December 16, 2017

Arizona Ascension: Cards Will Win Super Bowl

The Arizona Cardinals will win the Super Bowl this coming February, becoming the first team to ever win the Vince Lombardi Trophy on its home turf and giving the redbirds their first NFL title since 1947, when they played in Chicago.

The Cardinals play in perhaps the NFL’s toughest division, the NFC West, but have a favorable early schedule opening up on Sunday night with a home tilt against the San Diego Chargers before traveling to New York to face the Giants and then return home to host the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners are tough but a bit in disarray and so the Cards have a very good chance to enter their bye week at 3-0.

After that the Cardinals travel to Denver which won’t have Wes Welker or Matt Prater and, in a nutshell and also considering the St. Louis Rams are not the team they hoped they would be before Sam Bradford’s injury, the Cardinals might not have a truly difficult test until visiting the Super Bowl champion Seahawks in Seattle on November 23rd.

The Cardinals also have hope for a hot start following their amazingly hot finish last season, when they won seven of their last nine to finish 10-6 and were widely considered the league’s top team among those that did not make the playoffs.

The Cardinals were a hot team last year.  This year, they will show they are a very good team.

The Cardinals have a very talented veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer who is entering his second year in the maroon and white and his second year under coach Bruce Arians.

Palmer and Arians have two terrific wideouts, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, a solid tight end in John Carlson and a snappy good running back in Andre Ellington.

Last year, in his rookie campaign, Ellington averaged five and-a-half yards per carry and ran for three scores – including an 80-yard doozy against the Atlanta Falcons that was pure speed, guts and Cardinal-ness.

This year, he’ll be even better.  (Right?)

On defense, the Cardinals certainly will feel the absences of Darnell Dockett, the spectacular defensive tackle who is gone for 2014 with a torn ACL, and linebacker Daryl Washington, out with a drug suspension. But the Cardinals are still armed with a defensive secondary of Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson, Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson, four gentlemen who take serious umbrage with those who try to catch the ball in front of them or run past them.

The Cards’ D is also still solid on the front seven, especially considering they still have defensive tackle Frostee Rucker.  When your name is Frostee, greatness will find you.

But really?  Can the Arizona Cardinals truly win a conference that has the Seahawks, Saints, 49ers, Packers, Bears and Eagles?

It will be tough.  It will be fun.

The Cardinals will make the playoffs and once you’ve reached January, anything can happen.  Just ask the ’07 and ’11 Giants.  Talk to the ’12 Ravens.  Talk to the teams they beat, too.

The Arizona Cardinals don’t have the most talent in the NFL, but they might have the most mojo.  They have a good defense, a quick-strike offense, a terrific head coach and they have those gray facemasks, God love ’em.

The Arizona Cardinals will win the Super Bowl.  For the first time since Harry Truman was president and only the second time since the sound barrier was broken the Cardinals will be NFL champs.  They will shock, they will awe, they will win.

And who will the Cardinals beat in Super Bowl XLIX?  Why, the Chargers, of course.  The Redbirds and Bolts will meet Sunday night in Week One and then meet again in February.  Cardinals 30, Chargers 23.  Freaky fun for all.

 

 

 

Broncos 26, Raiders 13

The Denver Broncos headed west to Oakland, California to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Broncos were coming off a 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Raiders were coming off a 20-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns.  They were playing this game with heavy hearts as head coach Dennis Allen was back with the team despite losing his father and former Atlanta Falcon linebacker Grady Allen to cardiac arrest earlier in the week.  The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.

The Broncos started at their 32-yard line and quarterback Peyton Manning went right to work from the shotgun formation.  On third and five from the 37, Manning looked for tight end Jacob Tamme and the play was broken up by safety Tyvon Branch.  However, linebacker Philip Wheeler was flagged for holding and that gave the Broncos an automatic first down.  It’s not a good idea to give Manning a second chance.  He’ll make you pay for your mistakes.  On third and six from the 46, wide receiver Eric Decker was open across the middle and Manning hit him in stride for a gain of 16 yards.  Another third and long reared its ugly head and this time Manning dumped a short pass to running back Knowshon Moreno that went for 26 yards.  He was finally dragged down at the 12.  On second and four from the six, Manning calmly stood in the pocket as the anemic pass rush was nowhere near him.  He found tight end Joel Dreessen in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown.  Kicker Matt Prater made the extra point and the Broncos led 7-0 with ten and a half minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders got the ball at their 20 and on first down, quarterback Carson Palmer looked to his right and dumped a short pass to running back Darren McFadden.  Replay showed that there was excellent blocking in front of McFadden and he basically had only one man to beat.  Unfortunately, HE DROPPED THE FREAKING BALL!  So, what could have been a huge play ended up being an incomplete pass.  Two more pass attempts netted four yards and punter Shane Lechler punted the ball away.  Return man Trindon Holliday muffed the punt, but it was recovered by the Broncos at their 25-yard line.

On third and five from the 30, Manning found his reliable friend Eric Decker again for a gain of 19 yards.  An eight-yard run by Moreno and yet another offside penalty on defensive tackle Tommy Kelly gave the Broncos a first down at the Raider 38.  They would move the ball all the way to the 14 when Manning was sacked for a loss of 11 by defensive end Lamarr Houston.  Prater was called on and he made the 43-yard field goal attempt.  The Broncos now led 10-0 with five minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders again started at their 20.  On third and nine from the 21, Palmer launched a bomb down the middle of the field that was caught by wide receiver Rod Streater for a gain of 58 yards.  It was a great throw and an even better catch.  But, the drive would end on the next play as Palmer went looking for tight end Brandon Myers.  He was open, but Palmer was late on the throw and that enabled cornerback Champ Bailey to pick off the pass.  He ran it back to the Bronco 21.  That was a killer for the Raiders.  What momentum they had after that bomb to Streater completely disappeared on the very next play.

The Bronco offense went back to work and started chewing up yardage at a rapid rate.  A 13-yard pass to Dreessen, a seven-yard run by Moreno, a five-yard run by Moreno and a 39-yard pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas gave the Broncos a first down at the Raider 39.  A 12-yard run up the middle by running back Ronnie Hillman and a 16-yard pass to Thomas made it first down at the 11.  All of a sudden, the defense stiffened.  Moreno went up the middle for one yard, Manning was sacked by defensive tackle Desmond Bryant for a loss of five and on third down from the 15, Manning looked for Tamme in the end zone and the ball sailed over his head.  Prater made the 34-yard field goal and the Broncos now led 13-0 with just under 14 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Another three and out for the Raiders meant another chance for the Broncos to increase their lead.  They started at their 17 and passes to wide receiver Andre Caldwell and Decker got them moving in the right direction.  Moreno carried the ball three straight times for 20 yards.  Hillman followed that up with a gain of six for a first down at the Raider 28.  From the 28, Manning threw one up for the end zone, but cornerback Phillip Adams made a nice diving interception and the Raiders got the ball back at their 20.

A holding call on Brisiel moved them back ten yards, but Palmer found wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for a gain of 15.  McFadden ran up the middle for six more and a first down at the 26.  Palmer looked for Streater and HE DROPPED THE FREAKING BALL!  However, on the very next play, Palmer threw to Streater again and he made the catch for a gain of 13 yards.  An 11-yard pass to wide receiver Denarius Moore and another one for 15 yards to Streater had the Raiders at the Bronco 26.  From the 26, Palmer spread the ball around to three different receivers and a six-yard pass to McFadden got them a first down at the 14.  On third and two from the six, Palmer looked to his right and back to the left where he found McFadden standing all alone with blockers in front of him.  This time McFadden caught the pass and ran it in for a touchdown.  It was truly a sight to behold.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Broncos now led 13-7 with two minutes to go in the first half.

The Broncos had three timeouts and broke out the no huddle offense from their 20.  A short pass to Tamme and a pass interference penalty on Adams moved the ball to the 31.  From the 31, wide receiver Mark Willis caught a pass for a gain of 19 and a first down at the 50.  The Raiders brought the pressure and safety Mike Mitchell sacked Manning for a loss of six.  A short pass to Decker and an incomplete pass on third down forced the Broncos to punt.  Palmer took a knee and the half ended with the Broncos leading 13-7.

McFadden got the Raiders off to a great start in the second half.  From the 20, he ran up the right side for a gain of 36 and a first down at the Bronco 44.  But on third and 13, the Broncos brought the pressure and forced Palmer to put up another lame duck.  Moore was almost able to bring it in, but the ball fell to the ground.  Lechler punted and the Broncos started the next drive from their nine-yard line.  Passes to Thomas and Decker and two pass interference penalties (one in the end zone)  gave the Broncos a first and goal at the one.  If safety Matt Giordano had actually turned around and looked for the ball on that play, he may have been able to pick it off.  Instead, he was penalized for interference.  Again the Raider defense was up for the challenge and stopped them from crossing the goal line.  I must say that I was very impressed by that.  Prater made the 20-yard field goal and the Broncos increased the lead to 16-7 with seven and a half minutes to go in the third quarter.

Like the idiot that he is, Raider return man Mike Goodson ran the kickoff out from deep in the end zone and was promptly flattened at the Raider eight-yard line.  On third and six from the 12, Palmer was sacked by linebacker Von Miller and the ball came loose.  Defensive tackle Mitch Unrein recovered it at the two and two plays later, Moreno ran it in for a touchdown.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos now led 23-7 with five minutes to go in the third quarter.  Just like that, the game was out of reach for the Raiders.

McFadden was stuffed twice and an incomplete pass to Heyward-Bey meant it was time for another punt.  Lechler got off a short punt and the Broncos were flagged for holding on the play.  Wow!  The zebras actually threw a flag at the Broncos!  Truly amazing!  The Broncos started at their 36 and some more good running and a 15-yard catch and run from Moreno moved them down to the Raider 21.  The drive stalled at the 15 and Prater increased the lead to 26-7 with a 33-yard field goal.  That brought the third quarter to an end.

Trailing by 19, it was time for Palmer to throw on every down again.  15 and 11-yard passes to Moore got them moving in the right direction.  Another holding call on right tackle Khalif Barnes moved them back ten yards.  On second and 15 from the Raider 47, rookie receiver Juron Criner got behind Champ Bailey and Palmer put the pass right in his hands.  There was only one problem.  HE DROPPED THE FREAKING BALL!  I don’t know if he would have scored, but if he had caught that pass, it would have gone for a huge gain.  Such is the way things are in Oakland nowadays.  An opportunity arose and they didn’t take advantage of it.  The teams traded punts and with seven and a half minutes to go in the game, the Raiders had one more opportunity to put some points on the board.

They got the ball back at their 14 and passes to Criner and a six-yard run by McFadden set up a first down at the 44.  From the 44, Palmer looked to his left and found Heyward-Bey.  He made a leaping catch, came down and turned on the speed.  No Bronco would catch him this time and he ran it in for a 56-yard touchdown.  It really was a nice catch and run.  All 10,000 fans that remained in the stands seemed to be very excited.  Even Janikowski raised his bottle of vodka in celebration of what just occurred.  What’s even better about that is that I have Heyward-Bey on my fantasy team.  Thanks for the points, Darrius!  They decided to go for two and Palmer’s pass to Moore was ruled incomplete because Moore couldn’t get both feet in bounds.  The Broncos took over and ran out the clock.  Final score: Broncos 26 Raiders 13.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 26 of 36 for 310 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  Eric Decker led the Broncos in receptions with eight and he also had the most receiving yards with 88.  Knowshon Moreno carried the ball 32 times for 119 yards and one touchdown.  As a team, the Broncos ran for 140 yards on 39 carries.  Defensively, cornerback Tony Carter and linebacker D.J. Williams led the team with four solo tackles apiece.

For the Raiders, Carson Palmer completed 19 of 30 for 273 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one lost fumble.  Rod Streater led all receivers in yardage with 100 yards.  Heyward-Bey had the most receptions with five and a touchdown.  Darren McFadden had a paltry total of 52 yards on 11 carries.  36 of those yards came on one carry.  All totaled, the Raiders came away with 61 yards on 16 attempts.  That’s beyond pathetic.  Defensively, Philip Wheeler led the team with five solo tackles.  Mike Mitchell also had a good game with a sack and two tackles for a loss.

