OAKLAND -- This would've been the perfect time for another one of those gutsy showings that have highlighted the losing Raiders' season. A near-win against a playoff-bound Kansas City team would've been satisfactory, especially one fueled by urgency and resolve. And discipline.
That's what Dennis Allen had been hanging his hat on. Sunday, he couldn't coax it out of his guys.
Instead, his Raiders were clumsy, perhaps more than the 56-31 final score indicates. For the second consecutive week, Oakland stumbled out of the gate and got behind big.
The Raiders temporarily mustered some resolve. But before it was over, even that rousing comeback was thwarted by their inability to get out of their own way.
Bad timing for a coach hanging on like Britney Spears' music career.
"We've got to play better," Allen said, "and I've got to do a better job of getting us ready to play."
Giving up a franchise-record 56 points and committing seven turnovers, to go with 10 penalties, isn't the kind of pride-on-the-line performance you'd hope to see from a team at home before a sellout crowd against a division rival.
Throw in the loss to the New York Jets a week earlier, and it's appearing as if Allen is becoming decreasingly capable of maximizing the talent on his roster. Kansas City didn't exactly play lights out. The Chiefs just took advantage of a Raiders squad that often looked confused and uninspired.
Jamaal Charles totaled 215 yards and five touchdowns on 16 total touches. But it wasn't only because he is a great back. He also was being pursued by a Raiders defense that jogged on the rare occasions it was within spitting distance of him. The cast of CSI would have a hard time finding a Raiders fingerprint on Charles.
Where was the exigency and hunger that once highlighted the Raiders' season? Where is the growth in focus and improved grasp of scheme? That's on the coaching staff.
Not exactly the statement Allen needed to make as owner Mark Davis ponders the trajectory of the franchise. Allen would've done well to coach his guys into an inspired performance. Like the showing on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas. Or the home loss to Tennessee the week before.
But Sunday's loss -- the fourth straight and sixth in the last seven games -- was another step in the wrong direction.
Allen might have revealed some of the desperation he feels with some of his decisions Sunday. Easily the most perplexing was the juggling of quarterbacks. Instead of giving Terrelle Pryor a random series, he randomly inserted Pryor in the middle of series. In the third quarter, he sat Matt McGloin mid-drive, right when he'd found a rhythm. He put the rookie back under center in time to throw a touchdown to cut the Chiefs' once-25-point lead to 35-31 with just under five minutes left in third quarter.
For a moment there, you thought the Raiders were headed for the signature win of the season. But Oakland responded by getting out of the way on a 71-yard catch-and-run from Charles for his fifth touchdown.
Then, after Taiwan Jones fumbled the ensuing kickoff, former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith ran off 28 yards in four plays to put the Raiders back down big.
McGloin then sealed the game with interceptions on consecutive drives.
"We made it difficult on ourselves," Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. "This is a game that's all about fundamentals, and when you don't carry out the fundamentals ... big plays happen, long runs happen. If you don't play good, sound football and take care of your responsibility, you can't get away from it."
At this point of the season, the Raiders should be losing because they are overmatched in the talent department. Not because of poor fundamentals. These past two games alone are almost enough to negate the positive strides Allen has crafted.
How do you not clamor for a defensive-stalwart of a head coach like Lovie Smith or Jack Del Rio after watching the Raiders defense get embarrassed repeatedly by a halfback screen? How do you not pine for Bill Cowher to come out of retirement and chin-check these young talents into disciplined football after witnessing four turnovers in the final 17 minutes of the game?
Stanford's David Shaw and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin look all the more shinier as prospects every game the Raiders struggle to get out of the gates or fail to play with some exigency.
"The question always should be is why aren't you executing," said running back Rashad Jennings, who after rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns said the team is growing. "And that's what we've got to figure out. If you have the answer to that, you'll be a genius."
Or maybe next year's Raiders coach.