Las Vegas Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell has been commended by coaches and teammates for his poise and maturity over the past few weeks.
As soon as it began to feel as though O'Connell had settled in as a professional, the 2023 fourth-round pick out of Purdue brought Raider Nation back down to earth with a display of "rookie" mistakes in his team's 20-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
O'Connell finished the contest with three interceptions and ended up with a QB rating of just 18.1 on the day.
"I'm learning how hard the NFL is and how hard it is to win," O'Connell told reporters after the game. "And just kudos to our defense -- just played so well in the second half, kept us within the game. I think they [the Dolphins] scored six points in the second half.
"And obviously, don't think we scored [in the second half]. So, our defense did an awesome job keeping us in the game. It's really going to come down to our offense and watching the film to just be better all around, and it starts with me."
The most critical of O'Connell's three interceptions was Miami All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey's pick in the end zone on the Raiders' game-tying attempt in the final seconds of the contest.
"I think, 20-something seconds left, no timeouts; I knew at some point, we're going to have to take a shot because we needed a touchdown," O'Connell said. "So, I just saw Tre [Tucker] had a little step and, again, [I] hung it up there too much and the defender made a really good play. So, I think we were a little messed up in our alignment to start; I didn't communicate well enough getting to the huddle.
"And so, some better communication would have gotten to the play better and all around, we would have been better. So, we were a little messed up on the play, but [I] tried to take a shot. I knew we had to get a chunk at some point and hung it up there too much and he made a good play."
Ironically, O'Connell threw for a season-high 271 passing yards. Unfortunately for the rookie, multiple turnovers are always going to be a glaring factor in a loss.
The Silver and Black will return home next week to celebrate Thanksgiving and take on their AFC West rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 4:25 p.m. EST/1:25 p.m. PST.
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