That makes six consecutive losses for the Raiders and their record is now 3-10.  The win improved the Broncos to 10-3 and they just keep cruising along.  Up next for the Raiders is their final home game of the year against the Kansas City Chiefs.  They defeated the Chiefs 26-16 earlier in the year.  Can they beat them again?  Hell if I know.  Maybe if the receivers would actually CATCH the ball and the defense could get off the field in third and long situations.  That would definitely help.  If they can do that, maybe they’ll beat the Chiefs.  They have a long week to prepare for their next game and I would like to think that they would be ready to get a win.  Whether they will or not remains to be seen.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

They Were Marching…

The New Orleans Saints marched out to Oakland, California to take on the Oakland Raiders.  They were coming off an impressive 31-27 win over the Atlanta Falcons and the Raiders were coming off a humiliating 55-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.  The Raiders won the toss and elected to receive.

With running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson still out, the running chores belonged to fullback Marcel Reece.  Starting at their own 23, the Raiders went to work.  Reece got the game off to a good start with a 17-yard run.  An eight-yard run set up an easy second and two.  On second down, running back Taiwan Jones went up the middle for a gain of three and a first down.  No he didn’t.  Wide receiver Derek Hagan was flagged for an illegal block on the play and that moved them back ten yards.  Quarterback Carson Palmer looked for Hagan on second down and the pass fell incomplete.  A six-yard pass to wide receiver Rod Streater meant the Raiders were forced to punt.  The kick went through the end zone and the Saints would start at their 20.

Quarterback Drew Brees found wide receiver Marques Colston on first down for a gain of 14.  On first down from the 37, running back Mark Ingram got a carry and appeared to be stopped.  Yet he managed to make a second effort and ended up plowing over several Raiders for a gain of 16 yards.  Two plays into the drive and the Saints were already at midfield.  Running back Pierre Thomas also got in on the act and ran up the right side for 14 yards.  On second and ten, Brees found running back Travaris Cadet for a gain of 19 and another first down at the Raider 17.  Another run and a catch by Thomas made it first and goal at the eight.  Two more runs made it third and goal from the one.  On third down, tight end Jimmy Graham basically walked into the end zone, turned around and waited for Brees to find him.  He was WIDE OPEN and there wasn’t a Raider in sight.  Brees spotted him and tossed him the ball.  Graham caught it for the easiest touchdown he’s ever had.  Kicker Garrett Hartley made the point after and the Saints led 7-0 with eight minutes to go in the first quarter.  How you can leave one of the best tight ends in the game wide open is beyond my comprehension.

Guess what the Raiders did next?  They went three and out.  By some miracle, the Saints did the same thing.  The Raiders took over at their 48 and had a shot at tying the game up with good field position.  That wasn’t meant to be.  On second down from the 48, Palmer looked for tight end Brandon Myers and was picked off by safety Malcolm Jenkins.  Not a single Raider could catch him and he returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.  Hartley made the point after and the Saints led 14-0 with four minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders got the ball at their 16 and Reece continued to impress with a nice 14-yard run.  On third and eight from the 32, Palmer found Myers for a nine-yard gain and a first down at the 41.  On third and seven from the 44, rookie wide receiver Juron Criner made a nice grab for 13 yards.  Completions to Hagan and Reece gave them a first down at the Saint 12.  On third and six from the eight, Myers caught a pass on the right side and ended up just short of the first down marker.  Palmer took it up the middle on fourth and inches and that netted a first down at the one.  Reece was stopped for a loss of one on first down and that put offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp into panic mode.  Instead of trying another run play, he called a pass play and Streater was flagged for offensive pass interference.  On second and goal from the 12, Reece caught a pass for a gain of five.  Then, on third and goal, Palmer found Myers in the end zone.  The ball hit him in the hands, bounced up and was picked off by safety Roman Harper.  The Raiders went 87 yards on 16 plays and took nine minutes off the clock.  Yet they ended up with zero points.  Myers was sitting on the bench with a suicidal look on his face.  He has caught just about every pass thrown to him this year and somehow this one escaped him.  It’s nice to know that he’s one of the few players who still gives a damn.

Harper was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty after the interception and the Saints started at their ten.  They got as far as the 31 and were forced to punt.  Starting at their 19, with a little over six minutes to go in the first half, Palmer found Reece on the left side for a gain of 56 yards.  Palmer then looked for wide receiver Denarius Moore in the end zone, but the pass was incomplete.  However, the Saints were flagged for pass interference and that gave the Raiders a first and goal at the one.  Think they’ll run it this time?  I mean it’s only one yard.  Reece should be able to get that with no problem.  On first and goal, Palmer took the snap and dropped back to throw.   He stood in the pocket, ran to his right and threaded ball between two defenders to Myers for a touchdown.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Saints now led 14-7 with four minutes to go in the first half.

The Saints were flagged on the kick return and started from their ten.  A run by Ingram, a pass to Colston and another run by Thomas moved the ball to the 43.  On third and four from the 49, Brees found Colston up the right side for a gain of 16 and a first down at the Raider 35.  From the 35, Graham caught a pass across the middle for a gain of seven.  The ball was knocked out by cornerback Joselio Hanson and despite the fact that there were several Raiders in the area, Thomas pounced on it to keep the drive going.  That was a golden opportunity lost by the Raiders.  An intentional grounding penalty on Brees moved them back ten yards.  On third and 13 from the 38, the Raiders brought the blitz.  That left wide receiver Lance Moore matched up with cornerback Michael Huff.  Moore put a double move on Huff and got by him.  I think Huff thought that backup safety Mike Mitchell would be there to bail him out.  Ha! Are you kidding?  Mitchell was nowhere near Moore and way out of position.  Brees launched the ball right down the middle and Moore caught it for an easy 38-yard touchdown.  This caused me to shout several things I can’t repeat at my television.  One of the most elementary rules of football is that you never EVER let a receiver get behind the secondary.  Where was Mitchell when that point was being stressed by his coaches?  I just wonder how in the world he could be a second round pick.  He’s capable of being a big hitter, but he has absolutely no awareness or instincts.  It just shows the lack of talent on the roster at the present time.  Hartley made the point after and the Saints now led 21-7 with under a minute to go in the half.  The disinterested Raiders didn’t even try to move the ball and the half came to an end.

Now it was time for the second half.  Aren’t you excited?  I’m not.  The third quarter is usually when terrible things happen to the Raiders.  This game was no exception.  Cadet took the kickoff two yards deep in the end zone and ran it back to the Raider 27.  On first down, Ingram ran up the left side for a 27-yard touchdown.  Two plays, 100 yards, no problem.  Hartley made the point after and with 14:43 to go in the third quarter, the Saints had a commanding 28-7 lead.

The Raiders managed to get a 40-yard field goal on their next drive to make it 28-10.  The teams traded punts and with six minutes to go in the third quarter, the Saints got the ball back at their 42.  They decided to give their ground game a try and runs by Ingram, Thomas and Chris Ivory got them marching into Raider territory.  On second and ten from the 15, Moore caught his second touchdown pass of the day to increase the lead to 34-10.  Hartley made the point after and it was now 35-10 with three and a half minutes to go in the third quarter.

The deflated Raiders took the field again at their 20.  Some more good running by Reece and a completion to Moore had the Raiders in Saint territory again.  On third and eight from the 47, Criner caught a pass for a gain of seven.  That made it fourth and one at the 40.  Reece was stopped for no gain and the Saints took over.  They added a field goal and later in the game, Palmer found Criner for a three-yard  touchdown to make it 38-17.  That’s how it would end.  The win improved the Saints to five and five and the Raiders fell to three and seven.  In this awful three-game losing streak, the Raiders have been outscored 135-69.  That sounds more like a lopsided basketball game.

For the Saints, Drew Brees completed 20 of 27 for 219 yards and three touchdowns.  He was not picked off and the Raider defense didn’t register a sack.  Brees spread the ball around to eight different receivers and Marques Colston led them with four catches for 69 yards.  Three different running backs carried the ball for the Saints and Mark Ingram led the team with 67 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.  All totaled, the Saints racked up 153 yards on 28 carries.  Defensively, Roman Harper led the Saints with nine solo tackles, one tackle for a loss and an interception.

For the Raiders, Carson Palmer completed 22 of 40 for 312 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  Marcel Reece and Darrius Heyward-Bey led the team with four receptions apiece.  Reece had the most receiving yards with 90.  He also had a good day on the ground with 103 yards on 19 carries.  All totaled, the Raiders finished the game with 120 yards rushing on 26 carries.  Mike Mitchell led the team with seven solo tackles.

One of the few bright spots besides how well Reece played was that the Raiders were only flagged four times for 40 yards.  The Saints were flagged 11 times for 109 yards.  Other than that, this game was a disaster.  Oh, the Raiders had their chances.  IF Myers had caught that pass in the end zone, the game may have been different.  IF a Raider would have recovered that fumble by Graham, the game may have been different.  But the things that MIGHT have happened DIDN’T happen.  Simply put, the Raider defense found themselves out of position throughout the game, applied little pressure to the quarterback and couldn’t stop the run.  This has been a recurring theme throughout the year and I don’t think we’ll see any improvement.

As I look at the schedule for the remaining games, the Raiders play at Cincinnati next week.  Then they have three consecutive home games against Cleveland, Denver and Kansas City.  They finish the year on the road at Carolina and San Diego. Theoretically, who can they beat? Cleveland? Kansas City?  Who knows?  The more they lose, the more uninterested they look.  It’s possible they could end the year with a 3-13 record.  That would likely mean picking in the top five.  That will be a nice start to fill all the needs this team has.  But, I cannot predict the future.  I can only watch and hope that they can put together a few wins to salvage this disastrous season.  Anyway, I hope everyone out there has a good Thanksgiving!  Take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Raiders 16, Chiefs 13

The Oakland Raiders traveled east to Kansas City, Missouri to take on the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Raiders were coming off a horrible 28-27 loss to the Detroit Lions and the Chiefs were coming off a huge 19-14 win over the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers.

The Chiefs won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Return man Bryan McCann got things off to a good start for the Raiders as he returned the opening kickoff to the Chief 14.  However, the Raiders couldn’t capitalize on the great field position and had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from kicker Sebastian Janikowski.  That made it 3-0 with 13 minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Chiefs started their first drive of the game at their own 20 and running back Thomas Jones got things off to a good start on second and ten with a 22-yard run right up the middle.  But they would go no farther as quarterback Kyle Orton couldn’t connect with wide receiver Steve Breaston on third and long.  Punter Dustin Colquitt came on and booted a punt that pinned the Raiders at their own three-yard line.

On first down from the three, running back Michael Bush ran up the gut for seven yards to give the Raiders some breathing room.  An eight-yard completion to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and a 17-yard completion to Bush put the ball at the 32.  Short runs by Bush and fullback Marcel Reece and an eight-yard completion to wide receiver Denarius Moore gave the Raiders another first down at the 44.  But, on second and ten, quarterback Carson Palmer was picked off by linebacker Derrick Johnson.  He returned the ball to the Raider 36.

That gave the Chiefs good field position and on third and two from the 28, Orton found running back Dexter McCluster for a gain of six and a first down at the 22.  A seven-yard completion to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and a three-yard run by Jones gave the Chiefs another first down at the 12.  A short pass to Breaston and a gain of one by running back Jackie Battle set up a third and six from the eight.  Instead of attempting a pass, the Chiefs went with the running game and Jones ran up the middle for five yards and came up short of the first down.  Kicker Ryan Succop made the 23-yard field goal attempt and the score was knotted at three with three minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders started their next drive at their own 34.  After an incomplete pass to Moore and a two-yard run by Bush, Palmer looked for his old friend T.J. Houshmandzadeh.  Instead he found cornerback Javier Arenas.  Arenas returned the ball to the Raider 21.  But, the Raiders got lucky on this play as Arenas was called for defensive holding and that gave the Raiders a first down at the 41.  An 11-yard completion to fullback Manase Tonga moved the ball into Chief territory and a reverse to Moore got six more yards.  A holding call moved the ball back into Raider territory and on third 12 from the 50, Palmer found Houshmandzadeh for 11 yards and they came up one yard short.  Punter Shane Lechler came on and his punt was downed at the five-yard line.

