Del Rio preaches keeping the faith for 4-6 Raiders
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Head coach Jack Del Rio knows the outside view of his team has plummeted.
The Oakland Raiders have gone from 12-4 to 4-6 and are coming off a blowout 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots, the team that was supposed to be the benchmark in what was hoped to be an AFC championship run.
But the Raiders' coach said what might have looked to the outside world as an unprepared team was more rooted more in perception than reality.
"It certainly got away from us, no question, but I think if you go back as we do, study the film and look at the effort and energy being put forth, our guys were ready to play," Del Rio said.
What brought down the Raiders against the Patriots, in Del Rio's view, was a dubious third-down defensive holding penalty on rookie linebacker Nicholas Morrow that extended New England's first touchdown drive and a lost fumble at the 3-yard line by Seth Roberts when the Raiders were poised to cut the lead to 14-7.
Following the fumble, Tom Brady got the Patriots in position for a 62-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski at the halftime gun to make it 17-0.
Then Brady hit Brandin Cooks on a 64-yard touchdown pass less than a minute into the third quarter to make it 24-0.
"Those two plays right there, if you can change those two, a completely different feel at halftime," Del Rio said.
Del Rio said his team has not given up -- far from it.
"We're in second place in our division," Del Rio said. "We're a game off the wild-card pace. We're two out of the division lead. There's six games left, so there's a lot of hope.
"For me, it's about going forward with today's opportunity to get better and just take it one day at a time ... keep our wits about us. Stay strong. Be men of character and show up and do the right things every day, and keep believing it's possible."
--Quarterback Derek Carr promised the Raiders are staying together through the tough times.
"I stood in that huddle, down 30, with my guys," Carr said. "Everyone hurt, everyone mad. Nothing changes for us. We are who we are. We're not going to turn on each other. We're not going to turn on anything about what we do."
--Running back Marshawn Lynch has sat for the national anthem 13 times (four postseason, nine regular season) but the added twist against the Patriots was that he stood for the Mexican national anthem that followed.
That brought a rebuke from President Donald Trump on Twitter:
"Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time the NFL should suspend him for the remainder of the season. Attendance and ratings way down."
Those in attendance refute that Lynch was booed during the U.S. anthem.
The wife of head coach Jack Del Rio, Linda Del Rio, chimed in later with a tweet of her own: "President Trump, I voted for you, which I now regret. Football is a powerful platform -- here's charitable work we did in Mexico City #NFL Proud."
--Head coach Jack Del Rio put it as diplomatically as possible, but made it clear he could do without sacrificing another home game for an international date.
"I think that the crowd down here is pretty excited for the Raiders, so we appreciate that," Del Rio said. "But when you travel for four and a half hours, you're not at home. So we appreciate the hospitality, a lot of good people came out and supported us and it's a great atmosphere, but it's hard to call it a home game, really."
--Quarterback Derek Carr did his best to shield teammates regarding the dropped passes -- there were three big ones in the first half and the unofficial count got to five or six.
"I've got to throw the ball better, the drops -- it's got to be something to do with me," Carr said. "I've got to throw it better, I've got to put it on them, better timing. It's on me to get that fixed and I'm going to work to do that."
NOTES: RB Marshawn Lynch had 61 yards at halftime against New England, his most in the first half since gaining 68 against the Chiefs in 2014. ... CB David Amerson missed his third consecutive game with a foot injury. ... DL Jihad Ward, a second-round draft pick in 2016, was a healthy scratch for the sixth time this season against New England.
... TE Jared Cook had his eighth reception this season of 20 yards or more, fourth in the NFL at his position. ... WR Michael Crabtree has caught a pass in 120 consecutive games in which he has played. ... CB Gareon Conley had surgery on a shin injury that derailed his rookie season.
REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS
--PASSING OFFENSE: D-minus - Quarterback Derek Carr was 28 of 49 for 237 yards, a 9-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper and an interception that bounced off the shoulder pads of Johnny Holton. Cooper and Michael Crabtree (6 catches, 51 yards) had first-half drops that killed momentum. Carr had time to throw, but couldn't find open receivers and often missed his mark.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: B - Looked as if the Raiders could get some things done had they not fallen so far behind in the late second and early third quarters. Marshawn Lynch had 61 yards on nine carries in the first half and only two rushes for six yards in the second. A 25-yard run was his longest rush of the season. The Raiders averaged 5.2 yards per carry (21 carries, 109 yards).
--PASS DEFENSE: F - Tom Brady (30 of 37, 339 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) looked as if he were operating against eight defenders, finding open receivers at will. Rookie Obi Melifonwu, drafted as a safety, played cornerback and was burned for a 64-yard touchdown by Brandin Cooks. The Raiders have now played 11 games without an interception.
--RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus - The Patriots had some success running particularly on plays when NaVorro Bowman left in sub packages, finishing with 89 yards on 20 attempts. Dion Lewis led the Patriots with 60 yards on 10 carries. Running was a secondary consideration for the Patriots considering all that was available in the passing game.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus - Nothing great, nothing too awful, but the Patriots had the upper hand. Very little impact by either team in the return game (all kickoffs were touchbacks). Marquette King was outperformed by Ryan Allen (47.5 net). Stephen Gostkowski had a 62-yard field goal for New England. Giorgio Tavecchio never got an opportunity.
--COACHING: F - Coming off a bye week, the Raiders were thoroughly out-schemed on both sides of the ball and were sloppy (eight penalties, 66 yards to just two penalties for New England). The decision to arrive on Saturday -- which worked well a year ago against Houston in Mexico City -- paid no dividends. New England went to a no-huddle on its first drive and the Raiders were immediately gassed.