The Las Vegas Raiders were 19 seconds away from picking up their eighth win of the season until the defense reverted to its old ways and gave up the game in a heartbreaking loss.
For the first three quarters of Saturday's game against the Miami Dolphins, the Raiders' defense showed how much the defense has improved under interim defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
But it wasn't enough; the Raiders' defense took their foot off the gas pedal and hit the brakes in the fourth-quarter instead.
"It's hard to swallow right now, it's a horrible way to lose a game," said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden after the game.
Let's not make any mistake, that loss wasn't on Rod Marinelli. That loss was based on a systemic problem that had been demonstrated on the season and had already cost one person his job.
The Raiders took a field-goal lead with 19 seconds left in the game.
Within the 19 seconds, the Dolphins were already in field goal range.
Blown coverage by cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Isaiah Johnson allowed Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to complete a deep pass to Mack Hollins.
During the pass, the Dolphins were awarded another 15-yards for a facemask penalty against defensive end Arden Key on Fitzpatrick.
It set up Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders to seal the victory with a field goal in the final seconds.
Gruden's face was devastated, and he added: "Nineteen seconds left on their own 25 yard-line, they made a desperation play, and we had a penalty on top of that, inexcusable."
It is inexcusable.
Turning a struggling defense into a decent defense or even into a good defense can't happen overnight.
But what we have seen under Marinelli is pretty darn close.
A close source cole to Marinelli told Raider Maven that the defense was going to "play hard" and go "all in" for this game.
And yet again, the defense didn't register a turnover, the pass rush wasn't good enough, and the secondary continued to blow coverages.
The Raiders have now dropped three straight games after a 6-3 start and have lost five of six.
Their only win during that title came against the then-winless New York Jets.
The Raiders fell to 7-8 and were eliminated from playoff contention.
It was a very disappointing loss that showed no matter how much the coaches prepare the players, the game plan has to be executed by the players on the field, and those repeatable mistakes cost the game for the Raiders and their hopes of making the playoffs.
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