Well, the Raiders dropped another one. This time it was the Carolina Panthers who came into Oakland and escaped with a 17-6 victory. I don’t know about you but I am pretty sick of hearing terms like “career high” in regards to the team the Raiders are playing. For instance, DeAngelo Williams ran for a “career high” 140 yards which was capped off by a 69 yard run which was the Panthers longest play from scrimmage all season. However, the Raiders did flirt with a record. Shane Lechler tied for second in NFL history with 11 punts in a single game. Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme had 4 interceptions which he has only done one other time in his career. But last time he did it, the Panthers were blown out. In fact, the Panthers are the first team in 30 years to win a game with a quarterback performance this bad. It would seem that only a team as dysfunctional as the Raiders can have 4 interceptions and manage only two field goals out of it.
The Raiders were held scoreless in the first half which means that until Rashad Baker intercepted the ball in field goal range allowing Janikowski to hit a 38 yard field goal, the Raiders had gone seven quarters without a score. That’s right, prior to the third quarter, the last time the Raiders scored was the third quarter of the Ravens game in week 8. In this game they converted just 2 of 17 third downs. There was some hope coming into this game among Raider fans that Andrew Walter could be more accurate than JaMarcus Russell and that would cure some of the problems the Raiders have on offense. But it just became trouble shooting and further confirmation that the bigger problem lies at the tackle positions. Tuiasosopo replaced Walter for a drive and a half in the fourth quarter and was sacked twice and had one pass completion for 4 yards. Raider quarterbacks were sacked 5 times including 3 by Julius Peppers coming off of the edges.
This game was ugly coming out of the gates. The Panthers kicked off to start the game and Jonnie Lee Higgins fumbled the return to give the Panthers posession on the Raiders 16 yard line. The Panthers quickly scored the only touchdown they would need to win this game. So, as it turns out, 1:35 into this game, it was already over. After that the Panthers only real highlights were the big 69 yard DeAngelo Williams run for a touch down and the 55 yard punt return by Mark Jones to set up a John Kasay field goal with under a minute in the fourth quarter to put the game mathematically out of reach.
I am not sure we learned much about this team that we didn’t already know. This offense is nearly incapable of any semblance of sustained success and the defense is inconsistent at best. There are very few players on this team that have an all-around game and can be trusted to hold down their positions on every down. It is becoming increasingly difficult to pin down just where the problem lies. Early in the season the main complaint was about the defense and their inability to hold a lead in the second half. But now the offense has scored ONE touchdown in the last three games to eclipse whatever failures the defense may have.
In the post game press conference, Tom Cable blamed the loss on penalties but that is a cop out if I ever heard one. There were only three Raider drives all day that were stunted by penalties. And one of those was followed by an interception that gave the Raiders the ball right back. So that is no excuse. I think what Cable meant to say was the problem was bad field position, turn overs, poor pass protection and missed tackles.
So while the defense in this game was much better than last week, the result was still a loss. Since Cable has taken over, this offense has looked worse than the 06 season. And just when it seems like it can’t get any worse, they surprise us all with their astounding incompetence. Be thankful that most of you did not have to watch this game due to the local blackout.
*On a side note: With his second field goal of the day, Sebastian Janikowski became the Raiders all-time leading scorer with 865 points surpassing George Blanda.
I will be back tomorrow with this week’s “Ballers and Busters”. (Eesh, that’s gonna be fun.)