Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 | 2 a.m.
Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia rushed to the podium on the ground floor of Allegiant Stadium for his postgame news conference Sunday afternoon and launched into an opening statement detailing his team’s “poor performance” against the Bengals.
It might have been the most urgency anyone in silver and black showed all day as they fell 32-13 to the Bengals with their second straight listless performance at home and third consecutive loss.
“We came out flat,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That was terrible. There’s no beating around it. The last couple weeks, we just take turns. We’re just really out of sync and no one is coming to save us, so we’ve got to figure it out.”
And they don’t have a lot of time to figure it out. Las Vegas returns to the field at 3:30 p.m. Thursday for a traditional Thanksgiving game in Dallas.
Now sitting at 5-5 on the season, every successive game becomes more pivotal to reverse the spiral. Most analytical projection systems had Las Vegas with about a 25% to 30% chance at one of the AFC’s seven playoff spots before the loss to the Bengals.
That’s going to drop after the defeat, and if the Raiders follow it with another disappointment against the Cowboys, the probabilities will fall to microscopic levels.
“I just think we all have to dig in,” Bisaccia said. “We all have to look at ourselves a little bit.”
Carr took the lead in that department. He may not have all but run into the media room like his coach, but he was more animated than usual at the podium — swaying and gesturing as he engaged in self-flagellation for the losing streak.
Las Vegas’ once-dependable offense has been one of the biggest problems and Carr, who threw for 215 yards on 19-for-27 passing with one touchdown and two turnovers against the Bengals, said the struggles fell on his shoulders.
“It starts with me, ends with me,” Carr said. “It will be my fault until I’m not here. That’s how I operate. I always look at what I can do. So we’re out of sync, we’re not doing good enough on third down, we’re not doing good enough in the red zone and it’s my fault.”
Third downs were the biggest source of frustration for Bisaccia. Las Vegas didn’t convert one until the fourth quarter, meaning they went 15 straight possessions dating back to the blowout loss to the Chiefs without a successful third-down play.
And it’s not because they’re creating enough explosive plays that they’re unnecessary. The Raiders only found the end zone once against the Bengals, when Carr hit Foster Moreau with a 19-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to momentarily energize the crowd with a three-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
Moreau may have inadvertently indicated that the possession, which cut the Bengals’ lead to 16-13, was lucky as he credited it to making “the right calls against the wrong coverages.” The drive was certainly out of the ordinary, as it clustered three of the Raiders’ biggest four plays of the day.
“We’ve got to get in rhythm with each other and get in sync,” Moreau said. “It’s tough. Losses like this really hurt especially the last few weeks. I feel like we’ve shown up to the stadium prepared and ready to go. So, any time you can go out there and give everything you’ve got and have that be the result, it hurts. Not all the balls bounce your way every day but we’ve got to grow, we’ve got to learn and we don’t have time to sit and mope and complain.”
The balls may not have bounced their way, but the penalty flags were certainly flying in the Raiders’ direction. The Las Vegas defense played well, especially at the start of the game, but extended three Cincinnati drives with penalties after it had secured a third-down stop.
The most damaging was when cornerback Brandon Facyson picked up an unnecessary roughness call for leading with the crown of is helmet inside the red zone in the second quarter. Joe Mixon scored the game’s first touchdown on an 11-yard run the next play as part of a 30-carry, 123-yard day.
The Bengals’ first points came off a 54-yard field goal from Evan McPherson that was also the result of an unsportsmanlike conduct call. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue shoved Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow in the back after he had already thrown the ball away on a third down.
“At the end of the day, penalties don’t help you win a game at all,” Ngakoue said. “I can do a better job pulling up on the quarterback, but I was just trying to give 100% effort on that play. I wish I could get that back, but at the end of the day, it’s a team sport and we’ve got to come together as a team and give our best.”
Carr and the offense didn’t complement the defense for most of the day, but the paradigm flipped late after Moreau’s touchdown. Las Vegas’ defense provided little resistance in letting Cincinnati march down the field 57 yards with Ja’Marr Chase ultimately pulling in a six-yard touchdown pass from Burrow.
The Raiders’ next two drives ended in turnovers as Carr first threw an interception to Eli Apple deep in his own territory and then was strip-sacked by Trey Hendrickson inside the red zone.
“I’ve just got to be better for us,” Carr said.
Bisaccia defended his quarterback, saying no one has played consistently well on the roster over the last three weeks and it doesn’t fall on one person. That was no solace for Carr, who said the only thing that could fix his frustration would be a Thanksgiving Day victory at Dallas.
The thought of having to answer for another loss in a news conference a few days from now made him shake and frown.
“Being a Raider fan for a long time, 20 years of this crap is enough,” Carr said. “I’m fed up. I just want to be a part of the moment it changes. I want that so bad and that’s what keeps driving me. I get pissed off, and I get upset. I stand up here, and I’ve done this way too many times than I’d like to do it because in my heart, the men in our room, the way we get after things, it shouldn’t always end like this.”