November 21, 2014

Just Win In The Rain, Baby!

Up next for the Raiders was a Thursday night home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Chiefs were coming off a big 24-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks and the Raiders were coming off a tough 13-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers.  As the rain poured down, kicker Sebastian Janikowksi sent the opening kickoff into the end zone and the Chiefs started at their 20-yard line.

Aside from a five-yard carry by running back Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs went nowhere and punted the ball away.  Punter Dustin Colquitt hit a huge 69-yard punt that was downed at the Oakland 15-yard line.  The Raiders managed to get one first down before punting the ball right back to the Chiefs.  The Raider defense played well on this possession and forced another three and out.  This time, Colquitt didn’t get all of it and the ball was downed at the Oakland 40-yard line.  This drive got off to a nice start as quarterback Derek Carr connected with wide receiver Vincent Brown for a gain of 19 and a first down at the Kansas City 41.  That was followed by a short carry by running back Darren McFadden and an 11-yard completion to wide receiver James Jones.  From the 27, running back Latavius Murray got in on the action and took it up the middle for a gain of six.  Two plays later, Carr found wide receiver Brice Butler and that play was good for a first down at the 11-yard line.  Murray finished the drive as he ran untouched up the left side for a touchdown.  It was the first rushing touchdown the Chiefs have allowed all year.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0.

As the rain continued, both offenses had trouble moving the ball.  With 12:40 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders took over at their ten-yard line.  This “drive” would last only about 12 seconds.  That’s because Murray ran up the middle, cut to his left and saw nothing but green grass in front of him.  He took it to the end zone for a 90-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 14-0 with 12:28 to go in the first half.

The Chiefs took over at their 20 and got off to a good start with nine-yard carries by running back De’Anthony Thomas and Charles.  On second and ten from the 37, quarterback Alex Smith connected with tight end Anthony Fasano for a gain of 11 and a first down at the 48.  They would get as far as the Oakland 44 and they were forced to punt from there.  Back to receive the punt was wide receiver Denarius Moore.  All of a sudden, I got a bad feeling.  Something was about to happen that Raider fans wouldn’t like.  The punt was high and Moore got under it, but the ball went right through his arms and was pounced on by linebacker Frank Zombo.  That gave the Chiefs excellent field position at the Oakland 11-yard line.  I can’t repeat all the obscenities I screamed at the television after that play.  That was the last we would be seeing of Mr. Moore.  The good news is the Raider defense was up to the task of stopping the Chiefs.  Charles ran up the middle for a gain of six on first down.  Smith looked for Charles on second down, but the pass was incomplete.  That set up a very big third and four from the five-yard line.  Smith had plenty of time to find a receiver and fired a pass to Thomas.  He was hit hard at the two-yard line by safety Brandian Ross and the pass fell incomplete.  Kicker Cairo Santos came on and his 24-yard field goal attempt was good.  The Raiders led 14-3 with 7:19 to go in the first half.

Murray returned the kickoff to the 25, but a holding call moved the Raiders back to the 15.  On third and three from the 22, Murray got another carry and it was good for a first down.  However, he was a victim of a helmet to helmet hit by safety Kurt Coleman.  The ball came loose and was recovered by the Raiders.  Murray would leave the game with a possible concussion and would not return.  That was bad news for the Raiders and the drive was halted at the 39 as McFadden came up just short of the first down marker on third and three.  King punted and the Chiefs still couldn’t get their offense going.  The first half ended with the Raiders leading 14-3.

Both teams punted on their first possessions of the second half.  At the 9:44 mark, the Raiders got the ball back at the Kansas City 49-yard line.  A short completion to McFadden and a six-yard carry by McFadden set up a third and one at the 40.  I was expecting to see a running play, but the Raiders came out with an empty backfield and Carr completed a two-yard pass to Jones for a first down at the 38.  On third and seven from the 22, Carr went deep up the right sideline for wide receiver Andre Holmes.  It was incomplete, but there was a flag on the play and early indications were it was defensive pass interference.  No such luck.  It was ruled that Holmes “voluntarily” ran out of bounds and therefore there was no penalty.  That meant it was time for Janikowski to try a 40-yard field goal.  It wasn’t the best kick I’ve ever seen him make, but he snuck it inside the left upright and it was good.  With 5:05 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders led 17-3.

Return man Knile Davis returned the kickoff to the 40 and the Chiefs had good field position to start their next drive.  Passes to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, tight end Travis Kelce and Thomas quickly moved the Chiefs to the Oakland 28-yard line.  On second and six from the 24, Charles ran for ten yards, but the ball was knocked loose.  Linebacker Khalil Mack was in prime position to recover the ball, but he couldn’t corral it and Thomas recovered it at the 14.  While all this was going on, a flag was thrown and the Chiefs were penalized for an illegal block above the waist.  That moved them back to the 30 and Smith found Kelce for a gain of 11.  That made third and one from the 19.  The Raiders were expecting Charles to get another carry and brought some heavy pressure up the middle.  The only problem with that is that Charles didn’t have the ball.  Standing all by himself with no one around him was Fasano.  Smith saw him and he completed a very easy 19-yard touchdown pass.  Santos made the point after and the Chiefs trailed 17-10 with 1:52 to go in the third quarter.

Aside from a nice 37-yard pass to Holmes, the Raiders didn’t have much success on their next drive and were forced to punt again.  The Chiefs took over at their 35 and marched right down the field.  What the hell happened to the Raider defense?  There was no pressure on Smith, receivers were wide open and there were missed tackles all over the field.  Unfortunately, that’s something that’s been happening to the Raiders for a long time.  A 27-yard pass to Kelce moved the Chiefs to the Oakland 38.  Despite being flagged for two holding penalties, the Chiefs were able to find the end zone.  On second and 16 from the 30, Smith found Charles open in the middle of the field and Charles did the rest as he avoided several defenders on his way to the end zone.  Santos made the point after and just like that, the score was knotted at 17 with 12:20 to go in the game.

The Raiders gained three yards on their next possession and punted.  Return man Frankie Hammond fielded the punt at the Kansas City 35 and returned it to the Oakland 37.  That gave the Chiefs excellent field position.  On first down, Smith found wide receiver Albert Wilson wide open for a gain of 23 yards and a first down at the 14.  A short scramble by Smith and a five yard pass set up a crucial third and three.  The Raiders brought the pressure and the pass fell incomplete.  Still, the Chiefs could take the lead if Santos made the 25-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Chiefs led 20-17 with nine minutes to go in the game.

When the Raiders took over at their 20, there was no sign of McFadden or Jones-Drew.  Fullback Marcel Reece was the one who would be doing the dirty work.  Reece carried the ball three times and caught an eight-yard pass to quickly move the ball to the 48.  After that, Carr was sacked for a loss of two by defensive end Justin Houston.  On second and 12, Carr completed an 11-yard pass to Butler to move the Raiders into Kansas City territory.  Once again, the Raiders were in another third and one situation.  I thought Reece would be the man to go to again.  Wrong.  It was a pass intended for tight end Mychal Rivera that was almost intercepted.  So, it was now fourth and one.  Who will it be this time?  Reece?  McFadden?  Marcus Allen?  Bo Jackson?  None of the above.  Carr took it himself and got just enough for a first down at the 42.  Reece got another carry and grinded out four tough yards.  Carr went deep for Holmes on the next play.  He was open, but the ball was poorly thrown and again, it was almost intercepted.  That made it third and six.  Carr stood tall in the pocket and connected with Rivera across the middle for a gain of eight and a first down at the 30.

From the 30, Carr went deep for Jones and the pass was incomplete.  Like always, offensive coordinator Greg Olson called for a running play on second down after an incompletion on first down. The Chiefs were well aware of this and Reece was stuffed for a short gain.  From the 29, Carr threw to Holmes on the right sideline.  There was lots of contact while the ball was in the air and safety Ron Parker was flagged for defensive pass interference.  That gave the Raiders new life and a first down at the 20.  Two carries by Reece netted nine yards and Carr ran up the middle for two yards and a first down at the nine.  From the nine, Carr had all the time he needed to find a receiver and he found Jones in the end zone for a Raider touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders led 24-20 with 1:42 to go in the game.

Janikowski sent the kickoff nine yards deep into the end zone, but Thomas ran it out and I sincerely believe if safety Larry Asante hadn’t been in perfect position, Thomas would have had himself a 109-yard kick return.  Thomas was pushed out of bounds at the Kansas City 39-yard line.  The Chiefs had no timeouts and 61 yards to go to get themselves a win.  From the 39, Smith was pressured by Mack.  Despite having a firm grasp on Smith’s jersey, Mack was unable to bring him down and Smith got off a pass down the middle to Bowe.  It bounced before it got there and was ruled incomplete.  That was followed by a seven-yard pass to Wilson.  An illegal formation penalty was called on the Chiefs and Raider head coach Tony Sparano declined it.  That made it fourth and three from the 46.

One more stop and the game would be won by the Raiders.  It would be their first win of the year.  Surely they could get a stop here, right?  Wrong.  Smith looked for Bowe and the pass was incomplete.  But, there were several flags on the play.  Safety Charles Woodson and cornerback DJ Hayden were flagged for defensive holding.  Not only that, defensive end Benson Mayowa was flagged for hands to the face.  The penalty on Mayowa was enforced and the Chiefs had a first down at the Oakland 49.  From the 49, Charles ran for a gain of four yards.  That was followed by an incomplete pass intended for Kelce.  Now, it was third and six from the 45.  The Raiders brought the pressure and Smith was sacked by linebacker Sio Moore.  I guess they thought that was fourth down, because several Raiders were way behind the line of scrimmage celebrating.  That caused me to go off.  I screamed “THAT WAS ONLY THIRD DOWN!  WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU GUYS DOING?  GET BACK TO THE LINE!!!!”  See, this is why you have to have veteran leadership on your team.  Defensive end Justin Tuck alertly called timeout and the Raiders were spared an offside penalty.  So, it was now fourth and 13 from the Kansas City 48-yard line.  Smith took the snap, felt little pressure and threw a pass to the left side intended for Hammond.  It was incomplete and that sealed the deal.  The Raiders finally got a win!  Dating back to last year, they had lost 16 consecutive games.  That’s the equivalent of an entire season.  It wasn’t pretty.  As a matter of fact, it was downright ugly at times.  But that doesn’t matter.  All that matters is the final score.  Raiders 24 Chiefs 20.

For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 20 of 36 for 234 yards and two touchdown passes.  Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles tied for the lead in receptions with four and Kelce had the most receiving yards with 67.  The last time Charles visited Oakland, he decimated the Raiders with five touchdowns.  In this game, he was the leading rusher with 80 yards on 19 carries and only one touchdown.  As a team, the Chiefs rushed for 96 yards on 24 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Josh Mauga and safety Ron Parker tied for the lead in solo tackles with six apiece.  The Chiefs had their opportunities in this game as there were several dropped passes by their defensive backs.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 18 of 35 for 174 yards and one touchdown pass.  Andre Holmes and James Jones tied for the lead in receptions with five and Holmes had the most receiving yards with 55.  The ground game got a huge boost from Latavius Murray.  Despite having only four carries and leaving the game early, he had 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns.  My question is why did the coaching staff wait until week 11 to give him some carries?  Marcel Reece also did an admirable job running the ball with 37 yards on eight carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 179 yards on 30 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Miles Burris and safety Larry Asante tied for the lead in solo tackles with eight apiece.  Charles Woodson had himself a solid game with seven solo tackles and a sack.  He became the first player in NFL history to record 50 interceptions and 20 sacks.

This was a very special night in Oakland and even the torrential rain couldn’t screw it up.   Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy received his ring and there were several Hall of Famers at the game.  Maybe having so many great players back in Oakland got the Raiders fired up.  Like I said, it wasn’t pretty, but they got the win.  I can’t count how many times the great Raider teams of the past had wins in this exact same fashion.  I know it’s only one win, but the last thing I wanted to see was an 0-16 season.  Up next is a trip to St. Louis to take on the Rams.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Different Week, Same Result

The tenth game of the year for the Oakland Raiders was a trip down south to San Diego to take on the Chargers.  The Raiders were coming off a horrid 41-17 loss to the Denver Broncos and the Chargers were coming off their bye week.  The Raiders got the ball first and started at their own 22.  They wouldn’t have the ball very long because quarterback Derek Carr and center Stefen Wisniewski weren’t on the same page.  The ball came loose on the first snap of the game and was recovered by linebacker Donald Butler at the 22.  Two plays later, quarterback Philip Rivers found wide receiver Malcolm Floyd in the end zone for a touchdown.  Kicker Nick Novak made the point after and the Chargers led 7-0 with 14:07 to go in the first quarter.

After each team punted on their next possession, the Raiders took over at their 30-yard line.  The drive started out like it always does.  Running back Darren McFadden ran up the middle for two yards.  On third and eight, Carr completed a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Andre Holmes for a first down at the 41.  That was followed by a nice catch and run by tight end Mychal Rivera for a gain of 33 yards and a first down at the San Diego 26.  See what happens when you stretch the field?  You actually gain some yardage and get in position to score.  You might even score a touchdown!  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  Well, that didn’t happen.  The next three plays consisted of a short completion to Rivera, a run up the middle by fullback Marcel Reece for no gain and a shovel pass to McFadden.  The shovel pass play was set up nicely with lots of blockers in front of McFadden.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t paying attention and he dropped the ball.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came into the game and his 42-yard field goal attempt was good.  The Chargers led 7-3 with 7:27 to go in the first quarter.

Then the punting began.  Punters Marquette King and Mike Scifres both had good workouts in this game.  Each of them punted nine times for a grand total of 826 yards.  That’s pretty impressive, but if you like a game with a lot of offense, this one wasn’t for you.  At the 9:39 mark of the second quarter, the Chargers took over at their 43-yard line.  On second and nine from the 44, Rivers found tight end Antonio Gates for a gain of 12 and a first down at the Oakland 44.  That was followed by a 13-yard completion to wide receiver Eddie Royal and three straight carries by running back Ryan Mathews moved the Chargers into the red zone.  But the drive was halted at the five and Novak was brought into the game for a 23-yard attempt.  The kick was good and the Chargers led 10-3 with 4:12 to go in the first half.

On their next possession, the Raiders moved from their 20 to their 44.  That’s where they had a fourth and one situation.  They had a third and one situation on the play before and naturally offensive coordinator Greg Olson called for McFadden to run up the middle.  He was stuffed for no gain and that’s what caused the Raiders to be in this predicament.  What could they do?  Run McFadden up the middle again?  Maybe catch the aggressive Charger defense off guard and go deep?  While the debate was going on, I’m sitting in my living room yelling “Go for it!  You’re 0 and nine!  You have nothing to lose!”  Of course they didn’t listen to me and they punted again.  The Chargers took over at their 30 with 1:48 to go in the half and completions to Floyd, Gates and wide receiver Keenan Allen moved them down to the Oakland 30-yard line.  With two seconds on the clock, Novak was brought in for a 48-yard attempt.  It was long enough, but sailed wide left.  At halftime, the score remained 10-3.

After another punt by King, the Chargers got the ball back at their 33.  A five-yard carry by Mathews was followed by a neutral zone infraction on the Raiders.  That’s a five-yard penalty and it gave the Chargers a first down.  From the 43, Mathews ran up the right side for 20 yards and was finally dragged down at the Oakland 37.  They didn’t get much further after that and the Raiders dodged a bullet when a holding penalty brought back a deep completion to Floyd.  Novak came on for another field goal attempt and his 52-yard kick was good.  That put the Chargers up 13-3 with 7:19 to go in the third quarter.  For most teams, that wouldn’t be a big deal.  But when your offense is as bad as the Raiders, a ten-point lead is insurmountable.

Then the punt-fest began.  Neither offense could get going and after many close calls throughout the year, Raider rookie linebacker Khalil Mack finally got his first sack.  Hopefully there are many more to come.  Then, a very strange thing happened with around three minutes to go in the third quarter.  There was a loud popping sound coming from the Raider’s sideline.  I couldn’t figure out what it was at first, but then I realized it was the offensive coaches pulling their heads out of their asses.  They finally put running back Latavius Murray in the game!  Murray responded with two carries off left tackle.  His first carry was good for 14 yards and the next one was for 23 yards.  He almost got loose for a long touchdown on the second one, but was dragged down at the San Diego 49-yard line.  Then they took him out of the game and put McFadden in.  Why?  Because idiocy knows no boundaries.  The next three plays gained five yards and they punted yet again.  The ball was downed at the one-yard line.

More punting followed until the 6:15 mark of the fourth quarter.  The Raiders took over at their 45 and went to the no huddle offense.  Completions to Rivera and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins quickly moved them down to the San Diego 15-yard line.  From the 15, Carr completed a seven-yard pass to Murray.  That was followed by a short carry by Murray.  On third down, Carr looked for wide receiver James Jones in the end zone.  The pass was poorly thrown and fell incomplete.  Janikowksi came in and his 25-yard field goal attempt was good.  With four minutes to go in the game, the Chargers led 13-6.

Basically, all the Chargers had to do was get a couple of first downs and the game would be over.  They started at their 20 and Rivers competed a 13-yard pass to Allen.  That was followed by an eight-yard run by Mathews.  On second and two, Mathews was stopped for a loss of one yard.  That made it third and three from the 40.  The Raiders brought some good pressure, but Rivers was able to get off a pass intended for Gates.  Safety Charles Woodson was in perfect position to pick off the ball and it was tipped in the air.  Somehow, Gates came up with the ball and it was good for a gain of 15 yards.  That was the dagger for the Raiders.  They did manage to get the ball back with 1:05 to go in the game and on fourth and nine from the 13, Carr connected with Jones for a gain of 28 and a first down at the 41.  Then, Carr spiked the ball to stop the clock with 11 seconds to go.  From the 41, Carr went deep up the right side and the pass fell incomplete.  It looked like there was still two seconds on the clock when the ball hit the ground.  But the zebras said the game was over and that’s how it ended.  Final score:  Chargers 13 Raiders 6.  The loss dropped the Raiders to 0-10 and the Chargers improved to 6-4.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 16 of 34 for 172 yards.  As the game progressed, he started getting the “deer in headlights” look in his eyes.  He was rushing his throws and didn’t look comfortable.   Mychal Rivera led the team in receptions with three and Kenbrell Thompkins had the most receiving yards with 47.  Latavius Murray gave the running game a spark and he led the team in rushing with 43 yards on four carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 71 yards on 19 carries.  Defensively, safety Charles Woodson led the team in solo tackles with 11.  Overall, the defense played very well.  Although they only had two sacks, they did a good job of pressuring Rivers.  The longest play the Chargers had was 22 yards.  That was the touchdown pass on the third play of the game.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 22 of 34 for 193 and one touchdown.  Keenan Allen led the team in receptions with eight and receiving yards with 63.  On the ground, Ryan Mathews led the way with 70 yards on 16 carries.  As a team, the Chargers rushed for 120 yards on 32 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Kavell Conner led the team in solo tackles with six and a sack.

Up next for the Raiders is a Thursday night game in Oakland against the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Chiefs are looking pretty solid this year and are coming off a big 24-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks.  What I hope to see from the Raiders is a lot more of  Murray and a lot less of McFadden and Jones-Drew.  The Chiefs are very good against the pass, but they are ranked 25th against the run.  I’d love to see Murray get a minimum of 20 carries.  But I doubt that will happen.  Know why?  Because it would make sense.  And when it comes to installing offensive game plans, the Raiders make no sense.  Only six games to go.  Take it easy.

The Delusional Raider Guy

 

Only 7 Games To Go!

The ninth game for the winless Oakland Raiders had the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos paying a visit to Oakland.  The Broncos were coming off a bad 43-21 loss to the New England Patriots and the Raiders fought hard, but left Seattle with a 30-24 loss.  The Broncos got the ball first and started at their 20.  On the second play of the game, quarterback Peyton Manning was picked off by cornerback D.J. Hayden.  The Raiders took over at the Denver 49-yard line.  Guess what the amazing Greg Olson called for the Raiders to do on first down?  You got it.  They gave the ball to running back Darren McFadden.  Anyone care to guess where he ran?  Was it off tackle?  Was it a pitch to the strong side?  No! It was right up the middle just like it always is and McFadden got a whopping three yards.  But on second down, quarterback Derek Carr found wide receiver James Jones for a gain of ten yards and a first down at the 36-yard line.  Two plays later, Carr found wide receiver Brice Butler for a gain of seven and another first down at the 25.  They didn’t get much farther than that and kicker Sebastian Janikowksi was brought into the game.  His 41-yard field goal attempt was good and the Raiders led 3-0 with 9:35 to go in the first quarter.

The Broncos took over at their 25 and runs by running back Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson got them rolling.  That was followed by long completions to wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.  The completion to Thomas moved them all the way to the Oakland 17-yard line.  A nine-yard completion to Anderson and a four-yard run by Anderson moved them to the four.  But a false start penalty moved them back five yards and they got as far as the two-yard line.  Instead of going for it, Denver head coach John Fox opted for a field goal.  Kicker Brandon McManus had no problem making his 20-yard attempt and the score was tied at three with four minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders went three and out on their next possession and held on to the ball for a grand total of one minute and 40 seconds.  That’s not how to beat the Broncos.  The way to beat the Broncos is to keep Manning on the sideline.  He can’t do any damage from there.  I guess the Raiders didn’t get the memo.  The Broncos took over at their 35 and Manning broke out the no huddle offense.  Completions to wide receivers Wes Welker, D. Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas moved them quickly down to the Oakland 36-yard line.  That was followed by a pass interference penalty on cornerback Tarell Brown.  That moved the Broncos even further into Oakland territory.  But the drive was halted at the ten-yard line.  McManus came on for another field goal attempt and his 28-yard attempt was good.  That put the Broncos up 6-3 with 14:22 to go in the second quarter.

As usual, the Raiders punted after three unimaginative plays.  The Broncos got the ball back at their 32-yard line and that was followed by an interception by defensive end Justin Tuck.  He returned it to the 12 and gave the Raiders excellent field position.  Surely the Raiders could go a measly 12 yards and take the lead, right?  Maybe?  Is it really possible that they could be leading the defending AFC champions in the second quarter?  The answer to that is a resounding yes!  Three plays later, Carr found Butler in the end zone for a Raider touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 10-6 with 11:19 to go in the second quarter.

I am a firm believer in momentum.  If a team has momentum, they can do things that will make them play well and get them a win.  Well, the Raiders were at home and they had the lead against one of their biggest rivals.  That was all about to change.  With 3:30 to go in the second quarter, cornerback Bradley Roby intercepted a pass intended for tight end Mychal Rivera and gave the Broncos the ball at their own 47-yard line.  On third and eight from the 49, Manning felt pressure from his right side and dumped a short pass of to Anderson.  The defense read the play and there were several defenders in position to stop Anderson from getting a first down.  Unfortunately, every player in a black uniform missed the opportunity to stop Anderson and he found the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown.  That was truly some of the worst “tackling” I have ever seen.  McManus made the point after and the Broncos led 13-10 with 2:44 to go in the second quarter.  It got worse after that.  After the Raiders punted once again, the Broncos scored again.  This time it was a 32-yard pass to Sanders with 28 seconds remaining.  McManus made the point after and the Broncos led 20-10 at halftime.  Remember what I said about momentum?  Well, the Broncos had it and didn’t let it go.  They came out of the locker room and proceeded to kick the crap out of the Raiders.  Manning threw three more touchdown passes and the Broncos won 41-17.  The lone touchdown for the Raiders came on a 18-yard touchdown pass to Rivera with 48 seconds to go in the game.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 31 of 44 for 340 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.  Demaryius Thomas led the team in receptions with 11 and receiving yards with 108.  The ground game was running on all cylinders too.  C.J. Anderson led the team in rushing with 90 yards on 13 carries.  As a team, the Broncos rushed for a total of 118 yards on 27 carries.  Anderson also had 73 yards on four catches.  Defensively, linebacker Brandon Marshall led the team in solo tackles with 11.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 30 of 47 for 192 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  30 completions is pretty good.  But averaging four yards a completion is horrible.  James Jones led the team in receptions with eight and Mychal Rivera had the most receiving yards with 64 and a touchdown.  Eight catches is an impressive statistic.  But Jones only had 20 yards.  That means he averaged 2.5 yards per reception.  What the hell kind of offense is this?  Jones is a legitimate deep threat and he’s putting up those horrible numbers?  Speaking of horrible numbers, check out the ground game for the Raiders.  They had 30 yards on 15 carries.  Not only are they last in the league in rushing, but it’s not even close.  They are DEAD LAST in the league.  During training camp, former head coach Dennis Allen said the offense was “built to run.”  Really?  Built to run?  Are you sure about that?  This team “runs” like a snail trying to cross the street in a blizzard.  Oh, do you want to know who led the team in solo tackles?  That would be safety Larry Asante with eight.

This was total and complete domination by the Broncos.  They out-gained the Raiders in total yardage 471-222.  They had 25 first downs and the Raiders had only 10.  The only statistic the Raiders won was penalties.  They were only flagged four times for 37 yards and the Broncos were flagged 12 times for 95 yards.  See?  I managed to find a bright spot among all the doom and darkness of another horrible loss.  I think I’m going to give myself a gold star for such an amazing accomplishment.  Up next is a road trip to San Diego.  The Chargers are coming off a bye week.  But two weeks ago, they went down to Miami and the Dolphins shut them out 37-0.  They’ll be looking to take their frustrations out on the Raiders.  As for me, I’m going to wash the car before the cold weather gets here.  Take it easy.

The Suicidal Raider Guy

The Fiendish Plot To (Sort Of) Discredit Peyton Manning

November 6, 2014

The Fiendish Plot To (Sort Of) Discredit Peyton Manning

When baseball’s regular season awards are handed out there will be a sparking of the age-old debate as to whether it is appropriate to give a Most Valuable Player Award to a pitcher.

This is because pitchers, as we know, do not play every day and thus some cannot help but question how valuable such a player can be, no matter how good they are. And there is also the matter of the Cy Young award, which honors the top throwers in the American and National Leagues.

The question persists: should pitchers be eligible for MVP? Or should that honor be strictly for position players?

This query brings us, understandably we believe, to football.

In baseball pitchers can win both awards but maybe football should set an example by splitting them. First, we must create a separate trophy for you know who: the quarterbacks.

Since 1957 when the first Associated Press NFL MVP was handed out, to Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, quarterbacks have gone home with the shiny object 38 times, including years when a QB tied with either another QB or a player from another position.

Since 1987 the only players to win MVP have been QBs and running backs with QBs winning the vast majority of the time. So is it time to put quarterbacks where TV analysts have been putting them for decades – in their own special world – and simply give QBs the football equivalent of the Cy Young and make running backs, receivers, and defensive players, (seriously) offensive lineman and special teamers (not quite as seriously) the only ones eligible for MVP?

Yes, we have Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of The Year and as we recently discussed on Leatherheads sometimes OPY can and truly should be distinct from MVP. But we like awards and don’t you agree the world is appallingly low on things named in honor of Dan Marino?

Under our plan, each season the top QB in the NFL would be given the Dan Marino while all the other positions fight it out for MVP as well as defensive and separate offensive honors. A QB could win the Marino and Offensive Player of the Year, they just couldn’t win MVP.

Not only is this a matter of getting our favorite former Dolphin the respect he deserves but also this acknowledges that QBs not only have the deck stacked in their favor in the MVP race but also have all the chips and the only comfy chair.

And with quarterbacks not in the running might it not open up the voters’ eyes not to just other offensive skill players but to other positions as well? Could we someday see a left guard as MVP?

Quarterbacks, except for maybe Marino, probably won’t like our thoughts. But everyone else might.

 

 

Seahawks 30 Raiders 24

The eighth game on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a trip up to Seattle to face the Seahawks.  The Raiders were coming off a 23-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns and the Seahawks were coming off a tough 13-9 win over the Carolina Panthers.  The Seahawks won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Steven Hauschka sent the opening kick deep into the end zone for a touch-back and the Raiders started at their 20.  Like usual, they started out running the ball up the middle.  Running back Darren McFadden carried the ball twice for a gain of one yard.  But completions from quarterback Derek Carr to wide receiver Andre Holmes and tight end Mychal Rivera got the Raiders going in the right direction.  On third and eight from the Seattle 37,  Carr completed a pass good for 16 yards to Rivera.  He was hit by cornerback Richard Sherman and the ball came loose.  Luckily for the Raiders, it rolled out of bounds.  They would get as far as the 30 and the drive stalled there as Carr’s pass to Rivera on third and three fell incomplete.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made an appearance and his 48-yard field goal attempt was good.  The Raiders led 3-0 with 9:10 to go in the first quarter.

The Seahawks took over at their 28 and three carries by running Marshawn Lynch quickly moved them to the 40.  A short scramble by quarterback Russell Wilson and completions to wide receiver Doug Baldwin and Lynch put the Seahawks in Oakland territory.  On second and four from the 42, Wilson threw deep up the right side for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.  The pass was incomplete, but a flag appeared and the call was defensive pass interference on cornerback DJ Hayden.  Really?  THAT was interference?!?!  I thought both players had a right to the ball.  I found that to be highly sickening.  That gave the Seahawks a first down at the six.  On first down, Lynch ran up the middle and was greeted rudely by defensive tackle Justin “Jelly” Ellis and thrown for a loss of three yards.  But while Ellis was in the process of throwing Lynch to the ground, he also had a handful of facemask.  That brought out another flag and moved the ball to the three.  Lynch got the call again and took it up the middle.  It looked like his forward progress was stopped, but he kept pushing and eventually found the end zone.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 7-3 with 4:07 to go in the first quarter.

Each team punted on their next possession and with two minutes remaining in the quarter, the Raiders took over at their 15.  McFadden ran up the middle again and guess how many yards he got?  That’s right!  No gain.  Got to love the imaginative play calling by offensive coordinator Greg Olson.  He’s truly an amazing kind of guy with a future as bright as a dark room.  On second and ten, Carr found wide receiver Brice Butler for a gain of 12.  Then the impending disaster happened.  Carr looked for wide receiver James Jones on the right side and the pass was picked off by linebacker Bruce Irvin and returned 35 yards for a touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks were now up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.

What’s one of the rules you should follow when you play the Seahawks?  Don’t throw on Richard Sherman.  Well, on third and five from his own 25, Carr did just that.  I don’t know what he was thinking.  The pass was up the right sideline intended for Holmes.  First, Holmes was not open.  Second, he wasn’t even looking for the ball.  Sherman picked it off and ran it back to the Oakland 18.  But the Raider defense only allowed them to go two yards on three plays.  Hauschka came into the game and his 34-yard field goal was good.  The Seahawks were now up 17-3 with 12:15 to go in the second quarter.

Neither team did much with the ball until the 3:50 mark of the second quarter.  The Seahawks were backed up at their 12-yard line.  A nine-yard run by Lynch and a three-yard completion to Lynch netted a first down at the 24.  That was followed by a 16-yard pass to tight end Luke Willson.  A holding penalty on the Seahawks moved them back ten yards.  But a taunting penalty on Hayden gave the Seahawks a first down at the Oakland 34.  What the hell are you taunting for?  You’re on a winless team and you’re down 17-3.  It was a nice tackle, but there’s no reason to stand over a player and taunt him.  I’m not sure what he said, but it was within earshot of a zebra and he promptly threw the flag.  Completions to Baldwin, running back Robert Turbin and some scrambling by Wilson moved the ball to the five.  From there, Lynch took it the rest of the way for another Seahawk touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 24-3 at halftime.

The Seahawks started the second half at their 34-yard line.  Three plays gained three yards and punter Jon Ryan was brought into the game.  The punt was blocked by defensive end Denico Autry.  The ball bounced backward and was recovered by Butler in the end zone for a Raider touchdown.  That was a nice start to the second half for the Raiders.  Janikowski made the point after and the Seahawks lead was cut to 24-10 with 13:52 to go in the third quarter.

After that, both defenses were playing very well.  The Raiders forced the Seahawks to punt on their next two possessions.  The Seahawks looked good too.  But they had it much easier because they knew half the plays were going to be runs up the middle by McFadden.  With a little under five minutes to go in the third quarter, rookie return man TJ Carrie fielded a punt at the Oakland 43 and returned it back to the Seattle 30-yard line.  This was a golden opportunity for the Raiders to put some more points on the board.  Carr completed a screen to McFadden and he took it up the right side for a gain of 23 and a first down at the seven.  Then came the obligatory McFadden run that gained two yards.  That was followed by an incomplete pass to forgotten wide receiver Denarius Moore.  On third down, Carr found Jones for a gain of four.  He was brought down just short of the goal line.  With the ball so close to the end zone, head coach Tony Sparano opted to go for it.  Carr took the snap and was immediately flushed out of the pocket.  He regained his composure long enough to loft a pass to the right side of the end zone and Rivera was able to haul it in for a touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Seahawks now led 24-17 with three minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Seahawks started at their 20 and on second and ten, Wilson completed a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Kevin Norwood.  Two runs by Lynch and a defensive holding penalty on the Raiders gave the Seahawks a first down at the Oakland 49-yard line.  From the 49, Wilson tossed a short pass to the left that was caught by Lynch.  He turned on the speed and took it up the left sideline for a gain of 39 yards.  They wouldn’t get any farther than that and Hauschka came on for another field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Seahawks led 27-17 with 14:50 to go in the game.

The Raiders needed to get moving and they went nowhere.  Three plays netted six yards and punter Marquette King got off a nice 59-yard punt that was fielded at the Seattle 15 by Baldwin.  He proceeded to take it straight up the middle for a gain of 38 yards.  From the Oakland 47, Wilson scrambled up the middle for a gain of 19.  They got as far as the 22 and it was time for another field goal attempt.  Hauschka made his 40-yard attempt and the Seahawks went up 30-17 with 9:19 to go in the game.

The Raiders managed to get a first down on their next possession, but that was it.  King punted again and seven plays later, the Seahawks punted right back to the Raiders.  With 4:14 to go in the game, the Raiders needed a quick score.  On first down, Carr was sacked for a loss of seven by defensive end Michael Bennett.  But Bennett was flagged for a facemask penalty and that gave the Raiders a first down at the Seattle 49.  Passes to Rivera, Holmes,  Butler and running back Maurice Jones-Drew quickly moved the Raiders down to the seven-yard line.  Three plays later, Carr rolled to his left and it looked like he was going to run it in.  Instead, he tossed the ball to the back of the end zone where Rivera hauled it in for his second touchdown of the game.  Janikowski made the point after and the Seahawks now led 30-24 with 52 seconds to go in the game.

We all knew what was next.  It was time for an onside kick.  With the rain coming down, I thought maybe a slippery ball would give the Raiders an advantage.  The kick was a good one and it looked like the Raiders may come up with it.  Teams that have no wins don’t get that kind of break.  The ball was recovered by Kearse at the 50-yard line.  And that was that.  Final score: Seahawks 30 Raiders 24.  The loss dropped the Raiders to 0-8 and the win improved Seattle’s record to 5-3.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 24 of 41 for 194 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  Mychal Rivera led the team in receptions with eight and two touchdowns.  Darren McFadden had the most receiving yards with 47.  The ground game continued to be anemic as the Raiders rushed for a grand total of 37 yards on 18 carries.  Ten of those yards came on one play.  I find that to be truly pathetic.  Defensively, linebacker Sio Moore led the team in solo tackles with eight.  He was the only Raider with a quarterback sack.

For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 17 of 35 for 179 yards.  Marshawn Lynch and Doug Baldwin led the team in receptions with five and Lynch had the most receiving yards with 76.  On the ground, Lynch led the way with 67 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns.  Defensively, linebacker K. J. Wright led the team in solo tackles with ten.

Despite trailing 24-3, I liked the fight the Raiders showed in this game.  They didn’t give up.  I firmly believe that if Dennis Allen were still the coach, the Seahawks would have won 51-10.  Sparano has his players playing hard.  Unfortunately, Greg Olson is still the offensive coordinator.  If he continues with his predictable and unimaginative play calling, the team will continue to suffer.  Up next on the schedule is a visit from the Denver Broncos.  They’ll be looking for a win after getting thrashed by the Patriots.  It could get pretty ugly if the defense is unable to stop Peyton Manning and his weapons.  Until then, take it easy.

The Frustrated Raider Guy

Leatherheads Midseason Awards

We are halfway through the 2014 NFL season and there have been surprises, disappointments, slumps, sacks, breakaways and meltdowns.

And so far we’re only talking about Jon Gruden.

We kid because we care. According to the Bible of Gruden every player in the NFL is the greatest player/person/life form ever, at least at some particular moment and we applaud such positivity because if football is about nothing else shouldn’t it be about love, appreciation and the Raiderettes?

Mr. Gruden was unable to join us for our midseason awards banquet but we Leatherheads still managed.

Midseason MVP: Peyton Manning

Manning is the runaway unanimous choice among all Leatherheads who took part in this report card. Joe Williams issues apologies to Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck noting that Manning is still the best player in the game and that’s difficult to protest. Manning is tied for first with Luck with an NFL-best 22 touchdown passes but has been intercepted just three times, whereas Luck has gotten picked nine times. Peyton’s QB rating of 119.0 leaves Luck, Rodgers, Philip Rivers and everyone else in the dust.

Manning is also leading what is probably the best team in the NFL. The Denver Broncos are 6-1 with their lone defeat coming in overtime to the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. If Peyton Manning stays healthy he seems likely to win his (gulp) sixth NFL MVP. No one else has ever won more than three.

We have to take a brief timeout here, however, to point out that Manning is now playing in an era when quarterbacks are like pinball players. They are allowed to just sit there and bang those flippers, racking up the stats and the points. Yes, #18 still does it as well if not better than anyone but we can only wonder what great QBs of yesteryear would have accomplished in today’s increasingly hands-off-the-star NFL.

And another thing, Peyton will not be considered the greatest quarterback ever until he wins another Super Bowl. That’s not fair, maybe. But it’s true. But for now, he must be satisfied with the official Mike Lynch Statue for winning the Leatherheads half-season MVP. I hope someone ordered that statue.

Midseason Offensive Player of the Year: DeMarco Murray

Some Leatherheads chose Manning for this and that’s perfectly logical. If a guy plays offense and is the league MVP then shouldn’t he automatically be the Offensive Player of the Year as well? After some discussion and a few cocktails our official answer is “no.” Manning is the most valuable because he’s awesome and has the unfair advantage over Murray of playing the most important position. But DeMarco Murray deserves the Offensive accolade for several reasons.

Murray, the fourth year Dallas Cowboys running back, leads the NFL in carries with 206. That’s 60 more than his next closest competitor, Arian Foster. Murray also tops the NFL in rushing yards with 1,054, easily outdistancing Foster by nearly 300 yards.   And Murray is not just a bull who bashes his way to real estate. He’s averaging 5.1 yards a carry. That’s fantastic.

Murray is also tied with Foster for the NFL lead with seven rushing scores and has caught 26 passes for a nearly nine-yard average. All this and his Cowboys are making Jerry Jones look young again without surgical help as Dallas is 6-2 and in great position to make its first playoff appearance since 2009.

Our concern is that DeMarco may not be alive and well come playoff time. He’s on pace to carry the ball more than 400 times and, come January, could be moving slower than lava but with implications just as critical.

Midseason Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt

Another unanimous choice. Mr. Watt, the Houston Texans defensive end, is so good some might say he deserves consideration for league MVP. Perhaps. Just as with DeMarco Murray, Watt pays the price for not being a quarterback which is a shame (whoops! We almost wrote “sham”) because he’s probably the best overall player in the league.

Watt has seven sacks which puts him significantly behind league-leader Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs who has ten. But sacks are like Mariah Carey songs. They’re fun and make the person who sings them a lot of money but they’re not really music, and not really the best barometer of a great defensive player. If a guy gets one sack a game he’s anointed a star. But what does he do the rest of the game? Watt does a lot.

J.J. has eight pass deflections, tied with Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata for most among defensive lineman.  Every other guy in the top ten is a defensive back.

Watt has 22 solo tackles, tied for fourth among NFL defensive linemen. He has one forced fumble and one interception; which he returned 80 yards for a touchdown against Buffalo. Watt also recovered a fumble and rambled 45 yards for a score against the Colts. Justin James Watt has also caught one pass this year, yes on offense, for a TD. This dude has three touchdowns. And he plays defense. And he does all this on a team that’s 4-4 and alive and ponderous in the playoff race. (And, as Joe Williams observes, J.J. is also a “decent dancer.”)

Midseason Rookie of the Year: Sammy Watkins

We’re impressed with several first years including Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller, Arizona Cardinals receiver John Brown and Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack. But in the end, it’s Sammy.

Watkins, the first year wideout for the Buffalos Bills, is described by our Joe Williams as “pure talent” and the numbers back that up. Watkins has 590 yards receiving, which is tops among rookies, and he is also tied for the lead in the NFL’s freshman class with five TD catches including a last-second game winner against the Vikings on October 19.

Watkins is electric and should be a stud for years to come. The problem is he plays in Buffalo and the Bills are so awful and so off the radar that no matter how good Watkins is he’ll never…oh dear. Wait a second. The Bills are 5-3, aren’t they? If Watkins and QB Kyle Orton (He’s alive! He’s good!) lead the Bills to their first playoff appearance since 1999 (who do they think they are, the Kansas City Royals?) then Sammy won’t just be Rookie of the Year, he’ll also never have to shovel his driveway again.

Biggest Midseason Surprise: Dallas Cowboys

It would have been a smooth and cool transition to go from raving about Sammy Watkins to christening his Bills as the league’s biggest surprise so far and that’s the vote from Leatherhead Joe Williams. But Leatherhead David Boyce says that honor is actually an ignominious one that belongs to the 4-3 Super Bowl champion Seahawks who are good but not looking at all like the juggernaut many thought they’d be.

Then there’s the offering of Leatherhead Daniel Durany who votes for the Cowboys and that selection is our winner. The Bills are a great story, so are the Cardinals but, as Joe Williams points, not really a surprising one as they were great in the second half of last year. We choose Dallas because the Cowboys are not only unexpectedly winning games but playing really well, if that makes sense. All the drama in Dallas is finally taking a backseat to really good, sound, fundamental football and the ‘Boys are playing it despite some big injuries.

Will Dallas continue to surprise in the second half? We have already voiced our concerns about DeMarco Murray’s durability and that drama that we don’t miss did return a bit in Monday’s loss to the Washington Redskins with questions about quarterback Tony Romo’s health both short and long term. And as long as Jerry Jones is there will Jason Garrett, or any coach, really get to do their own thing?

We knoweth not. But for the first eight games the 6-2 Dallas Cowboys are not just a pleasant surprise but the league’s biggest one.

Biggest Midseason Disappointment: Chicago Bears

This category is another contentious one. Joe Williams chooses the Seahawks. David Boyce votes for his beloved but 0-7 Oakland Raiders (will Jim Harbaugh cross the Bay and coach the Silver and Black next year? Or maybe travel with them to L.A.?) But Daniel Durany and the rest of us vote for, sigh, cigarette puff, sigh, head scratch, sigh, the Chicago Bears.

Oh it hurts. Maybe the Bears shouldn’t be considered a disappointment when remembering they were 8-8 last year. But most preseason prognosticators chose the Monsters of the Maddening to be a playoff team and some felt they could even have dreams of football in February. Instead, the Bears’ vaunted offense has been stuck in neutral, injuries are mounting for an already aged and bedraggled defense and the Bears are a very murky 3-5 with zero wins at home.

What in the Ditka has gone wrong in Chicago? Too much. The second half could see a turnaround but it’s going to be tougher than the Soldier Field turf to do so.

So, what are you thoughts about our midseason honors? Will they hold up? And what of the prediction of a certain Leatherhead back in August that we’d see a Cardinals-Chargers Super Bowl? It’s still crazy but maybe not as crazy as it sounded back then.

We’ll stand by that pick for now but won’t cry if we’re proven wrong. We hope the second half continues to see excellent football on the field and fewer distracting stories off the field. This has been a very challenging season for the league to put it mildly. Hopefully the NFL will continue pushing to make its service to the community as impactful as its product on Sundays.

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