Lots of criticism after Raiders start long road trip with a flop in Minnesota

Vikes coach Mike Zimmer apparently expected Raiders to be more challenging© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Cooney

A lot of things were said about the Oakland Raiders after their 34-14 loss at Minnesota Sunday -- most of them bad.

Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer even said that he thought his club would face more of a challenge from Oakland.

“I think they’re a better team than they showed,” he said. “I have watched them on tape and they do some good things. I think their quarterback [David Carr] is a good player, the tight end [Darren] Waller is a really good player. Defensively they have been playing really good.

Raiders defensive end Josh Mauro on team’s disappointing play: “It has to be addressed, and if it's uncomfortable, it doesn't matter. If you feel comfortable after losing like that, there's something wrong with you.”

Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead: “If we don't get this corrected, it's going to continue to poke its head up. We just need to…hold ourselves accountable, and make sure that there aren't any people that are feeling comfortable after this loss because there are a lot of things that need to be fixed. And unless we fix them, it's going to be a long season. And we experienced that last year and I'm not trying to go through the same thing, and I know there's a lot of guys on this team that aren't trying to go through the same thing.”

Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Raiders reporter: The Raiders seemingly got a late wake-up call, falling behind 21-0 before a flea flicker, of all things, jolted things, the play resulting in a 29-yard TD pass from Derek Carr to J.J. Nelson to make the score 21-7 at the half. The Raiders also suffered three key injuries on defense, to linebackers Marquel Lee and Vontaze Burfict and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. As such, Oakland closed out the first half with just three linebackers available in Tahir Whitehead, Kyle Wilber and Nicholas Morrow.

Mark Craig, Minneapolis Star Trib: Flags put Raiders in early hole. The Raiders should have had a three-and-out stop to open the game. It would have quieted the crowd, which would have helped a team that clearly was afraid of the Vikings’ enviable crowd noise/pass rush combo. But a defensive holding penalty on cornerback Gareon Conley ruined a third-down stop. Four plays and another Raiders penalty later, the Vikings scored on the pass to Thielen. Another killer flag for Oakland came two Vikings’ possessions later. On a third-and-18 screen pass to Dalvin Cook, Cook’s knee came down a well short of the first-down marker but officials gave him the first down. It was a play coach Jon Gruden could have challenged but couldn’t because defensive end Arden Key was flagged for roughing the passer. Cook’s gain and the roughing penalty gave the Vikings 33 yards en route to another touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

More Craig: The Vikings were concerned that Raiders middle linebacker and noted dirty player Vontaze Burfict wouldn’t keep it clean on Sunday. Burfict wasn’t flagged, but that doesn’t mean he kept it clean. Replays showed him taking two swings at the end of a run by Cook in the second half. As the pile is being pushed forward, Burfict took a swing and connected to the helmet of left tackle Riley Reiff. Burfict then reloads and takes another one at Cook but doesn’t connect. Burfict injured his elbow in the second quarter via friendly fire when he and many teammates crashed into Cousins on the QB’s ill-advised decision to scramble up the middle on second-and-goal from the 1. Burfict, who has been suspended twice and been fined numerous times for illegal hits, left the game and didn’t return until after halftime. He had six tackles and wasn’t much of a factor.

Ed Graney, Raiders reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, says the Oakland offense is the same as last year if you substitute the name Jared Cook (now in New Orleans) with that of Darren Waller at tight end, who had good stats (13 catches, 134 yards). Those 13 catches tie Tim Brown and Darren McFadden for third most in a Raiders game, but Graney says the team needs more.

Wrote Graney*: If you sketched an outline of how not to begin what are five straight games away from Oakland, a 34-14 loss would have covered all points, significant and otherwise. . . . “It gets hard for our fans, because they just want to see us win,” Carr said. “We didn’t have a problem moving the ball …We moved the ball, right?” Um, not really. The Raiders averaged just 4.5 yards on the 50 plays before their last drive. They had scored just seven points in the previous 17. Get this: When trailing 31-7 in the fourth quarter, the Raiders over a 6:20 stretch went only 42 yards in 13 plays, the drive ending when Daniel Carlson’s 51-yard field-goal attempt hit the right upright. So, no, there hasn’t been much moving of the*

The Raiders are like they were last season. When meeting a playoff-caliber opponent, they own a pencil-thin margin for error, not near good enough to do foolish things at the most important times and have much hope of competing. They can’t commit stupid defensive penalties and allow teams to extend drives. They can’t drop third-down passes (Waller) when trailing 21-7 late in the first half and driving in opposing territory. They can’t throw a second-quarter interception (Carr) when down 14-0 that the other guys convert into seven more points.

Noted Graney: They had electrifying wide receiver Amari Cooper (last year) and traded him. They had all-Pro receiver Antonio Brown and (rightly) released him. They cut receiver Keelan Doss, signed him off the Jacksonville practice squad, paid him a guaranteed $795,000, made him active the last two weeks and have yet to acknowledge he’s alive on the sidelines.

And now, like the Raiders offense itself, back to Tight end Darren Waller: "It’s not getting any easier for us, but I don’t think guys in this locker room are looking for anything easy,” Waller said. “They’re looking to take on that road that’s going to be as tough as possible, because that will bring the best out of us."

But it hasn’t brought out the best yet as the Raiders head for Indianapolis next.