The Philadelphia Eagles rolled into Oakland expecting to blast the Raiders, but something funny happened on the way to the Coliseum, the Raiders played by far their best game of the season harassing Donovan McNabb all game on their way to a win. The Raiders played with a determination and fire that had been seriously lacking this season.
The Raiders offense, which had been making headlines for their inability to put up 200 yards for the past four games, managed to not only surpass that mark, but play well enough for the Raiders to win. The defense played with a sense of pure aggression and they blitzed on even more plays than the Eagles did. That includes quarterback Donovan McNabb being brought down six times by Raider defenders, as the Eagles could not find their way into the end zone at all.
This was the complete game that people have been waiting to see from the Raiders. They were able to play at a high level for sixty minutes, keeping the pressure on the Eagles. The defense was able to make stops when they needed to get off the field. Meanwhile, the offense was able to sustain drives. They only scored three times, a touchdown and two field goals, but they were able to keep things going well enough to win the time of possession battle, something they had not done all season.
JaMarcus Russell had his best game of the year, but he still threw two interceptions. One of them was off the hands of rookie receiver Louis Murphy and the other was a classic Russell misfire. He completed 17 of 28 for 224 yards with a touchdown. As the game wore on, Justin Fargas carried the rock to keep running time off the clock. He ran for 87 yards on 23 carries in his first significant playing time of the season.
The sole touchdown of the game was a play where Zach Miller caught a pass from Russell at the Raiders thirty yard line that he was able to rumble for seventy more yards and the end zone. On this play, Louis Murphy laid two separate spectacular blocks downfield to ensure that Miller could cross the goal line. Murphy said of his downfield blocks, “That’s what I’m here to do, that’s what I want to do. I’m here to help. I want to block downfield. I want to help my team win, by any means necessary. I didn’t have a catch today but it doesn’t matter. We won.”
The defense continually came up big for the Raiders as well. Richard Seymour and Trevor Scott each got two sacks, with Seymour adding a forced fumble. Jay Richardson and Thomas Howard both contributed to the sack parade, as well as McNabb hit the turf six times. Scott thought that the Eagles underestimated the Raiders coming into the game, “I’m sure they watched the Giants game and thought we were sorry and didn’t want to play but all week coach Cable talked about persevering and forget the past and move on forward so we can get to where we want to go.”
Immediately following Miller’s touchdown, Stanford Routt appeared to have an interception for a touchdown, but it was called back for a questionable pass interference penalty. The Raiders have a history of letting up after a call goes against them, but there was no let down in the Raiders play on Sunday. Gerard Warren pointed out it was the new Raider attitude to let things like that go, “New Raiders, baby. Fido: Forget it, drive on. It’s called Fido. Today you saw Raiders defensive philosophy, control the run and pressure the quarterback. That’s what we’ve been preaching all year.”
Murphy said that it was an accomplishment for the Raiders to be ready for this game after the adversity they had faced. “It’s a big accomplishment. No offense to the media, but there was some bad stuff in the media and it was kind of dragging our team down. The core leaders just stepped up and said, ‘This is it. We can go two ways. We can either continue this nonsense or step up and make plays.’ We have to get used to playing like this.”
The question on everybody’s minds has to be “Where has this been for the last month?”