays in the third quarter and at one point had five consecutive three-and-outs.

For whatever reason, the passing offense looked as poorly executed, ill-timed and poorly called as any time dating back several years _ including the Tom Walsh-Art Shell offense.

Campbell said in a Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area interview on the air he hurt his knee at some point in the first half and would under go an MRI Monday.

— It was almost as if Cable and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson knew they couldn’t pass, because their game plan was predicated on running Bush early and often, wearing down the 49ers with the run, and then striking with play-action.

The only big movement came essentially with four plays _ a 46-yard pass interference penalty on the first play from scrimmage courtesy of Shawntae Spencer against Louis Murphy on a flea flicker pass, a 43-yard run by Murphy on a reverse, and two passes to Zach Miller on the Raiders final scoring drive (for three points of course) on passes of 22 and 26 yards.

Bush gained 47 yards on 20 carries with no gain longer than 5 yards. With Marcel Reece getting two yards on one carry and Rock Cartwright getting dumped for a 3-yard loss on his only carry, the Raiders running backs had 46 yards on 22 carries.

When they couldn’t make any headway, the Raiders were too inept in the passing game to counter.

“We felt like we could put a lot of different formations at ‘em and run the ball successfully and do play-action off it,’’ Campbell said. “It was tough.’’

—Miller had only the two catches on the last scoring drive. Campbell tried to throw a route over the middle too him earlier in the game but linebacker Manny Lawson made one of the better plays you’ll ever see by a linebacker in coverage with a diving interception.

“They made sure they ran a linebacker underneath me and a safety over the top, with a lot of bracket,’’ Miller said.

Darrius Heyward-Bey led the Raiders with three catches for 19 yards and Louis Murphy caught one pass for four yards. That was it for wideouts.

“We had a little bit of the rain earlier in the game, but that’s never an excuse,’’ Heyward-Bey said. “Just trying to establish the run, trying to get some play action. We got it rolling at some parts of the game and it wasn’t consistent enough.’’

Murphy seemed to think the Raiders had correctly diagnosed the propensity of rookie safety Taylor Mays to play aggressively, giving him a chance to get deep, but nothing eve came of it in terms of a deep strike.

“I don’t know. I’ve got to see the film,’’ Murphy said. “The game was just going so fast, I don’t really know what was going on. I felt I was getting open against their coverages.’’

—The defense didn’t exactly cover itself with glory either, despite doing well enough to have the home crowd chanting for backup David Carr at one point as Alex Smith struggled.

On second-half touchowns by Smith of 32 yards to Michael Crabtree and 17 yards to Vernon Davis, the Raiders failed to cover the two receivers they knew were the most dangerous.

Crabtree and Davis did beat good coverage and make plays. They were simply left alone.

“The thing is, both plays came on plays we had practiced throughout the week,’’ Asomugha said.

On Crabtree’s score, Asomugha said he couldn’t lock on the receiver based on the coverage and that “we had another guy coming from the side and we got there late.’’

The other guy, in this case, was Chris Johnson.

Davis, Asomugha said, lost touch with a linebacker after pass blocking for two seconds _ a judgement call in that the defender isn’t sure if the quarterback will run.

It left Davis open to covert the pass into points.

Then there was Frank Gore’s 64-yard run, the play that set up the touchdown to Davis. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain was taken out of the play by fullback Moran Norris and missed an opportunity to make the stop at the line of scrimmage.

Gore also had runs of 15 and 14 yards, meaning on 22 carries, he had 56 yards _ plus the three big plays.

“There goes the story of the Raider,’’ said Kelly, who acknowledged he had a shot at the tackle. “Play good, play good . . . Boom. There goes something.’’


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer