October 19, 2017

Bears 18, Chiefs 17: Just Bearly

As 37,182 runners struggled to the finish line at the Chicago Marathon, our beloved Bears were 500 miles away in Kansas City struggling to keep their season relevant.

Marathons are normally giddy at the beginning, ugly and insane in the middle and heartfelt and life-changing at the end. And this was sort of how it was for the Bears against the Chiefs.

OK, the beginning was not so hot as Kansas City sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in the first quarter and Ramik Wilson pounced on it for a touchdown. So it was 7-0 in favor of the Chiefs and the Bears looked lost, felt desperate and no one in the land of Stram & Honey was going to help them.

This theme continued for most of the rest of the afternoon and the Bears found themselves trailing 17-3 at halftime and 17-6 with less than four minutes to play.

So, of course, they ended up winning.

Cutler, playing with fill-ins on the offensive line, backups at wide receiver, Rosary beads in his pocket and a song in his heart, orchestrated two late scoring drives which featured two amazing TD passes and, after Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos’ 5,000-yard field goal attempt at the final gun wobbled feebly to the ground like a chubby Irishman trying to keep up with a Kenyan Olympian, Chicago had an improbable 18-17 victory, a 2-3 record and a whole bunch of good vibrations.

We shall be honest about our situation. The Bears have played three good teams this year – the Packers, Cardinals and Seahawks (the Seahawks are good, right?) – and lost convincingly each time. And the Monsters of Sudden Merriment have played two bad teams – the Raiders and Chiefs – and won by a very short, pimply nose both times.

So, the Bears could easily be 0-5 and feeling worse than the guy who forgot the Gatorade at Mile 23. But they’ve gutted out two straight wins despite a bunch of injuries and, unlike last year, they never, ever show signs of giving up.

And it’s easier not to give up when you’re well coached, have a sound game plan and the Chiefs and Raiders are kind of stupid.

Now it’s on to Detroit to face the Lions who are 0-5 and need a victory worse than a dying mouse needs fresh cheese and a cigarette. The Bears are already believers. A win in Detroit makes them 3-3. It makes them contenders. — TK

 

Send In The Clowns

First of all, let me say that I really enjoyed watching the Raiders last week.  It was one of the rare times that I sat there and watched a Raider game from beginning to end.  To top it off, they really played well and came away with a 24-13 win over the 49ers.  When I was a kid, I was told not to live in the past and look ahead to the future.  Well, after that nice win, I thought the Raiders would go into Arrowhead Stadium and come away with yet another win.  I should be put in front of a firing squad for thinking so optimistically.

The game started out the way a lot of Raiders-Chiefs games start.  It was sort of a feeling out process.  With a little over six minutes to go, punter Marquette King nailed a 57-yard punt that was fielded at the Kansas City 19-yard line by rookie return man De’Anthony Thomas.  He proceeded to run up the left sideline for an 81-yard punt return.  That gave the Chiefs the lead and they never looked back.  Kicker Cairo Santos added a field goal with eight minutes to go in the second quarter and the Chiefs were up 10-0.

The Raiders managed to get on the board right before the end of the first half as Sebastian Janikowksi made a 53-yard field goal.  That made the score 10-3 at halftime.  It was good to see them score, but I was nothing but pissed off.  Prior to that drive, the Raiders had the ball for six other possessions and all of them ended with a punt.   Early in the third quarter, fortune smiled on the Raiders for a few seconds.  Tight end Travis Kelce caught a short pass and fumbled.  The ball was picked out of the air by defensive end C.J. Wilson.  He took it up the right side and it looked like he might make it to the end zone.  Seeing as the offense didn’t know how to score, maybe the defense could show them where the end zone was.  No such luck.  Wilson was dragged down at the Kansas City 15-yard line.  All the offense had to do was gain 15 yards and they could tie the game up.  FIFTEEN FREAKING YARDS!!!!  They ran three plays and gained exactly ZERO yards.  Janikowski made another field goal and the Raiders trailed 10-6.

That was the last time until late in the game that the Raiders would score any points.  What follows is what happened after that field goal…

Knile Davis scored on a 3-yard run.  Santos made the extra point

Travis Kelce caught a 20-yard pass from Alex Smith for a touchdown.  Santos made the extra point.

Knile Davis caught  a 70-yard pass from Alex Smith for a touchdown.  Santos made the extra point.

While the Chiefs were doing all that scoring, the Raiders were fumbling the ball away and punting the ball away.  That 70-yard touchdown by Davis made the score 31-6.  With 34 seconds to go in the game, the Raiders finally found end zone when Derek Carr completed a one-yard pass to James Jones in the end zone.  But it was far too little and far too late.  The Chiefs came away with an easy 31-13 win.  That win improved their record to 8-6 and kept their playoff hopes alive.  The Raiders fell to 2-12 and nobody looked like they gave a damn.

