In the season finale on Sunday, the Raiders fought hard, but in the end were not able to overcome their own mistakes, falling to the playoff bound Baltimore Ravens 21-13. The team also could not stop Ravens running back Willis McGahee, who rushed for a career-high 167 yards and three touchdowns.
The Raiders end the season at 5-11, and did hang in with the Ravens, but JaMarcus Russell made too many mistakes to be able to pull off what would have been an upset over the Birds. Dannell Ellerbe intercepted a pass from Russell late in the third quarter to set up McGahee’s third touchdown that made it 21-13. Ellerbe then recovered a fumble by Russell at the Ravens 23 with 9:42 to go to end a possible scoring threat by Oakland.
The setback means the Raiders now have seven straight seasons with at least 11 defeats, the worst run in NFL history. It also could mark the end of coach Tom Cable’s stint in Oakland as his job status will likely be decided in the next few days.
Cable made some progress in his 28 games as Raiders coach but his inability to develop Russell into a legitimate NFL starter may ultimately doom him. He said he’s confident he’ll be back next season but has received no reassurances from owner Al Davis.
“I’m disappointed because we didn’t win,” Cable said. “I thought we were going to. And yet I feel excited about what’s coming back. But there’s got to be some things added and tweaked and fixed.”
The Raiders need a couple things – first off, a QB that can make plays, not kill drives like what Russell did way too many times this season. They also need some playmakers at the wide out spot, more of what Louis Murphy did against the Steelers a few weeks back.
Now the question will be is Davis happy enough with the progress of Cable’s crew to keep him around.