Leading Off

Raiders’ promising season begins with a thud

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4), is pressured by Cincinnati defensive end Wallace Gilberry (95), forcing an incomplete pass in the second quarter at O.co Coliseum on Sunday, September 13, 2015 in Oakland, Calif.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4), is pressured by Cincinnati defensive end Wallace Gilberry (95), forcing an incomplete pass in the second quarter at O.co Coliseum on Sunday, September 13, 2015 in Oakland, Calif. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Of all the Charlie Brown teams in the NFL, the Raiders continue to be the Charlie Browniest.

Having endured one losing season – and fired coach – after another losing season – and fired coach – for more than a decade, Raiders fans approached 2015 with optimism that hasn’t been felt in Raider Nation for years.

New coach. Top rookie wide receiver. Promising second-year quarterback. A vastly improved defense led by Khalil Mack.

But after all the hype and hope that had been building all offseason into a great crescendo Sunday afternoon, the football gods thought it would be funny to pull the ball back just as the Raiders kicked off the season. Against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders stumbled and tumbled to a 33-13 loss, which coach Jack Del Rio described as an “embarrassing performance.”

Have Raiders fans been duped again into believing their team could have a turnaround season, or was the team’s poor play just a preview of the next 15 games?

▪ No question, Derek Carr’s hand injury against Cincinnati hurt the Raiders’ ability to move the ball. Unfortunately, injuries are as much a part of football as sideline yard markers. If Carr can’t play Sunday against Baltimore, the job will go to Matt McGloin or possibly Christian Ponder, who was cut when the Raiders trimmed their roster to 53 players. Stay tuned.

▪ The New York Giants deserved Sunday’s 27-26 loss at Dallas for incompetency alone. Why didn’t New York run on third and goal at the Cowboys’ 1 when Dallas had no timeouts left? Run the ball, and the Giants score or use up to 40 seconds on the clock before kicking a field goal to go up by six points. But the Giants called a pass play that wasn’t there, and instead of taking a sack and the clock continuing to run, Eli Manning stopped the clock by throwing the ball away – and eventually the win.

Victor Contreras: 916-326-5527, @sacbeevictor

Playbook

  • What to watch: Giants vs. Reds, 7:15 p.m., CSNBA: Rookie right-hander Chris Heston (11-10) was strong through the first four months of the season, but he hasn’t won since July 27, when his record was 11-5.
  • Twitter chatter: “One game into 2015, the Raiders are already in scramble mode: Jack Del Rio, are you ready for this?” – @timkawakami
  • On this date: On Sept. 15, 1978, Muhammad Ali became the first three-time heavyweight boxing champion with a 15-round decision over Leon Spinks in New Orleans.
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