Now, I think I have an answer as to why the Raiders punted on their first six possessions of the game.  It was the play calling of offensive coordinator Greg Olson yet again.  Early in the game, Latavius Murray was running the ball very well and averaging five yards a carry.  If something is working, why do you change it?  This is a question that I ask nearly every game.  All of a sudden, they were calling pass plays and totally abandoned the running game.  The defense was playing relatively well in the first half, but they weren’t getting any help from the offense.  I sincerely do not understand what goes on in the mind of Greg Olson.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 27 of 56 for 222 yards and one touchdown.  James Jones led the team in receptions with eight and Andre Holmes had the most receiving yards with 70.  Latavius Murray led the way on the ground with 59 yards on 12 carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 78 yards on 17 carries.  That’s an average of 4.6 yards a carry.  If they would have kept pounding the ball, there may have been a different outcome.  But when you have a complete moron calling the plays, you aren’t going to win many games.  Defensively, Khalil Mack led the team in solo tackles with six.

For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 18 of 30 for 297 yards and two touchdowns.  Travis Kelce led the team in receptions with five and Knile Davis had the most receiving yards with 70.  On the ground, Jamaal Charles led the way with 52 yards on 12 carries.  As a team, the Chiefs had a total of 93 yards on 27 carries.  Defensively, the Chiefs were in Carr’s face all day and sacked him four times.  Defensive back Jamell Fleming led the team in solo tackles with eight.

Well, only two games to go.  Up next for the Raiders is a home game against the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills are coming off a solid 21-13 win over the Packers.  In that game, they pressured Aaron Rodgers and picked him off twice.  However, the Packers had success running the ball.  They totaled 158 yards rushing and averaged 6.3 yards a carry.  Are you reading this, Olson?  Are you going to watch the film and see how the Packers successfully ran the ball against the Bills?  Or are you going to have your rookie quarterback throw 50 times against a very aggressive pass rush?  I think I already know the answer to that question.  Take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Just Win In The Rain, Baby!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Raider Guy

 

Chiefs 24, Raiders 7

Week six had the Oakland Raiders visiting Kansas City to take on the undefeated Chiefs.  The Raiders were coming off a big 27-17 win over the San Diego Chargers and the Chiefs were coming off a 26-17 win over the Tennessee Titans.  The Chiefs won the toss and elected to receive.  They started at their 20 and on first down, quarterback Alex Smith was sacked by linebacker Sio Moore for a loss of seven yards.  But, a scramble by Smith and an eight-yard pass to wide receiver Junior Hemingway got the Chiefs a first down at their 31.  Three more plays netted two yards and punter Dustin Colquitt got off a 49-yard punt that was fielded by return man Phillip Adams.  I’m not really sure why Adams didn’t call for a fair catch.  After he caught the ball he was flattened by cornerback Ron Parker.  At least he held on to the ball.

There was a whole lot of punting going on in the first quarter as both defenses were playing very well.  Pass protection for quarterback Terrelle Pryor was not holding up and he was running for his life from the start of the game.  The only real “highlight” of the first quarter was a 15-yard completion to wide receiver Denarius Moore.  The game was scoreless at the end of the first quarter.  But, a 15-yard pass to wide receiver Rod Streater and a 27-yard scramble by Pryor got the Raiders moving in the right direction.   On second and 14 from the Oakland 44, Pryor took off again and scrambled up the left side for 16 yards and a first down at the Kansas City 40.  Three more plays got them two yards and they were forced to punt again.  But a neutral zone infraction against the Chiefs moved the ball to the 33.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came into the game to try a 51-yard field goal,  but the kick fell short and with 12:21 to go in the second quarter, the score was still 0-0.

The Chiefs went three and out and the Raiders took over at their 22.  A short run by running back Darren McFadden and completions to tight end Jeron Mastrud and Moore gave them a first down at the 50.  An eight-yard run by McFadden and a short scramble by Pryor put the ball at the 39.  On first down, Pryor looked to his right and completed a pass to Moore.  Moore saw some daylight and out-ran the Kansas City defense for a 39-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with 8:40 to go in the second quarter.

With just over two minutes to go in the half, the Chiefs got the ball at their 45.  Completions to running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe moved them to the Oakland 24.  On third and ten from the 24, Smith floated a pass up the left side for Bowe, but the ball fell incomplete.  There was a pretty good reason the pass was incomplete.  Rookie cornerback DJ Hayden was all over Bowe and flagged for pass interference.  That set up a first and goal at the seven.  Charles ran right up the middle on the next play for a touchdown.  Kicker Ryan Succop made the extra point and the score was knotted at seven with just over a minute remaining.  Instead of taking a knee and running out the clock, the Raiders tried to get some more points before halftime.  This was a lesson in futility.  First there was an incomplete pass.  Then a delay of game penalty.  Then a holding penalty.  On third and 11, running back Rashad Jennings ran up the middle for a modest gain of four yards.  King got off a nice 64-yard punt and the Chiefs had 41 seconds to at least get in field goal range.  But they were out of timeouts and the half ended with the score still tied at seven.

During the first half, the Raiders suffered some more injuries to their already depleted offensive line.  Center Andre Gurode and right tackle Tony Pashos both left the game and would not return.  That meant right guard Mike Brisiel had to play center, Matt McCants was inserted to play right tackle and Lamar Mady took over at right guard.  In other words, the Raiders were screwed.

Pryor was the victim of endless pressure and ended up being sacked ten times.  He was also picked off three times and had one returned for a touchdown by safety Husain Abdullah.  Once those injuries to the offensive line occurred, the Chiefs attacked from all angles.  I kept hoping to see some screens set up, but they didn’t even have time to do that.  In the second half, the Raiders ran 27 plays and gained a grand total of 106 yards.  40 of those yards came on their final possession when the game was already decided.  The Chiefs came away with a 24-7 win.

For the Raiders, when he wasn’t flat on his back, Terrelle Pryor completed 18 of 34 for 216 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.  He also led the team in rushing with 60 yards on six carries.  All totaled, the Raiders had 125 yards rushing on 25 carries.  Denarius Moore led the Raiders in receptions with five and receiving yards with 82 and a touchdown.  Defensively, the Raiders played well enough to win this game.  Linebacker Nick Roach led the team in solo tackles with eight.  He also had a sack and a tackle for a loss.

For the Chiefs, Alex Smith completed 14 of 31 for 128 yards.  He also had 29 yards rushing on four carries.  Jamaal Charles led the team in rushing with 78 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.  As a team, the Chiefs rushed for 111 yards on 27 carries.  Charles also led the team in receptions with five and receiving yards with 50.  Those aren’t exactly stellar offensive statistics, are they?  As a matter of fact, the Raiders out-gained the Chiefs in total yardage 274-216.  But, when your defense plays that well, you don’t need to be stellar.  Linebacker Derrick Johnson led the team in solo tackles with eight.  He also had two sacks and two tackles for a loss.  Linebacker Tamba Hali led the team in sacks with three and a half.

After the game, Pryor took the blame for the loss.  Come on.  Nobody and I mean NOBODY could escape from the pressure the Chiefs were bringing.  The loss dropped the Raiders to 2-4  and the Chiefs improved to 6-0.  Up next for the Raiders is a much needed bye week.  Hopefully when they take on the Steelers in week eight, they’ll have some of their injured players back.  Also, with the Oakland A’s losing to the Detroit Tigers, there will be no more dirt infield at the Coliseum.  That’s always a welcome sight for me.  Until next time, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

Sunday Gloomy Sunday

The Kansas City Chiefs headed west to Oakland, California to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Chiefs were coming off a 30-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns and the Raiders were coming off a 26-13 loss to the Denver Broncos.  The Chiefs won the toss and deferred to the second half.

In the first seven minutes of this game, the only “exciting” play was a 15-yard run by running back Darren McFadden.  Other than that play, I felt like I was watching paint dry as neither offense could do anything.  But, with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Raiders got the ball at their 40.  Two runs by McFadden, a short completion to wide receiver Denarius Moore and an eight-yard run by running back Mike Goodson got the Raiders a first down at the Chief 35.  Two more runs by Goodson made it first and goal at the nine.  Like it’s been all year, the Raiders made it into the red zone and failed to get a touchdown.  Quarterback Carson Palmer’s attempt to get the ball to Moore in the end zone on third and goal from the two fell incomplete and they had to settle for a field goal attempt.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski had no trouble making the 20-yard attempt and the Raiders led 3-0 with a little under two minutes to go in the first quarter.  That’s the first time the Raiders had a lead in a game since they led Tampa Bay 10-7.  For your information, that game was played on November 4th.

After that field goal, I watched some more paint dry until the 13 minute mark of the second quarter.  On third down from the Chief 25, quarterback Brady Quinn looked for wide receiver Dexter McCluster and was picked off by cornerback Joselio Hanson at the 42.  He returned the ball to the 39 and the Raiders were in business.  Two plays netted them nine yards and McFadden ran up the right side on third and one.  He was mauled by the Chief defense for a loss of two.  That made it fourth and three and it was time again for the Polish Cannon.  He nailed the 50-yard attempt and the Raiders now led 6-0 with ten minutes to go in the second quarter.

Three plays for the Chiefs amounted to nothing and punter Dustin Colquitt booted away another punt.  He got all of this one and Moore had a hard time judging exactly where the ball was going to land.  He looked like the right fielder in the original Bad News Bears movie.  The ball finally came down and was downed at the 20.  A five-yard illegal touching penalty on the Chiefs put the ball at the 25.  McFadden and Goodson got the Raiders moving in the right direction and on third and six from the Chief 39, Palmer threaded the ball between two defenders and completed a ten-yard pass to wide receiver Rod Streater.  Next was a nice 22-yard run up the left side by Goodson.  But, a holding call on rookie guard Tony Bergstrom wiped that play out and moved them back ten yards.  On third and 19 from the 48, McFadden caught a short pass and ended up being brought down just short of a first down.  That made it fourth down and Janikowski came into the game again.  This time, his 51-yard attempt was just wide to the left.  It’s a rare occasion that you see a kicker walking up and down the sideline looking like he’s pissed off at the world.  But that’s how Janikowski looked.  He had a look in his eye that said “If I get another chance, I am going to kick that freaking ball all the way to Poland!”  He really does take missing a field goal personally.

The inept Chiefs took over and once again, didn’t get a first down after three plays and Colquitt punted the ball away.  It was downed at the Raider nine-yard line.  With 56 seconds remaining in the half, Palmer went to work with the no huddle offense.  Two completions to Streater and one to McFadden moved the ball to the 40.  A seven-yard pass to Moore and a 14-yard pass to tight end Brandon Myers gave the Raiders a first down at the Chief 39.  With no time to run another play, the determined Janikowski entered the game.  This time, his 57-yard attempt was good and he had a look of redemption on his face.  The Raiders took a 9-0 lead into the locker room.