The Chiefs went nowhere on their next drive and punted the ball away to the Raider 32.  Palmer found Moore for a gain of 20 to move the ball to the 47.   This is when the yellow flags started to show up.  An illegal formation penalty on guard Stephen Heyer wiped out a six-yard gain by Bush.  The flags were coming fast and furious as left tackle Jared Veldheer was called for holding.  But, the zebras didn’t want the Chiefs to feel left out and head zebra Mike Carey and  his crew threw flags on cornerback Brandon Carr for pass interference and linebacker Justin Houston for defensive holding.  The interference penalty gave the Raiders a first down at the Chief 44.  A gain of three by Bush and a completion to Moore for five yards set up a third and two at the 36.  Bush got the call and was promptly stuffed for no gain.  Janikowski came on to attempt a 54-yard field goal.  This time, the Raiders tried a fake field goal and Lechler hit tight end Brandon Myers for a 36-yard touchdown.  There was only one little problem with this fake field goal.  There was no time left on the freaking play clock!  The play clock had run down to zero and that meant no play and no touchdown.  Raider head coach Hue Jackson looked like he was going to puke.  That moved the ball back five yards and the 59-yard attempt by Janikowski came up just short and hit the crossbar.  After all that, the Raiders came away with nothing.  That was truly one of the most brutal “drives” I have ever seen.

The Chiefs took over at their own 49 and defensive tackle Richard Seymour broke through and sacked Orton for a loss of nine.  That was nullified by a defensive holding call on cornerback Stanford Routt.  A couple of runs by McCluster and Jones moved the ball into Raider territory and ANOTHER defensive holding call on Routt put the ball at the 17.  A four-yard run and an incomplete pass intended for Bowe set up a third and six from the 13.  Orton went looking for Bowe in the end zone and the ball was picked off by safety Matt Giordano.  The ball was returned 62 yards to the Chief 41.

The Raiders had the ball for exactly three plays this time as Palmer was picked off by Arenas at the Chief 33.  He returned it to the 38 and the Chiefs had the ball with two minutes to go in the half.  Completions to tight end Anthony Becht and wide receiver Jon Baldwin quickly moved the ball into Raider territory.  ANOTHER penalty on Routt moved the ball to the 40.  Orton found Bowe for 17 more.  An intentional grounding penalty, a delay of game and a false start moved the ball back to the 44.  From there, Orton found tight end Leonard Pope for a gain of 13.  Succop came into the game with three seconds to go in the half.  His field goal attempt was blocked by Seymour and at halftime the score was 3-3.  The total amount of flags thrown in the first half? 18.  Ten of them were on the Raiders.

The Chiefs started out the second half from their own 23 and got as far as the 27.  A 22-yard pass to Bowe was nullified due to a holding penalty.  Colquitt punted the ball away and the Raiders took over at their own 21.  A ten-yard pass to Reece on third and five moved the ball to the 36.  Palmer found Bush and Heyward-Bey again and the Raiders were near mid field when another flag appeared.  This time it was holding on Veldheer again.  This penalty was called after a 19-yard run up the middle by Bush.  That made it second and 18 from the Raider 39.  On second down, Palmer took the snap and saw that Moore had gotten behind the secondary.  Palmer launched a bomb that Moore caught in stride for a 61-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders had a 10-3 lead with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Chiefs started at their own 20 and the flags kept flying.  Cornerback Lito Sheppard was called for illegal contact and Pope was called for holding and that moved the Chiefs back ten yards.  On first and 20 from the 15, Orton found McCluster for a gain of 19 and wide receiver Terrence Copper for 43 to move the ball to the Raider 19.  Runs by Jones and Battle gave the Chiefs a first down at the six.  Two more runs by Jones moved the ball to the two.  On third down, Orton rolled out and was looking for Battle across the middle.  His pass was deflected by linebacker Rolando McClain and the Chiefs had to settle for a 20-yard field goal.  That made it 10-6 with three minutes to go in the third quarter.

After the Raiders ran three plays that took exactly 1:28 off the clock, they punted the ball away again.  The Chiefs got the ball at the 20 and three completions to Breaston moved the ball to the 47.  Another penalty on our good friend Mr. Routt gave them five more free yards.  A seven-yard run by Battle and an incomplete pass set up a third and three at the 35.  Orton dropped back and looked for Bowe.  Instead, he found the ever present Stanford Routt!  Routt picked off the pass at the 20 and returned it to the 23.  What was really amazing about this play was that there was no penalty!

Just like their last drive, that Raiders took exactly 1:28 off the clock and punted the ball away again.  Arenas called for a fair catch at the ten.  The Chiefs got as far as the 43 and went for it on fourth and one.  Battle ran up the middle, was hit in the backfield by linebacker Aaron Curry and brought down short of the first down by defensive end Lamarr Houston.  That was a huge and much needed stop by the Raider defense.

With a little under eight minutes to go in the game and clinging to a four point lead, it was time for Bush to get to work.  From the Chief 43, three straight runs moved the ball to the 26.  On third and four from the 26, Palmer hooked up with Houshmandzadeh for a gain of eight and a first down.  Three more plays netted a grand total of four yards and the Raiders had to settle for a 31-yard field goal.  That made it 13-6 with 2:54 to go in the game.

The Chiefs went to work from their 20 and that’s when the Keystone Kops made another appearance.  The Raiders rushed four and dropped seven men into coverage.  This allowed Orton all day to find open receivers.  Orton found Bowe for gains of 15 and 13 to put the ball at the Chief 48.  After an incomplete pass to Breaston, Orton dumped a screen pass to McCluster.  He proceeded to weave his way around defenders and was dragged down at the three.  On first and goal from the three, Orton found Bowe for a touchdown.  Succop made the point after and the score was now tied at 13 with 1:04 to go in the game.

The Raiders had another quick three and out.  Lechler punted the ball to the Chief 14 and Arenas returned it 19 yards to the 33.  With 16 seconds remaining in regulation, Orton found Bowe for 25 yards to move the ball to the Raider 42.  With nine seconds to go, Orton hooked up with Copper on the right side for 11 more yards.  Copper ran out of bounds and that set up a field goal attempt to win the game.  But, Richard Seymour would have none of that.  He blocked the attempt and gave the Raiders a chance to win it in overtime.

The Raiders won the toss and on the first play from scrimmage from the 24, Palmer went deep to Heyward-Bey for a gain of 53 yards down to the Chief 23.  Two carries by Bush moved the ball a little closer and gave the Raiders a chance to win the game on a 36-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Raiders were still alive in the playoff hunt as they went into Arrowhead and came away with a 16-13 win.

There were penalties galore in this game and it was about as ugly as it gets.  The Raiders were penalized 15 times for 92 yards and the Chiefs were penalized 11 times for 88 yards.  Total that up and you’ve got 26 penalties for 180 yards.  But, a win is a win and that’s all that matters.

Carson Palmer had a rough first half, but managed to complete 16 of 26 for 237 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  Denarius Moore led all receivers with four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.  Michael Bush had 23 carries for 70 yards and two catches for 24 yards.  Marcel Reece added one more to that for a total of 71 yards rushing in the game.  Matt Giordano led the team with nine tackles and an interception.  The Raiders did apply some good pressure to Orton at times, but came away with no sacks in this game.  Major props go out to Richard Seymour for blocking not one, but TWO field goals!  He gets my MVP award for this game.

Kyle Orton completed 21 of 36 for 300 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  Dexter McCluster led the team with five catches for 89 yards.  Jackie Battle and Thomas Jones rushed for 107 yards on 25 carries and the Chiefs rushed for 135 total yards.  Linebacker Derrick Johnson led the Chiefs with seven tackles and an interception.

Up next for the Raiders is a home game against the San Diego Chargers.  There are a bunch of playoff scenarios, but the main thing that has to happen for the Raiders to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 is they have to win.  They could use some help from the Chiefs this week as they are playing their final game of the year at Denver.  Former Bronco quarterback Kyle Orton would love to have revenge on his former team and that should be a very interesting game to watch.  I’ll be keeping a close eye on that game while I’m watching the Raiders.  Until then, take it easy.

Happy New Year from The Raider Guy!

Another Sunday, Another Loss…

The Detroit Lions headed west to Oakland, California to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Lions were coming off a 34-28 win over the Minnesota Vikings and the Raiders were coming off an embarrassing 46-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski booted a long kick for a touch-back and Detroit started their first drive of the day at their own 20.  On first down, quarterback Matthew Stafford found wide receiver Stefan Logan for a gain of 19.  A short gain by running back Kevin Smith and a five-yard completion to tight end Brandon Pettigrew set up a third and short.  On third down, Stafford went looking for wide receiver Titus Young, but the pass fell incomplete.  Punter Ben Graham punted the ball away and it was fielded by Raider return man Bryan McCann at the 14 and was returned 17 yards to the 31.

Quarterback Carson Palmer took to the air immediately and found wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for five yards.  Then he hooked up with wide receiver Denarius Moore for 13 to move the ball to midfield.  An 18-yard pass to running back Michael Bush moved the ball to the 33.  A three-yard run by Bush and short completions to fullback Marcel Reece and wide receiver Chaz Schilens set up a fourth and one.  Detroit stacked the middle of the line of scrimmage expecting a run right up the middle.  Instead, Palmer did a play fake and had Moore WIDE OPEN in the end zone.  But, he rushed his pass and the ball didn’t even come close to Moore.  That would be a very costly mistake and Detroit took over on downs.

Detroit took over at the 24 and got as far as the 39.  From there, Graham punted the ball away and the Raiders took over at their 24.  Marcel Reece got the drive off to a nice start as he ran up the left side for an apparent gain of 56 to the Detroit 20.  But, the play was challenged and it was ruled that Reece stepped out of bounds at the 50.  On first down from the 50, defensive end Cliff Avril burst through the line and sacked Palmer for a loss of 12.  While he was dancing around and acting like he had just won the lottery, a flag was thrown and he was called for a horse collar penalty.  That put the ball at the 47 and an illegal contact penalty on Detroit gave the Raiders five more free yards.  An 18-yard completion to Reece and another personal foul on Detroit linebacker Stephen Tulloch put the ball at the 12.  From the 12, wide receiver Louis Murphy ran a reverse up the left side for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after to make it 7-0.  For the first time since week 12, the Raiders had the lead.

Another long kickoff put Detroit at their own 20 again.  Completions to wide receivers Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson moved the ball to the Detroit 43.  On second and four from the 49, Johnson got behind the Raider secondary and Stafford threw a perfect pass for a 51-yard touchdown.  Kicker Jason Hanson made the point after and that knotted the score at seven.

The teams traded punts on their next possessions and with 12 minutes to go in the second half, the Raiders got the ball back at their own six-yard line.  A gain of nine by Bush and a 35-yard completion to Heyward-Bey had the Raiders moving again.  Palmer found Moore for a gain of 13 and Bush got three up the middle to move the ball to the Detroit 43.  On second and seven from the 43, Palmer found Heyward-Bey for a nice catch and run for a 43-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 14-7 with nine minutes to go in the second quarter.

The teams traded punts again and Detroit took over at their own 32 with a little over three minutes remaining.  Two short runs by Smith and a gain of 17 to Johnson moved the ball into Raider territory.  Another short run by Smith and a six-yard completion to Johnson set up a first down at the Raider 39.  On first down, Stafford put one up to Burleson for a 39-yard touchdown.  The Raiders were without starting safety Michael Huff and his absence made a difference in this game as the secondary looked totally baffled on this play.  Hanson made the point after and the score was now 14-14 with 1:14 to go in the half.

The Raiders went to work at their own 21 with little time to spare.  A completion to Bush for 13 and another one to wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh for nine put the ball at the 40.  Palmer found Bush for ten more and Houshmandzadeh for 16 more for a first down at the Detroit 34.  A six yard run by Bush moved the ball to the 28 with five seconds to go.   Janikowski blasted a 46-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Raiders a 17-14 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was a punt-fest until Detroit started a drive at their own 40 with 4:05 to go.  Stafford connected with Burleson and Johnson to set up a first down at the Raider 48.  A nine-yard completion to Burleson made it third and one.  The Raider defense was up to the task this time as they stopped Smith on third and one and fourth and one.  Detroit turned the ball over on downs at the 39 with 1:17 remaining.  A 13-yard completion to tight end Kevin Boss and a gain of four on a reverse by Murphy set up a second and six and the Detroit 44.  On second down, Palmer hit Heyward-Bey in stride and he headed for the end zone.  But, he was caught from behind and the ball was knocked loose by linebacker Justin Durant and recovered by cornerback Alphonso Smith.  That gave Detroit the ball at their 18 with 18 seconds to go in the third quarter.  But, the Raider defense stood strong again and forced another punt.

The Raiders got the ball back at their 34 and some good running by Bush put the ball at the Detroit 40.  They would get as far as the 33 and the drive would stall there.  The Polish Cannon was brought into the game and he nailed a 51-yard field goal to put the Raiders on top, 20-14 with a little over eight minutes to go in the game.

Detroit started at their 14 and on third and ten, Stafford was sacked by defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.  The ball came loose and linebacker Aaron Curry picked it up and ran it in for a six-yard touchdown.  That made the score 26-14 and in the back of my mind, I wondered if they should have gone for two.  If successful, that would have given them a 28-14 lead.  But that was not the case as Janikowski made the point after to make it 27-14 with 7:47 to go in the game.

Time was short and Detroit knew they had to abandon the running game.  Apparently, the Raiders and their defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan forgot how to play defense as Stafford marched his team deep into Raider territory by spreading ball around to four different receivers.  An eight-yard completion to Pettigrew set up a fourth and two at the eight.  Instead of keeping an eye on Stafford for a possible draw play, the Raiders dropped into coverage and that allowed him to run up the middle for a gain of five and set up a first and goal at the three.  From there, Stafford found Young in the end zone for a touchdown.  Hanson made the point after and it was now 27-21 with five minutes to go in the game.

It was time for the Michael Bush show to begin for the Raiders.  Starting out at their own 15, Bush got the call on first down and ran up the left side for 12 yards.  After a gain of three from the 27, Detroit called a timeout.  A 15-yard carry and a five-yard carry put the ball at the 50.  On second and five from the 50, Bush got two yards to make it third and three.  With a little over two minutes to go, I think everyone in the house was expecting Bush to get another carry.  Instead, Palmer took the snap and launched a bomb up the right side for Schilens.  The ball was slightly overthrown, hit his hands and he dropped it.  That stopped the clock and the Raiders punted the ball away.  I am still in shock as I write this. Why in the name of all that is holy would they attempt such a low percentage pass? If you’re going to throw, why not try a screen to Reece or hit Boss across the middle?  That was a HORRIBLE play call and it made no sense!

So, instead of running out the clock, the Raider defense found themselves on the field again.  Detroit had 2:14 and 98 yards to go.  The Raiders had Chuck Bresnahan calling the plays for the defense.  That’s like having the captain of the Titanic calling the plays.  An eight-yard completion to Pettigrew, 18 more to Burleson and 21 more to Johnson moved the ball out to the Detroit 39.  On first and ten from the 39, Johnson ran right through the secondary and Stafford heaved up a bomb that was caught for a gain of 48 yards.  On this play, McClain was trying to cover Johnson.  That is not going to work.  That gave Detroit a first down at the 13.  A holding call moved them back ten yards, but a pass interference penalty on cornerback Stanford Routt gave them a first down at the six.  On second and goal from the six, Stafford found Johnson cutting across the end zone for a touchdown.  Hanson made the point after and Detroit had a 28-27 lead with 39 seconds to go.

With two timeouts, 39 seconds and starting at his own 16, Palmer quickly went to work and found Boss for gains of 13 and 21 yards.  He was then sacked for a loss of three as he couldn’t find anyone open.  With 13 seconds to go, the Raiders called their final timeout.  Houshmandzadeh caught a pass for a gain of six and quickly stepped out of bounds at the Detroit 47.  That set up a 65-yard field goal attempt as a last ditch effort for the Raiders to come away with a win.  The kick was partially blocked by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and the kick was no good.  That gave Detroit a 28-27 win and a better shot at making the playoffs.  The loss was the third in a row for the Raiders and their playoff hopes are looking very dim.

So, where does the blame go this week?  It goes on everyone.  What I saw in this game was horrible clock management, failure to execute and total confusion on the defensive side of the ball at crucial parts of the game.  The secondary looked like the Keystone Kops as they had absolutely NO IDEA what they were doing.  Calvin Johnson is a huge receiver with speed, height and great hands.  If you’re a quarterback and your team is down and you need a score, Calvin Johnson would get my vote as the go to guy.  How the hell could they let him run wild through the secondary uncovered?  You can call it the “zone defense,” or you can call it the “Tampa two defense.”  You can call it what you want.  I call it the prevent defense and it does not work.  Mike Ditka had one of the most famous quotes of all time when he said “All the prevent defense does is prevent your team from winning.”  You’re 100 percent right, Mr. Ditka.

Matt Stafford had a stellar day as he completed 29 of 52 for 391 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.  Calvin Johnson led the team with nine catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns.  Detroit didn’t have much success running the ball in this game as Kevin Smith was held to 43 yards on 15 carries.  As a team, Detroit had 57 yards rushing.  Linebacker Stephen Tulloch led the defense with eight tackles and they registered three sacks.

Carson Palmer had a solid day as he completed 32 of 40 for 367 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.  That’s a completion percentage of 80 percent.  Unfortunately, two of those incomplete passes were huge.  If he had completed the pass early in the game to Moore in the end zone and the one late in the game to Schilens, I would be talking about a Raider victory right now.  Darrius Heyward-Bey led all receivers with eight catches for 155 yards and a touchdown.  He also had a very costly fumble.  Michael Bush carried the ball 18 times for 77 yards and caught seven passes for 62 yards.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 132 yards.  Linebacker Rolando McClain led the team with seven solo tackles, a tackle for a loss and a sack.

As usual, there were lots of penalties in this game and the Raiders were flagged ten times for 86 yards. Detroit didn’t fare much better as they were flagged nine times for 72 yards.  Most of the flags for the Raiders were on the Keystone Kops because they didn’t know how to break up a pass without making contact with an opposing receiver.

With the Broncos and Raiders losing and the Chargers and Chiefs winning, the AFC West is still up for grabs with two games remaining.  Up next for the Raiders is a game on Christmas Eve at Kansas City.  The Chiefs are flying high after a 19-14 win over the Green Bay Packers.  Former Bronco quarterback Kyle Orton got the start and he looked good as he passed for 299 yards.  Head coach Todd Haley was fired last week and interim head coach Romeo Crennel has his team playing well.  I’ll be heading down to South Carolina for Christmas and I may miss the game, but I still hope to watch the replay and have an article up by Tuesday at the latest.  Until then, take it easy.

Merry Christmas from The Raider Guy!

The Nightmare Continues…

The Oakland Raiders headed east again to take on the Green Bay Packers.  The Raiders were coming off a 34-14 blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins and the Packers were coming off a 38-35 win over the New York Giants.

Going into this game, I thought maybe there was a chance for the Raiders to get an upset.  The Packers tend to give up lots of yards and their defense had a hard time against the Giants.  But, any chance of that happening was diffused almost immediately as the Raiders looked out of sync and undisciplined for the second straight week.  Dropped balls, false starts, offside penalties and turnovers put the Raiders in a hole that they would never climb out of.

But, like I said last week, I’m back to do my usual play-by-play format.  This could be painful.  The Raiders won the toss and elected to receive.  Quarterback Carson Palmer guided the Raiders into Packer territory, but on second and six from the Packer 43, he was flushed out of the pocket and put up a duck that was intercepted by linebacker D.J. Smith.  He returned it to the Packer 48.  After an offside penalty on defensive end Lamarr Houston, running back Ryan Grant took the hand-off and ran up the left side for a 47-yard touchdown.  Kicker Mason Crosby made the point after and it was 7-0 with 12 minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders got as far as the Packer 48 on their next drive when left tackle Jared Veldheer was called for holding.  A false start penalty, a short run and an incomplete pass to Michael Bush set up a third and 25 at the Raider 37.  On third down, Palmer went looking for wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and hit him right in the hands at the 50.  Heyward-Bey dropped the ball and the Raiders were forced to punt again.

The Packers started at their own 20 and got some more help from the Raiders as defensive tackle Tommy Kelly promptly jumped offside on second and ten at the 20.  From the 25, Rodgers spread the ball around to four different receivers and moved the ball to the Raider four-yard line.  On first and goal from the four, Rodgers found tight end Ryan Taylor standing all by his lonesome in the end zone.  Crosby made the point after and it was now 14-0 with four minutes to go in the first quarter.

After another Raider punt, the Packers took over at their own 26.  Rodgers continued to spread the ball around to wide receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb.  A seven-yard run by running back Brandon Saine and a 12-yard run by Grant put the ball at the Raider 10.  But a clipping penalty moved the ball back ten yards.  Two seven-yard completions to Saine set up a third and six, but they couldn’t make the third down conversion and settled for a 34-yard field goal to make it 17-0 with 13 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Another obligatory three and out by the Raiders gave the Packers the ball at their own 16.  It was from here that a few more weapons in the Packer arsenal were introduced.  Enter wide receivers Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson.  Rodgers hit Nelson for a gain of 13 on first down and also found Driver for gains of six and 22 yards.  A six-yard run by Grant moved the ball to the Raider 37.  On first down from the 37, Rodgers put up a bomb for Nelson and the baffled Raider secondary allowed him to catch it for another Packer touchdown.  That made it 24-0 with nine minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Packers weren’t done yet as Carson Palmer was picked off by cornerback Charles Woodson at the Raider 22 to give the Packers excellent field position.  A sack by Tommy Kelly moved the Packers back six yards and Grant was stopped for no gain on second down.  But, on third and 16, safety Michael Mitchell was flagged for pass interference and that gave the Packers a first and goal at the six.  Grant took the ball straight up the middle for another Packer touchdown.  Crosby made the point after and it was now 31-0 with seven minutes to go in the half.

After ANOTHER three and out and a horrible fake punt attempt by the Raiders, the Packers once again had great field position at the Raider 28.  A 19-yard pass to Driver moved the ball to the eight.  On third and goal from the four, Mitchell intercepted a pass in the end zone intended for tight end Jermichael Finley.  It truly was a nice play by Mitchell and it stopped the bleeding for a little while.

Palmer gathered the troops together and the Raiders had one more shot to put some points on the board before halftime.  Completions to tight end Kevin Boss and some running by Palmer put the ball at the Packer 41.  A 16-yard pass to Heyward-Bey and another completion to Boss gave the Raiders a first down at the 14.  But with 48 seconds to go, Palmer went looking for Boss again in the end zone and the ball was picked off by linebacker Rob Francois.  The half ended and the Packers had a commanding 31-0 lead.

A 50-yard kickoff return by Cobb gave the Packers good field position to start out the second half.  Rodgers went right to work and found Driver for 19 and wide receiver Greg Jennings for eight more.  Jennings was injured during the play and would not return.  On third and two from the 11, Rodgers was sacked by linebacker Rolando McClain for a loss of nine.  Crosby came on and made a 38-yard field goal and the Packers increased their lead to 34-0 with 12 minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders got the ball at their own 20 again and Palmer completed passes to Bush and fullback Marcel Reece to put the ball at the 50.  Some more runs by Bush and a 34-yard completion to Heyward-Bey moved the ball to the Packer four.  On second and goal from the two, Bush powered his way into the end zone for a Raider touchdown.  It’s a miracle!  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and that made it 34-7 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Packers started at their own 20 and on third and 19, Rodgers saw Cobb standing by himself at the 37.  Rodgers thought Cobb looked lonely with no Raiders around to keep him company, so he threw the ball to him and he caught it for a first down.  Some good runs by Grant and fullback John Kuhn moved the ball to the Raider 31.  But, that was as far as they would get and Crosby made a 49-yard field goal to make it 37-7 with three minutes to go.

This is where things got thoroughly disgusting.  The Raiders got the ball again at their 20 and on first down, Palmer completed a pass to Reece.  He was hit by Rob Francois and the ball came out and bounced backward toward Palmer.  Palmer pounced on the ball and it somehow squirted through his hands.  The opportunistic Packers recovered it and linebacker Erik Walden ran it in for another Packer touchdown.  The point after was blocked by defensive end Desmond Bryant and the Packers led 43-7 with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter.

Guess what the Raiders did next?  Yup. They started at their own 20 again.  Care to go two for two? What do you think they did next?  Did they get a first down?  Did they fumble, throw another interception or go three and out?  If you guessed three and out, you got it right!  Congratulations!  You have just won a case of Genesee Cream Ale!

Rodgers decided he had enough and quarterback Matt Flynn came into the game.  The Packers took over at the Raider 41 and on third and five from the 36, a pass intended for Nelson fell incomplete.  But, what would a Raider game be without a personal foul?  Linebacker Quentin Groves was called for roughing the passer and that moved the ball to the 21.  They would get as far as the 13 and Crosby was called on once again.  He made a 31-yard field goal to make it 46-7 with almost an entire quarter to go.

The Raiders started their next “drive” at their own 11 and got as far as the 28 when Shane Lechler punted the ball away again.  This time, he hit a 71-yard punt that was downed at the one.  On third and five from the six, McClain burst through the line and sacked Flynn for a safety.  It was good to see somebody hadn’t given up with the score being so lopsided.  That made it 46-9.

With 11 minutes to go in the game, the Raiders took over at their 23.  Some more running by Bush and a couple of completions to wide receiver Louis Murphy moved the ball to the Packer six.  On first and goal from the six, Palmer found Boss for a Raider touchdown.  Wow!  That makes two touchdowns in the same game.  Impressive.  Janikowski made the point after and that made the final score 46-16.  There you go.  I managed to write what happened in this game without puking my guts out.

Caron Palmer completed 24 of 42 for 245 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.  Darrius Heyward-Bey led the Raiders in receiving with five catches for 78 yards.  Michael Bush led the team in rushing with 78 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.  As a team, the Raiders had 117 yards rushing.  Linebacker Rolando McClain led the Raiders with seven tackles and two sacks.  The Raiders had a total of four sacks and one interception.  They were also penalized 11 times for 89 yards.  Most of them were false starts and offside penalties.  Every time Rodgers did a loud “HUT,” a Raider would promptly jump offside.

For the Packers, it was business as usual as Aaron Rodgers sliced up the Raider secondary.  He completed 17 of 30 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Jordy Nelson led the team with three catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.  Grant and Kuhn combined for 131 yards on 20 carries and the Packers rushed for 136 yards as a team.  Linebacker D.J. Smith led the Packers with seven solo tackles and an interception.

The Raiders have been outscored the last two weeks by a score of 80-30.  It’s tough to win games when your offense turns the ball over five times and your defense has more holes in it than a pack of Swiss cheese.   It’s also very tough to win when you have 14 players on the injury list and are short-handed at receiver.  A while back, they had a four and one road record and people were picking them to win the division and go deep into the playoffs.  That’s not the case anymore.  As I wrote that, I was reminded of a song by the Beatles.  It goes something like “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.  Now it looks as if they’re here to stay.  Oh, I believe in Yesterday.”

Well, believe it or not, there still is some time to right the ship with two of the next three games at home.  But if they want to win those games, they better play a hell of a lot better than they played against Miami and Green Bay.  They also need some help from other teams if they want to catch Denver.  Wide receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford should be back next week against Detroit.  The word on running back Darren McFadden is still “wait and see.”  If he can’t go, hopefully Taiwan Jones can make it back and we’ll see some speed in the backfield.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

Unlucky 13

There are some people in the world who think that the number 13 is good luck.  I am not one of those people.  Week 13 of the NFL season had the Oakland Raiders traveling to Miami to take on the Miami Dolphins.  The Raiders were coming off a 25-20 win over the Chicago Bears and the Dolphins lost 20-19 to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

But, in a way, I guess I was lucky.  Due to the fact that I had to do some traveling last weekend, I was unable to see what occurred on Sunday.  I had my cell phone working and I saw the score elevate from 3-0 to 6-0 to 13-0 and so on.  When the score reached 34-0, I said to my wife “I sure am glad I can’t see what’s going on!”  But, as I watched the sickening replay on game-pass on NFL.com, I saw a totally uninspired Raider team and a totally focused Dolphin team.  The Dolphins won this game in the trenches and their defense shut down Michael Bush from the beginning as he finished the game with 18 yards on ten carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 46 yards.  The long run of the day was a gain of 15 on a reverse by wide receiver Louis Murphy.

If you look at the statistics for quarterback Carson Palmer, you would think he had a pretty good day as he completed 20 of 41 for 273 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Miami linebacker Kevin Burnett.  Most of those yards came when the game was well out of hand.  Palmer was also sacked twice and pressured throughout the game.  Wide receiver Chaz Schilens led all receivers with six catches for 89 yards.

For the Dolphins, quarterback Matt Moore had a good game as he was never sacked and barely had any pressure applied to him from the Raider defense.  He completed 13 of 25 for 162 yards, one touchdown pass and he ran for a six-yard score.  Tight end Anthony Fasano led all receivers with four catches for 66 yards.  Running backs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas found gaping holes in the Raider defense and combined for 173 yards on 35 carries.  Bush also scored on a one-yard run.  As a team, the Dolphins shredded the Raiders for a total of 209 yards rushing.  The Dolphins ended up winning 34-14, but it could have easily ended up being 48-0 if the Dolphins hadn’t taken it easy in the fourth quarter and allowed the Raiders to score two touchdowns.

So, what’s the problem with the Raiders?  Did they watch too much ESPN?  They were singing high praises last week and even former Denver Bronco Tom Jackson had some kind words for them.  Did it get to their heads?  Was it too hot in Miami to wear those black uniforms?  Maybe they were distracted by the arrest of linebacker Rolando McClain.  He didn’t seem too distracted.  He led the team in tackles and even had a tackle for a loss.  Maybe they were looking ahead to the game next week on the “Frozen Tundra” of Lambeau Field against the Packers.  But, if Matt Moore can stand in the pocket for 10 seconds looking for a receiver, what do you think Aaron Rodgers will do?

Now, I know that Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore weren’t active and that definitely didn’t help.  But, from what I saw on the replay, they looked totally uninspired and listless.  Defensive tackle Richard Seymour was ejected again for throwing a punch.  That wasn’t much of a punch, but I’m sure he was frustrated with the way things were going.  The Raiders were flagged 10 times for a total of 91 yards.

Of course, there is the optimistic approach.  Upsets happen every week and this time it happened to the Raiders.  Maybe they were overconfident because the Dolphins were three and eight?  Maybe Raider fans should treat the loss to Miami like a U.F.O.  We saw something, but we weren’t quite sure what it was.  Whatever it was, Hue Jackson and the rest of the coaching staff better get these players into shape and focused on the game next week.

The loss to Miami was bad, but the chances for a playoff berth also took a hit.  With a 35-32 win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Broncos took over first place in the AFC West.  As I look at the schedule for next week, the Chicago Bears are heading out to play at Denver.  Not only have the Bears lost quarterback Jay Cutler, they lost running back Matt Forte last week in a 10-3 loss to Kansas City.  Their defense is still playing well, but their offense has got to find a way to score some points against Denver’s defense.  It’s not impossible to score on Denver.  The Viking offense put up 30 points against them without running back Adrian Peterson.

The odds are still pretty low that running back Darren McFadden will be back and ready to go against the Packers.  Hopefully running back Taiwan Jones can return from a hamstring injury and share some carries with Bush.  It would be nice to see Ford and Moore back this week because the Raiders certainly are going to need as many weapons as possible.  Aaron Rodgers and the high powered Green Bay offense can’t score if they aren’t on the field and I’d love to see the running game get established and take lots of time off the clock.  Next week, I’ll be back with my regular play by play format.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Raiders 25, Bears 20

The Chicago Bears made the trip to Oakland, California to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Bears were coming off their fifth straight win as they defeated the San Diego Chargers by a score of 31-20  and the Raiders were coming off a 27-21 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

The Bears won the toss and elected to receive.  With quarterback Jay Cutler out with a broken thumb, Caleb Hanie got the start for the Bears.  They started on their own 18 and got a total of six yards on their first possession.  Punter Adam Podlesh punted the ball away and the Raiders started their first drive of the game at their own 29.  A quick strike from quarterback Carson Palmer to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey went for 19 yards and a 24-yard completion to tight end Brandon Myers moved the ball to the Chicago 28.  From the 28, running back Michael Bush got his first carry of the game and picked up six yards.  But two incomplete passes forced the Raiders to try a field goal.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the 40-yard attempt and the Raiders led 3-0 with 11 minutes to go in the first quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions and the Bears took over at their own 16.  After a one-yard run by running back Matt Forte, Hanie took off downfield for a gain of 17 yards.  However, a personal foul was called on the Bears and the ball was moved back 15 yards.  A false start moved them back five more yards to give them a first and 15 at their own 14.  From the 14, Hanie was flushed out of the pocket,  ran to his right and threw a pass intended for Forte.  The pass was picked off by cornerback Stanford Routt at the 33.  Routt returned the ball to the 31 and the Raiders had great field position.

A seven-yard completion to Heyward-Bey and a four-yard run by Bush gave the Raiders a first down at the Chicago 20.  But that’s as far as they went as Palmer was sacked for a loss of nine on third down.  Janikowski came on and made a 47-yard field goal to make it 6-0 with four minutes to go in the first quarter.

Chicago started their next drive at their 18. On second and ten, Forte ran up the right side for a gain of 33 to the Raider 49.  On second and nine from the 48, Hanie found Forte for a gain of 10 and another first down at the Raider 38.  Running back Marion Barber was brought into the game and got three yards to put the ball at the 35.  On second and seven, Hanie was sacked by linebacker Rolando McClain for a loss of eight.  That made it third and 15 from 43.  On third down, Hanie threw an errant pass down the middle of the field that was picked off by safety Michael Huff at the 19.  Huff returned the ball to the 43 and the Raiders started another drive with good field position.

On third and seven from the 46, Palmer found tight end Kevin Boss for a gain of eight and a first down at the Chicago 46.  A nine-yard loss on a sack by defensive tackle Amobi Okoye moved the Raiders back to their 45 and an incomplete pass intended for wide receiver Louis Murphy made it third and 19.  On third down, Palmer found Bush for a gain of eight that was well short of the first down.  Punter Shane Lechler booted the ball out of bounds at the Chicago three-yard line.

A quick three and out by the Bears gave the Raiders the ball at the 50.  Two short runs and a short completion to Murphy set up a fourth and one at the Chicago 41.  Bush ran up the left side for a gain of two and the Raiders got a new set of downs at the 39.  But, another nine yard loss on a sack by defensive end Julius Peppers and another incomplete pass set up a third and 19.  On third down, Palmer went looking for wide receiver Chaz Schilens, but found cornerback Corey Graham instead.  Graham picked the pass off at the 25 and returned it one yard.

Hanie and the Bears took over at the 26 and three runs by Barber moved the ball to the Raider 47.  A loss of three by Forte on first down and an incomplete pass on second down and a five-yard penalty put the Bears in a third and long at their own 45.  On third down, Hanie couldn’t find anyone open and had nothing but daylight to his right side.  He ran for 24 yards and gave the Bears a first down at the Raider 31.  Two short runs by Barber set up a third and eight.  The Raiders came with an all out blitz and an unfazed Hanie threw a dart to wide receiver Johnny Knox across the middle for a 29-yard touchdown.  Kicker Robbie Gould made the point after and the Bears led 7-6 with just under five minutes to go in the first half.

The Raiders took over at their own 20 and on first down, Palmer hit fullback Marcel Reece on a perfectly timed screen that went for 47 yards to the Chicago 33.  But the Raiders could only get as  far as the 24.  Janikowski was called on again and he made a 42-yard field goal.  That made it 9-7 with three minutes to go in the first half.

