Youth is served: Oakland Raiders come from behind to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After earning a reputation early in the year for dropping games where they had a two score lead late, the Oakland Raiders flipped the script against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and overcame a 10 point deficit to win their final game of the season. For the Raider Nation, this was a sweet victory as there was a measure of revenge in ending Jon Gruden‘s playoff hopes. For the Oakland Raiders team, it was a glimpse of a brighter future as younger players stepped up and made the plays needed for the Raiders to take home the win.

Second year player Michael Bush was the hero of the game rushing for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow second year player Johnnie Lee Higgins and rookie Chaz Schilens each added a touchdown. Second year left tackle Mario Henderson did not allow any sacks, whilst JaMarcus Russell who is also in his second year had an effective if not spectacular game.

The Raiders defense started off strong as the Raiders forced the Bucs to punt on their first three possessions, but throughout the game the Raiders defense succumbed to big plays. It was those big plays that allowed the Bucs to take a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter. However, it was one big play by the defense, when they forced a turnover on downs when the Bucs went for it on a 4th and 4 that set up the offense’s comeback bid.

The Raiders offense of the day was giving the ball to Michael Bush. Bush battered the Bucs defense for 177 yards and two touchdowns. He had the key play of the day when he burst off left tackle, got a clearing block from Robert Gallery and rambled 67 yards for the go ahead touchdown. After a Jeff Garcia interception by Rashad Baker, Bush again took over the game and rammed the ball down the throats of the Bucs. It was this running that set up a late Sebastian Janikowski field goal to make it a 7 point lead.Greyson Gunheim closed the game with his first career sack.

This game continues a trend which started last week against the Houston Texans where the young players on the Raiders offense began stepping into their roles. Both Higgins and Schilens got at least one touchdown in each of those games, whilst Mario Henderson kept Russell’s jersey clean. The key for either Tom Cable or his replacement will be to continue the development of these younger players. They have shown promise for a brighter future for the Oakland Raiders. 

The come from behind nature of the win speaks volumes about this team, in that they had the heart to come back in a game where nothing but pride was on the line. They looked like a team that had folded their tent earlier in the season, but they were able to find a groove late. This is the second win outside the state of California in December for the Raider franchise since they returned to Oakland. The last win outside the state of California in December was a game that was quarterbacked by the color commentator of Sunday’s game and coached by the guy on the opposite sideline. That win propelled the Raiders to three consecutive AFC West titles. Not saying that this one will have the same effect, but it is a silver lining to a bleak season.

The Good:

  • Michael Bush 177 yards 2 touchdowns.
  • Two wide receivers with touchdown catches.
  • Come from behind win on the road
  • Ending Gruden’s season
  • Winning the last game of the season.
  • Mario Henderson allowed no sacks, again
  • Minimal penalties

The Bad:

  • Defense’s blown coverage on the Clayton touchdown catch.
  • Russell’s near fumble.

The Ugly:

  • Hearing Cadillac Williams in pain after his knee injury.
  • JaMarcus Russell’s overthrow that was picked to set up the Bucs’s last touchdown.

About Patrick A. Patterson, Senior Writer

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