At halftime, they showed the stats for the game and it showed that the Chiefs didn’t get one first down and they never even crossed midfield.  They made the 2012 Raider defense look like the 2000 version of the Baltimore Ravens.  But, as I have seen many times, the Raiders have left the field at halftime with a lead and come out looking terrible in the second half.  I didn’t think a 9-0 lead was enough to win this game and was hoping to maybe see a player in a black uniform cross the goal line.

The Chiefs started at their 18 and guess what they did?  After three plays, they punted?  Right!  The Raiders took over at their seven and on third and four from the 13, Palmer connected with Moore for a gain of eight and a first down at the 21.  A short run by McFadden and a 19-yard pass to Streater had them moving again.  On third and nine, Palmer threaded the ball between two defenders once again and completed a pass for 18 yards to Moore.  That moved the ball into Chief territory and gave them a first down at the 40.  They would get as far as the 12 and the drive would stall.  Janikowski was called on once again for a 30-yard attempt and he made his fourth field goal of the day.  The Raiders increased their lead to 12-0 with six minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Chiefs took over at their 20 and on third and six from the 24, Quinn found McCluster for a gain of eight and that play gave the Chiefs a first down.  I guess they had to get one eventually.  But, there’s more!  Quinn found tight end Tony Moeaki in the middle of the field for a gain of 17 and yet ANOTHER first down.  Also, safety Tyvon Branch was flagged for a helmet to helmet hit and that gave them 15 more yards and they made their first appearance in Raider territory.  It looked to me like Branch led with his shoulder and it was not a helmet to helmet to hit.  Either way, it gave them a first down at the Raider 36.  Next, Quinn put one up the left side and cornerback Coye Francies was flagged for pass interference.  That 27-yard penalty gave the Chiefs a first and goal at the nine.  Three plays netted them five yards and they decided to go for it on fourth and goal from the four.  On fourth down, the play clock was ticking away and Quinn was screaming for the center to snap the ball.  For some reason, he didn’t and the play clock ran out for a five-yard delay of game penalty.  Quinn was absolutely livid after that.  From the nine, Quinn completed a pass to running back Jamaal Charles and the Raider defense pounced on him.  The play gained one yard and the Raiders took over at their eight-yard line.

On third and eight from the ten, a draw to McFadden went for a gain of 15 and a first down at the 25.  On second and ten from the 25, Goodson ran straight up the middle and got loose for a gain of 43 yards.  He was dragged down at the Chief 32.  They would get as far as the 23 and it was once again time for the Polish Cannon to do his thing.  His 41-yard attempt sailed through the uprights and the Raiders now led 15-0 with 13 minutes to go in the game.

The Chiefs started at their 13 and got the ball moving on the strength of a 31-yard pass to McCluster.  A short run, an 11-yard pass to Charles and a ten-yard pass to Moeaki moved the Chiefs to the Raider 33.  However,  two incomplete passes and a loss of nine on a sack by defensive tackle Tommy Kelly made it fourth and 18 and they were forced to punt again.  But, the Raiders gave the ball right back to the Chiefs as McFadden fumbled on his own 22 after catching a short pass.  That gave the Chiefs another opportunity to get the ball into the end zone.  An interference call on Moeaki, an eight-yard pass to McCluster and two incomplete passes made it fourth and 12 from the 20.  Quinn looked to his left and put one up for the end zone.  It was incomplete and the Raiders took over at the 20 with nine minutes to go.  After he got rid of the ball, Quinn was flattened by three Raiders who were coming at him from three different directions.  He stayed down for a little while, but he would eventually get up and walk to the sideline under his own power.

The Raiders got a couple of first downs, took five minutes off the clock and punted.  The Chiefs started at their 29 and on fourth and one from the 38, Quinn completed a pass to McCluster on the right side.  Hanson was there to make sure he didn’t get the first down and did a great job of stopping him and forcing the Chiefs to turn the ball over.  After that, the Raiders ran the clock out and got their fourth win of the season by a score of 15-0.  It was also their first shutout since 2002.  Coincidentally, that game was also a home game against the Chiefs.  The loss dropped the Chiefs to 2-12 and they are tied with Jacksonville for the worst record in the league.  It definitely looks like one of those teams will get the number one pick in the draft next year.

For the Chiefs, Brady Quinn completed 18 of 32 for 136 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.  Their running game was non-existent and they had a grand total of ten yards on ten carries.  All ten of those yards were gained by Jamaal Charles.  Dexter McCluster led all receivers with seven receptions for 59 yards.  Defensively, safety Eric Berry led the team with 11 solo tackles, two tackles for a loss and one pass defensed.  They registered zero sacks and never got anywhere near Palmer.

For the Raiders, Carson Palmer was suffering from flu-like symptoms and at certain points in the game, he looked like he was going to puke.  Still, he  completed 18 of 29 for 182 yards, no touchdowns and for the first time in seven weeks, he wasn’t picked off.  Darren McFadden led the way with 110 yards on 30 carries.  Goodson added 89 yards and as a team, the Raiders rushed for 203 yards on 45 carries.  McFadden also added 39 yards receiving.  Rod Streater and Denarius Moore each led the Raiders in receptions with five apiece.  Streater had the most receiving yards with 62.  I must say I was very impressed with the defense.  The pass rush was consistent throughout the game and they did a great job of shutting down Charles.  They were all over Quinn and he was sacked four times.  Linebacker Philip Wheeler was one of those defenders who registered a sack and he also led the team in solo tackles with seven.

Well, I knew if I kept at it, I’d get to write about a win for the Raiders.  It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it.  It says the attendance was just over 51,000.  No way.  There may have been 40,000 and even that’s a stretch.  The weather was gloomy, the field was in bad shape and during one segment of the broadcast, it looked like there were about 25 buzzards flying over the stadium.  That’s what you get when you have two bad teams playing one another.

Up next for the Raiders is their fifth and final trip into the eastern time zone to take on the Carolina Panthers.  They are 0-4 in games where they have to travel across the country and have been outscored by the Dolphins, Falcons, Ravens and Bengals by a score of 147-63.  I’m pretty sure that means the Panthers will most likely come away with a win too.  Stranger things have happened, but the Panthers looked really good yesterday as they defeated the Chargers 31-7.  My next article will not be up until probably Wednesday or Thursday of next week because I’ll be out of town for Christmas.  Until then, take it easy.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The Raider Guy

 

 

 

Raiders 26, Chiefs 16

Up next on the schedule for the Oakland Raiders was a trip to Kansas City, Missouri to take on the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Raiders were coming off a 26-23 overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Chiefs were coming off a bye week.  All week long, media outlets kept saying “The Raiders haven’t lost in Arrowhead Stadium since 2006.”  Seeing as I am a firm believer in jinxes and very superstitious, my response to that fact was “Shut up! Don’t jinx it!”  I also had some more comments, but I can’t repeat them here.  The Raiders won the toss and elected to receive.

Starting at the 20, quarterback Carson Palmer went to the air on first down and was promptly picked off by former Raider cornerback Stanford Routt.  So much for a good start.  Routt was brought down at the Raider 44.  Chief quarterback Brady Quinn completed a five-yard pass to running back Jamaal Charles on first down.  That was the only positive yardage they would have and they went three and out.  Punter Dustin Colquitt punted the ball away and it was fair caught by return Phillip Adams at the Raider six-yard line.

The Raider running game continued to struggle in this game.  Running back Darren McFadden carried the ball three times for three yards on this drive.  With all those players in red jerseys swarming around him, it literally looked like he was running into a brick wall.  Fortunately for the Raiders, their passing game works much better than their running game.  On second and 11 from the five, Palmer found McFadden for a gain of 11 and a first down.  On second and eight from the 18, wide receiver Denarius Moore had a nice catch and run for a gain of 58 yards. He was pushed out of bounds at the Chief 24.  They would get as far as the 18 and have to settle for a 36-yard field goal attempt by kicker Sebastian Janikowski.  The kick was good and the Raiders led 3-0 with just under ten minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Chiefs got the ball at their 20 and on third and six, Quinn ran up the middle for a gain of 12 yards and a first down.  The drive stalled at the 43 and they punted the ball away.  The Raiders punted the ball right back to the Chiefs and they took over at their 49.  On first down, Quinn was sacked by linebacker Rolando McClain.  He was injured on the play, but stayed in for one more play to throw an interception.  His pass intended for tight end Tony Moeaki was picked off by safety Matt Giordano at the Raider 34.  Giordano returned the ball to the Chief 44.

On third and seven from the 42, Palmer went looking for wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and the ball fell incomplete.  However, a penalty was called on Routt for defensive holding.  That kept the drive alive and Palmer found Moore for 17 more yards.  They would get as far as the 17 and the drive stopped there.  Janikowski came on again and made his 35-yard attempt to put the Raiders up 6-0 with 14 minutes to go in the second quarter.

With Quinn out with an injury, it was time for quarterback Matt Cassel to take over.  Starting at their own 20, Cassel found wide receiver Dwayne Bowe for a gain of seven.  Running back Dexter McCluster took a direct snap and ran up the right side for 13 yards and a first down at the Chief 41.  From the 41, Cassel went deep for Bowe and the play went for 46 yards.  He was brought down at the Raider 13 by linebacker Philip Wheeler.  But, three more plays only netted one more yard.  Kicker Ryan Succop kicked a 30-yard field goal and the score was now 6-3 with ten minutes to go in the second quarter.

A quick three and out by the Raiders led to a punt by Shane Lechler.  He booted the ball 54 yards where return man Javier Arenas fielded it at the Chief 19.  He returned it 27 yards to the 46.  That gave the Chiefs good field position and a chance to take the lead.  A 20-yard pass to Moeaki and an 11-yard scramble by Cassel moved the Chiefs to the Raider 19.  But Wheeler made sure the Chiefs got no further and sacked Cassel for a loss of 12 yards.  Succop made his 42-yard field goal attempt and the game was tied at six with a minute and a half to go in the second quarter.

Starting at the 26, Palmer found McFadden for a gain of 24.  But the play was called back due to an illegal block above the waist penalty on left tackle Jared Veldheer.  That put the Raiders at their 16 with the seconds ticking away.  On second down and 21 from the 15, tight end Brandon Myers caught a pass for a gain of 29 yards and a first down at the 44.  But, they would only get as far as the 50.  Lechler punted the ball away and Arenas muffed the punt at the Chief 14.  It was recovered by long snapper Jon Condo at the 11.  Surely the Raiders could finally get the ball into the end zone with such great field position, right?  After two plays netted two yards, Palmer hooked up with Moore for a nine-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the extra point and the Raiders led 13-6 with 49 seconds to go in the first half.  The Chiefs moved the ball to the 50, but that was as far as they would get.

The Chiefs received the kickoff to start the second half.  Starting at the 20 again, Cassel fumbled on the first play of the drive and it was recovered by defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.  That gave the Raiders excellent field position again.  From the 18, Palmer found Moore for seven yards.  But, passes on the next two plays fell incomplete and the Raiders had to settle for a 29-yard field goal.  The kick was good and the Raiders increased their lead to 16-6 with 14 minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Chiefs took over at their 22 and on third and five from the 27, Moeaki caught a pass for a gain of ten and a first down at the 37.  A 17-yard run up the middle by running back Peyton Hillis moved the Chiefs into Raider territory.  A ten-yard pass to tight end Jake O’Connell gave them another first down at the 35.  A holding penalty moved them back ten yards and the drive was halted at the 34.  Succop was called on again and his 52-yard attempt was good.  That made it 16-9 with 8:40 to go in the third quarter.

On first down from the 20, McFadden finally got loose for a gain of 19 yards.  It’s a miracle!  A 16-yard pass to Myers and a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Rod Streater set up a first down at the Chief 34.  On second and eight from the 32, a nice catch and run by Heyward-Bey got the Raiders into the end zone again.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders now led 23-9 with 5:40 to go in the third quarter.  For the remainder of the quarter, neither team could get going.  The next five possessions all ended with punts.

With 13 minutes to go in the game, the Raiders knew another score would put the Chiefs away.  Starting at their own 24, the Raider ground game finally got some momentum.  A six-yard pass to Moore and runs of five and 28 yards by McFadden moved the Raiders to the Chief 37.  Running back Mike Goodson got in on the action and on second and six from the 33, he ran up the right side for a gain of 21 yards.  After that, the Raiders went backwards on two carries and an incomplete pass.  Janikowski came into the game and his 37-yard attempt was missed wide left.  But, when it’s going badly for your team, things tend to get worse.  The Chiefs were flagged for an offside penalty and that gave Janikowski another chance.  This time his kick was good and the Raiders now led 26-9 with eight minutes to go in the game.

With time running short, Cassel took to the air from the Chief 20.  Two passes to McCluster netted 25 yards and a first down at the 45.  A 15-yard scramble by Cassel and a 15-yard pass to Moeaki put the ball at the Raider 24.  From the 24, Cassel went deep up the left side for Jon Baldwin.  The pass was picked off at the two-yard line by cornerback Pat Lee.  He returned the ball to the six and the Raiders took over.

Naturally, they went nowhere and punted the ball away after three plays.  Arenas fielded the punt at the Raider 46 and returned it to the 32.  With three minutes to go, Cassel once again tried to get his team into the end zone.  He found Bowe for a gain of 12 and a roughing the passer penalty on defensive tackle Richard Seymour gave them a first and goal at the ten.  From the ten, McCluster caught a screen pass and some nice blocking led him to the end zone for a touchdown.  Succop made the point after and the Chiefs now trailed 26-16 with 2:27 to go.  Streater recovered the onside kick and all the Raiders had to do now was run out the clock.  With the running game the way it is, that is much easier said than done.

On first and ten from the Chief 45, McFadden was stopped for a gain of two.  The Chiefs called their second timeout.  On second down, McFadden got loose up the left side for a gain of 21 yards and a crucial first down at the 22.  The Chiefs called their third timeout and McFadden carried three more times for 13 more yards.  On the nine-yard line, Palmer took a knee and the Raiders got their first road and divisional win of the year.  The win improved the Raiders to 3-4 and the loss dropped the Chiefs to 1-6.

For the Raiders, Carson Palmer completed 14 of 28 for 209 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  The offensive line gave him time to find his receivers and he was not sacked once.  Denarius Moore led the Raiders with five catches for 96 yards and one touchdown.  Darren McFadden led the Raiders with 114 yards on 29 carries.  Don’t let those numbers fool you.  68 of those yards came on three carries and the Chiefs did a good job of containing him.  McFadden also added 23 yards receiving on four catches.  As a team, the the Raiders ran the ball 34 times for 135 yards.  Defensively, linebacker Philip Wheeler was all over the place.  He had 11 solo tackles and a sack.  The Raider defense totaled three sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

For the Chiefs, Matt Cassel completed 20 of 30 for 218 yards, one touchdown, one interception and one lost fumble.  In his limited time in the game, Brady Quinn completed two of four for one yard and was picked off once.  Dwayne Bowe led the Chiefs with three catches for 65 yards.  When it came to running the ball, Cassel led the Chiefs in rushing yardage with 35 yards on seven carries.  As a team, the Chiefs rushed for 102 yards on 22 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Derrick Johnson led the Chiefs with ten solo tackles, three tackles for a loss and one pass defensed.

Up next for the Raiders is a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Bucs looked real good against Minnesota last Thursday and they’ll be rested and ready for the Raiders.  For me, this upcoming game is the biggest one of the year.  A win will get the Raiders to four and four and put them right in the hunt in the AFC West.  Granted, wins against the Jaguars and Chiefs are good (Any game where you come out on top is good.)  But combined, those teams have a record of two and 12.  The Bucs have some good weapons in quarterback Josh Freeman, rookie running back Doug Martin, tight end Dallas Clark and receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.  Their defense is ranked sixth against the run and they’ll be looking to shut down McFadden.  That doesn’t seem to be too difficult nowadays.  However, they are allowing 300 yards a game through the air and they are ranked 31st overall in the league against the pass.  So, it would make sense for Raiders head coach Dennis Allen to break out the no huddle offense early against the Bucs.  They still need to work on the running game and stop settling for field goals in the red zone.  Next week will be very interesting.  Until then, 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!

My Favorite Division

I have enjoyed watching my Chicago Bears go to battle against the AFC West these last few weeks even if I haven’t always enjoyed the results.

The AFC West has long been my favorite division in the NFL and, thanks to a strange bit of scheduling, the Bears have faced AFC West teams three straight times with one more to go, on the road against the Denver Tebow-Broncos.

The AFC West is cool because it always provides a spicy mix of the good, bad, snowy and sunny.  The San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos all play outdoors and the AFC West is the only division in which every team plays on grass.  In the AFC West you’ll see games in the snow in Kansas City and Denver, in the mud in Oakland and in the sun in San Diego.  No other division offers all the elements.

The AFC West also has tradition.  The Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos have all been around since 1960.  Only one other division, the AFC East (Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, Giants) has had all four of its teams around as long or longer.

Tradition, weather, how about wins?  All four teams in the AFC West have a lifetime winning percentage above .500.  No other division can boast that.

The AFC West has the Oakland Raiders, three-time Super Bowl winners who have been terrible for nearly a decade but, like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and Newt Gingrich, are always attention-worthy.  The Raiders are currently resurgent and, at 7-5, could very well make the playoffs.  If so, TV ratings will certainly increase as everyone loves to hate the Raiders.  They’re the Oakland Raiders.  They just are.

The Denver Broncos have played in six Super Bowls, winning two, and currently have the league’s most controversial/loved/hated/discussed player in Tim Tebow.  Watching snowy games in Denver (from the comfort of one’s living room) is one of the things that makes the NFL special.

The San Diego Chargers have been one of the NFL’s most visible, and visibly disappointing, teams over the last several years and have one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Philip Rivers and, like the Raiders, have some of the most gorgeous cheerleaders outside of Dallas.

The Kansas City Chiefs played in the first Super Bowl, have won another, have 14 Hall-of-Famers and have a higher lifetime winning percentage, .518, than the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets.  Would you have guessed that?

John Madden, Al Davis, Ken Stabler, Otis Sistrunk, Marcus Allen, Hank Stram, Fred Williamson, Jan Stenerud, Junior Seau, Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, LaDanian Tomlinson, John Elway, Lyle Alzado, Terrell Davis, Mike Shanahan and Rich “Tombstone” Jackson, to name a few, have all plied their trade in the AFC West.

Teams from the East Coast will always get the most attention especially as long as, (regrettably) ESPN remains the behemoth it is and teams from the Midwest like the Bears and Green Bay Packers will always get that favorable “old school grit” label.  But year-in and year-out the AFC West plays the most fun and colorful football.  There’s passing, there’s running, there’s defense, there’s weather, there are beautiful women and there’s winning.  It’s my favorite division, and I welcome you all to watch.

 

And Just Like That, It’s Over

John Cusack is not only a great actor and overall cool cat; he’s also a Chicago Bears fan.  If Cusack were watching his beloved Bears on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field in Chicago, he was probably reminded of one of his films: “2012.”  “2012” is the big-dumb-fun thriller about the end of the world, predicted by the Mayans and a few others – including Woody Harrelson – to arrive nastily on December 21, 2012.  For Cusack’s Bears, the end of the world came about a year early on Sunday with a 10-3 loss to the Chiefs in which the Bears dropped to 7-5 and lost running back Matt Forte to a knee injury that will keep him out for at least several weeks.

This means the Bears are now without their two best players, Forte and quarterback Jay Cutler, probably for the rest of the season and it’s more likely that John Cusack will start making porno movies with Della Reese than it is the Bears will make the playoffs, or even win another game.

The Bears offense without Cutler was challenged, at best, as his replacement Caleb Hanie (11/24, 133 yards, 3 INT’s) seemed to regress in his second start.  And Hanie’s first start in last week’s loss to the Oakland Raiders wasn’t as impressive as his much ballyhooed relief appearance in last season’s NFC Championship game.  But even without Cutler, the Bears still had a chippy defense, good special teams, and Forte.  Now that Forte’s out, Chicago’s offense looks like that of the…Kansas City Chiefs, who came in with five straight losses and were nearly as victory-stricken as Tiger Woods.  Does Tyler Palko (17/30, 157 yards, 1 TD, no INT’s) know how to throw?  I think he’d better if he changed his name to “Tippy Pachinko.”

This is sort of how this game went:

Early in the second quarter the Bears had a fourth down on KC’s four-yard line and the Chiefs called a timeout.  When play resumed Hanie then called a timeout.  Huh?  And then, with all the mental cobwebs cleared, or so we thought, Hanie lofted an easy touchdown pass to Marion Barber.  Flag.  Barber, who was split-wide, was not on the line of scrimmage and that’s a no-no.  So the score was called back and Chicago settled for a field goal which would prove to be their only points.  I think it was at this point of the game that John Cusack took a swig from his flask and texted his sister Joan about dinner plans.

On second-and-12 from KC’s 25-yard line with about five minutes left before halftime, Hanie had receiver Earl Bennett wide open at the five-yard line and overthrew him badly, missing out on a sure TD.  The Bears then decided to try a field goal, then didn’t because it was actually a pooch punt but it wasn’t because the Bears were called for a penalty then they had to punt.  Ugly.

On the ensuing drive Pachinko was able to move KC down the field – working better with no huddle because, as we all know, Pachinko is a game of action, not thought – and had the Tribal Leaders in third-and-10 at Chicago’s 38-yard line with two seconds before the half.  Pachinko stepped back and lofted up a prayer into the endzone and Brian Urlacher had it intercepted but then Bears safety Chris Conte suddenly got a little too ambitious and poked his paw in there and knocked it out of Urlacher’s hands and into the very surprised cradle of Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster.  Touchdown.  Not only a touchdown but the first TD pass of Mr. Pachinko’s career and Kansas City’s first TD in 31 possessions, or since the William S. Gregory administration.  John Cusack spent halftime vomiting and muttering “Ione Skye.”

Pachinko and pals were emboldened by their good fortune and, following a Hanie three-and-out to open the third quarter, put together a six-minute drive ending in a field goal for a 10-3 advantage.  If we knew then there would be no more scoring we all could have just gone to John Cusack’s house to drink eggnog and watch “The Grifters.”

The rest of this contest was sort of like watching sand fall through an hourglass while the wicked witch cackled.  There was excitement and tension but also a lot of drip-drip-ugh.

The Bears were 0-for-11 on third down conversions in this game.

The Chiefs came into this game with 13 sacks.  Total.  That’s worst in the NFL.  They registered seven against the Bears on Sunday.

In fairness, Hanie did play better as the game went on but in critical situations either his protection broke down or he was bedeviled by drops, notably one by Roy Williams at the goal line late in the fourth that ended up in an interception.  It’s time for the Bears to thank Mr. Williams for his efforts, shake his hand, and slow down the train and kick him off.

In fairness part two: Robbie Gould missed a field goal which he rarely does.  The Chiefs defense, under Romeo Crennel, did play well, flying to the ball all day long and KC’s special teams never let Bears kick returner Devin Hester get any breathing room.  The Chiefs are bad but even the bad teams do some things right.  Especially against the Bears.

In fairness part three: The Chiefs have a defensive back named Sabby Piscitelli.  Don’t we always expect great things from men named Sabby?

There’s still some hope for the Bears.  The Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys all proved to be jolly good fellows on Sunday by losing so the Bears, at 7-5, are still in the thick of the playoff chase.  Chicago now goes to Denver to play the Broncos who have won five straight but at this point even Jesus has got to be getting tired of Tim Tebow-mania so maybe it’s time for a smiting and a Bears victory.

But it’s not looking good.  Just two weeks ago the Bears were playing great and looked as if they might run the table all the way up to that Christmas Day game against the Packers in Green Bay.  Now the Packers are 12-0, thanks to a hard-fought road victory over the Giants and have already clinched the NFC North and, by the time the Bears slide down the chimney, will probably have Aaron Rodgers on ice and be starting Robbie Bosco at quarterback just for giggles.  And the Bears will probably be 7-7 on Christmas and deserving of nothing more in their stockings than cold bratwurst.

Fortunes change quickly in the NFL and there’s always the outside chance Hanie could find some cold weather magic and if he does, maybe Chicago can still go 10-6 and sneak into the playoffs and get Cutler and Forte back by then.  Hey, why not?  We’ve reached December: a month of snow, cold, candy canes and silly dreams.

Franchises Returning to Their Former Homes

This Sunday’s St. Louis Rams vs. Cleveland Browns game isn’t generating a lot of buzz. But the significance of the game shouldn’t be lost on the city of Cleveland.

The Rams who were originally founded in Cleveland, will be making their 11th trip back to the city Cleveland. The Rams have a record of 4-6 in Cleveland, since they left the icy shores of Lake Erie in 1946.

The Rams are one of ten current NFL teams, to have ever played an official NFL game in a city they use to call home.  These teams have a winning record of 48-42 in their former cities.

Franchises Records at their Former Home

Team Former City Moved W-L 1st Game Back
Result
Cardinals Chicago 1960 3-6 1965: Bears L 13-34
St. Louis 1988 7-3 1998: Rams W 20-17
Chargers Los Angeles 1961 7-10 1970: Rams L 10-37
Chiefs Dallas 1963 1-4 1975: Cowboys W 34-31
Colts Baltimore 1984 4-2 1998: Colts L 31-38
Lions Portsmouth 1934 1-0 1934: Cin Reds W 38-0
Raiders Oakland 1982 Didn’t play in Oakland until they moved back. ¹
Los Angeles 1995 Haven’t played in Los Angeles since.
Rams Cleveland 1946 4-6 1950: Browns L 28-30
Los Angeles 1995 Haven’t played in Los Angeles since.
Ravens Cleveland 1996 8-4 1999: Browns W 41-9
Redskins Boston 1937 7-4 1944: Bos Yanks W 21-14
Titans Houston 1997 6-3 2002: Texans W 13-3

¹ The Raiders played an exhibition game in Oakland in 1989, they lost to the Houston Oilers 21-23.