Return man Johnny Knox took the kickoff straight up the middle and was dragged down at the Raider 35 to give the Bears excellent field position to start their next drive.  On third and seven from the 32, Hanie completed a 16-yard pass to tight end Kellen Davis.  A four-yard completion to Forte and a five-yard penalty on the Raiders gave the Bears a second and one at the seven.  Hanie made an attempt to set up a screen to Forte, but his pass was broken up by linebacker Aaron Curry and the ball was picked off by linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.  Wimbley took off up the right sideline and was thrown out of bounds by offensive lineman Lance Louis at the Chicago 12.  Louis was flagged for a horse collar tackle and the ball was moved to the six.  It didn’t look like a horse collar to me.  Louis showed great hustle on that play and grabbed Wimbley by the jersey and threw him out of bounds.  He did what he had to do to prevent Wimbley from scoring.  So, with 18 seconds remaining in the half, Bush gets a carry straight up the middle into the teeth of the Chicago defense for a loss of one.  That was a stupid play call.  With that much time remaining, you don’t run the ball up the middle.  Raider head coach Hue Jackson called a timeout and on second down, Palmer threw a screen to Bush and he was dragged down at the one.  Another timeout was called and with only five seconds remaining, Janikowksi made the 19-yard attempt to put the Raiders up 12-7 at halftime.

The Raiders got the ball to start the second half and started out at their own 20.  On second and ten, Palmer hit Reece for a gain of 11 to move the ball to the 31.  From there, Bush ran for 11 more to give the Raiders a first down at the 42.  Palmer found Reece again across the middle for a gain of 29 yards to put the ball at the Chicago 29.  On second and nine from the 28, Palmer found Schilens for 17 yards and another first down at the 11.  A short run by Bush moved the ball to the nine.  But, a holding call on left tackle Jared Veldheer moved the Raiders back to the 19.  Three straight incomplete passes meant it was time to bring in the Polish Cannon again for a 37-yard attempt.  The attempt was good and the Raiders now led 15-7.

Three punts later, the Raiders took over at their own 38 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.  Some tough running by Bush and completions to Heyward-Bey and Schilens moved the ball to the Chicago 20.  On second and ten from the 20, Palmer found Schilens for a gain of 11 to give the Raiders a first and goal at the nine.  On second and 12, Bush had a nice catch and run and finally the Raiders scored a touchdown.  Not so fast.  A holding penalty was called on rookie guard Stefen Wisniewski and that nullified the score and moved the Raiders back ten yards.  Palmer was then sacked and a long pass to Heyward-Bey on third and goal from the 26 fell incomplete.  Janikowski was brought in again and his 44-yard attempt was good.  The Raiders now led 18-7 with 22 seconds to go in the third quarter.

The Bears started their next drive at their own 18 and Marion Barber ended the third quarter with a 22-yard run up the left side.  A gain of four by Barber and a completion to wide receiver Earl Bennett set up a third and one at the 48.  Hanie ran up the middle for a gain of one to give the Bears a new set of downs.  On first down, Hanie found tight end Matt Spaeth for nine and and Barber ran for nine more for another first down at the 40.  A short gain by Barber and an incomplete pass intended for wide receiver Roy Williams set up a third and six.  Instead of going through the air, Forte carried the ball off left tackle and was brought down short of the first down.  Robbie Gould was brought on and blasted a 50-yard field goal through the uprights.  That made it 18-10 with just under 11 minutes to go in the game.

The Raiders started at their own 20 and a 15-yard pass to Heyward-Bey was initially ruled complete.  But, a foolish timeout by the Raiders gave Chicago head coach Lovie Smith plenty of time to watch the replay.  The play was challenged and the call was reversed.  The Raiders went nowhere after that and Shane Lechler punted the ball 80 yards through the end zone.  That was one hell of a punt.

With ten minutes remaining in the game, the Bears knew they had to get going.  A short run by Forte and two completions to Johnny Knox moved the ball to the Raider 42.  The drive would stall at the 35 and Robbie Gould promptly made a 53-yard field goal to make it 18-13 with seven minutes to go.

With a five point lead and time ticking away, the Raiders knew a long drive would take some time off the clock and hopefully preserve a win.  Starting from their own 26, Palmer found Heyward-Bey for nine yards to set up a third and one at the 35.  On third and one, Bush ran up the left side for a first down.  But, another yellow flag made an appearance and a holding penalty was called on center Samson Satele.  I rarely agree with referees, but they made the right call on this one.  Satele looked like he was playing defense as he literally tackled his man to prevent him from getting to Bush.  That made it third and 11 from the 25.  A five-yard penalty was called on Chicago to make it third and six from the 30.  From there, Palmer completed a pass to Schilens for a gain of 14 and a first down at the 44.  Two runs by Bush moved the ball to the 50 and the Bears called their first timeout.  On third and four from the 50, Palmer launched a bomb up the right sideline for Louis Murphy.  Murphy got behind the defense and caught the pass for a gain of 47.  He was pushed out of bounds at the three.  On first and goal from the three, Bush finally broke down the barrier that was across the goal line for the first and only touchdown of the game for the Raiders.  Janikowksi made the point after to make the score 25-13 with 3:47 to go in the game.

Chicago kick returner Devin Hester fielded the kickoff five yards deep in the end zone and returned it to the 16.  On first down, a screen pass to Forte failed miserably for a loss of six.  An incomplete pass to Knox made it third and 16 from the ten.  Now, if you’re down by 12 points at your own ten late in the fourth quarter and it’s third and long, what are you going to do?  Run Barber up the middle? No. Try another screen to Forte? Incorrect.  My advice for the Raider defense would be to look for a long pass.  Hanie took the snap, stepped up in the pocket and launched a bomb down the middle.  Knox caught the pass and blew past Routt and safety Matt Giordano for a huge catch and run for a gain of 81 yards.  I sat there in total disbelief as I watched that play.  That made it first and goal at the nine.  On second down, Hanie hit Davis across the middle of the end zone for a touchdown.  Gould made the point after to make it 25-20 and just like that, the Bears were back in the game with 2:11 remaining.

Gould tried an onside kick and after a big pileup that took about five minutes to get cleared up, rookie tight end David Ausberry of the Raiders came away with the ball.  That gave them the ball at the 46 and Bush ran up the middle for a loss of one.  The Bears called their final timeout with 2:01 to go.  This was a perfect opportunity for Palmer to complete a pass for a first down and end the game.  The only way the clock could be stopped was the two minute warning.  But, Hue Jackson didn’t see it that way and Bush ran up the middle again for a gain of two.  On third and nine, Palmer hit Reece with a screen pass.  Reece almost broke loose, but was dragged down short of the first down marker.  A delay of game penalty moved the ball back five yards and Lechler punted the ball away.  It was a great punt and the ball went out of bounds at the four.  That gave the Bears one minute, one second and 96 yards to go.

On first down, Hanie found wide receiver Sam Hurd for eight and Williams for 22 more to put the ball at the 34 with precious time running out.  Hanie spiked the ball on first down and a pass intended for Bennett fell incomplete.  On third down, he found Forte for a gain of 12.  Forte tried to get out of bounds, but safety Tyvon Branch tackled him and kept him in bounds.  That made it first down at the 46.  Hanie took the next snap with six seconds remaining and tried a fake spike.  Then he threw the ball to the ground hoping to stop the clock.  After a zebra convention at the 42, Hanie was flagged for intentional grounding.  That meant there would be a ten second runoff.  With only four seconds to go, that gave the Raiders a 25-20 win.  The win improved their record to seven and four and kept them in first place in the AFC West.  The loss dropped the Bears to seven and four and they are tied for second in the NFC North with the Detroit Lions.

This was another hard fought and much needed victory for the Raiders.  With injuries to wide receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore and running back Darren McFadden missing another game, they were short handed.  Five trips into the red zone and only one touchdown didn’t help either.  But, thanks to six field goals by Janikowski, they were able to pull this one out.  Carson Palmer completed 21 of 37 for 301 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.  Michael Bush carried the ball 24 times for a tough 69 yards and a touchdown.  He also caught four passes for 24 yards.  As a team, the Raiders only had 73 yards rushing.  Marcel Reece led the team with five catches for 92 yards.

For the Bears, Caleb Hanie did a good job filling in for Jay Cutler and completed 18 for 36 for 254 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.  He also racked up 50 yards rushing on five carries.  Marion Barber led the Bears with 63 yards on 10 carries and Matt Forte had 59 yards on 12 carries.  33 of those yards came on one carry.  Total that up and the Bears had a total of 172 yards on the ground and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.  Johnny Knox led the team in receiving with 145 yards on four catches and one touchdown.  The teams combined for 13 penalties for 105 yards.  Six of those penalties were called on the Raiders and to my surprise, none of them were personal fouls.  Truly amazing!

What I liked best about the Raider defense was that they contained Forte on screen passes and only let him get loose for a long gain once.  They sacked Hanie four times and picked him off three times.  Aside from a 56-yard kickoff return by Knox, I was also impressed by the special teams coverage.  Devin Hester had seven yards on two punt returns and 39 yards on two kick returns with his longest return being 21 yards.

Granted, this was still an ugly win and there were some breakdowns in coverage on crucial plays, but at the end of the day, all that matters is the final result.  The final result was the Raiders got the win.  Up next for them is a trip across the country to sunny South Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins.  After a rough start, the Dolphins have won three of their last four games and are playing much better.  This will be a tough test for the Raiders and hopefully they’ll have all their weapons back.  It would be nice to see how they would play if every starter was healthy.  I will be going out of town this weekend and won’t be back until Monday evening.  So, look for my next article to be posted on Tuesday.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

 

 

Raiders 27, Vikings 21

The Oakland Raiders took their show on the road to Minneapolis, Minnesota to take on the Minnesota Vikings.  The Raiders were coming off a 24-17 win over the San Diego Chargers and the Vikings suffered a 45-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  The Vikings set up shop at their own 32.  On the very first play of the game, a flag was thrown on the Vikings for a false start.  We’ll be seeing a lot more of those stupid flags as this article progresses.  The penalty gave the Vikings a first and 15 at the 27.  Two carries by running back Adrian Peterson and a completion to tight end Kyle Rudolph netted the Vikings 14 yards and they were forced to punt.  Punter Chris Kluwe got off a good one and the ball went out of bounds at the Raider 16.

The Raiders were still without running back Darren McFadden and that meant Michael Bush would once again get the start.  Some short runs by Bush and Marcel Reece and two completions to tight end Kevin Boss moved the Raiders to the 35.  That was as far as they would go as quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked on third down.  Punter Shane Lechler came on and punted the ball away.

The Vikings started their next drive at their 23.  On second and 11 from the 22, rookie quarterback Christian Ponder scrambled for ten yards to set up a third and one.  On third down, Ponder found fullback Ryan D’ Empirio for a gain of six and a first down at the 38.  Peterson was stuffed for a loss of seven on first down, but Ponder found wide receiver Percy Harvin for a gain of ten on second down to set up a third and seven at the 41.  On the next play, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly beat his man and sacked Ponder.  However, Kelly was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty that gave the Vikings a first down at the 48.  Kelly didn’t have much of a choice when it came to sacking Ponder.  He was behind him and grabbed the back of his jersey and threw him to the ground.  Still, the referee threw the flag.  From there, Ponder found Rudolph for a gain of two.  After that play, another flag was thrown.  This time, it was on linebacker Aaron Curry for a helmet to helmet hit.  My thinking on this penalty was that the referee thought Rudolph was a defenseless receiver.  He caught the pass and started to head up-field.  How does that make him defenseless?  That gave the Vikings 15 more free yards and the ball was moved to the Raider 35.  Percy Harvin got the call on first down and ran up the left side for a 35-yard touchdown.  But, another flag was thrown.  This time it was holding during the run on the Vikings.  That gave them a first and two at the 27.  Harvin was stopped for a loss of six and an incomplete pass to wide receiver Greg Camarillo gave the Vikings a third and eight from the 33.  Ponder connected again with Harvin for a gain of nine down to the 24.  After this play, another flag was thrown for a facemask penalty on safety Tyvon Branch.  After further review, the replay showed that Branch grabbed Harvin by the shoulder and threw him out of bounds.  That moved the ball down to the 12 and Peterson finished the drive with a 12-yard run right up the middle.  Kicker Ryan Longwell made the point after and the Vikings led 7-0 with a little over five minutes to go in the first quarter.

