OAKLAND -- By all rights, the Raiders had no business being in this position. Yet, there they were, with the ball, down three points and plenty of time on the clock in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Most in the Coliseum no doubt were thinking, OK, get 20 yards or so, make sure you're in Sebastian Janikowski's field-goal range and then take a few shots at a touchdown.
Instead, Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer attempted back-to-back deep passes, with the second one being intercepted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and effectively ending the Raiders chances of an improbable comeback.
"We were trying to win the game," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said without equivocation after the 42-32 loss. "We were definitely trying to win the game and, obviously, we didn't execute good enough and weren't able to do it."
The play also proved symbolic of Palmer's game. He passed for 414 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions.
The 414 yards came within 11 yards of setting the Raiders franchise record for most passing yards in a game. It also went for naught, just as Palmer's 417 did in a loss last season to the San Diego Chargers.
"We had done a good job on being patient and then wanted to take some shots when they were in pressure situations," Palmer said. "They were leaving us one-on-one.
"Obviously, you can sit back and wish you did it differently after a loss; and after a win, everything looks right. ... We had some critical errors. I had some critical errors."
No one second-guessed Palmer. Not after he looked his teammates in the eyes when the Raiders trailed 35-17 early in the fourth quarter and told them everything was under control.
Sure enough, Palmer directed the Raiders on back-to-back drives that yielded 145 yards and two touchdowns on 18 plays.
So, who were they to doubt Palmer when he entered the huddle with the Raiders down 35-32 and 2 minutes, 42 seconds left, and instructed them to come along for the ride?
"Carson's the type of guy, he has the talent to bring us back," wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said. "But it's all about his leadership. The stuff he was staying in the huddle, just keeping us into the game, making us believe we could make a play.
"At first he was like, 'We just need one. Now we need two.' We went out there and tried to make it happen but, unfortunately, we just ended up on the wrong end."
Fullback Marcel Reece said Palmer told his teammates, " 'Keep playing, we're going to get it.' That's it. That's all he needed to tell us. We trust him, we believe in him and we're ready to play."
Something went awry as Palmer's pass landed in the hands of Buccaneers of safety Ahmad Black 20 yards downfield, with receiver Denarius Moore several yards away toward the middle of the field and receiver Rod Streater near the sideline.
Palmer said he and Moore weren't on the same page on the play, leading to the ball and Moore being far apart.
"Carson had to get rid of the ball a little bit quicker than he wanted to," Allen said. "I'm not sure exactly what happened on the route."
As always, Palmer accepted blame, even if it's not his fault. It's part of who he is and it's part of what endears him to Allen and his teammates.
"Mistakes like that you can't overcome and you can't make," Palmer said. Me being the quarterback, you can't do that. I can't throw that ball. You just need to take a sack sometimes if things are off of the same page and come back the next play."