The 3rd quarter was one to forget for the Raiders, and was arguably their worst quarter of football the entire season. Oakland choked a 24-7 lead, surrendering 18 unanswered points, trailing 25-24 by the time the quarter was over.
It was a complete disaster. It was a “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong” situation. Derek Carr dislocated a pinky on his throwing hand, the defense gave up several big plays, and every ounce of momentum swayed in favor of Carolina.
A fumble by Carr — the play in which he hurt his pinky — led to a quick touchdown by the Panthers, which cut the lead down to 24-14.
On Carolina’s next drive, Cam Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. for a 88-yard touchdown pass. 24-21, Raiders.
And for the third drive in a row, the Panthers again found the end zone. This time on a quick drive following an interception by Carr. Panthers take the lead, 25-24.
For a team with aspirations of playing on a certain Sunday in February, these types of performances cannot happen. Against a top-tier team in the playoffs, the Raiders simply cannot put together 15 minutes of football like that, and expect to win.
Where did Oakland’s run game go?
After dismantling the Broncos defense with a devastatingly effective ground attack — 43 carries for 218 yards and 3 TDs — Oakland’s run game has pulled a Houdini. For the second week in a row, the NFL’s 5th ranked rushing offense has disappeared.
Against the Panthers, the Raiders totaled 55 yards on the ground on 30 carries, good for an average of 1.8 yards per carry. Yikes.
The week before, against Houston, the Raiders accrued just 30 yards on 20 carries — an average of 1.5 yards per carry. For those of you counting at home, that’s 85 yards on 50 carries over the last two games. That’s….not good.
This is something that can’t continue. If the Raiders are reduced to a one-dimensional offense, it’s only a matter of time before it catches up with them.
Defense: Big Plays
The Raiders defense had seemingly turned the corner, with impressive performances against Tampa Bay and Denver, and a quality outing against Houston.
But against the Panthers, all of that progress took a backseat to another poor showing. The Raiders allowed 358 yards of total offense, with big chunks of that being gained over a handful of plays.
There was a 47-yard gain by Jonathan Stewart late in the 1st quarter, which eventually setup a touchdown for Carolina that would tie the game at 7.
There was an 88-yard touchdown reception by Ted Ginn Jr., on a play where he left T.J. Carrie in the dust. The touchdown brought Carolina’s deficit to 24-19, which was a huge swing in the momentum.
And then there was a 44-yard touchdown catch on a jump ball by Kelvin Benjamin, which gave the Panthers a 32-25 lead early in the 4th quarter.
That’s three plays for a total of 179 yards — two of which were touchdowns. To put that in context — the Panthers gained EXACTLY 50 percent of their total yards on just 5 percent of their offensive plays.