Eliminated from the playoff race before they even took the field, the Oakland Raiders had their own playoff game in Philadelphia and were in position to pull off a victory in the last minute, before Derek Carr had a couple of head-scratching plays to hand a 19-10 victory to the Philadelphia Eagles.
What it means: The Raiders’ offense, in case you missed the first 14 games of the season, is broken, and Carr, the Raiders’ $125 million quarterback, has regressed. Mightily. Under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing, the offense became too simplistic and, against the Eagles, too magnanimous. Five turnovers doomed the Raiders, who would have run away with the game had they simply protected the ball, and they dropped their ninth game, a year after being 12-3 through Week 16. Downing would be wise to prepare his resume and coach Jack Del Rio should not get too comfortable either. Carr had a 48.1 passer rating with two picks Monday.
What I liked: The Raiders’ defense came to play … and then some. Granted, Oakland was facing Nick Foles, rather than MVP candidate Carson Wentz, but the Raiders held the Eagles, who entered the game averaging a league-high 31.3 points per game, to 10 points late into the fourth quarter. The Raiders also allowed the Eagles to convert just one of their 14 opportunities on third down. Then there was Sean Smith blanketing Alshon Jeffery and shutting him out, on two targets.
What I didn’t like: The Raiders got into the giving spirit after takeaways. On consecutive snaps in the third quarter, no less. First, Carr underthrew a pass to Seth Roberts and was picked off by Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson. Then, after the Eagles gave the ball back on a fumble, Marshawn Lynch fumbled for the first time since Week 17 of the 2014 season. Granted, Lynch was retired last season, but still. Lynch’s helmet paid the price as he slammed it in frustration on the Raiders’ sideline, and the Eagles converted the turnover into a game-tying field goal. Then Jalen Richard coughed it up at the Eagles’ 16-yard line with 6:35 to play … shortly after a Reggie Nelson interception. Carr was picked off with about a minute to go near midfield, then could not handle a lateral back to him on the final play of the game as Philadelphia returned it for a touchdown.
Fantasy fallout: Amari Cooper’s first catch since Nov. 26 was a big one, a 63-yard touchdown in which his double-move on a “sluggo” route from the right side absolutely smoked Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills. Cooper, who missed two of Oakland’s previous three games with a left ankle injury, has tied his career high with six TD catches, the same he had as a rookie in 2015.
Climbing the charts: When Carr hit Cooper for a 63-yard score, the Raiders quarterback passed Andrew Luck for fourth place on the NFL’s list for most TD passes through a player’s first four seasons. The list: Dan Marino (142), Peyton Manning (111), Russell Wilson (106), Carr (102), Luck (101).
What’s next: The Raiders (6-9) return to a former home in traveling to play the Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) in the season finale, albeit in a soccer stadium in Carson. Raider Nation overtook San Diego last year and many expect a similar result in this L.A. suburb. Plus, the Raiders, who lost, 17-16, to the Chargers in October, could have a chance to knock their rivals out of the AFC playoff hunt.