Jonnie Lee Higgins
He had a great kickoff return to start the game for the 2nd straight week. That first kickoff return is the most important because it gets the field position game started in the Raiders favor. He was also smart with the kicks that he didn’t return like letting any of them go if they were over his head while he stood near the 10 yard line. He was also active as a receiver. He seems to add a nice dimension to the receivers because the corners play off of him for fear that he will beat them deep with his speed. This opens it up for him to catch a lot of short passes such as the nice 7 yd catch he made for a first down in the 1st quarter and an 8 yd catch in the 2nd. Russell will need him as a posession receiver especially since Curry is not playing well. His biggest catch came in the 4th quarter in which he caught a long pass to put the Raiders in scoring position and resulted in the final Janikowski field goal.
With Stanford Routt out with a sprained ankle and Nnamdi Asomugha coming in and out of the game with an injury, the Raiders were relying on Johnson to really step up and fill in. He didn’t disappoint. He had a tackle on LT on the Chargers first drive to help force a three and out. He didn’t give up a catch in the first half and had a crucial interception in the 2nd quarter that set up a Janikowski field goal. His only hickup came when he was called for a pass inerference on a ball he batted away which was really ticky tack and was still great coverage. In the 2nd half he gave up a long catch to Vincent Jackson but he locked it down well other than that.
He had a quite a few hard fought yards early and his best play was a drop off pass from Russell which he took for 25 yards. The last 10 of those yards came after he laid a vicious stiff arm on the would be tackler. Until McFadden is back to his full capacity and Fargas comes back, the Raiders will need to rely on him. So far he has proven to be up to the challenge.
I lost count of how many times he was stuffing LT and Sproles for little or no gain. His biggest play was when he blitzed the Chargers while they were backed up to the goal line and he disrupted the hand off causing a fumble and a safety. He was no where to be found on the late TD by LT to seal the win for the Chargers but neither was anyone else. When that happens, there is usually a larger issue.
Finally we got to see the kind of play we have been expecting from Miller. He caught a bullet in stride from Russell and took it 63 yards for a TD. He gave the Raiders their only TD of the game in fact. I am sure I am not alone when I was thinking that if he wasn’t able to fight for those last few yards and get in the end zone that the Raiders would have ended up settling for another field goal. So good lookin’ out Miller. He had 3 other catches for another 25 yards but that big TD catch is certainly enough to make this list.
If he was hurting, he didn’t show it. He had a tipped ball which resulted in another Chargers three and out in the first quarter, he held his position and stopped both Sproles and LT for short and no gains a few times.
When Warren wasn’t in the game, there was no let up. Chargers runners got no breaks. He got pressure on Rivers in the first quarter and hit him as he threw causing an incompletion on 3rd down forcing a Chargers punt. Then in the second quarter he sacked Rivers for a 7 yard loss and Rivers appeared to have hurt his throwing arm on the sack. Rivers very next throw was a terrible looking pass that landing right into the waiting arms of DeAngelo Hall. Then at the end of the third quarter he had two consecutive stuffs on LT for minimal gain.
Single handedly stopped the Chargers on a drive in the first quarter when he tackled LT for a short gain and the next play he tackled Gates on a short catch on 3rd down to force a punt. On the Chargers next drive he blitzed and tackled LT for a loss forcing a 3rd and long and another punt. In the third quarter he came up and smacked LT hard for a short gain. One play later the Chargers would have to settle for a field goal for their first points of the game.
Had a couple of nice plays at key points in the game. He sacked Rivers in the second quarter which forced Kaeding to try a 44 yard field goal which he missed to keep the Chargers scoreless going into the half. Then in the third quarter he pressured Rivers on third down to cause an incompletion forcing another long field goal try.
What the hell was with the letting the clock run down before the half and then trying a 76 yard field goal? That kind of lack of aggression is what has cost this team the last two games. At that moment I had a sickening feeling that it was over. The moment this team takes the safe way out to try not to lose, that is exactly what will happen. After coming out blazing on offense and defense and going into the half leading 15-0, the second half told a different story. That open, aggressive offense from the first half, that was WORKING, was gone. Getting outscored 28-3 in the second half is inexcusable. This time I place more blame on Kiffin than Ryan because the defense looked more exhausted than out of position in the fourth quarter. And that is because the offensive game plan was playing it safe. There was only ONE sustained drive the entire second half and it was half way through the fourth quarter which was too late. This loss along with a bye week coming up may be the window that Al has been looking for to send Kiffin packing…or so we keep hearing.
He looked pathetic. And he can’t just make a little mistakes here and there, NO, he only makes big mistakes and usually in bunches to kill drives. In the first quarter he had his first bundle- He false started, then didn’t block on a run to his side resulting in McFadden being tackled for a loss, and then on third down he was blown up for a near sack in which Russell threw the ball away to kill a promising drive. Then at the beginning of the fourth quarter he gave up the hard sack and forced fumble on Russell that gave the Chargers a 2nd TD in 85 seconds. BUT WAIT THERE”S MORE! The very next offensive play for the Raiders, he missed TWO defenders that chased Russell and pressured him into an incompletion, then he false starts to set up a 3rd and 14 and an eventual punt. I never thought I would say this but put Mario Henderson back in.
He was filling in for the injured Cooper Carlisle. Or he was supposed to be “filling in” but instead he was a revolving door. In the first quarter he missed his block and gave up a tackle on McFadden for no gain on a posession that resulted in a three and out. In the fourth quarter, when the Raiders still looked to have a shot, he gave up a sack on third down forcing the Raiders to punt from deep in their own territory giving the Chargers field position on the 50 yard line. Then on the Raiders last chance to win the the game, he was blown up by his defender who chased Russell back about 20 yards causing him to throw the ball away. And that was the Raiders last chance.
Was at least partially responsible for ALL THREE Charger Touchdowns. He was out of position on the Antonio Gates TD to start the 4th quarter, then he missed the tackle on LT on the next TD, and he was out of position as well as missed the tackle on the LT TD which sealed it at the end of the 4th quarter.
I know there are many people who will look at the fact that he had over 200 passing yards and say that he had a good game but the games are not played on the stat cards. Granted, he looked confident coming out the gates, but every time the Raiders got in the red zone they had to settle for a field goal or worse. There are two main plays that stand out to me and earn him a spot on this list. The first is when the Raiders were on the goal line on their first drive and he rolled out to the left and had what looked like a sure punch into the end zone. But instead of just using his huge frame and his momentum to drive in, he decided to try to get cute and was stopped at the one yard line. The Raiders would settle for the first of many field goals on the day. The second bad play was in the third quarter when the Raiders were in scoring position and looked to go ahead 22-3. He threw a jump pass to McFadden who was two yards away and it was too high and bounced right into the hands of a Chargers defender. The Chargers took the ball down the field from there and scored their first TD. Instead of 22-3, it was now 15-10. He was also yet again way off target on a number of throws. Most were overthrowing or throwing too far in front of the receiver.