A 46-yard return by return man Taiwan Jones gave the Raiders the ball at their own 45.  A short run by Bush and an incomplete pass set up a third and eight.  On third down, Palmer found Bush for a gain of ten and a first down.  Next, Bush ran up the middle for nine more yards and Reece added 20 more.  That put the ball at the Viking 14.  But the Viking defense stiffened and the Raiders had to settle for a 29-yard field goal from kicker Sebastian Janikowski.  That made the score 7-3 with just under a minute to go in the first quarter.

The Vikings started their next drive at their own 20 and on first down, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant sacked Ponder and forced a fumble.  The ball would roll out of bounds for a loss of ten on the play.  On second down, Peterson ran up the middle for a gain of 12.  On this play, Peterson would injure his ankle and would not return to the game.  He was replaced by running back Toby Gerhart.  With Peterson out and facing a third and eight, Ponder decided to show his mobility and he ripped off a 28-yard run up the right side for a first down at the 50.  Ponder then found Harvin again for a gain of 24.  Short runs by Harvin and Gerhart gave the Vikings a third and five at the 23.  On third down, Ponder threw to the right side looking again for Harvin.  Instead, he found safety Matt Giordano at the five-yard line.  Giordano returned the ball to the Raider 47.

On first down, Palmer finally hooked up with wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for a nice 31-yard completion.  However, this play would not stand as left tackle Jarred Veldheer was flagged for holding.  But, on second and 21, Palmer found tight end Brandon Myers for a gain of 21.  Myers made a nice diving catch and that gave the Raiders a first down.  A gain of six by Bush and a defensive holding penalty gave the Raiders another first down at the 27.  Palmer then hooked up with wide receiver Denarius Moore for a gain of 14.  An incomplete pass and a short gain by Myers set up a third and eight at the 11.  Palmer looked to his right on third down and fired a pass in between two Viking defenders that was caught by wide receiver Chaz Schilens for an 11-yard touchdown.  Janikowski sent a knuckle ball through the uprights and the Raiders led 10-7 with nine minutes to go in the first half.

Viking return man Marcus Sherels returned the kick 35 yards to give the Vikings a first down at their 45.  A short run by Gerhart, a completion to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and a false start gave the Vikings a third and eight at the 47.  Ponder once again took off running and this time he ran for 17 yards up the right side to give the Vikings a first down at the Raider 36.  The Vikings got as far as the 31 and were forced to try a field goal.  On the field goal attempt, holder Chris Kluwe had the ball down, but Longwell did not attempt to kick it.  Tyvon Branch threw Kluwe backwards for a loss of 12.  That gave the Raiders the ball at their own 43.  On second and seven, Bush rumbled up the left side for a gain of 28 to move the ball to the Viking 26.  On third and eight from the 24, Palmer found Heyward-Bey for nine yards and a first down.  On second and nine, Reece caught a pass for a gain of 12 down to the two.  Bush finished the job from there with a two-yard touchdown run.  Janikowski made the point after and that gave the Raiders a 17-7 lead with a little over a minute to go in the half.

On the ensuing kickoff, return man Lorenzo Booker was hit hard by Brandon Myers and fumbled.  The ball was recovered by rookie cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.  That gave the Raiders excellent field position at the Viking 16.  A short run by Bush and an 11-yard catch by Boss set up a first and goal at the one with time ticking away.  Palmer tried to sneak it over the top on first down and was stopped for no gain.  Raider head coach Hue Jackson called the third timeout and with 12 seconds to go, Palmer once again went over the top.  This time, the ball crossed the goal line for a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 24-7 at the end of the first half.

In the third quarter, both teams could do nothing with the ball.  It was a punt-fest until four minutes remained in the quarter.  On first down from his own 20, Ponder threw a pass intended for wide receiver Michael Jenkins.  The ball was tipped by cornerback Lito Sheppard and came down into the arms of  big Tommy Kelly.  He was brought down immediately, but the Raiders now had a chance to go up 31-7 and put the game away.  A completion to Boss and two more runs by Bush put the ball at the Viking 12 for a first down.  Bush got eight more, but a false start on offensive tackle Khalif Barnes moved the ball back five yards.  Bush was stuffed on the next play and Palmer couldn’t connect with Boss in the end zone on third down.  Janikowski was called on to make a 26-yard field and the kick was good.  It was now 27-7 with 51 seconds to go in the third quarter.

The Vikings took over at their own 32.  On third and six from the 36, Ponder hit wide receiver Devin Aromashodu for a gain of 42 down to the Raider 26.  On the very next play, Ponder found Harvin again and this time it was for a 26-yard touchdown.  Longwell made the point after and the score was now 27-14 with an entire quarter to play.

The Raiders started out at their own 36 and two more completions to Heyward-Bey moved the ball to the Viking 33.  A gain of three by Bush and a sack made it third and 12 from the 35.  Palmer found Heyward-Bey across the middle for a gain of four.  Heyward-Bey went down and did not get up.  As he was going down, Linebacker E.J. Henderson hit him in the back of his helmet and Heyward-Bey was taken off the field on a stretcher.  (After the game, it was reported that he was in a neck brace, but made the trip home with the team.)  That led to another field goal attempt by Janikowski.  This one was blocked and the Vikings had good field position at their own 40.

Three plays by the Vikings gained eight yards and they decided to go for it on fourth and two.  A pass intended for Jenkins was incomplete.  But, illegal contact was called on Lito Sheppard to give the Vikings a first down.  Again, Ponder showed his mobility and on first down, he ran up the left side for 17 yards down to the Raider 33.  Linebacker Rolando McClain was called for illegal contact on the play and that gave the Vikings five more yards.  On second and ten from the 28, Gerhart ran up the left side and was promptly met by three Raiders.  He was stopped for a loss, but a fourth Raider decided to get in on the act as Desmond Bryant dove on top of Gerhart when he was already down.  Guess what happened next?  A flag was thrown.  Who do you think the penalty was on?  You guessed it.  The penalty was on the Raiders for unnecessary roughness.  If you’re scoring at home, that was the fourth personal foul on the Raiders in this game.  That gave the Vikings a first down at the 15.  On the next play, Ponder was sacked for no gain.  However, another flag was thrown.  This time it was on safety Michael Mitchell for defensive holding.  Hue Jackson looked like he wanted to kill someone.  I’m sure I did too.  A gain of four by Gerhart and a one-yard pass to Harvin gave the Vikings a third and five at the five.  Ponder threw to his right looking for Aromashodu.  But, he found cornerback Stanford Routt instead.  Routt picked off the ball in the end zone, got two feet down and went out of bounds.

That was just what the Raiders needed and with eight minutes to go, they could turn the ball over to Michael Bush and run some time off the clock.  Starting from their own 20, Bush ran the ball three straight times for 24 yards.  But, on his fourth carry, Bush fumbled the ball away and it was recovered by defensive end Brian Robison.

Ponder and the offense took over at the Raider 38 and he wasted no time as he fired a strike between two defenders across the middle to Shiancoe for a gain of 37.  From the one, he found Rudolph for a one-yard touchdown.  Longwell made the point after and it was now 27-21 with five minutes to go.

So, with five minutes to go and their 20 point lead now cut to six, the Raiders still had some work to do.  They would have to start from their own nine after a holding call on the kickoff return.  A run by Reece for 13 and two penalties on the Vikings put the ball at the Raider 33.  On third down from the 39, Palmer had time, but couldn’t find an open receiver.  He was sacked for a loss of nine by E.J. Henderson.  Lechler punted the ball away and the Vikings had the ball at their own 29 with three minutes to go and one timeout remaining.

Ponder took to the air right away and on second down, he hooked up with Jenkins for a gain of 15.  From the 44, Ponder found Jenkins again for a short gain.  On second down, a pass intended for Aromashodu fell incomplete.  On third down, Tommy Kelly sacked Ponder for no gain.  So, with two minutes to go and with a fourth and eight, Ponder went looking for Harvin.  The pass was knocked away by Tyvon Branch and the Raiders took over with 1:52 to go.  Bush ran for four yards on first down and the Vikings called their final timeout.  Bush was stopped for minimal gains on second and third down and that led to another punt by Lechler with 13 seconds remaining. Two things on this play confused me.  The first thing was why wasn’t the ball punted out of bounds or through the end zone?  The Raiders have allowed two punt returns for touchdowns this season.    The second thing that confused me was when Marcus Sherels fielded the punt, why did he run all the way across the field on the return?  He should have called a fair catch.  Granted, he got 12 yards, but he let some precious seconds tick off the clock during the return.

That gave the Vikings one last chance to score with two seconds on the clock.  From his own 23,  Ponder found Jenkins at the 35.  Jenkins tried to lateral it to Gerhart, but the ball popped loose and was recovered by Aaron Curry to give the Raiders a 27-21 win.  The win gave the Raiders a six and four record and they remained in first place in the AFC West.  The loss dropped the Vikings to two and eight.

Carson Palmer had an efficient game and completed 17 of 23 for 164 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a one-yard touchdown run.  He was sacked four times, but he looked comfortable out there and didn’t force any bad throws.  Darrius Heyward-Bey led the team with four catches for 43 yards.  Michael Bush had 30 carries again this week and he rushed for 109 yards, one touchdown and had one costly fumble.  He also had 20 yards receiving.  Another valuable member of this team is fullback Marcel Reece.  Reece had six carries for 45 yards and 16 yards receiving.  Altogether, the Raiders had 162 yards rushing.

For the Vikings, rookie quarterback Christian Ponder completed 19 of 33 for 211 yards, two touchdowns and he was picked off three times.  He also added 71 yards rushing on five carries.  With Adrian Peterson leaving due to an injury, Ponder was the leading rusher for the Vikings.  Before leaving the game, Peterson had six carries for 26 yards and a touchdown.  Altogether the Vikings rushed for 124 yards.  Percy Harvin was the leading receiver with six catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.  He also had 21 yards rushing.

After the game, Raider head coach Hue Jackson was glad his team won, but he was very unhappy with the officiating and thought that the calls were very one sided.  The Raiders were flagged 12 times for 117 yards and the Vikings were flagged nine times for 50 yards.  Jackson says he is going to bring this to the attention of the league and wants the referees to call the games fairly.  Hue, I wish you all the luck in the world.  Previous head coaches have tried to do the same thing and it has fallen on deaf ears.  When Jon Gruden was the head coach, he was documenting all the penalties called against the Raiders.  He made a tape of them and brought it to the league office.  Nothing was done about it.  Those silver and black uniforms are magnets for yellow flags and they always have been.  It’s just something that Jackson is going to have to deal with.  For his sake and the sake of the team and the fans, I hope things improve, but I have my doubts.  Still, he’ll probably be fined for his comments too.

I like the fact that the Raiders came away with a win despite all those penalties.  What I didn’t like was they let the Vikings back in the game.  The normally loud crowd at the Metrodome was totally out of it by halftime.  But, a win is a win and I’ll take it.  The next game on the schedule for the Raiders is a home game against the Chicago Bears.  The Bears will be without quarterback Jay Cutler, but they are still a very dangerous team.  Running back Matt Forte is the leader of a solid offense and not only is he a good rusher, he is a very dangerous receiver.  Add return man Devin Hester and speedy wide receiver Johnny Knox and the Raider defense and special teams will have their hands full.  The Bear defense also does a great job at forcing turnovers and they’ll be looking to get to Palmer.  Maybe we’ll finally see Darren McFadden active again and hopefully wide receiver Jacoby Ford will be back too.  Time will tell.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

Raiders 24, Chargers 17

Thursday night football has begun and the first game of the year featured the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.  The Raiders were coming off a demoralizing 38-24 loss to the Denver Broncos and the Chargers lost their third game in a row as they fell 45-38 to the Green Bay Packers.

The Raiders got the ball first and on the very first play of the game, quarterback Carson Palmer threw a pass to the left side intended for fullback Marcel Reece.  Safety Paul Oliver broke up the play and if he would have held on to the ball, he would have had an easy touchdown.  A short run by running back Michael Bush and an incomplete pass intended for wide receiver Denarius Moore forced a three and out.  Punter Shane Lechler booted the ball 60 yards to the Charger 20.  The punt was fielded by wide receiver/return man Patrick Crayton.  As he started to run, he threw the ball across the field to cornerback Marcus Gilchrist.  From there, Gilchrist had nothing but daylight in front of him and he was pushed out of bounds at the Raider 40 by Lechler.

