The Raiders jumped to an early lead in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but could not hold on as the Chiefs came away with a 16-13 victory.
The Raiders offense played probably their best quarter of football of the season to open the first quarter. JaMarcus Russell started off three for three. Micahel Bush broke through the line and ripped off a sixty yard run on the second play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Justin Fargas finished the drive with a one yard goal line plunge.
Following the first quarter, everything unravelled. The Raiders offense could not get out of their own way, with an estimated eight drops, two of which went from the receiver’s hands into a defender’s hand for an interception. The Raiders defense, on the other hand, played well enough to keep them in the game, but the offense could not get it done.
JaMarcus Russell was benched late in the third quarter after completing only 8 of 24 passes for 67 yards. In one series Russell fired a perfect pass on a skinny post to Darrius Heyward-Bey for what should have been a touchdown, but it fell through his hands incomplete. On the following play, he had a perfect strike to Louis Murphy on the sidelines that was called back by a tripping penalty on Robert Gallery.
Russell’s final sequence saw him miss two open receivers in a row, after offsetting penalties gave him a second chance. Head Coach Tom Cable said, “(We)did not throw the ball well at all. Not well enough to win. That was reason for the change at quarterback.”
Of being benched, Russell said, “Things were going okay at that point. Just towards the end, we weren’t putting things together.”
Bruce Gradkowski got a cheer from the sparse crowd when he took the field following Russell’s benching. His performance was actually statistically worse than Russell’s, with him going 5 of 9 for 46 yards and two picks. Russell’s rating was 42.4 compared with 37.5 for Gradkowski. However, both of of those interceptions were fed to the defenders off the hands of Raider receivers. One of them came courtesy of Johnnie Lee Higgins and the other directly off the hands, knees, chest and a few other body parts of Darrius Heyward-Bey as he juggled the pass before it was brought down by Mike Brown to clinch the game.
The Chiefs scored their lone touchdown when Jamaal broke through the line on fourth and one and sprinted 44 yards for the touchdown. Beyond that, they only managed three field goals.
Defensive back Mke Brown, who had both interceptions off of Gradkowski was critical of JaMarcus Russell. “Obviously, he’s been struggling a little bit. He’s turned the ball over more than any quarterback in the league. That’s something that we talked about. And usually he only looks at one side of the field. He doesn’t read the whole field.”