November 1, 2014

Browns 23 Raiders 13

The next game on the schedule for the winless Oakland Raiders was a trip to Cleveland to face the Browns.  The Raiders were coming off a 24-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and the Browns were coming off a bad 24-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  But, if you ever want to the right the ship and return to your winning ways, all you have to do is get the Raiders on your schedule.  The Browns won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Billy Cundiff kicked the ball deep into the end zone and rookie return man TJ Carrie took a knee.

The Raiders started at their 20 and quarterback Derek Carr started the game with a quick pass to wide receiver Andre Holmes for a gain of 15.  Two runs by running back Darren McFadden moved the ball to the 50.  Instead of sticking with the running game, offensive coordinator Greg Olson called for a halfback option that fell incomplete.  That was followed by a short run by running back Maurice Jones-Drew and a short pass to wide receiver James Jones.  The drive stalled at the Cleveland 39-yard line.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came on for a long field goal attempt and this is where things got really stupid.  Instead of trying a long field goal, holder Matt Schaub got in the shotgun formation and promptly fumbled the snap.  This was followed by a deep pass that was picked off by safety Tahsaun Gipson and returned it to the Oakland 48.  Olson, what the hell were you thinking by calling those plays?

From the 48, the Browns took to the air on first down as quarterback Brian Hoyer completed a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.  But that was the only positive yardage they would get on this possession and Cundiff came on for a 52-yard field goal.  The kick was good and the Browns led 3-0 with 9:54 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders managed to get a first down before having to punt.  Another infuriating event occurred on this “drive.”  On a third and short situation, the Raiders brought in their heavy formation and it looked like they were going to pound the ball with McFadden.  Wrong!  The play was a pass to wide receiver Andre Holmes that fell incomplete.  Again, what was Olson thinking this time?  I can appreciate the fact that he wanted to catch the Browns off guard, but there are times when you just need to pound the ball, get a first down and keep the drive alive.  Punter Marquette King hit a short 30-yard punt that was downed at the Cleveland 29-yard line.

Hoyer spread the ball around to three different receivers with the big play being a 48-yard pass to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel.  On third and ten from the Oakland 24, Hoyer completed a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Miles Austin.  But there was a flag on the play and cornerback Carlos Rogers was flagged for defensive holding.  That gave the Browns a first down at the 19.  They got as far as the 15 and the drive stalled there.  Cundiff kicked a 33-yard field goal and the Browns led 6-0 with 2:28 to go in the game.

Neither offense could do much until the 11 minute mark of the second quarter.  The Browns started at their 14 and Hoyer found tight end Jordan Cameron for a gain of 18.  Two runs by running back Terrance West netted five yards and on third and five, Hoyer competed a pass to Hawkins for a gain of seven yards.  Hoyer found Hawkins yet again on the next play and he was dragged down at the Oakland 39-yard line.  From the 39, Hoyer went deep down the middle for tight end Jordan Cameron and he caught it for a gain of 21 yards.  After he caught the pass, he was hit hard and knocked out of the game by safety Brandian Ross.  That drew a flag for unnecessary roughness and moved the Browns to the nine-yard line.  The Raider defense once again prevented them from going much further and they had to settle for a 26-yard field goal.  The kick was good and the Browns led 9-0 with 5:46 to go in the first half.

The Raiders started at their 20 and on third and five, Carr found Jones for a gain of 13.  Completions to McFadden, Rivera and Holmes moved the ball to the Cleveland 27.  That’s where the drive came to an end as Carr’s pass to Jones on third and five fell incomplete.  Janikowksi came on and made his 46-yard attempt.  With 1:50 to go in the first half, the Browns led 9-3.

The Browns took over at their 20 and gained exactly one yard on three plays.  Punter Spencer Lanning got off a 50-yard punt that was fielded by Carrie at the Oakland 29.  He returned it eight yards and the Raiders set up shop at their 37.  Things got off to a good start as Carr found Holmes on the right side for a gain of 31 yards.  They got as far as the 20-yard line when Carr spiked the ball with two seconds remaining.  Janikowksi made his 38-yard field goal attempt and at halftime, the Browns led 9-6.

There’s not a whole lot to talk about regarding the third quarter.  But things got interesting with 6:36 remaining.  The Raiders took over at their nine and a  seven-yard run by McFadden and completions to McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece quickly moved them into Cleveland territory.  On third eight from the 45, Carr found wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins on the left side for a gain of 12.  Things were looking really good on this drive.  The passing game was sharp and McFadden was running very well.  Then it all exploded in their face.  On second and six from the 29, McFadden found himself a nice hole to run through and just when it looked like he might break free, he was hit by safety Donte Whitner.  The ball popped straight up and into the hands of cornerback Joe Haden.  He returned it 34 yards and the Browns took over at their 47-yard line.  I know it was only the third quarter, but that was devastating to the Raiders and they never recovered.  From the 47, Hoyer found Hawkins wide open on the right side for a gain of 32 and a first down at the Oakland 21-yard line.  Hoyer hooked up with Hawkins two more times and on the second time, it was good for a four-yard touchdown.  Cundiff made the point after and the Browns led 16-6.

Then the punting began again.  The Raiders couldn’t anything with the ball.  Cleveland couldn’t do much either and at the 3:48 mark of the fourth quarter, the Raiders took over at their 13.  On second and nine from the 14, Carr was sacked and the ball came loose.  The Browns recovered and two plays later, running back Ben Tate ran it in for a touchdown.  Cundiff made the point after and the Browns led 23-6 with 2:26 to go in the game.  The Raiders managed to score with four seconds left as Holmes caught a ten-yard touchdown pass.  And that’s that.  The Browns won 23-13.  With that win, the Browns improved to 4-3 and the Raiders dropped to 0-7.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 34 of 54 for 328 yards and one touchdown pass.  Mychal Rivera led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 83.  On the ground, Darren McFadden led the way with 59 yards on 12 carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 71 yards on 22 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Sio Moore led the team in solo tackles with eight.  Although Justin Tuck had the only sack, the defense did a good job in this game.  Throughout the year, they have been giving up big gains on third down.  That wasn’t the case in this game.  The Browns were 2 for 12 on third down conversions.

For the Browns, Brian Hoyer completed 19 of 28 for 275 yards and one touchdown pass.  Andrew Hawkins had a good day as he led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 88 and a touchdown.  The Browns had a horrible day on the ground. They only gained 39 yards on 25 carries.  Ben Tate was the leading rusher with 26 yards on 15 carries.  Defensively, cornerback Joe Haden was all over the place.  He led the team in solo tackles with eight, had one tackle for a loss and recovered a fumble.  Linebacker Paul Kruger also had a good game with three sacks.

Here’s a question.  Why try 54 passes against the Browns?  They have the worst run defense in the league.  I sincerely do not get it.  I’d love to hear an explanation from Olson about his horrible game plan.  Up next for the Raiders is a trip to Seattle to play the Seahawks.  I wonder what kind of game plan Olson will come up with to get a win over the defending champions.  Whatever it is, I am sure it won’t work.  Until then, take it easy.

The Frustrated Raider Guy

They Stand Alone

Week six had the Arizona Cardinals visiting Oakland to take on the Raiders.  The Cardinals were coming off a 30-20 win over the Washington Redskins and the Raiders were coming off a 31-28 loss to the San Diego Chargers.  The Raiders won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff.  They started at their 20, gained four yards on three plays and punted the ball away.  As a matter of fact, neither team could do much on offense until the nine minute mark of the first quarter.

The Cardinals started their drive at their 12-yard line and two carries by running back Andre Ellington netted seven yards.  That set up a third and three from the 19.  This has been the problem for the Raiders all year and sure enough, quarterback Carson Palmer found wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald wide open at the 26 for a first down.  That was followed by a 37-yard catch and run by Ellington.  Running back Stepfan Taylor got a carry and took it up the right side for 13 yards.  Ellington got three yards on first down and a pass on second down fell incomplete.  That meant it was third and seven and the Raiders had a chance to hold the Cardinals to a field goal attempt.  Ha! You’re kidding, right?  Palmer had all kinds of time to find a receiver and he hooked up with Jaron Brown for a gain of nine yards.  That was followed by a penalty on the Raiders for having 12 men on the field.  The ball was moved to the three-yard line.  On third and goal, Palmer tossed a short pass to Taylor on the right side.  He was hit by safety Charles Woodson, but regained his footing and landed in the end zone.  Kicker Chandler Catanzaro made the point after and the Cardinals led 7-0 with 1:47 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders started at their 20 and got a few first downs before having to punt again.  Punter Marquette King hit a high punt that was fair caught by return man Ted Ginn at the 14-yard line.  Some more good running by Ellington and a 19-yard pass to wide receiver John Brown had the Cardinals moving in the right direction.  But on third and 10 from the 42, the Raiders brought the blitz (IT’S A MIRACLE!) and safety Usama Young sacked Palmer for a loss of 11 yards.  Punter Drew Butler got off a 54-yard punt that was fielded at the 15 by rookie return man TJ Carrie.  He took it up the right side and was dragged down deep in Arizona territory.  Wait a minute.  There’s a flag on the play.  Wide receiver Brice Butler was flagged for an illegal block above the waist.  That moved the Raiders back to their 15 and they quickly went three and out as quarterback Derek Carr was sacked for a loss of nine yards by linebacker Larry Foote.   King punted and the ball was fair caught by Ginn at the 50.  It took three plays for the Cardinals to find the end zone again.  On third and eight, Palmer went deep up the left side for wide receiver Michael Floyd.  The coverage was good, but the throw was better and Floyd hauled it in for a 33-yard touchdown.  Catanzaro made the point after and the Cardinals were up 14-0 with 5:37 to go in the first half.

The Raiders got the ball back at their 21 and on third and seven, Carr found tight end Mychal Rivera across the middle for a gain of 18.  Two plays later, Carr rolled out to the left and put up a deep ball that was hauled in by Butler for a gain of 55 yards.  On third and goal from the one, running back Darren McFadden took it into the end zone for a Raider touchdown.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Cardinals now led 14-7 with 1:56 to go in the first half.  The Cardinals started at their 20 and on second and six from the 24, Palmer threw a high pass that was tipped by tight end John Carlson into the hands of Woodson.  Woodson returned the ball to the 13 and the Raiders had a chance to tie up the game before halftime.  That didn’t happen.  Three plays netted two yards and Janikowski was called on for a 29-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the half ended with the Cardinals leading 14-10.

The Cardinals moved from their 20 to their 46 with relative ease.  But on third and three from the 46, Palmer’s pass to Ellington fell incomplete and they were forced to punt.  The punt went out of bounds at the Oakland 16 and from there, McFadden got loose up the right side for a gain of 15 yards.  Back to back 13-yard passes to wide receivers James Jones and Denarius Moore moved the Raiders to the Arizona 43-yard line.  But the drive stalled at the 35.  Janikowski came on for a 53-yard attempt and he promptly blasted the ball through the uprights.  That made it 14-13 with 7:17 to go in the third quarter.

If the Raiders could get a stop here, they could get the ball back and possibly take the lead.  Well, it was a nice thought, wasn’t it?  The Cardinals started at their 20 and two runs by Ellington netted a first down at the 32.  That was followed by a pass interference penalty on linebacker Miles Burris.  That put the Cardinals into Oakland territory.  Palmer found Ellington on the left side for a gain of 16 and a first down at the 32.  Then it was time for the Andre Ellington show.  Four straight carries by Ellington moved the Cardinals down to the four.  They were good runs, but when the defense you’re playing against doesn’t know how to tackle, those yards come pretty easily.  As the Cardinals lined up at the four, I turned to my wife and said “Watch.  They’re going to run it up the left side for another touchdown.”  Sure enough, Taylor ran up the left side and was met with very little resistance on his way to the end zone.”  Sometimes I really hate it when I’m right.  Catanzaro made the point after and the Cardinals went up 21-13.  That’s only an eight-point lead, but for the Raiders it seemed insurmountable.

For the remainder of the game, the Raiders couldn’t get out of their own way.  There were no deep passes thrown as they kept trying to pound McFadden up the middle against a stout defense.  The most damaging play came mid-way through the fourth quarter.  The score was still 21-13 and the Cardinals were at their 41 facing a third and eight.  Earlier in the game, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver called for a blitz on third down and it resulted in a sack.  Well, that wasn’t the case this time.  It was only a three man rush and they dropped eight into “coverage.”  If that’s what they call coverage, they are out of their minds.  First, Palmer had all day to find a receiver as the “pass rush” was nowhere near him.  He calmly stood in the pocket and threw a perfect strike down the middle to John Brown for a gain of 22 yards.  Brown was hit hard by safety Brandian Ross, but he held on to the ball.  That was the back breaker for the Raiders.  After that, Ellington and Brown took over and their running game killed the clock.  Catanzaro was brought into the game to seal the deal with a 41-yard attempt.  The kick was good and that was the nail in the coffin.  The Cardinals won 24-13.  The win improved them to 5-1 and the Raiders dropped to 0-6.  They stand alone as the only winless team in the league and they haven’t been 0-6 since 1962.  They’re setting all kinds of astounding records this year, aren’t they?

For the Cardinals, Carson Palmer completed 22 of 31 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Andre Ellington had himself a great day as he led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 72.  He was also the leading rusher with 88 yards on 24 carries.  All totaled, the Cardinals rushed for 123 yards on 37 carries and held on to the ball for nearly 37 minutes.  Defensively, linebacker Larry Foote and strong safety Tony Jefferson tied for the lead in solo tackles with four apiece.  Foote also had a sack.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 16 of 28 for 173 yards.  James Jones led the team in receptions with four and Brice Butler had the most receiving yards with 55.  Once again, the ground game was stuck in first gear as they only had 56 yards on 19 carries.  Darren McFadden was the leading rusher with 48 yards on 14 carries.  Defensively, rookie linebacker Khalil Mack led the team in solo tackles with ten.

When this year began, I didn’t have high hopes for the Raiders.  They have a very difficult schedule and I thought maybe they could go 6-10.  I thought that was a realistic prediction.  Theoretically, they still can go 6-10, but I doubt that will happen.  Up next is a trip to Cleveland.  The Browns had a rough time at Jacksonville last week and they’ll be looking to take their frustrations out on the Raiders.  The game starts at 4:25 eastern time so if the Raiders lose again, they won’t have the excuse of not being able to win in the eastern time zone.  It’s also supposed to be sunny and in the mid 50s.  So they can’t say it was too cold either.  But I’m sure they’ll think of something.  Until then, take it easy.

The Frustrated Raider Guy

Opportunity Knocked. Nobody Answered

For those of you wondering what happened to my article on the Raiders-Dolphins game that was played in week four, the answer is that it never materialized.  I was so disgusted with the performance of the Raiders that I couldn’t bring myself to write about it.  I can sum it up for you though.  The Raiders scored the first touchdown of the game and the last touchdown of the game.  Everything in between that was absolute and pure garbage as they lost 38-14.  They looked unprepared, uninterested and unmotivated.  That has been the case for a while now and I’m thinking the main reason behind that was head coach Dennis Allen.  Well, Allen was fired during the bye week and offensive line/assistant head coach Tony Sparano was given the job.

So, with yet another new head coach in Oakland, the Raiders got ready for their game against the San Diego Chargers.  Kicker Nick Novak sent the ball through the end zone and the Raiders started at their 20.  Their first two plays netted three yards.  The next play was good for 77 yards as quarterback Derek Carr found wide receiver Andre Holmes down the middle.  He hauled in the pass and took it the rest of the way for a Raider touchdown.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with 14:08 to go in the first quarter.

The Chargers started at their 20 and before they could snap the ball, they gained five yards due to the Raiders being offside.  Running back Branden Oliver ran up the middle for a short gain and then quarterback Philip Rivers found tight end Ladarius Green for a gain of 27 yards.  A false start moved them back five yards, but they recovered from that nicely as Rivers found tight end Antonio Gates for ten yards and a defensive holding penalty on the Raiders gave them a first down at the Oakland 34-yard line.  Two runs by Oliver netted five yards and then Rivers went deep up the left side looking for wide receiver Eddie Royal.  Royal hauled in the pass for a 29-yard touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the score was knotted at seven with 9:38 to go in the first quarter.

Neither offense did much until the Chargers took over at their 15-yard line with four minutes to go in the first quarter.  Oliver ran up the right side for seven yards and that was followed by a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Malcolm Floyd.  Two more carries by Oliver set up a third and five from the 48.  Rivers had all kinds of time as the anemic pass rush of the Raiders couldn’t get anywhere near him.  He fired a pass up the right sideline that was caught by Floyd for a gain of 20 yards.  That was followed by another penalty on the Raiders for having 12 men on the field.  That’s when the Chargers decided to turn Oliver loose.  He kept chipping away and four more carries brought the Chargers down to the eight-yard line.  On third and goal from the five, Rivers found Floyd in the end zone for another Charger touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the Chargers led 14-7 with 11:52 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders took over at their 24 and on third and eight, running back Darren McFadden ran up the middle for a nice gain of 12 yards.  A 17-yard completion to wide receiver James Jones and a six-yard run by McFadden moved the Raiders into Charger territory.  On third and seven from the San Diego 42, Carr found Holmes again for a gain of 30 and a first down at the 12.  McFadden was stuffed for a gain of one yard and Carr’s pass to wide receiver Brice Butler on second down fell incomplete.  The Chargers jumped offside on the next play and that moved the ball to the six-yard line.  From the six, Carr had all the time he needed and he found Jones in the end zone for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the score was 14-14 with 7:25 to go in the second quarter.

The Chargers punted on their next possession and the Raiders took over at their 17 with just under five minutes remaining.  On second and ten, Maurice Jones-Drew got loose for a gain of nine and Carr scrambled for two yards on the next play for a first down at the 28.  Another good run by Jones-Drew and an 18-yard pass to Jones put the Raiders at the San Diego 46-yard line.  They got as far as the 35 and the drive stalled.  With only a few seconds to go, Janikowksi was brought into the game to try a 53-yard field goal.  That kick never had a chance and it sailed wide left.  The score remained tied at 14.

The Chargers started at their 20 and brought out their no huddle offense.  On third and 11 from the 19, Rivers hooked up with Royal for a gain of 19 and a first down.  What’s really sad about that is that Royal was WIDE OPEN.  How can you let a receiver get that open on third and long?  Three plays later, the Chargers found themselves in another third and long situation.  That’s not really a problem when you go up against the Raider defense.  This time, Rivers dumped off a short pass to running back Ronnie Brown and he weaved his way through the defense for a gain of 24 yards and a first down at the Oakland 36.  But to my surprise, the defense stiffened and the Chargers had to settle for a field goal attempt.  Unlike Janikowksi, Novak had absolutely no trouble making his 54-yard attempt.  However, the Chargers were flagged for holding and the kick was nullified.  That put them out of field goal range and Mike Scifres came on to punt.  But instead of punting, safety Eric Weddle took the snap and threw a deep pass up the right side.  It was caught by wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu but he was out of bounds.  That gave the Raiders the ball at their 46.  Three plays later, Carr hit Butler with a short pass and Butler turned on the speed and turned a short pass into a 47-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 21-14 with 7:40 to go in the third quarter.

Wow!  The Raiders were actually winning a game in the third quarter!   Now they needed the defense to come up big.  That would be like having a 90-degree day in Siberia.  In other words, it didn’t happen.  Oliver continued to pound the ball and Rivers had long completions to Green and  Floyd.  The pass to Floyd was good for 47 yards and that moved them to the Oakland nine-yard line.  Three plays later, Rivers found Gates for a one-yard touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the score was tied at 21 with 2:52 to go in the third quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions and the Raiders got the ball back at the 50.  Completions to fullbacks Marcel Reece and Jamize Olawale and a 12-yard run by McFadden moved the Raiders down to the San Diego 22.  An illegal use of the hands penalty moved them back ten yards, but Jones-Drew got those yards back quickly with a ten-yard run.  Then the Chargers were flagged for having 12 men on the field.  McFadden ran up the middle for seven yards to set up a first and goal from the ten.  Two plays later, Carr threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game as he found Holmes in the end zone.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders went up 28-21 with ten minutes to go in the game.

Once again, if the defense could come up with a stop, it would put the Raiders in position to get a win.  Well, opportunity knocked and nobody answered.  It took three plays for the Chargers to move from their 20 to the Oakland 30.  Now I have to ask defensive coordinator Jason Tarver what the hell kind of scheme was that?  The cornerbacks were playing way off the receivers, the “pass rush” was non-existent and Rivers had all day to find an open man.  It was truly a sickening display by the defense.  Then something really strange happened.  When it looked like the Chargers were about to score again, the defense actually started playing a little better and the Chargers had to settle for a field goal.  Novak made his 30-yard attempt and the Raiders led 28-24 with 5:52 to go in the game.

Now it was up to the offense to take some precious time off the clock.  They did the exact opposite.  They went three and out and punted it right back to the Chargers.  That “drive” took exactly one minute and nine seconds off the clock.  Way to protect that lead, morons!  To top that off, return man Keenan Allen returned the punt 29 yards to set the Chargers up at the Oakland 39.  A three-yard pass and a seven-yard “scramble” by Rivers moved them to the 29.  That’s when Oliver took over and ran right through the defense.  Four plays later, Oliver dove into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the Chargers led 31-28 with 1:56 to go in the game.

The Raiders took over at their 20 and Carr was sacked and the ball came loose.  The Chargers recovered and it looked like it was all over.  But the Chargers were flagged for a facemask penalty and that gave the Raiders new life at their 35-yard line.  Carr completed passes to Jones and Butler and they were in San Diego territory.  Then, Carr made a horrible mistake.  From the 45, he threw a deep wobbly pass up the left sideline for Butler.  The pass was picked off by cornerback Jason Verrett.  That brought an abrupt halt to the game and all the Chargers had to do was run out the clock.  I don’t know what Carr was thinking.  There was double coverage on Butler and there was no reason at all to go deep.  I guess we’ll just chalk that one up to a rookie mistake.  Carr was clearly upset with himself after making such a poor decision.  But it’s not all on him.  The defense was horrible all day and that missed field goal by Janikowksi ended up being huge.  Final score: Chargers 31 Raiders 28.  The win improved the Chargers to 5-1 and the Raiders fell to 0-5.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 22 of 34 for 313 yards and three touchdowns.  Malcolm Floyd led all receivers in receptions with five and yards with 103 and a touchdown.  On the ground, it was all about Branden Oliver.  He ran for 101 tough yards on 26 carries and one touchdown.  As a team, the Chargers rushed for 116 yards on 33 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Donald Butler led the team in solo tackles with seven.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 18 of 34 for 282 yards, four touchdowns and one very costly interception.  He could have had a lot more yards than that too.  There were several dropped passes in this game.  Andre Holmes led all receivers in receptions with four and yards with 121 and two touchdowns.  Darren McFadden led the way on the ground with 80 yards on 14 carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Sio Moore led the team in solo tackles with seven.

Up next for the Raiders is a visit from the Arizona Cardinals.  If the Raider defense continues to play as poorly as they have been, quarterback Carson Palmer will have a good day.  As long as Jason Tarver is the defensive coordinator, I expect that happen.  The offense is looking much better.  But the defense has a long way to go.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

Patriots 16 Raiders 9

Week three of the 2014 season had the Oakland Raiders heading to the eastern time zone again to take on the New England Patriots.  The Raiders were coming off a dreadful 30-14 loss to the Houston Texans and the Patriots were coming off a good 30-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings.  New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicked the ball through the end zone and the Raiders would start at their 20-yard line.  Some tough running by running back Darren McFadden and short completions to wide receiver Denarius Moore and tight end Mychal Rivera got them to their 40.  But on third and five, the Patriots stepped up the pressure and quarterback Derek Carr’s pass to Moore fell incomplete.  Punter Marquette King got off a 42-yard punt that was fair caught at the New England 18-yard line by return man/wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Quarterback Tom Brady led the offense onto the field but they would be making a quick exit as they only gained four yards on their first possession.  Punter Ryan Allen got off a good punt that went 58 yards.  It was fielded by return man TJ Carrie at the 20 and he returned it to the 37.  However, there was a flag thrown for an illegal block and that moved the Raiders back to their 19.  From the 19, Carr completed a nine-yard pass to Marcel Reece and that was followed by a seven-yard run by Reece for a first down at the 35.  From there, Carr found tight end Brian Leonhardt for seven yards and that was followed by a four-yard run by McFadden.  Another run by McFadden and completions to wide receiver Rod Streater put the Raiders at the New England 27.  They would go no farther and kicker Sebastian Janikowski was called on for a 49-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Raiders led 3-0 with 4:37 to go in the first quarter.

The Patriots started at their 20 and some good running by running back Shane Vereen got them rolling.  On first down from the 30, Vereen ran up the middle for a gain of 11 and a first down at the 41.  But a holding penalty moved them back ten yards and they failed to get another first down.  Allen hit another good punt and the Raiders took over at their 18-yard line.  The Raiders continued to slowly move the ball with short passes and runs up the middle by McFadden.  On third and seven from the 31, Carr found Streater for a gain of 14 yards and a first down at the 45.  But after that, they went nowhere.  To make it worse, Streater left the game and reappeared a little later on crutches.  He is out with a fractured foot.  King punted and the Patriots got the ball back at their 16-yard line.

From the 16, Brady found Edelman for a gain of 12.  Running back Stevan Ridley ran up the left side for six yards and Edelman caught two more passes to move into Oakland territory.  On third and eight from the Oakland 45, Brady found Vereen for a gain of nine and a first down at the 36.  A short run by Ridley and a pass interference penalty on the Raiders put the Patriots at the 14.  Ridley was stuffed for a loss of one on first down, but Brady found Edelman again for a gain of six and the drive was capped off by tight end Rob Gronkowski catching a six-yard touchdown pass.  Gostkowski made the point after and the Patriots led 7-3 with 4:14 to go in the first half.

The Raiders went nowhere on their next possession and that was bad.  But what made it worse was King punting the ball only 22 yards.  That gave the Patriots the ball at the 50-yard line with 2:45 remaining.  A short run by Ridley was followed by yet another completion to Edelman.  This one was for ten yards and a first down at the Oakland 38.  From the 38, Brady found Gronkowski for 16 yards.  A short completion to Edelman set up a second and six from the nine.  Ridley got the call again and ran for six yards and a first down at the three-yard line.  The Raider defense stiffened as the Patriots tried to get across the goal line.  On third down, the snap was low and Brady couldn’t handle it.  He regained control of the ball and threw an incomplete pass intended for Vereen.  Gostkowski came on and his 21-yard field goal attempt was good.  That put the Patriots up 10-3 at halftime.

The Patriots started the second half at their 20 and went nowhere.  A false start penalty moved them back five yards and Brady was sacked by defensive end Justin Tuck on third and long.  Ryan punted and Carrie fielded it at his 45 and returned it seven yards to the New England 48-yard line.  They continued to run McFadden up the middle and he was gaining about three yards per carry.  On third and three from the 41, we finally had a James Jones sighting.  He caught a pass for a gain of 12 and a first down at the 29.  A holding penalty on the Patriots got the Raiders down to the 24.  But on third and five from the 19, Carr’s pass intended for Moore was incomplete.  Janikowksi was brought into the game again and his 37-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 9:39 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders trailed 10-6.

The Patriots started at their 20 and another false start penalty moved them back to the 15.  From there, Brady found wide receiver Brandon LaFell for a gain of 15 and a first down at the 30.  After a short run by Vereen, guess who caught two more passes?  Yes.  That’s right.  It was Edelman.  Who else would it be?  But that wasn’t enough to get them into field goal range and Ryan punted again.  The Raiders took over at their 14-yard line.

A short run by McFadden was followed by a 12-yard reception by Reece.  On second and ten from the 28, Carr went deep up the left side for wide receiver Andre Holmes.  The play was good for 29 yards and a first down at the New England 37.  Carr went deep on the next play for Reece, but the ball was under-thrown and fell incomplete.  If he had thrown the ball on the money, it most likely would have been a touchdown.  A false start moved them back five yards and on third and 15 from the 42, Carr found Jones across the middle for a gain of 13 yards.  They called on Janikowski again and his 47-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 2:21 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders trailed 10-9.

Instead of kicking the ball deep, Janikowksi hit a short kick up the left sideline that was fielded by wide receiver Matthew Slater.  He returned it 26 yards and the Patriots had good field position at their 41.  From the 41, Brady found tight end Tim Wright for 20 yards and just like that, they were already in Oakland territory.  Ridley was stuffed for a loss of one on first down, but Brady was able to complete a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins.  That gave them a first down at the 24.  The Raiders were flagged for an offside penalty and Ridley and running back Brandon Bolden each had a carry to set up a third and three at the 12.  Edelman caught another pass and was dragged down at the two-yard line.  But they would get no further and they had to settle for another field goal attempt.  Gostkowski had no problem with his 20-yard attempt and the Patriots increased their lead to 13-9 with 13:42 to go in the game.

The Raiders went nowhere on their next possession and punted the ball right back to the Patriots.  They started at their 19-yard line and Brady quickly found Edelman for a gain of 15 yards.  Ridley ran up the right side for five yards and Brady found Edelman again for a gain of six.  However, the ruling of a completed pass was challenged by the Raiders.  It was ruled incomplete and that set up a third and five from the 39.  Brady completed a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola, but it was nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty on LaFell.  That made it and 15.  You know what?  It wouldn’t matter if it was third and 50.  Sure enough, Brady completed another pass.  This time it was to Gronkowski for a gain of 22.  That was an absolute killer for the Raiders.  Just like the previous two games, they couldn’t stop their opponent on third and long situations.  Brady moved the offense down to the Oakland 20 with completions to LaFell and Vereen.  But the drive stalled at the 18.  Gostkowski came into the game again and his 36-yard field goal attempt was good.  That made it 16-9 with 6:20 to go in the game.

The Raiders gained one yard on their next possession and punted again.  The Patriots followed suit as Brady was sacked by defensive linemen C.J. Wilson and Antonio Smith for a loss of eight yards.  Allen punted and it was fielded at the Oakland 17 by Carrie.  He returned it 21 yards to the 38 and the Raiders had one more chance to tie the game up.  Two runs by McFadden and an 18-yard pass to Jones put the Raiders at the New England 33 with two minutes to go.  On third and seven from the 30, Carr went deep for Holmes.  The pass was incomplete, but the Patriots were flagged for pass interference.  That put the Raiders at the six-yard line.  From the six, McFadden ran up the left side for a touchdown.  Immediately after he crossed the goal line, a yellow flag appeared.  Rookie guard Gabe Jackson was flagged for holding.  REALLY?  THAT was holding?  Unbelievable.  That penalty moved them back to the 12 and from there, all hell broke loose.  Carr fired a pass to Moore that hit him in right in the hands.  He couldn’t hang on to it and the ball bounced into the hands of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.  And that was it.  Just like that, the game was over.  Final score: Patriots 16 Raiders 9.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 21 of 34 for 174 yards and one interception that most certainly was not his fault.  James Jones and Rod Streater tied for the lead in receptions with three each and Jones had the most receiving yards with 43.  The ground game was anemic again as the Raiders rushed for a grand total of 67 yards on 22 carries.  Darren McFadden led the team with 59 yards on 18 carries.  Defensively, safety Tyvon Branch led the team in solo tackles with seven.  We won’t be seeing Mr. Branch for a while.  He left the game with a broken foot.

For the Patriots, Tom Brady completed 24 of 37 for 234 yards and one touchdown.  Julian Edelman led all receivers in receptions with ten and receiving yards with 84.  Like the Raiders, the Patriots didn’t have much room to run.  As a team, they rushed for 76 yards on 32 carries.  Stevan Ridley led the way with 54 yards on 19 carries.  Defensively, linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower tied for the lead in solo tackles with three apiece.

