Why there’s no one to blame for the Raiders playoff loss

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) reacting after stopping Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (15) in the back field during the first half of the AFC Wild Card football game between the Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders at NRG Stadium in Houston. (Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)

The Oakland Raiders were defeated easily by the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs on Saturday. It was a 13 point loss for Oakland but it felt a whole lot worse. Had the Raiders been playing a team with a legitimate offense, this game could have been much, much uglier.

And while it’s natural to search for someone to blame for an ugly loss, no one is to blame for this one.

Oakland fell behind Houston by two scores almost immediately. They scored a touchdown in the first quarter to make it close, but that didn’t last long. Houston a 20-7 lead into half and never looked back. From start to finish they dominated the Raiders and in particular, absolutely shut down Connor Cook and the Oakland offense.

I’ve heard people blaming Bill Musgrave for the loss. His playcalling certainly left something to be desired, but even with perfect playcalling, Oakland may not have stood a chance.

I’ve heard people blaming the defense. But even if they were able to sack Brock Osweiler or force a turnover, it likely wouldn’t have made a difference.

I’ve heard people blaming Jack Del Rio for not making a switch to Matt McGloin when Cook struggled in the first half. But any upgrade McGloin would have represented would not have been enough to bridge the gap.

If you can take anything away from week 17 and the Wild Card playoff loss, it’s that Derek Carr means more to this team than perhaps most of us realized. Coming back from the loss of Carr seemed insurmountable enough, add to that the loss of a Pro Bowl left tackle in Donald Penn and the Raiders never really stood a chance.

When it rains it pours, and the Raiders were already experiencing a torrential downpour before Penn got hurt. Overcoming the loss of an MVP candidate would have been hard enough, overcoming that and the loss of Penn was clearly too much.

So while you may feel the desire to find someone to blame for the loss, don’t. There likely wasn’t anything anyone could have done to change the outcome of Saturday’s game. The only ones to blame are the football gods who saw fit to reign terror on the Raiders roster over the last couple of weeks.

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james arcellana

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