Quarterback Philip Rivers took to the air on first down and found rookie wide receiver Vincent Brown for a gain of 13 down to the Raider 27.  From the 27, running back Ryan Mathews ran up the left side for 16 more to give the Chargers a first down at the Raider 11.  An illegal formation penalty moved the ball back five yards and on first and 15, Mathews was stopped for a loss of five by defensive end Desmond Bryant.  On second and 20, Rivers found Mathews on a screen pass for a gain of 19 and that set up a third and one from the two.  On the next play, Rivers went looking for tight end Kory Sperry, but the pass fell incomplete.  Kicker Nick Novak came on and nailed a 20-yard field goal.  With 10:40 left in the first quarter, the Chargers led 3-0.

The Raiders got the ball back at their own 13 due to a horrific kick return by wide receiver/return man Jacoby Ford.  On first down, Bush ran up the left side for a gain of 44 to the Charger 43.  Bush got the call again and got five more yards up the middle.  After two more attempts by Bush, the Raiders decided to punt from the Charger 34.  With kicker Sebastian Janikowski nursing a sore hamstring, they decided not to try a 51-yard field goal.  But, a little trickery was involved on this play as Lechler faked the punt and heaved a pass up the right sideline intended for Jacoby Ford.  Charger cornerback Quentin Jammer was all over Ford and it looked like obvious pass interference.  However, we were informed by referee Ed Hochuli that since the Raiders were in punt information, there was no foul for pass interference.  We’ll be hearing more from Mr. Hochuli again later in this article.  The Chargers took over at their own 34 and lost four yards in three plays.  They also lost their starting left tackle, Marcus McNeil as he was carted off the field.  Punter Matt Scifres punted the ball to the Raider 14.

With seven minutes to go in the first quarter, Bush carried the ball three times and got the Raiders a first down at the 24.  On second and eight from the 26, Palmer put one up to Ford and it was caught for a gain of 41 yards to the Charger 33.  Ford was injured on the play and did not return.  After a completion of seven yards to TJ Houshmandzadeh, four more runs by Bush and an illegal use of the hands penalty on the Chargers, the Raiders found themselves with a first and goal at the five.  Fullback Marcel Reece ran up the middle for three on first down and Bush finished the drive as he dove across the goal line for a two-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-3 with 41 seconds to go in the first quarter.

The Chargers started at their own 28 and had a quick three and out after defensive end/linebacker Kamerion Wimbley sacked Rivers for a loss of five on third down.  Scifres punted the ball away and the Raiders took over at their own 25.  Rookie Taiwan Jones made an appearance and quickly got 16 yards on two carries.  On first down from the 41, Palmer launched a bomb that was caught by Moore for a gain of 46 down to the Charger 13.  A short run by Bush and a short completion to tight end Brandon Myers set up a third and two from the five.  Bush got the call again and was stopped for no gain.  Janikowski made a 23-yard field goal and the Raiders led 10-3 with 11 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Another three and out by the Chargers gave the Raiders the ball at their own 20.  The Raiders didn’t do much better on this possession and Lechler punted the ball away again.  Something got into Kamerion Wimbley in this game.  He looked like a man possessed and on third and six from the Charger 26, Wimbley and defensive end Lamarr Houston sacked Rivers again.  Scifres punted the ball to the Raider 23 and Moore returned it 21 yards to the 44.  On first down, Palmer hit Bush on a screen and Bush took it 33 yards down to the Charger 33.  On the next play, Palmer took the snap, moved to his left, stepped up in the pocket and fired a perfect strike to Moore for a 33-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders were now up 17-3 with just under two minutes to go in the first half.  The Chargers got the ball at their own 28 and an eight-yard pass to tight end Antonio Gates and a short run by running back Mike Tolbert got them a first down at the 41.  But, Wimbley wasn’t done yet.  He sacked Rivers for a loss of ten and after that, the Chargers went no further.  Another punt led to a kneel down by Palmer to end the half with the Raiders leading 17-3.

The Chargers came out firing in the second half.  Rivers found Crayton for gains of and 14 and 11 and Gates for 22 more.  On first down at the 30, Rivers put one up for Vincent Brown in the end zone.  Both cornerback Stanford Routt and safety Matt Giordano were in position to make a play on the ball, but Brown came down with it for the score.  Novak made the point after and just like that, the score was now 17-10.  Memories of the Raider defense collapsing last week quickly popped into my mind.

The Raiders got the ball at their own 15 to start their next drive.  An illegal formation penalty gave them a third and nine at the 16.  On third down, Palmer hit Bush on a screen and he had a convoy of blockers lead him for a gain of 55 down to the Charger 29.  A short run by Jones gave the Raiders a second and seven at the 26.  From there, Moore got behind Jammer and Palmer connected with him for a 26-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 24-10 with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.

Rivers came out throwing again as the Chargers took over at their own 30.  Completions to Brown and Tolbert put the ball at the Raider 31.  But the Chargers would only get as far as the 28 as the Raider defense tightened up.  Novak was brought on to try a 46-yard field goal and he missed it wide right.  The Raiders got the ball back at the 36 and a six-yard completion to Myers on third and five gave them a first down.  However, on second and five, Palmer ran to his right and while looking for a receiver, was hit by linebacker Antwan Barnes and fumbled.  The ball was recovered by rookie defensive end Corey Liuget at the Charger 49.  Raider head coach Hue Jackson foolishly challenged the play even though it was clearly a fumble.  The call stood and the Chargers got the ball back.

A five-yard reception and a 13 yard run by Mathews moved the ball to the Raider 33.  On second and ten, Rivers went looking for Brown again and found him in the left side of the end zone being blanketed by newly acquired cornerback Lito Sheppard.  Brown came down with the ball for an apparent touchdown.  However, new rules this year have every touchdown reviewed by the replay official.  The play was nullified because it was ruled that Sheppard had possession of the ball while he was out of bounds.  That made it a dead ball and an incomplete pass.  You don’t see that happen very often.  Although the Raiders dodged a bullet with that call, Rivers wasn’t done yet.  On third and ten from the 33, he found Crayton for a gain of nine.  They decided to go for it on fourth and one and Rivers found Tolbert for a gain of seven.  On first and goal from the seven, Rivers found fullback Jacob Hester wide open for a touchdown.  Novak made the point after to close the lead to 24-17 with one quarter to go.

Another kickoff through the end zone by Novak gave the Raiders the ball at the 20.  With an entire quarter to go and a seven point lead, it was time for the Raiders to take some time off the clock.  An 11-yard completion to Moore and four runs by Bush moved the ball to the Raider 44.  A completion to tight end Kevin Boss moved the ball into Charger territory.  On second and eight from the Charger 48, Bush got the call once again and rumbled 30 yards down to the 18.  On first down, Palmer had wide receiver Louis Murphy in his sights, but he was hit as he threw the ball by linebacker Travis LaBoy.  The ball lost velocity as he threw it and it was picked off by safety Paul Oliver at the 18.

A penalty on the Chargers after the interception moved the ball back to the six.  An offside penalty and a short completion to Tolbert moved the ball to the 17.  Another penalty was called on the Raiders on the very next play.  This time it was on Routt for defensive holding.  But, three more passes from Rivers all fell incomplete and the Chargers punted the ball away.  Or did they?  There was a holding call on Raider safety Jerome Boyd before the ball was punted and referee Ed Hochuli explained that was a five-yard penalty on the Raiders and it gave the Chargers an automatic first down.  But, no damage was done by the call as the Chargers went three and out from there.

The Raiders started out at their own 31 with eight minutes to go in the game after the punt.  They had the ball for exactly one minute and 24 seconds and punted it right back to the Chargers.  With just under seven minutes to go, the Chargers went to work from their own 11.  Wide receiver Vincent Jackson had been very quiet in this game until now.  Rivers found Jackson for a gain of 22 on second and ten to move the ball to the 33.  A completion to Gates and a run by Tolbert moved the ball to the Raider 37.  On first down, Desmond Bryant got to Rivers and sacked him for a loss of five.  On the next play, Rivers went hunting again for Vincent Jackson and this time, he was picked off by Matt Giordano.  The ball was returned to the Raider 26 and the Raiders took over with 3:26 to go in the game.

All the Raiders needed was a couple of first downs and they would get the win.  On first down, Bush ran up the middle for no gain.  The Chargers quickly called a timeout.  On second and 11, a pass intended for Moore fell incomplete.  On third and 11 from the 25, Palmer found Kevin Boss across the middle for a gain of 24 and a first down.  After that play, the Chargers used their last timeout.  Two more runs by Bush went for minus two yards and set up a third and 12 at the Raider 47.  Bush ran up the left side on third down and was tripped one yard short of the first down.  After an intentional delay of game penalty, Lechler punted and the ball went out of bounds at the Charger 11.

With 89 yards and just over a minute to go in the game, Rivers hit Brown for a gain of 23.  Brown tried to get out of bounds, but Sheppard managed to tackle him in bounds and that kept the clock running.  From the 23, Gates caught one for five yards and quickly made it out of bounds.  On third and 5 from the 28 and time ticking away, Rivers found Brown again for a gain of 22 to the 50.  Rivers spiked the ball with 14 seconds to go.  On second and ten from the 50, Wimbley got to Rivers again for his fourth sack.  The Chargers quickly got set and Rivers took the snap with one second to go.  He was promptly pounced on by defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and fumbled.  Lamarr Houston fell on the ball and the Raiders came away with a huge 24-17 win.  The win gave the Raiders a five and four record and put them in first place in the AFC West.  The loss was the fourth straight for the Chargers and they dropped to four and five.

I honestly can’t figure the Raiders out.  They lose two home games to the Chiefs and Broncos and looked very bad in both games.  Then, on a Thursday night, they go on the road to San Diego and get a huge win.  To quote Yogi Berra, “Whoulda thunk it?” As a team, they had six sacks and Kamerion Wimbley had four of them.  They pressured Rivers all night long and held the Chargers to 75 yards rushing.  THAT is how you win games.  THAT is how they need to keep playing if they want to get to the playoffs.  There were some breakdowns in coverage, but with a beat up secondary, they did an admirable job.  Big time props go out to Lito Sheppard, Michael Mitchell and Matt Giordano for playing a solid game on a short week.  Another big accomplishment for the defense was no stupid personal fouls.  None!  Altogether, the Raiders were flagged seven times for 45 yards.  After what I’ve seen in previous weeks, that’s not bad.

Carson Palmer completed 14 of 20 for 299 yards passing, two touchdowns, one interception and a fumble.  That’s a little over 20 yards per completion.  Denarius Moore led all receivers with five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.  Palmer spread the ball around to seven different receivers, but once again, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey didn’t have a catch.  He was in the game more than last week, but Palmer never looked his way.  My only guess is that they aren’t on the same page yet.  Hopefully they can get it together soon with Ford being injured.

Another unit that did very well was the offensive line.  They opened up holes for Bush and Jones all night and did a great job protecting Palmer.  They allowed only one sack and played a solid game without starting center Samson Satele.  With Satele out, rookie Stefen Wisniewski was moved from left guard to center and Stephon Heyer started at left guard.

Michael Bush is my pick for MVP of this game.  He carried the load with 30 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown.  He also caught three passes for 85 yards.  Total that up and you get 242 total yards from scrimmage.  He has done a fantastic job filling in for Darren McFadden.  Bush is in the final year of his contract and I think he has proven his value.  McFadden can’t seem to stay healthy and the Raiders need to reward Bush with a new contract.  I’m just afraid that he’d rather go somewhere else and be a starter.  I hope that doesn’t happen, but I wouldn’t blame him if he went to another team.

The Raiders have three of their next four games on the road and four of the remaining seven opponents are from the NFC North.  Up next is a trip to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on November 20.  They have plenty of time to rest up and get healthy for this game.  The defense will have their hands full with running back Adrian Peterson and hopefully Jacoby Ford and Darren McFadden will be ready to go.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy