Raiders Lose Tough Game in Pittsburgh and Hurt Playoff Chances

Elias Trejo – Nov 8, 2015

Even after three second half turnovers and a 14 point deficit in the fourth quarter, the Raiders came back to tie the game with under two minutes remaining. Everything seemed to be going the Raiders way as Landry Jones was coming in for an injured Ben Roethlisberger and overtime seemed likely. However, the Raiders still had to stop the Steelers from getting into field goal range and they failed to do so. On 3rd and 2 with 55 seconds left they let Antonio Brown catch a pass and take it down the field for 57 yards to put the Steelers in scoring position. The Raiders fell to Pittsburgh 35-38 and missed out on a great opportunity to be in great position to make the playoffs. 

The Raiders fell to 8th place in the AFC standings after this loss and now lost the tie breaker to the Steelers. This game also dropped their conference record to 4-3 which will be key as the season goes on. At 4-4 the Raiders are far from being eliminated from playoff contention, but things just got a little harder. Instead of being 5-3 with a 5-2 conference record in the AFC, the Raiders are now on the outside looking in. The Raiders do have a favorable schedule coming ahead as only three of their next four games are against teams with a winning record and their two tougher games will be played in Oakland. 

The Jets, Bills, Steelers and the Raiders are the teams fighting for the two wild card spots in the AFC. According to Adam Schefter the Steelers just lost Roethlisberger for a "few weeks." They play the Browns in Pittsburgh this week then have a by before traveling to Seattle to face a hot Seahawks team. The Bills play the Jets this week in New York in a game that should help the Raiders. The reality is the Raiders will not only need to take care of business on their end but now they need the help of other teams the rest of the way. 

The Raiders play five AFC teams in their final eight games. It's going to be important for them to win at least three of those so they end the year with a winning record. They visit the Titans, Chiefs and Broncos and host the Chiefs and Chargers. It's possible the Raiders go 4-1 with that schedule, but it's important for them to win 3 to end the year with a winning record against the AFC. Their other non-AFC games are against the Vikings at home, Lions in Detroit and the Packers at home. These games are winnable as well and a 2-1 record against them would help the Raiders out greatly. 

The Jets have the "easier" road to the playoffs on paper as they only face two teams with a winning record the rest of the way. The Bills, meanwhile, have three tough road games coming up against the Jets, Patriots and Chiefs. Their last three games will be against the Redskins, Cowboys and Jets. They have a tough stretch to end the year which favors the Raiders. The Steelers have the tougher schedule out of the four teams in the playoff race. They play the Bengals, Broncos, Seahawks, Colts and a Browns team twice that could end up beating a beat up Pittsburgh team next week. 

Things just got a little harder for the Raiders after this loss, but you can't count them out even after this loss. Yes, their defense was torched today and yes, they gave up a big play in the final moments that led to a loss, but this team could have given up earlier. They fought back and almost took this game from the Steelers. A loss is a loss, but while this team is far from perfect they're showing they aren't giving up. Whether it's 39 year old Charles Woodson playing through pain or Carr leading a great drive to tie the game after throwing a crucial interception. They missed a great opportunity to all but secure a playoff spot and make their road easier, but this is a team that's capable of enduring these types of failures. 

The return of Nate Allen and TJ Carrie will help this secondary. A little more aggression from the Raiders offfense will also be needed as the season goes on. This offense is good enough to overcome the defenses deficiencies but they weren't this Sunday. When you're playing away and turning the ball over four times, allowing a guy to rush for over 170 yards and two touchdowns, and also a reciever catching 17 passes for 284 yards, you're likely not going to win. However, the Raiders almost did. Almost isn't good enough in the NFL and that's why the Raiders playoff chances took a hit today, but they're far from being dead. 

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