That loss dropped the Raiders to 0-3.  For the most part, I liked what I saw from the defense as they played well overall.  One problem that still remains is third down situations.  The Patriots converted 9 of 18 and that kept many drives alive.  On offense, the play calling is still very unimaginative.  Although it was good to see Reece get more involved.  Carr also needs to put more velocity on his deep throws.  There have been many situations where receivers were open deep but Carr hung up his throws and that allows defenders to catch up to the play and knock the ball away.  I guess this whole thing is what is known as “work in progress.”  But I can speak for all the Raider fans when I say WE ARE SICK OF LOSING!!!  Up next is a trip to England to take on the Miami Dolphins.  That should be interesting.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

Epic Fail

Week two of the 2014 season matched up the Houston Texans visiting the Oakland Raiders.  The Texans were coming off a 17-6 win over the Washington Redskins and the Raiders were coming off a 19-14 loss to the New York Jets.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski blasted the ball through the end zone and the Texans started at their 20-yard line.  Two carries by running back Arian Foster gained 12 yards and the Texans had a first down at their 32.  From the 32, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed a short pass to wide receiver Damaris Johnson and that was followed by a pass interference penalty on cornerback Chimdi Chekwa.  That gave the Texans another first down at their 37.  Foster was thrown for a loss of two by linebacker Sio Moore on the next play.  But Fitzpatrick completed a nine-yard pass to Foster and another nine-yard pass to wide receiver Andre Johnson to move the Texans into Oakland territory.  On second and four from the Oakland 41, Foster ran right up the gut for what looked like a 41-yard touchdown.  Replay showed he was down at the one-yard line.  That wasn’t much of an obstacle for the Texans to overcome as Fitzpatrick found defensive end J.J. Watt WIDE OPEN in the end zone for a touchdown.  Kicker Randy Bullock made the point after and the Texans led 7-0 with 9:37 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders continued their trend of what they did last week.  That means they went three and out once again.  Punter Marquette King punted and the Texans got the ball back at their 30-yard line.  An eight-yard run by Foster and a seven-yard pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins got the Texans moving and they were heading into Oakland territory again.  On third and eight from the 47, the Raider defense brought the blitz and Fitzpatrick went deep over the middle for tight end Garrett Graham.  He hauled in the pass for a gain of 26 and a first down at the Oakland 27.  Two short carries by Foster set up yet another third down situation.  This time, Fitzpatrick found Johnson again and the pass was caught for a gain of ten and a first down at the 13.  Fitzpatrick hooked up with Johnson one more time and the Raiders were flagged for offside to make it second and one from the four-yard line.  Foster got another carry and was brought down at the one.  A delay of game penalty moved the Texans back five yards, but that didn’t really matter.  Foster got the call again and he ran right up the middle for another Texan touchdown.  Bullock made the point after and the Texans led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Raiders started at their 17 and on second down, quarterback Derek Carr ran up the right side for a gain of 41 yards.  That was the spark the offense needed and a short run by running back Darren McFadden and a seven-yard completion wide receiver Andre Holmes gave them a first down at the Houston 31.  Things were looking good, right? WRONG!  The spark they had was quickly extinguished as Carr threw into tight coverage and the pass was picked off by cornerback Kareem Jackson.  He returned it 65 yards to the Oakland 24-yard line.  This time, the Raider defense did their job and kept the Texans out of the end zone.  They had to settle for a field goal and the 33-yard attempt was good.  That put the Texans up 17-0 with 10:30 to go in the first half.

The Raiders got a few first downs on their next drive.  But they only got as far as their 47-yard line.  King punted and the Texans got the ball back at their 24.  The Raider defense did another admirable job on this drive and the Texans were forced to punt.  Punter Shane Lechler got off a high punt that was downed at the Raider 13-yard line.  With 2:27 to go in the half, the Raiders would be happy just to get in field goal range.  A six-yard run by McFadden and a five-yard pass to wide receiver James Jones netted a first down at the 24.  From there, Carr completed passes to Jones and wide receiver Rod Streater and that put them at their 45.  From the 45, Carr found Jones on the right side where he made a nice catch at the Houston 29.  He was hit and the ball came loose.  He scooped it up and headed for the end zone.  Before he got there, he was hit again by cornerback Johnathan Joseph and the ball was knocked loose again.  The ball was recovered by safety D.J. Swearinger at the three-yard line.  You want to talk about total deflation?  That’s exactly what I felt.  Deflation, anger, frustration and the feeling that it was going to be another long year for the Raiders.  At the end of the first half, the Texans led 17-0.

The Raider started the second half from their 24 and were putting together a nice drive with some good running by McFadden and completions to Jones and fullback Marcel Reece.  But this drive would also come to an end due to the fact that tight end Mychal Rivera couldn’t hold on to the ball.  On third and 13 from the Houston 38, Carr found Rivera on the left side.  After Rivera caught the pass and started to head up-field, the ball was knocked out by Swearinger and recovered by Joseph.  It looked he was going to score, but he was pushed out of bounds at the Oakland 21.  Five plays later, Fitzpatrick found Hopkins in the end zone.  Bullock made the point after and the Texans now had a commanding 24-0 lead with 8:29 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders did nothing with the ball again on their next possession and King punted.  The Texans started their next drive at the Oakland 45.  They got as far as the 21 and had to settle for a field goal.  The 39-yard attempt was good and the Texans were now up 27-0 with 3:14 to go in the third quarter.  Carr spread the ball around to four different receivers on their next drive and McFadden contributed some tough running to move the ball to Houston 32.  From there, Carr went deep for wide receiver Denarius Moore.  The pass was incomplete, but the Texans were flagged for pass interference.  That put the ball at the two-yard line and McFadden finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Texans led 27-7 with 14 minutes to go in the game.

The Texans started at their 20 and stuck to their ground game as Foster had four carries and running back Alfred Blue had seven.  All that running ran the clock down and moved the Texans down to the Oakland 28.  That’s where the drive stalled and Bullock was brought in again for a 46-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Texans increased their lead to 30-7 with 4:46 to go in the game.  The Raiders would score once more with 13 seconds left as Carr found Jones in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the final score was Texans 30 Raiders 14.

For the Texans, Ryan Fitzpatrick had an efficient game as he completed 14 of 19 for 132 yards and two touchdowns.  Andre Johnson led all receivers in receptions with six and receiving yards with 74.  The ground game was where most of the damage was done.  As a team, the Texans ran the ball 46 times for a total of 188 yards.  Arian Foster led the way with 138 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown.  Defensively, cornerback A.J. Bouye led the Texans in solo tackles with seven.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 27 of 42 for 263 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  James Jones led the team in receptions with nine and receiving yards with 112 and a touchdown.  He also led the team in fumbles with two on the same play.  That’s something you don’t see every day.  As a team, they rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries.  41 of those yards came on one carry by Carr.  He was the leading rusher with 58 yards on four carries.  Defensively, safety Tyvon Branch led the team in solo tackles with ten.

Well, that was a nightmare.  In fact, it was an absolutely horrible nightmare.  Guess what?  Unless some things change drastically in Oakland, this is going to get worse.  Up next is a trip to New England to take on the Patriots and then off to England to play the Dolphins.  When I looked at the schedule earlier in the year, I thought they’d be okay if they could split the first four games and go into the bye week with a two and two record.  Well, I don’t think that’s going to happen.  I’ll be out of town next weekend, but hope to have an article on the game against the Patriots up by Tuesday.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Jet Lag

For their first game of the year, the Oakland Raiders had to travel across the country to face the New York Jets.  It’s been a long time since the Raiders won a game in the eastern time zone.  As a matter of fact, they haven’t won one since December of 2009.  That is truly disgusting.  The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.

Return man Saalim Hakim fielded the ball four yards deep in the end zone and returned it straight up the middle to the New York 40-yard line.  Quarterback Geno Smith led the offense onto the field and went to the air on first down.  With plenty of time to throw, he found wide receiver David Nelson wide open for a gain of 17 yards and a first down at the Oakland 43-yard line.  From the 43, running back Chris Johnson ran up the left side for a gain of seven.  A false start moved them back five yards, but that problem was overcome on the next play as Smith completed a 12-yard pass to Johnson for a first down at the Oakland 29.  A five-yard pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland and short runs by Johnson and running back Chris Ivory got the Jets another first down at the 17.  Then another yellow flag appeared and the Jets were penalized for holding.  On first and 20 from the 27, Smith put up a perfect pass to wide receiver Greg Salas in the end zone.  The ball hit him directly in the hands and he dropped it.  Johnson was thrown for a loss of one on second down and on third and 21 from the 28, Smith completed an 11-yard pass to Cumberland.  That brought kicker Nick Folk into the game and his field goal attempt from 35 yards was good.  But the Jets were flagged for holding again and that backed them up ten yards.  That wasn’t a problem for Folk.  His 45-yard attempt was good and the Jets led 3-0 with 9:16 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders started at their 20 and rookie quarterback Derek Carr led his team onto the field.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t on the field for very long because the Jets stuffed running back Maurice Jones-Drew for no gain on third and one.  Punter Marquette King got off a 44-yard punt and the Jets took over at their 30-yard line.  Smith hooked up with wide receiver Jeremy Kerley for a gain of eight, but the Jets were flagged again for holding.  That made it first and 16 from the 24.  From the 24, Smith looked to his right and the pass was picked off by safety Charles Woodson.  It was a great play as Woodson dove and picked the ball out of the air.  That set the Raiders up with great field position at the New York 28-yard line.  Carr connected with wide receiver Rod Streater for eight yards on first down.  On second down, Jones-Drew was stuffed again for no gain.  That set up a third and two from the 20.  Carr dumped a short pass to the left and it was caught by wide receiver James Jones for a gain of three and a first down at the 17.  From the 17, Jones-Drew ran up the left side for four yards and fullback Marcel Reece added one more yard as the Raiders continued to struggle running the ball.  But, on third and five, Carr had some time and looked for Streater on the left side.  Streater caught the pass and ran it in for a 12-yard touchdown.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-3 with 2:37 to go in the first quarter.

After having such a good kick return earlier in the game, Hakim decided run the ball out of the end zone again.  This time, he was not so fortunate and was brought down at the his own 15.  On third and eight from the 17, Smith was blessed with an incredible amount of time to find a receiver.  He did just that as he found Kerley wide open for a gain of 19 yards and a first down at the 36.  I wondered what kind of scheme the Raiders were running on that play.  They didn’t rush the passer and left a receiver wide open.  What name would would you give something like that?  I would call it “pure idiocy.”  Some more carries by Ivory and Johnson moved the Jets down to the Oakland 47-yard line.  But after getting into Oakland territory, the Jets didn’t look like they would get much further.  Smith was thrown for a loss of two on first down and completed a four-yard pass to tight end Jace Amaro on second down.  But a false start moved them back to the 50.  From the 50, Smith couldn’t find an open receiver, so he took off running and was finally dragged down at the 33.  Running back Bilal Powell ran for a gain of four yards on first down and on second down, Smith hooked up with Cumberland for a gain of 26 and a first down at the three-yard line.  On second and goal from the three, Smith scrambled to his right and was hit hard by linebacker Sio Moore.  The ball came loose and was recovered by rookie cornerback TJ Carrie at the four.

Completions to Streater and tight end Brian Leonhardt got the Raiders moving in the right direction.  But on third and three from the 49, the Jets stepped up the pressure, forced Carr out of the pocket and he had no choice but to throw the ball away.  King punted the ball through the end zone and the Jets took over at their 20-yard line.  They quickly went three and out and the Raiders did the exact same thing as Jones-Drew and running back Darren McFadden continued to find nowhere to run.  After another punt by King, the Jets got the ball back at their 20 with 4:31 to go in the second quarter.  Smith found wide receiver Eric Decker open for a gain of 24 and a first down at the 44.  An incomplete pass to Cumberland and a short run by Ivory set up a third and eight from the 46.  Do you think Smith will take off running again or will he find another receiver wide open?  The Raiders inserted their pure idiocy defense and Smith ran up the right side for a gain of eight yards and a first down at the Oakland 46.  On second and ten from the 46, Smith completed a 12-yard pass to Salas for a first down at the 34.  An 11-yard run by Ivory and some more scrambling by Smith put the Jets at the 11-yard line.  From the 11, Kerley caught another ball for a gain of six.  From the five, the Jets tried some trickery as quarterback Michael Vick was inserted into the game.  Johnson took a direct snap, flipped the ball to Vick who looked for Decker in the corner of the end zone. Decker was open, but the pass fell incomplete.  That set up third and four from the five-yard line.  Smith took the snap and immediately felt the pressure from defensive end Justin Tuck.  But he somehow got off a quick shovel pass to Johnson who took it up the middle for a touchdown.  Folk made the point after and the Jets led 10-7 with 30 seconds to go in the first half.  Carr took a knee and that’s how the first half ended.

My big problem with the Raiders in previous years is that they fail to make adjustments at halftime.  With a new season, we hope things change for the better.  Well, they didn’t.  I’d like to tell you that the Raiders came out of the locker room and tore the Jets apart.  I’d like to tell you that they won this game by a score of 28-10.  I’d like to tell you that they looked unstoppable.  I really would like to tell you that.  But I can’t do that.  That would be a boldfaced lie.  The offense continued to have all the grace and smoothness of a car with square wheels.  They went absolutely nowhere throughout the second half and accumulated a grand total of four first downs.  With all this ineptness going on, the defense got worn out and the Jets took full advantage of it.

The Raiders got the ball to start the second half and return man Latavius Murray got things off to a good start with a 40-yard kickoff return.  Then the offense took the field and things got off to a terrible start.  Jones-Drew ran up the left side and was promptly met with a hard hit by linebacker Quinton Coples.  The ball popped straight up in the air and Carr caught it.  He was brought down for a loss of 11 yards.  They went nowhere from there and King punted the ball away again.  The Jets took over at their 25 and managed to get a couple of first downs, but ended up punting.  The Raiders had another quick three and out and with 7:24 to go in the third quarter, the Jets got the ball back at their 48.  On second down from the 48, Smith found Decker for a gain of 21 yards.  On first down from the 31, Ivory ran up the right side for seven yards and Smith hooked up with Kerley for six more.  It looked like the Jets were headed for another touchdown.  But a facemask penalty moved them back 15 yards to the 33.  From the 33, Smith scrambled up the left side for 12 and Johnson ran straight up the middle for nine more yards.  That made it third and four from the 12-yard line.  The Raiders brought the pressure and Smith was sacked for a loss of 12 yards by Moore and rookie linebacker Khalil Mack.  The ball came loose, but Smith was able to recover it.  Folk was brought into the game for a 42-yard field goal and the kick was good.  With 2:38 to go in the third quarter, the Jets led 13-7.

The Raiders gained a grand total of five yards on their next possession and promptly punted.  The Jets followed suit and punted the ball right back to the Raiders.  With each punt forced, the Raider’s offense was given an opportunity to take the lead and they couldn’t do it.  Incomplete passes, a rookie quarterback being pressured and no running game to speak of are the recipe for losing.  After yet another punt by King, the Jets started their next drive at their 29.  Smith handed the ball to Ivory and he proceeded to take it all the way for a 71-yard touchdown.  That was the dagger.  That was what the Jets needed to put the Raiders away.  They opted to go for a two-point conversion after the score, but it was unsuccessful.  That put them up 19-7 with eight minutes to go in the game.

The Raiders took over at their own 17 and really needed to get the ball moving.  Naturally, they didn’t succeed, but they did receive some generous help from the zebras.  The Jets were flagged for roughing the passer and pass interference.  The interference penalty gave the Raiders a first down at their 49.   From there, they went backwards.  A short run by McFadden, an incomplete pass to Streater and a quarterback sack forced another punt.  The Jets ran the ball three times and punted.  With 2:39 to go in the game, the Raiders started at their 27-yard line.  Leading by 12 with not much time left, the Jets let up on the pressure and this enabled Carr to move his team down the field.  He found tight end Mychal Rivera for nine and Jones-Drew found some room up the left side for a gain of 12 yards.  Two more completions to Rivera set up a first down at the New York 30-yard line.  From the 30, Carr put one up the right side for Jones and he made a beautiful catch for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Jets led 19-14 with 1:21 to go in the game.  Next, it was time for an onside kick.  Janikowksi popped one up the left side and it was recovered by Salas.  Smith knelt down twice and the game was over.

If you look at the statistics from this game, you’d think it was a total blowout.  The Jets out-gained the Raiders in total yardage 402-158.  However, the Jets had some missed opportunities.  There was the dropped touchdown pass, Smith fumbled on the Raider three-yard line and they had some big plays brought back by penalties.  As a matter of fact, the Jets were penalized 11 times for 105 yards.  Meanwhile, the Raiders were only penalized four times for 20 yards.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 20 of 32 for 151 yards and two touchdowns.  Rod Streater led all receivers in receptions with five and receiving yards with 46 and a touchdown.  When it comes to running the ball, the Raider running backs found very little daylight.  As a team, they rushed for 25 yards on 15 carries.  Darren McFadden was the leading rusher with 15 yards on four carries.  Defensively, Sio Moore was all over the place and led the team in solo tackles with 11. He also had a sack and two forced fumbles.

For the Jets, Geno Smith completed 23 of 28 for 221 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  He also had 38 yards rushing.  Eric Decker led all receivers in receptions with five and receiving yards with 74.  The Jets had a great day on the ground as they rushed for 212 yards on 34 carries.  Chris Ivory led the way with 102 yards on 10 carries.  Defensively, linebacker David Harris, safety Dawan Landry and safety Antonio Allen tied for the lead in solo tackles with five apiece.  Although the Jets registered only two sacks, they kept the pressure on Carr throughout the game and forced him out of the pocket several times.

The game plan installed by offensive coordinator Greg Olson was terrible.  Why run up the middle against such a stout front seven?  They didn’t try to stretch the field despite the fact the Jets had a banged up secondary.  Hell, try a reverse. Maybe a halfback option?  They made no attempt at all to shake things up and catch the Jets off guard.  Oh well.  What’s done is done.  They should be grateful they lost by only five points.  Up next is the home opener against the Houston Texans.  The Texans are coming off a good 17-6 win over the Washington Redskins and the Raiders need to right the ship quickly.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Super Bowl XLVIII

This Super Bowl matched up the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos and I for one thought this was going to be a great game.  There was lots of speculation leading up to this game as far as the weather was concerned.  Will it snow?  Will it rain?  Will a huge snowstorm hit the area and force the game to be rescheduled?  The answer to those questions was a resounding “NO!”  The temperature was in the 40s and there was just a slight chance of precipitation.

Seattle won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Steven Hauschka hit the opening kickoff six yards deep into the end zone and return man Trindon Holliday returned it to the 14.  Quarterback Peyton Manning led the offense on to the field and started in the shotgun formation.  As he called the signals, center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over his head and it rolled toward the end zone.  A mad scramble ensued and running back Knowshon Moreno fell on it for a safety.  Well that most certainly was an original beginning to the Super Bowl.  A grand total of 12 seconds had run off the clock and the Seahawks were already up 2-0.

Denver punter Britton Colquitt hit a 64-yard punt that was fielded by return man/wide receiver Golden Tate at the 16.  He returned it to the 36 and quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense went to work.  Running back Marshawn Lynch got the call on first down and was brought down after a gain of three yards. From the 39, wide receiver Percy Harvin ran up the left side for a gain of 30.  That put the Seahawks at the Denver 31.  A false start penalty moved them back five yards and that was followed by an incomplete pass to tight end Zach Miller.  That was followed by a six-yard completion to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.  On third and nine from the 30, Wilson fired a bullet to Kearse and he caught it for a gain of 12 yards and a first down at the 18.  The next two plays gained four yards and on third and six from the 14, Wilson ran up the left side and was pushed out of bounds just before he got to the first down marker.  Head coach Pete Carroll challenged the spot, but it was ruled that Wilson was still just short of the marker.  Instead of going for it, Hauschka came into the game and his 31-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 10:21 to go in the first quarter, the Seahawks led 5-0.

Hauschka sent the kickoff through the end zone, but the Seahawks were penalized for unnecessary roughness.  That put the Broncos at their 35.  But three plays gained just eight yards and they were forced to punt.  The punt was fair caught by Tate at the Seattle 28-yard line.  On third and seven from the 31, Wilson threw to his left and the ball was caught by Tate for nine yards and a first down at the 40.  From the 40, Wilson found fullback Michael Robinson for seven yards.  Lynch was stuffed for a loss of one on the next play, but Wilson found wide receiver Doug Baldwin across the middle for a gain of six.  That was good enough for a first down at the Denver 48.  From the 48, Harvin caught another pass for a gain of five.  Then the Seahawks decided to get fancy and tried a crazy flea-flicker play that didn’t work.  On third and five from the 43, Wilson floated a deep pass up the left side for Baldwin who hauled it in for a gain of 36 yards.  A holding call moved them back ten yards and Lynch continued to struggle to get positive yardage.  On third and 14, Wilson looked for Kearse in the back of the end zone.  Kearse had possession of it for a second, but the ball was knocked out by linebacker Nate Irving.  That meant it was time for another field goal.  Hauschka made his 33-yard attempt and the Seahawks led 8-0 with 2:16 to go in the first quarter.

Aside from a five-yard completion to wide receiver Wes Welker, the Broncos still couldn’t get going.  On second and five from the 25, Moreno ran up the left side and the ball came loose.  The Broncos recovered it at the 23 and that set up a third and seven from the 23.  Manning looked for tight end Julius Thomas and the pass was picked off by safety Kam Chancellor at the 39.  He returned it two yards and the Seahawks set up shop at the Denver 37.  Another end around to Harvin gained 15 yards and tight end Luke Willson caught a five-yard pass.  Lynch ran up the middle for a gain of six and a first down at the 11.  Lynch was thrown for a loss of one on the next play, but Wilson found Baldwin for a gain of seven on second down.  That set up a third and four from the five-yard line.  Wilson threw to the back corner of the end zone for Tate, but the pass was incomplete.  Then a flag appeared.  Cornerback Tony Carter was flagged for pass interference and that gave the Seahawks a first down at the one-yard line.  Two plays later, Lynch ran it in for the first touchdown of the game.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 15-0 with 12 minutes to go in the first half.

The Broncos started at their 16 and Manning went to the air immediately.  Two completions to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and a short run by Moreno finally got the Broncos a first down at the 30.  Two more passes to D. Thomas and another carry by Moreno netted another first down at the 40.  On third and nine from the 41, Manning found Welker across the middle for a gain of 16 and the Broncos found themselves in Seattle territory.  Another catch by D. Thomas and a short carry by running back Montee Ball moved them down to the 32.  A holding penalty moved them back ten yards and a pass to tight end Jacob Tamme went for a loss of two yards.  From the 44, Moreno ran for a gain of nine.  That set up a third and 13 from the 35.  The Seahawks brought some pressure and defensive end Cliff Avril got to Manning just as he let the ball go and it was picked off at the 31 by linebacker Malcolm Smith.  That was bad for the Broncos and it got worse as Smith returned it all the way for a touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks went up 22-0 with 3:21 to go in the first half.

Holliday managed to return the ball to the 33 on the ensuing kickoff.  It looked like he fumbled, but he was ruled down before the ball came loose.  With time running short and knowing the walls were closing in, Manning knew he had to get his team into the end zone.  He spread the ball around to three different receivers and they quickly moved down to the Seattle 27.  An incomplete pass to J. Thomas, a six-yard catch by Moreno and a false start set up a third and nine from the 26.  Manning dumped a short pass to Moreno that came up two yards short of the first down.  What do you do now?  Go for the field goal?  No.  Head coach John Fox decided to go for it and Manning looked for D. Thomas.  The pass was incomplete and the Seahawks took over at their 19 with one minute to go in the half.  Two carries by Lynch ran out the clock and the Seahawks led 22-0 at halftime.

For once, I actually enjoyed the halftime show.  Good sound, good lighting and it was good to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a few minutes.  Back to return the kickoff to start the second half was the dangerous Percy Harvin.  Instead of trying to kick it through the end zone, kicker Matt Prater sent a knuckle-ball down the middle to keep the ball away from Harvin.  Nice try, but Harvin still got his hands on it.  He headed straight up the middle and returned it for an 87-yard touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks now led 29-0 with 14:48 to go in the third quarter.  To open the game, the Seahawks scored 12 seconds into the first quarter.  Then, they scored 12 seconds into the third quarter.  Interesting.

It was officially time for the Broncos to get into “panic mode.”  They went from their 23 to the Seattle 38 with little trouble.  But the Seahawk defense stiffened and forced another punt.  The punt was downed at the eight and on first down, Lynch got loose, but was tripped up at the 26.  If he had broken one more tackle, he likely would have scored.  That was the only eventful play of that possession and punter Jon Ryan got off a 45-yard punt that was fielded at the Denver 36 by return man/wide receiver Eric Decker.  He returned it to the 45 and the Broncos had yet another opportunity to put some points on the board.  On second and nine from the 46, Manning hooked up with D. Thomas for a gain of ten and a first down at the Seattle 44.  From the 44, Manning hit D. Thomas in stride across the middle.  As Thomas ran up the left side, the ball was knocked loose by cornerback Byron Maxwell and recovered by Smith at the 20 and he returned it seven yards.  The Broncos were also flagged for unnecessary roughness and that gave the Seahawks a first down at their 42-yard line.

A short carry by Lynch and a 12-yard completion to Willson moved them to the Denver 43.  From the 42, Wilson found wide receiver Ricardo Lockette for a gain of 19 and a first down at the 23.  On the very next play, Wilson found Kearse on the right side and he was the recipient of some very poor tackling.  That enabled him to find the end zone for another Seahawk touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks were now up 36-0 with three minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Broncos started at their 20 and had no choice but to throw the ball on every down.  Judging by the looks on their faces, they looked like they would rather not even finish the game.  But completions to Welker, J. Thomas and Moreno had them moving in the right direction.  A pass interference call gave them a first down at the Seattle 41.  Two more catches by Welker and one by Tamme got them a first down at the 14.  With the final seconds of the quarter ticking away, Manning took the snap and fired a strike to the end zone that was caught for a touchdown by D. Thomas.  They decided to go for two and it was good as Manning hooked up with Welker again.  At the end of the third quarter, the Seahawks led 36-8.

The Broncos tried an unsuccessful onside kick that was recovered at the Denver 48 by Miller.  From the 48, backup running back Robert Turbin rumbled up the left side for a gain of 33 yards.  But that was brought back by a holding call and it moved the Seahawks back to their 42-yard line.  Miller caught a pass for ten yards and Tate added eight more to set up a third and two at the Denver 40.  From the 40, Baldwin caught a six-yard pass for a first down at the 34.  Then Kearse got in on the action again and made a nice catch for a gain of 24 yards.  That set up a first and goal from the ten and Wilson found Baldwin who bounced off a couple of defenders and dove into the end zone.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 43-8 with 11:45 to go in the game.  That 11:45 was also known as “garbage time.”

Neither team scored again and the Seattle Seahawks came away with a 43-8 thrashing of the Denver Broncos for their first Super Bowl win.  Malcom Smith was named MVP as he had a great game with an interception for a touchdown, a fumble recovery and six solo tackles.  Their defense as a whole played very well.  Although they registered only one sack, they pressured Manning throughout the game, forced four turnovers and rarely let the Denver receivers get loose for big gains.  All in all, it was a very impressive performance by the Seahawks and the Broncos are now the only team to lose five Super Bowls.  Their overall record in Super Bowls is 2-5.

For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 18 of 25 for 206 yards and two touchdowns.  He also had 26 yards rushing on three carries.  Doug Baldwin led the team in receptions with five and receiving yards with 66 and a touchdown.  On the ground, Percy Harvin had the most rushing yards with 45 on two carries.  The Broncos did a good job of containing Marshawn Lynch as he finished the game with 39 yards on 15 carries.  18 of those yards came on one carry.  All totaled, the Seahawks rushed for 135 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, Kam Chancellor and Malcolm Smith tied for the lead in solo tackles with six.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 34 of 49 for 280 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  Demaryius Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions and he also had the most receiving yards with 118 and a touchdown.  There isn’t much to talk about when it comes to the Denver ground game.  Knowshon Moreno led the team in rushing with 17 yards on five carries.  They finished the game with a total of 27 yards on 14 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Danny Trevathan led the team in solo tackles with seven and he had one tackle for a loss.

And that’s that.  I enjoyed writing these playoff articles and I’ll be returning as the Raider Guy later in the year.  Up next is the combine, then free agency starts and then the draft will take place in May.  Until then, take it easy.

 

Seattle 23, San Francisco 17

The NFC championship game featured two NFC west rivals as the San Francisco 49ers headed to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.  The 49ers were coming off a 23-10 win over the Carolina Panthers and the Seahawks made it to the next round by defeating the New Orleans Saints by a score of 23-15.  The loud Seattle crowd was pumped up for this one as the Seahawks started at their 20.  On first down, quarterback Russell Wilson rolled to his left and looked for an open receiver.  He was greeted rudely by linebacker Aldon Smith who sacked him for a loss of seven, forced the ball loose and while Wilson was trying to locate the ball, Smith recovered it at the Seattle 15.  That excellent field position for the 49ers would only result in a field goal attempt as the Seahawk defense was up to the task of keeping the 49ers out of the end zone.  Kicker Phil Dawson made his 25-yard attempt and the 49ers led 3-0 with 12:45 to go in the first quarter.

Both defenses were playing well and the next three possessions resulted in punts.  But with 14:49 remaining in the second quarter, the 49ers took over at their 14.  On third and nine from the 15, quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree.  The pass was incomplete, but cornerback Richard Sherman was flagged for defensive holding.  That kept the San Francisco offense on the field and seemed to energize Kaepernick.  Two scrambles by Kaepernick netted 70 yards and the 49ers were knocking on the door as they had a first and goal from the Seattle ten-yard line.  Running back Frank Gore got the call on first and second down and gained nine yards.  That was followed by what was thought to be a touchdown run by running back Anthony Dixon.  But the replay showed he came up just short of the goal line.  With the ball being literally inches away from the end zone, they decided to go for it.  Dixon ran up the middle again and this time there was no doubt he was in the end zone for a touchdown.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that starting guard Mike Iupati was injured on the play and would not return.  Dawson made the point after and the 49ers led 10-0 with ten minutes to go in the first half.

The Seahawks started at their 24 and Wilson got the drive off to a good start with a seven-yard completion to wide receiver Doug Baldwin.  On third and three from the 31, Wilson kept the drive going with a four-yard completion to wide receiver Golden Tate.  A short run by running back Marshawn Lynch set up a second and seven from the 38.  Wilson took the snap and ran to his right, then to his left, then backwards, then he spotted Baldwin wide open and heaved a deep pass down the middle where Baldwin caught it for a gain of 51 yards.  Baldwin was injured on the play, but he would return soon.  After that brilliant play, the Seahawks went nowhere and had to settle for a field goal attempt.  Kick Steven Hauschka made his 32-yard attempt and the 49ers now led 10-3 with 5:47 to go in the first half.

The 49ers gained a grand total of zero yards on three plays and punter Andy Lee got off a 43-yard punt that was downed at the Seattle 37-yard line.  Four carries by Lynch and a nine-yard completion to Baldwin on third and eight from the 49 got the Seahawks a first down at the San Francisco 42.  They would get as far as the 38 and on fourth and six, Seattle head coach Pete Carrol decided to go for it.  Wilson looked for Tate, but it was incomplete.  After the play, the flags came flying and our good friend Jim Harbaugh went out of his mind again.  Jim, what did I tell you about all that ranting and raving that you do?  The penalty was a personal foul on cornerback Carlos Rogers but it was a dead ball foul.  That meant that the 49ers would get the ball back at their 23-yard line.  Kaepernick took a knee to end the half and the score remained 10-3.

The 49ers got the ball to start the second half and only managed to get one first before Lee punted the ball away again.  Tate fielded it at the Seattle 30 and returned it ten yards to the 40.  It was time for Mr. Lynch to get into his “Beast Mode.”  He ran up the middle on first down for a gain of 11 and followed that up with a five-yard carry.  Wilson found Baldwin on second and five for a gain of four yards and that set up a third and one from the San Francisco 40.  Lynch took the hand-off, started to his right, cut back to the left, bounced off a blocker and headed up the right side for a 40-yard touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the score was tied at ten with 9:51 to go in the third quarter.

The 49ers took over at their 17 and Gore ran up the right side for nine yards.  Running back Kendall Hunter followed that up with a gain of two and a first down at the 28.  From the 28, Kaepernick threw one down the middle for Crabtree that was caught for a gain of 22 yards.  Following that, Kaepernick scrambled up the left side for 22 more and a first down at the Seattle 28.  Kaepernick was sacked for a loss of eight by defensive end Michael Bennett.  He fumbled, but the ball was recovered by center Jonathan Goodwin.  Goodwin then proceeded to turn into a running back and he was dragged down at the 26.  From the 26, Kaepernick looked for wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the end zone.  Although safety Earl Thomas was in position to pick the pass off, Boldin came down with it for a touchdown.  Dawson made the point after and the 49ers took a 17-10 lead with 6:29 to go in the third quarter.

Dawson’s kickoff went three yards deep in the end zone and Baldwin ran it up the right side for a gain of 69 yards.  That was just what the Seahawks needed to tie the game up again.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Aside from a 13-yard completion to Tate, they went nowhere.  Hauschka came on for a 40-yard field goal attempt and the kick was good.  That made it 17-13 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.

The 49ers got the ball back at their 20, went nowhere and Lee punted again.  Tate fielded it at the Seattle 38 and was brought down immediately.  11 yards on two carries by Lynch and a 13-yarder to Baldwin moved them to the San Francisco 38.  Running back Robert Turbin got four yards on first down, but an intentional grounding penalty moved them back to the 50.  From there, Wilson found tight end Zach Miller for a gain of 15 and that was enough to get Hauschka into field goal range.  He was late getting onto the field, but it looked like there was enough time to get the play off.  Instead, the Seahawks called timeout and brought their offense back on the field.  Smith jumped offside and that gave Wilson a free play.  He took full advantage of the situation and fired a pass to the right side of the end zone.  It was caught by wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks went up 20-17 with 13:44 to go in the game.

A holding call on the kickoff moved the 49ers back to their 11-yard line.  Passes to tight end Vernon Davis and Boldin netted a first down at the 25.  A three-yard carry by Hunter and a six-yard scramble by Kaepernick set up a third and one.  But a delay of game moved them back five yards and on third and six from the 29, Kaepernick was sacked by defensive end Cliff Avril and the ball was recovered by Bennett.  Although Bennett had a nice convoy of blockers to lead him to the end zone, he stumbled over his own feet and was touched down at the San Francisco six-yard line.

Lynch got the call on first down and was stopped for a short gain.  A false start moved them back five yards and a pass to Tate was incomplete.  Then the fun began.  Wilson completed a pass to Kearse down the middle for nine yards.  At the one, he was hit by linebacker NaVorro Bowman.  Not only was he hit, Bowman clearly took the ball away from Kearse.  A huge pileup ensued and Bowman was hurt on the play.  He would leave the game with a torn ACL.  To add insult to injury, not one of the seven zebras saw Bowman take the ball from Kearse.  They ruled that Seattle would maintain possession and that the play was not reviewable.  It would have been reviewable if it had occurred in the end zone or the sideline.  All I can say to that is “WOW!”  Seriously?  You can’t challenge that?  I thought that was it for Harbaugh.  But he didn’t storm the field and after Bowman was carted off, order was restored.  The Seahawks decided to go for it on fourth down and everyone knew Lynch was going to get the call.  However, he couldn’t handle the hand-off and the ball came loose.  It rolled backwards and was recovered at the 15 by fullback Michael Robinson.

Given new life, the 49ers took over at the 15.  Things got off to a good start as Hunter ran up the right side for 11 yards.  But on first down from the 26, Kaepernick looked for Boldin on the left side and threw a terrible pass that was picked off by safety Kam Chancellor at the 40.  He was touched down at the 40 and once again, the Seahawks had good field position.  On third and eight from the 38, Wilson found Tate for ten yards and a first down at the 28.  On second and eight from the 26, the Seahawks were flagged for offensive pass interference.  That moved them back to the 36.  They got as far as the 29 and Hauschka was brought into the game again.  His 47-yard field goal attempt was good and the Seahawks led 23-17 with 3:37 to go in the game.

The 49ers went to work from their 22 and running back LaMichael James ran up the right side on first down and looked like he was going to throw.  Apparently there was nobody open and he was brought down for no gain.  Kaepernick found Boldin for eight on second down, but his pass on third down fell incomplete.  That set up a crucial fourth and two.  Kaepernick took the snap, rolled to his left and tossed a 17-yard pass to Gore for a first down at the 47.  Kaepernick scrambled for four yards on first down and hooked up with Boldin for four more.  It was now third and two from the Seattle 45-yard line.  Kaepernick calmly threw to his left and the ball was caught for a gain of 16 yards and a first down at the 29.  The 49ers stopped the clock with their first timeout.  From the 29, Kaepernick found Davis for 11 more and things were looking real good for the 49ers.  Well, maybe not.  From the 18, Kaepernick threw to the right corner of the end zone for Crabtree.  The pass was tipped by Sherman and picked off by linebacker Malcolm Smith.  That sealed the deal.  Sherman was flagged for taunting after the play and the Seahawks took over at their ten and ran the clock out from there.  Final score: Seattle 23 San Francisco 17.

For the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick completed 14 of 24 for 153 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  He also led the team in rushing with 130 yards on 11 carries.  Anquan Boldin had the most receptions with five and the most receiving yards with 53 and a touchdown.  With the exception of Kaepernick, the 49ers went nowhere on the ground. Gore, James, Hunter and Dixon combined for 31 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.  All totaled, they had 161 yards rushing on 28 carries.  Defensively, NaVorro Bowman led the team in solo tackles with six.  He also had a sack, a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery that nobody in a striped shirt saw.

For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 16 of 25 for 215 yards and one touchdown.  Doug Baldwin led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 106.  Marshawn Lynch had a good day on the ground and finished the game with 109 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown.  All totaled, the Seahawks rushed for 115 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner tied for the lead in solo tackles with five apiece.  Chancellor also had an interception.

Well, the stage is set for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 2nd.  It will be the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos fighting it out for the Lombardi Trophy.  Kickoff will be at 6:25 eastern time.  I have not seen too many teams slow down the Denver offense and the “Legion of Boom” will definitely have their hands full.  All I want to see is a good game and it should be a good one.  It would also be kind of cool if a snowstorm hit too.  Snow or not, I’m sure it will be cold outside.  Until then, take it easy.

 

Broncos 26, Patriots 16

The first game on the schedule for championship weekend had the New England Patriots traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos.  The Patriots were coming off a dominant 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts and the Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers by a score of 24-17.  Denver won the toss and deferred to the second half.  The Patriots started at their 20 and gained a grand total of five yards on their first possession.  Punter Ryan Allen hit a 60-yard punt that was downed at the Denver 15.

Quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver offense took the field and immediately went in to their no huddle offense.  Short passes to wide receiver Eric Decker, tight end Julius Thomas and a three-yard carry by running back Knowshon Moreno moved the ball to the 30.  Another completion to Decker went for 21 yards and the Broncos were at the New England 49-yard line.  They went no further than that and punter Britton Colquitt sent his punt through the end zone for a touch-back.

The Patriots went three and out again the Broncos started at their 18.  Completions to Moreno and J. Thomas quickly got them a first down at the 42.  On third and ten, Manning went deep for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and the play went for 29 yards.  From the New England 29, Manning looked for Decker again and found him for ten more yards.  They would gain only one more yard and kicker Matt Prater came on for a 27-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Broncos led 3-0 with 3:43 to go in the first quarter.

After running six plays and gaining 12 yards, quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots finally got a first down as he found running back Shame Vereen for a gain of 24 yards.  On third and five from the 49, Brady completed a pass good for 18 yards to wide receiver Julian Edelman.  On third and ten from the 33, wide receiver Austin Collie caught a pass for eight yards.  However, the Patriots were flagged for offensive pass interference and that pretty much killed their momentum.  Allen punted and the ball was downed at the seven-yard line.

From the seven, Moreno ran off left tackle for a gain of 11 yards.  Moreno got the call on the next play and was stuffed for a gain of one.  From the 19, Manning threw a perfect pass to D. Thomas, but he couldn’t find the handle and the pass was incomplete.  During the play, wide receiver Wes Welker put one hell of a hit on cornerback Aqib Talib and Talib would leave the game with a knee injury.  That incomplete pass made it third and nine.  Manning completed a 14-yard pass to Welker for a first down at the 33.  On third and one from the 42, Manning threw for Decker and the pass was incomplete.  But the drive was kept alive by a holding call on the Patriots.  That gave the Broncos a first down at the 47.  A short carry by Moreno and a 12-yard pass to running back Montee Ball  got the Broncos yet another first down at the New England 39.  Two incomplete passes set up a third and ten and the Patriots were expecting a pass.  That wasn’t the case as Moreno ran off right tackle for a gain of 28 yards.  Three carries by Ball made it first and goal from the one and their 93-yard drive was capped off with a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Tamme.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 10-3 with 7:50 to go in the first half.

The Patriots went to work from their 20 and got the drive off to a good start as Brady hooked up with wide receiver Aaron Dobson for a gain of 27 yards.  A three-yard carry by running back LeGarrette Blount and a 13-yarder to Vereen moved the Patriots to the Denver 37.  Blount got the call again and was promptly stuffed again for a gain of two.  From the 35, Brady completed a pass good for 15 yards to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui.  The next two plays gained two yards and Brady was sacked for a loss of eight on third down by defensive end Robert Ayers.  Kicker Stephen Gostkowski came on for a field goal attempt and had no problem making it from 47 yards.  The Broncos now led 10-3 with 2:54 to go in the first half.

There was plenty of time for the Broncos to put up some more points before halftime.  However, Moreno was stopped on first down for a loss of one and a holding call moved them back to the ten-yard line.  But two passes to D. Thomas gained 53 yards and the Broncos were in New England territory again.  Short completions to Ball and Welker moved them down to the 26.  On fourth and one from the 17, Denver head coach John Fox opted to try a field goal instead of going for it.  Prater made his 35-yard attempt and at halftime, the Broncos were up 13-3.

About the last thing the New England defense needed was another long drive by the Broncos.  They needed to force a three and out to get the ball back in Brady’s hands.  On second and nine from the 21, Manning looked to the left side for Decker and that play was good for 18 yards and a first down at the 39.  A six-yard carry by Moreno, a five-yard carry by Ball and a 15-yard completion to J. Thomas put the Broncos at the New England 40.  Another good carry by Ball and an eight-yard pass to Decker gave the Broncos another first down at the 27.  Two more completions to J. Thomas moved them to the 15.  A seven-yard carry by Moreno and a five-yard carry by Ball made it first and goal from the three.  From the three, Manning calmly tossed a pass to D. Thomas in the end zone for another Bronco touchdown.  Prater made the point after and Broncos were looking good with a 20-3 lead with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter.

The Patriots started at their 20 and short completions to Dobson, Vereen and Collie quickly moved them to the 36.  On third and five from the 41, Collie caught another pass for a gain of 12 and a first down at the Denver 47-yard line.  A nine-yard carry and a two-yard “scramble” by Brady netted another first down at the 36.  The next three plays gained seven yards and instead of trying a field goal, New England head coach Bill Belichick decided to go for it on fourth and three.  That was a bad idea as Brady was sacked for a loss of ten by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton.

With 2:25 to go in the third quarter, the Broncos took over at their 39 and looked for another score to put the nail in the coffin.  Ball was thrown for a loss of two on first down, but Manning came back with a 14-yarder to J. Thomas.  From the New England 49, Manning went deep again for D. Thomas and he hauled it in for a gain of 30 and a first down at the 19.  From the 19, Ball ran up the middle for seven.  He gained two yards on the next play, but the Broncos were flagged for holding.  That moved them back to the 22 and Manning found J. Thomas for a gain of 14.  Moreno ran up the left side for a gain of three, but the Broncos were flagged again for holding and that moved the ball back to the 18.  From the 18, Manning found Welker for a gain of 16 to put them at the two-yard line.  J. Thomas was stopped short of the end zone on the next play and on third and goal from the one, Manning lofted a pass to the right corner of the end zone intended for J. Thomas.  He couldn’t get control of the ball and it was incomplete.  Prater came into the game again and his 19-yard field goal attempt was good.  That put Denver up 23-3 with 12 minutes to go in the game.

From the 20, Brady and the New England offense quickly got the ball rolling into Denver territory with completions to Edelman, Collie and Hoomanawanui.  From the Denver 26 Brady hooked up with Vereen two times for 19 yards and a first down at the seven.  Two plays later, Edelman got open again and Brady found him in the end zone for a touchdown.  Gostkowski made the point after and the Broncos now led 23-10 with 9:26 remaining in the game.

The Broncos started this drive from their 25 and on second and ten, Manning looked for J. Thomas and found him for a gain of 37 yards.  They got as far as the New England 36 and the drive stalled there.  Prater was called on once again and his 54-yarder was good.  With seven minutes to go, the Broncos increased their lead to 26-10.

The Patriots started out from their 20 again and three completions to Edelman and a nine-yard carry by Vereen moved them to the Denver 41.  Vereen got another carry and it was good for 11 yards and a first down at the 30.  Brady then found Collie for 18 and Edelman for seven more.  On second and three from the five, Brady took it in himself for a touchdown.  They had to go for two and Vereen came up just short.  The Broncos now led 26-16 with 3:07 remaining in the game.  An onside kick was the only thing the Patriots could do and the kick was recovered by Decker.  A 23-yard pass to Tamme and some more carries by Ball kept the clock moving and the Broncos went to win by a score of 26-16.  That win got them a ticket to the Super Bowl where they will play the winner of the San Francisco-Seattle game.

For the Patriots, Tom Brady completed 24 of 38 for 277 yards and one touchdown.  He also ran for a score.  Leading the way in receptions was Julian Edelman with ten.  Edelman also had the most receiving yards with 89 and a touchdown.  The running game that worked so well against the Colts didn’t do very well in this game.  As a team, the Patriots only had 64 rushing yards on 16 carries.  Vereen led the team with 34 yards on four carries.  Defensively, cornerback Devin McCourty led the Patriots in solo tackles with ten.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 32 of 43 for 400 yards and two touchdowns.  Julius Thomas led the way in receptions with eight and Demaryius Thomas had the most receiving yards with 134 and a touchdown.  On the ground, Knowshon Moreno led the team with 59 yards on 14 carries.  As a team, the Broncos rushed for 107 yards on 28 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Danny Trevathan led the team in solo tackles with eight.  The telling stat in this game was time of possession.  The Broncos held on to the ball for nearly 36 minutes, racked up 27 first downs and went 7 for 13 on third down conversions.  They were the better team and this will be their first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl XXXIII when they defeated the Atlanta Falcons by a score 34-19.

 

Broncos 24, Chargers 17

The final game on the schedule was a battle between AFC West rivals as the San Diego Chargers headed to Denver to take on the Broncos.  The Chargers were coming off a 27-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and the Broncos were coming off a bye week.  Denver kicker Matt Prater sent the opening kickoff through the end zone and the Chargers started at their 20.  Running back Ryan Mathews got things off to a decent start with a five-yard carry.  Short passes from quarterback Philip Rivers to running back Ronnie Brown and tight end Ladarius Green got the Chargers a first down at the 33.  After a short run by Mathews, Rivers was sacked for a loss of nine on the next play.  On third and 17, running back Danny Woodhead ran up the middle for eight yards.  But they got a break as the Broncos were flagged for a facemask penalty.  The drive stalled at the 43 and punter Matt Scifres got off a 51-yard punt that was fielded at the Denver six by return man/wide receiver Eric Decker.  Decker returned the punt six yards and the Broncos went to work from their 14-yard line.

The Broncos brought out the no huddle offense and passes to tight end Julius Thomas, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Decker already had the Chargers looking baffled.  Another completion to wide receiver Andre Caldwell set up a first down at the San Diego 29.  On third and one from the 21, running back Montee Ball ran off right tackle for a gain of five yards.  A seven-yard pass to D. Thomas and a four-yard run by Ball made it first and goal from the three.  Two plays later, Manning looked to his left and hooked up with D. Thomas for a touchdown.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 7-0 with 2:25 to go in the first quarter.

The Chargers ended up getting a grand total of minus two yards on their next possession.  Scifres punted again and the Broncos took over at their 42.  On third and two from the 50, Manning completed a short pass to J. Thomas who fumbled at the 45.  The ball was recovered at the 43 by cornerback Richard Marshall.  That was a good break for the Chargers and on the strength of some good running by Mathews and Woodhead, they moved down to the Denver 30.  On third down, Rivers was sacked for a loss of five by defensive end Malik Jackson.  That brought kicker Nick Novak into the game for a 53-yard field goal attempt.  On the attempt, his plant foot slipped and the kick sailed wide left.

The Broncos had dodged a bullet and started with good field position from their 43.  A holding call moved them back ten yards, but they got 12 of it back as Manning hit running back Knowshon Moreno out of the backfield.  This is when the offside penalties started occurring.  As usual, Manning would do his usual long counts and yell “Omaha” over and over again.  On second and eight from the 45, the Chargers jumped offside and that gave the Broncos five free yards.  On second and three, Moreno burst up the middle for a gain of 11 and a first down at the San Diego 39.  Two more carries by Ball got them another first down at the 22.  From the 22, Ball got the call again and gained four yards.  From the 18, the Chargers fell for the Omaha call again and jumped offside.  From the 13, Moreno ran up the middle for five more yards and a first and goal from the eight.  Moreno got yet another carry and gained five more yards.  Two plays later, Manning fired a pass to wide receiver Wes Welker on the left side and he took it in for the score.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 14-0 with six minutes to go in the first half.

The Chargers gained 14 yards on their next “drive” and Scifres punted again.  Decker fielded the punt at the Denver 23 and returned it straight up the middle for a gain of 47 yards.  If he hadn’t tripped over his own feet at the 30, he would have scored.  On first down, Manning hooked up with D. Thomas for nine yards.  On second and one, Moreno was stuffed for no gain.  The Broncos really needed to keep this drive going.  A 21-0 lead just might be insurmountable for the hapless Charger offense.  That’s when Manning used the magic word.  He screamed “Omaha!” again and sure enough, the Chargers jumped offside.  That made it first down at the 16.  Moreno got the call two more times and gained 12 yards for a first and goal at the four.  Moreno was stopped for no gain on first down and a pass to Decker fell incomplete.  On third down, Manning looked for Decker again, but the pass was intercepted by linebacker Donald Butler in the end zone.  The Chargers took a knee and the first half ended with the Broncos leading 14-0.

A decent kickoff return by return man Trindon Holliday gave the Broncos the ball at their 36.  A nine-yard pass to D. Thomas, two carries by Moreno and yet another nine-yard pass to D. Thomas netted a first down at the San Diego 41.  From the 41, Manning fired a strike to J. Thomas for eight yards.  On third and one from the 32, Manning found Welker at the 26 for another first down.  After that, they went nowhere and Prater came on for a 45-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Broncos were now up 17-0 with 9:35 to go in the third quarter.

With Mathews out with an injured ankle, Woodhead and Brown would get the carries for the rest of the game.  Of course, if you’re down by 17 midway through the third quarter, the running game probably won’t be of much value.  On third and three from the 27, we finally had a Keenan Allen sighting.  The rookie wide receiver hauled in a pass from Rivers for a gain of 19 and a first down at the 46.  Denver cornerback Chris Harris was injured on this play and would not return.  He was later diagnosed with a torn ACL.  But they wouldn’t get much farther and they were forced to punt again.  Scifres had the heavy wind at his back and he hit a 62-yard punt through the end zone.

From the 20, Manning found Decker on the right side for a gain of 19.  He used that magic word again and the Chargers jumped offside.  That moved the ball to the 44.  Ball ran up the middle for eight and Manning completed an eight-yard pass to Welker.  Ball carried again up the middle for four more yards and a first down at the 36.  Then the Chargers jumped offside again.  This is a recording.  Despite the lack of discipline, the Chargers tightened up and the drive stalled at the 29.  The normally automatic Prater had some trouble with the windy conditions and his kick sailed wide left.  With one minute to go in the third quarter, the Chargers got the ball back at their 37.

On second and ten, Rivers “scrambled” for six yards.  That’s something you don’t see every day.   That set up a third and four from the 43.  Rivers had time and found wide receiver Eddie Royal across the middle for a gain of 30 yards.  With Harris out, he was replaced by former Charger Quentin Jammer.  On the pass to Royal, Jammer looked totally lost.  An illegal use of hands penalty on Denver moved the Chargers five yards closer to the goal line.  Woodhead ran up the middle for six yards, but a completion to Woodhead was quickly snuffed out by the Denver defense.  On third and four from the 16, Rivers floated one up the right side and Allen came down with it in the end zone for a touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the Broncos led 17-7 with 13 minutes to go in the game.

Holliday had another good kick return, but it was brought back to the 19 because of an illegal block in the back penalty.  On third and seven, Manning went deep down the middle for Welker and the pass was incomplete.  But the Chargers were flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Broncos a first down at their 45.  From the San Diego 47 on third and two, Manning completed a 17-yard pass to J. Thomas.  This was a recurring theme in the game.  Whenever third down came up, Manning always seemed to look for J. Thomas.  The Chargers were unable to address that problem.  Manning found Welker again for six yards and Moreno ran up the left side and was pushed out of bounds at the ten.  Two plays later, Moreno took it up the middle for a score.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 24-7 with 8:12 remaining in the game.

The Chargers started out at their 20 and three plays gained five yards.  On fourth down, they had no choice but to go for it.  Rivers took the snap and fired a pass to Allen that was good for a gain of 49 yards.  On first down from the Denver 26, Rivers ran for a gain of five yards.  A short pass to Brown got them another first down at the 16.  From the 16, Rivers hooked up with Allen again and this time it was good for another touchdown.  Novak made the point after and we had the makings of a close game.  With 5:43 to go, the Broncos led 24-14.

The Chargers tried an onside kick and Marshall came up with the ball.  Rivers and the offense went to work from their 40-yard line.  On second and 14 from the 36, Rivers tossed a 17-yard completion to Allen for a first down at the Denver 47.  Allen wasn’t done and on second and five, he caught another pass for 25 yards and a first down at the 17.  The drive stalled at the 12 and Novak was brought into the game for a 30-yard field goal attempt.  He split the uprights and that made the score 24-17 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

There would be no onside kick this time as Novak kicked the ball deep in hopes that the defense could stop the Broncos.  From the 27, things didn’t get off to a good start for the Broncos as they were flagged for a false start.  Then Moreno was thrown for a loss of two yards.  On second and 17, Manning looked for D. Thomas and the pass fell incomplete.  That brought up third down.  Who do you think Manning will look for?  Welker?  Decker?  Moreno?  Shannon Sharpe?  None of those choices are correct.  The answer is Julius Thomas.  Out of the shotgun, Manning threw a deep ball to the right and sure enough Thomas grabbed it for a gain on 21 and a first down at the 41.  That was a damaging blow to the hopes of Charger fans.  Moreno ran up the middle for a short gain and the Chargers called their second timeout.  Moreno got the call on second down and was held to a minimal gain.  The Chargers called their final timeout.  Uh-oh.  It’s third down again.  You don’t think that evil #80 is going to get the ball again do you?  It was third and six and Manning knew a first down would get them a win and a ticket to the AFC championship game.  He calmly took the snap out of the shotgun and completed a nine-yard pass to J. Thomas yet again.  That did it.  The Chargers couldn’t stop the clock and a couple more runs by Moreno and a kneel down by Manning ended the game.  Final score: Broncos 24 Chargers 17.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 18 of 27 for 217 yards and two touchdowns.  Keenan Allen led all receivers in receptions with six and receiving yards with 142 and two touchdowns.  As a team, the Chargers rushed for just 65 yards on 18 carries.  Danny Woodhead was the leading rusher with 29 yards on nine carries.  Their longest gain on the ground was a 16-yard carry by Ryan Mathews.  Defensively, cornerback Marcus Gilchrist led the team in solo tackles with seven.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 25 of 36 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Demaryius Thomas had the most receptions with eight and Julius Thomas had the most receiving yards with 76.  The Broncos had a good day on the ground as they totaled 133 yards on 34 carries.  Knowshon Moreno was the leading rusher with 82 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.  Defensively, cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey tied for the lead in solo tackles with four apiece.  The Broncos sacked Rivers four times and defensive end Shaun Phillips led the team with two.

Well, the road to the Super Bowl goes through Denver.  Tom Brady and the Patriots will be in Denver on Sunday and I look forward to what should be a high scoring game.