As painful as it was to blow a late lead and lose a game that dropped them from sixth place to 12th place in the AFC standings, the Oakland Raiders have no choice but to move ahead.
Minutes away from completing a comeback win against the Tennessee Titans that would have put them in playoff position with five games to play, the Raiders let Ryan Fitzpatrick throw a 10-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining in a 23-19 loss Sunday.
The winning score prevented Oakland (4-7) from winning back-to-back games for the first time this season and moving to the top of a six-way tie for sixth place. Now the Raiders trail six teams in the fight for the final playoff spot and have almost no margin for error starting when they visit Dallas (6-5) on Thursday.
“We don't have a lot of time to sit around and wallow in self-pity,” head coach Dennis Allen said Monday. “We've got a game to play, and we've got to get ourselves ready to travel down to Dallas and play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day and that's really where the majority of our focus has turned to now.”
Oakland held a light walkthrough Monday evening and will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before flying to Dallas for the game on Thursday. That has severely condensed the time usually spent going over the previous game and putting in a game plan for the next opponent.
The Raiders will be on a plane Wednesday afternoon, shortly after they usually finish their first practice of the week.
“We're cramming all of our preparation into about a two and a half day window, whereas normally you're going to have four days to really get prepared for the game. So, mentally, the key, because you're not going to get a ton of full speed reps, mentally, the key is focusing in on the reps that you do get, the walk-through type of reps, so you can execute on Thursday,” Allen said.
The Raiders also have some health issues to deal with during the short week. Tight end Mychal Rivera and cornerback Mike Jenkins were knocked out of the game Sunday with concussions, while linebacker Kevin Burnett left with a bruised quadriceps.
While Burnett appears to be OK, Rivera and Jenkins need to get through the NFL protocol for concussions before they can play. Allen said they have started that process but he doesn't know whether they will be ready by Thursday.
The hit on Rivera by Michael Griffin led to a one-game suspension for the Tennessee safety on Monday for his history of hits to the head and neck region.
Jenkins' injury forced special teams player Chimdi Chekwa to play on defense. Chekwa, who had played just six defensive snaps the first 10 games, was in for nine against the Texans. He allowed an 8-yard catch to Justin Hunter on third-and-7 on the final drive that led to Tennessee's winning touchdown.
“He's a guy that, he's really much improved from where he was at this point a year ago and if he has to go in there and play, then we've got confidence that he'll go in and play well,” Allen said.
The Raiders also are hopeful of getting starting left tackle Jared Veldheer back for the first time this season after he tore his left triceps in training camp. Allen said his plan is to gradually ease Veldheer back into the offense and did not say what changes will come on the offensive line. Khalif Barnes moved from right tackle to left tackle after Veldheer got hurt. He could move back to the right side or play guard.
Running back Darren McFadden, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, went through a workout early Monday and could be available this week if he has no setbacks.
Allen said he did not know the status of receiver Denarius Moore, who missed the game Sunday with a shoulder injury.
NOTES: Allen said there was a package of plays for former starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor but he decided not to use them to give Pryor another week to recover from a sprained right knee. … Second-round pick T Menelik Watson was healthy but not active Sunday as the Raiders used Matt McCants in the swing tackle role instead.