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LONDON — The NFL plays games overseas in an attempt to grow the game. If any Brits were on the fence about adopting the sport before Sunday, the Raiders made sure they never want to watch American football again.
The Raiders (1-5) were humiliated by a mediocre Seattle Seahawks team (3-3), taking a 27-3 beatdown in front of 84,992 spectators at Wembley Stadium.
“A lot of people traveled all that way and we get beat like that,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That hurts me.”
The last time the Raiders played in London, they lost 38-14 to the Miami Dolphins and fired head coach Dennis Allen upon returning to California with an 0-4 record. That was bad. This was worse.
Here are a couple quick takeaways from the latest Silver and Black debacle.
Raiders’ offensive line was offensive
To sum up Sunday’s performance by the offensive line, we offer this play from late in the first : Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark blew past left tackle Kolton Miller on the outside and sacked Carr, resulting in a fumble. Miller fell on the ball, but it slipped under his arm and the Seahawks recovered.
A nearly identical play occurred on the Raiders’ first drive of the second half. Clark sacked Carr, forcing a fumble and the Seahawks recovered.
Carr was under pressure and scrambling all game, absorbing 10 hits and six sacks. As the Associated Press’ Josh Dubow pointed out, Carr has been sacked six times in a game twice in his career.
In reference to his offensive linemen, Carr said: “You can hit me 1,000 times and I’ll never be mad at them.”
Carr appeared to hurt his left arm injury midway through the fourth quarter on the second of back-to-back sacks and entered the sideline medical tent when the Seahawks took possession. Carr and Gruden had an animated conversation while backup quarterback AJ McCarron warmed up with center Rodney Hudson, With no reason to do otherwise, Gruden ended Carr’s night.
“I wanted to go back in,” Carr said. “Coach said ‘Absolutely not.’ I begged and begged him for about five minutes.”
McCarron never ended up playing anyway, as the Seahawks held possession for the final 8:18.
Amari Cooper misses final three quarters and other Raiders injuries
Cooper reached down for a low pass from Carr early in the second quarter, and Seahawks safety Bradley McDougal laid a vicious hit to Cooper’s head. The Raiders’ wideout fell to the turf and briefly remained motionless before eventually jogging off under his own power after a minute or two.
He headed to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion and didn’t return to the game. He had one catch for 28 yards, a play that was negated by a holding penalty on Jon Feliciano, Carr said he felt bad about putting Cooper in a vulnerable position.
Fox Sports reported before the game that the Raiders are exploring trade options for Cooper. He’s due over $13.9 million on his fifth-year option next season, and the Raiders are faced with the same decision to extend Cooper that they faced with Khalil Mack (both players are represented by agent Joel Segal).
Gruden said he wasn’t aware of the Fox report.
“I’m sorry to have to deal with a lot of these reports,” he said. “I just hope Amari’s okay. He’s going to be a big part of our pass offense.”
Cooper has been a no-show in Weeks 1, 3 and 5 and a big show in Weeks 2 and 4. With Cooper playing barely more than a quarter, the odd-even pattern never had a chance.
Feliciano also missed second half because of a rib injury. Justin Murray, in his first regular season game, took his place at left guard. Wide receiver Seth Roberts left the game in the fourth quarter and didn’t return because of a concussion.
Where is Gareon Conley?
While Daryl Worley was fighting a losing battle — he lost David Moore on a 19-yard touchdown catch and then failed to break up a 50-50 ball between him and Moore — Gareon Conley stood on the sideline with his helmet on.
Conley didn’t play a single defensive snap and only three on special teams.
Conley’s official defensive snap count totals prior to Sunday were, by game: 57/63 (90%); 64/66 (97%); 31/44 (70%); 55/81 (68%); 13/64 (20%). The Raiders have wanted to establish a pairing of outside cornerbacks, and it seems they finally have with Worley and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Conley and Rashaan Melvin, who played just seven snaps, the opening night starters, are now backups.
Unlike Conley, Worley played Sunday (and intercepted a Russell Wilson pass late in the third quarter).
“Worley’s a good player. Worley’s going to be a starter here,” Gruden said. “He’s a guy that’s really established himself as a true corner for the Raiders. And Conley’s still a young guy. We’re going to reiterate that over and over. His career is just getting started. He had a couple plays last week that he’s got to get better, he’s got to improve at. He will.”
Johnny Townsend not looking so good
When your punter has punts of 28 and 27 yards, it might be time to pursue other options.
The Raiders knew they weren’t getting a boomer when they drafted Townsend in the fifth round last spring. They thought they were getting someone skilled in directional punting.
Townsend was neither Sunday, averaging 30.7 yards on three punts. The directional punter might be directed to the door soon.
“He didn’t punt the ball well enough,” Gruden said. “Conditions, you know it was the first time I think Johnny Townsend has seen a rain drop since he got off the plane. We haven’t had a wet day in Alameda. We really haven’t had any rain since training camp. I don’t know if the slick field or whatever it was had anything to do with it, but he’s got to punt the ball better.”