Minnesota Vikings edge Raiders 3-0 on late field goal | Raiders News

Minnesota Vikings edge Raiders 3-0 on late field goal | Raiders News

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It’s accurate that the truth can be painful, but turning a blind eye to it isn’t the answer, either. Not in the Raiders’ case, anyway.

They reached another crossroads Sunday after an embarrassing 3-0 loss to a flawed Vikings team in front of a disbelieving crowd at Allegiant Stadium filled primarily with Minnesota fans.

The Raiders (5-8) have lost three straight, eight of their past 13 and 19 of 30.

The playoffs are a pipe dream, with their final four games presenting opponents and challenges the Raiders appear ill-equipped to handle. In the unlikely event they sweep the Chargers, Chiefs, Colts and Broncos, their nine wins might not be enough to punch their ticket to the postseason.

How can anyone even be sure they can salvage one win after Sunday’s debacle?

“I’ve been in this league for seven years, and I’ve never been part of a performance like this, so I don’t really know what to say about that,” offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor said. “I’m sorry for the fans that came to watch that. They deserve better. Raider Nation deserves better.”

It’s time, once and for all, to stop sweeping their weaknesses and deficiencies under the rug and embrace them honestly and earnestly. The long overdue agent of change can only be activated through brutal honesty and bluntness, not reluctance and avoidance.

Their decades-long issue at quarterback reared its ugly head yet again, with rookie Aidan O’Connell playing tentatively and ineffectively while completing 21 of 32 passes for 171 yards and an interception. Despite the defense giving him chance after chance, O’Connell could not muster the play and leadership necessary to create scoring chances, let alone beat the beatable Vikings (7-6).

“I have confidence in myself to execute, to do my job properly,” O’Connell said. “I haven’t done it good enough, and so I’ve got to be better at doing that.”

The Raiders reached the Vikings’ side of the field just twice. Their first venture topped out at the Vikings’ 42 but got pushed back by a holding call and a sack, and the second, which reached the Minnesota 18, ended in a fumble by Hunter Renfrow.

Of their 11 drives, eight resulted in punts, two in turnovers and one with a last-gasp final play as time expired.

Six starts into O’Connell’s career, it’s clear the Raiders must bring in a quarterback in the offseason with a higher upside. They should have considered it years ago rather than waddling through year after year of Derek Carr, whose midlevel ceiling wasn’t nearly enough to compete at the highest levels.

The Raiders can’t afford to get caught in that vicious cycle again.

As poorly as O’Connell played Sunday, the Raiders never considered turning to veteran Jimmy Garoppolo for help. And it cost them dearly, as the similarly quarterback-strapped Vikings did make an in-game change by replacing Josh Dobbs with Nick Mullens. Doing so pumped just enough life into their offense to drive for Greg Joseph’s 36-yard field goal with 1:57 left.

“For us, we were moving the ball. There were opportunities,” said interim coach Antonio Pierce, who defended his decision to stick with O’Connell by pointing to penalties and turnovers as the bigger reasons for the struggles.

“That just wasn’t a quarterback,” Pierce added. “That’s why I said it was an offense.”

Perhaps, but the brutal honesty the Vikings accepted in making their quarterback change is something Pierce seemed unwilling to confront. And that’s a huge red flag for a young coach trying to prove to owner Mark Davis that he deserves the job full time.

The same is true for the offensive coaching staff, which has had ample time — including the bye week they were coming off — to make something of this attack. For an offense that has reached the 20-point threshold once this season, the goose egg against the Vikings represents rock bottom. It prompted Pierce to say everyone would be under scrutiny and included the possibility of going back to Garoppolo.

“The whole football program,” Pierce said. “Our whole program. Everybody. Gotta win. It ain’t good enough.”

It hasn’t been good enough for a while. It’s time the Raiders got honest about that.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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