The Oakland Raiders suffered a heartbreaking loss in Arizona today. After giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown, it was immediately evident that special teams would play a big role in the outcome of the game. The Raiders saw two punts from the leg of Shane Lechler bounce off of two different players from the Cardinals and be recovered by two different players from their team. But the story of the day was the highest paid kicker in the NFL missing three potentially game-winning field goals. Janikowski can now look forward to a long ride home and a barrage of the “Bring on Swayze Waters” calls from fans for the next week.
Janikowski left nine points on the board today. Tom Cable would love to blame the red zone offense for this loss, after they only scored one touchdown in the red zone today, but this one lies solely on the massive thighs of the guy who they pay all that money to who is supposed to be rock solid in those situations. Cable claims the fact that Janikowski is a veteran will help this not go to his head. Maybe you wouldn’t put it all on Janikowski if he had been automatic thus far for the season, but Janikowski has missed on a couple of different occasions this year. Today he brought his total misses for the year to five. Tom Flores: “If Sebastian had made that last field goal, even though he didn’t have a great game, all would’ve been forgiven…and he missed it.”
The Raiders played tough all game. They deserved to win this game. They put up 364 yards of total offense and held the Cardinals to just 227 yards. They forced three turnovers and only turned the ball over once. The Cardinals defense tightened up in the second half, but the Raiders had an opportunity to add twelve points to the score in the second half and ended up with only three to lose by one, 24-23.
Bruce Gradkowski wasn’t fantastic with his 17-34 for 255 yards 1 TD, 1 INT performance, but he put the Raiders in a position to win this game more than once. The difference between Gradkowski and Jason Campbell could very well be his poise under pressure. Gradkowski has a feel in the pocket that Campbell just plain lacks. One time, Joey Porter beat the left tackle off the edge and forced a fumble of Gradkowski, but that was his first sack-fumble in six quarters while Campbell had four in six quarters. Also, for some reason, the Raiders offensive line looks average with Gradkowski at the helm and horrendous with Campbell as their play-caller.
Improving halfback Darren McFadden had another 100-yards performance with 25 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. McFadden continued to show why he was a top ten pick, although he wasn’t ripping off big runs, aside from one 33 yarder that helped set up his two yard touchdown run that gave the Raiders a 20-17 lead going into halftime, but his steady running and pounding took its toll on the Cardinals defense today. If McFadden can continue his current pace, he could very well end up in the Pro Bowl at the end of the season. The return of Michael Bush was almost a non-factor today as he wound up with just three carries for 13 yards.
The Raiders defense played very well today. Aside from a few gashing runs by Beanie Wells, the defense held the Cardinals ground game in tact giving up only 119 yards on 25 carries. They could do better, but their numbers against the run have improved each week this season. They completely shut down the Cardinals air attack, where Derek Anderson only completed 12-26 for 122 yards. Three early pass interference calls on three different Raiders cornerbacks allowed the Cardinals some first downs however.
Larry Fitzgerald was held to only one catch when he was covered by Nnamdi Asomugha today—it was an 18-yard reception on third down and sixteen. He did grab a touchdown, but that was in a zone. I don’t know how the Raiders didn’t see it coming either because I knew that they would try a slant to Fitzgerald as soon as they got inside the ten yard line on that drive, and that is exactly what happened.
No surprise, the two highest penalized teams in the NFL ended up with combined 18 penalties for 227 yards. The Cardinals had some killers on a drive late in the game that ultimately ended up giving the Raiders the ball on their one yard line. But after a delay of game penalty on first down, the Raiders drive stalled and they ended up getting their only three points of the second half. The CBS announcer said, “The Cardinals keep shooting themselves in the foot here and they don’t have many toes left.”
Another shooting yourself in your toeless foot moment happened late in the game when Antonio Rogers-Cromartie was called for pass interference against Darrius Heyward-Bey deep in Cardinals territory. It was that play that set the Raiders up inside the Cardinals 20 yard line for Janikowski’s final miss of the day. Heyward-Bey also made a fantastic catch on the Raiders’ sideline early on that same drive to convert a huge 4th-and-ten. DHB wound up with three catches for 49 yards and has already surpassed his performance from last year, a vast improvement for the young man.
His counterpart, Louis Murphy made some big-time catches today also. The one that sticks out in my memory was a short pass pattern that went for 70 yards. Murphy broke a tackle and was off to the races, only to be dragged down inside the Cardinals 20 yard line. That play set up Janikowski’s first miss of the day from 41 yards out.
The Raiders really cannot blame themselves for this loss. It rests solely on the left leg of Janikowski. I originally thought that Janikowski’s leg would win them some games this year, but early in the season, it appears that my theory may be heading in the wrong direction. The team did everything they could today to pull this one out and even though Jano had missed two prior field goals, it was clear that they still put a lot of faith in him at the end of the game as the clock rolled from 44 seconds down to four on third down before the Raiders used their final time out. They very well could’ve taken a shot to the end zone from inside the Cardinals 20 yard line with that third down play.
Janikowski was almost automatic last year in a contract year, but so far this year he is only converting 61.5 percent if his attempts. He looks like he needs to hit the practice field more. When they showed him on the sidelines before his field goal attempts he wasn’t even warming up like most kickers will do by kicking into a small net. Janikowski’s left leg needs to be golden for this team to win, not look like he is swinging a lead log out there.
It is this writer’s opinion that he should issue a statement to the fans and his teammates apologizing for his poor performance. And also issue a statement similar to Tim Tebow’s Florida dedication that Raider Nation will not see anybody work harder for the rest of the season than Sebastian Janikowski.
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|TD||14:46||LaRod Stephens-Howling 102 Yd Kickoff Return (Jay Feely Kick)||0||7|
|TD||10:54||Zach Miller 22 Yd Pass From Bruce Gradkowski (Sebastian Janikowski Kick)||7||7|
|FG||06:42||Sebastian Janikowski 22 Yd||10||7|
|FG||03:55||Jay Feely 42 Yd||10||10|
|FG||01:54||Sebastian Janikowski 54 Yd||13||10|
|TD||10:44||Steve Breaston 2 Yd Pass From Derek Anderson (Jay Feely Kick)||13||17|
|TD||00:10||Darren McFadden 2 Yd Run (Sebastian Janikowski Kick)||20||17|
|TD||01:01||Larry Fitzgerald 8 Yd Pass From Derek Anderson (Jay Feely Kick)||20||24|
|FG||07:59||Sebastian Janikowski 23 Yd||23||24|
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-5||2-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||1|