Pivotal Plays: Examining the Plays that Doomed Raiders in Loss to Chiefs

DeSean Jackson’s fumble was both pivotal play and fitting metaphor: On their way to keeping pace with the Chiefs, the Raiders inexplicably fumbled away their chance.

The excuses are plentiful:

  • The off-the-field tragedies and drama are unprecedented, likely taking their toll and proving to be possibly too much to overcome.
  • On the field, the Raiders sorely miss Henry Ruggs’ speed, having gone 0-2 in his absence and not eclipsing 20 points in either game.
  • Rich Bisaccia’s in-game decisions — especially on fourth down — do the team no favors.

The result is that the Raiders now have below a 50% of reaching the playoffs and are entering the toughest stretch of their schedule. This column, however, is about looking back, not forward. So let’s take a look at the plays that most affected the outcome in the Raiders loss to the Chiefs.

Editor’s Note: For an explanation of Win Probability (WP) and Expected Points Added (EPA), the first article in this series has a breakdown.

Forced Fumble by A.J. Cole in First Quarter

The Situation: The Raiders face a 4th and 5 with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.
Pre-Play Raiders Win Probability: 21%
The Play: The lone Raiders highlight on this list is A.J. Cole thwarting a great Chiefs return by forcing a fumble that’s recovered by Foster Moreau, for an EPA of 3.9.

AJ Cole Forced Fumble

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The Outcome: With a jolt of momentum, the Raiders go on to score a touchdown, which ties the game at 7.
Post-Play Raiders Win Probability: 28%

DeSean Jackson’s Fumbles First Catch

The Situation: Now down 10, the Raiders face a 1st and 10 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.
Pre-Play Raiders Win Probability: 17%
The Play: Derek Carr connects with his only deep threat, DeSean Jackson, on a 40-yard bomb, only to have Jackson fumble it back to the Chiefs.

DeSean Jackson Fumble

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The Outcome: Perhaps the play of the game, it was worth a game-low EPA of -3.9. Worse, it turned a probable Raiders score into a Chiefs possession, which we’ll cover in the next entry.
Post-Play Raiders Win Probability: 13%

Chiefs Capitalize on Jackson’s Fumble

The Situation: On the following series after Jackson’s fumble, the Chiefs face a 3rd and 2 with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
Pre-Play Raiders Win Probability: 11%
The Play: Needing only two yards, Patrick Mahomes does 30 better and hits Tyreek Hill for a 32-yard gain.

Chiefs Third Down Conversion

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The Outcome: The completion is worth 3.1 EPA and is a gut punch to a Raiders defense that badly needed a stop. The Chiefs proceed to score a touchdown, making the Jackson fumble + the ensuing drive a potential 14-point swing in the game.
Post-Play Raiders Win Probability: 7%

Raiders Inexplicably Aren’t Ready for Fake Punt

The Situation: With the Raiders down two scores, the Chiefs line-up to punt with 14:53 remaining in the game.
Pre-Play Raiders Win Probability: 5%
The Play: The Chiefs catch the Raiders off guard and convert a 4th down with a fake punt.

Chiefs Fake Punt

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The Outcome: The fourth-down conversion is worth 4.0 EPA, delays a potential Raiders possession and is a bad look for a team coached by a Special Teams Coordinator.
Post-Play Raiders Win Probability: 2%

Johnathan Abrams Gets Mossed

The Situation: A mere 3 plays after the fake punt, the Chiefs again face a third down, now with 13:23 remaining in the game.
Pre-Play Raiders Win Probability: 2%
The Play: Mahomes escapes pressure and lofts a deep ball to running back Darrell Williams, who outjumps Johnathan Abrams en route to a touchdown reception.

Abrams Gets Mossed

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The Outcome: The third-down conversion for a touchdown is worth a game-high 5.4 EPA and puts the final nail in the Raiders coffin.
Post-Play Raiders Win Probability: 1%


This week’s pivotal plays unite around a theme: The Raiders being unprepared.

They were unprepared for the fake punt. They were unprepared for how to replace Henry Ruggs. And they have proven to be unprepared to navigate a series of off-the-field events that very well may be unnavigable.

Next week, they get a chance to rebound against a Bengals team that is also struggling. A win there would be raise the Raiders playoff odds back to near 50% whereas a loss would prove disastrous. Fans should hope they’re appropriately prepared for such a consequential game.

Twitter: @TravisGilkeson

*Win probability data courtesy of rbsdm.com
**Highlights courtesy of NFL


5 thoughts on “Pivotal Plays: Examining the Plays that Doomed Raiders in Loss to Chiefs

  1. The pivotal play that lost the game was letting Derek Carr on the field at all
    Wake-up Raiders you are never gonna win with Derek Carr

  2. Any nfl qb can have super stats when instantky throwing the ball and most of yiyr throws are 10 yards or less a coward for a qb all you have to do is breath on him and he goes down breath hard on him and he fumbles all they do is pat his stats to make him look good they always throw when there inside the 10 yard line to assure a easy td STATS DO WIN GAMES also a cowerd qb doesnt either Carr is another proven looser at qb maybe another JEFF GEORGE

  3. In my opinion, competency is what this current edition of the Raiders is missing. Competency in management and coaching is essential if a team is going to win football games. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Bill Belichik had, without Tom Brady, made Matt Jones and the New England Patriots contenders for the AFC East divisional title? How and why Bill Belichik is able to do this is because he is a competent coach, plain and simple. In my opinion, his name should be mentioned along side Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll and Jimmy Johnson’s.

    The last great coach that the Raiders had was Tom Flores and the last great General Manager that the Raiders had was Al Davis. The search needs to be on ex-post haste for competent leadership at these positions. Until these senior positions of leadership are solidified, the Raiders will continue to mightily struggle for any semblance of relevancy. Unfortunately, Mark Davis is just the owner but not a football man by any stretch of the imagination and has admitted as much. Unfortunately for Mark Davis, he has the unenviable task of living up to not only visionary but also legendary father. Nonetheless, the Raiders are desperately in need of a visionary leader who relishes in bucking the trend, like his father did, and actually has a plan. As we all know, new ideas are never well received until they pan out and then everyone, who once criticized them for their visionary ideas, wants to and tries to copy them.

    Most people, in professional football, are yes men because they want to keep their jobs and paychecks, so the kiss up and suck up. It’s just the nature of the beast. It is precisely because Al Davis did not kiss up or suck up that I became a Raiders fan in 1968. The Raiders were different back then and everyone could not only see it but talked about them ad nauseum because they were so different from every other NFL team. They were trend setters that old timer fans and football players alike still tell stories about them today. Derek Carr is a Reggie McKenzie, the guy supposedly with “an eye for talent” who passed on Russell Wilson, draft pick and the Raiders have moved on from Reggie McKenzie. Currently, Mike Mayock is the General Manager and the “results” speak for themselves. Gus Bradley is a Jon Gruden acquisition and the Raiders have moved on from Jon Gruden too.

    Sadly, this franchise, with it’s new 2 billion dollar stadium, will never achieve the desired success until it recruits better personnel. Well, let’s all just sit back and watch another midseason collapse and read how “some” suckup Las Vegas sportswriters will try to put a positive spin on the slow, arduous and painful disenergration on this year’s edition of the Las Vegas Raiders and tout all the optimism about next year’s potential.

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