Jason Campbell got his chance to duel Tom Brady, and to carry the Raiders on his shoulders Sunday.

Campbell failed, the Raiders lost, and there is no soft or consoling way to put that, for Campbell or the Raiders.

Is it fair to measure Campbell against the best quarterback in the league, when so many other factors led to the Patriots' 31-19 victory over the Raiders at O.co Coliseum?

Maybe not so fair. So it goes.

At its most elemental point, this game was about the quarterbacks -- Brady held New England together, and Campbell helped break the Raiders apart.

The Raiders could have won if Campbell had played better, and have to wonder if Campbell is the QB who can lead them into the playoffs or beyond.

The Patriots won because Brady played the way he always plays.

Not fair. But true.

"I started out fast, came out ready to play," Campbell said calmly, standing in front of his locker after the game. "Unfortunately, I made a bone-headed mistake on the interception.

"That cost us. That's something I don't usually do. From that point on, I think it kind of stemmed the momentum ...

"It changes the whole game, it changes the whole mindset."

He's right. And instead of having a shot to go 3-1 and join the AFC elite, the Raiders fell to 2-2, back in the muddle again.

There's no question that the Raiders have a lot of things working right for them, from tailback Darren McFadden to their young receivers to their physical defensive line.


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But how far can they go if their quarterback goes haywire every now and again at the most crucial times?

On Sunday, we saw exactly how far: Deep into the first half, until the mistake is made.

The "bone-headed" play came late in the second quarter, when the Raiders were ready to score a touchdown that would've put them back ahead of New England in a seesaw tilt.

On second-and-goal from the 6-yard line, Campbell had plenty of time, saw nobody, moved around, then was ready to fire the ball safely out of play.

But when Campbell saw receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey flashing along the back of the end zone, the QB flinched in the middle of his throw, which caused it to flutter directly to New England safety Patrick Chung for a huge interception.

From there, Brady immediately raced New England downfield for a field goal to put New England ahead 17-10 going into halftime. The Raiders never reversed the momentum from there.

All by itself, the Campbell interception didn't decide the game. But it did change everything.

"I think he played OK," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of Campbell, who threw for 344 yards on the day. "He did some good things. But there's some things he wishes he could have had back, I think we all know that."

Campbell threw another interception in the second half -- a dump-off right into the arms of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork -- and ended up with a mediocre 79.4 passer rating.

Flat out: Campbell wasn't good enough in this game.

Nobody expected Campbell to outplay Brady. But, with New England's defense committing to stop McFadden, Campbell had to at least be efficient in this game.

He didn't have to match Brady pass for pass. But Campbell had to come close, which did not happen.

"Their good football players played great," Jackson said. "Tom Brady (and) Wes Welker played well, and that's what you've got to do.

"We have to rise up. When we get to the point where we're going to get -- and we'll get there -- then our great players will play very good, very consistent throughout the whole game."

Obviously, this was an extreme case for Campbell, who played well in the first three games of the season.

Plus, the Raiders don't have another option at QB, anyway. That's the way they've set this up.

They've got enough firepower elsewhere to win a lot of games, as they won last Sunday against the Jets. But when it comes to the biggest ones, it will be on Campbell.

He can throw the right pass 20 times in a row. But the wrong pass, at the wrong time, ruins everything.

"We felt like we're a really good offense, we could match (the Patriots) if it came to that, we could go point for point with them," Campbell said. "One mistake like that (end zone interception) kind of throws you out of it."

He can't throw that interception. He can't. But he did. That doesn't make Campbell a bad QB.

Just not good enough, though.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5442.