Even the most faithful Raider fans had a feeling in the back of their minds that the Raiders may not be able to beat the AFC West leading Chiefs en route to three straight games. But they did it and in the process they showed all four faces of this team the past four games.
Last week I called upon the fans to sell out the coliseum and be the one phase of this Raider team that had yet to show up. And show up you did, selling out the coliseum and making life difficult for the Chiefs while energizing your Raiders.
The fans were the X-factor the team needed on Sunday. A factor they hadn’t had through the first 8 games of the season. The Raiders have gone out in three of the last four games and earned the fans support. And the fans responded with the first sellout since the beginning of the 09 season.
In those three games the Raiders won in a meriad of ways. In the Chargers game it was all about special teams, the Niners game they didn’t show up at all, the Broncos game they won with offense and the Seahawks game they won with defense.
This game started like the game against the 49ers. The big similarity was the rain. It had rained in San Francisco before and during the week 6 matchup. In that game Jason Campbell had the worst game of his career. In the first half of this game, he had completed just four passes, all to runningbacks, for a total of 18 yards.
When the third quarter began, it was immediately all about special teams, just like it had been to begin the Chargers game. Jacoby Ford took the opening kickoff of the second half 94 yards for a touchdown. The Raiders were immediately back in the game, down 10-7.
Then on the ensuing kickoff by the Raiders, the Chiefs return man was stripped to give the Raiders the ball back deep in Chiefs territory.
Then, after giving up a field goal to go down 13-7, they showed some of that offense from the Denver game to take the next possession quickly downfield to score a touchdown and take the first lead of the game 14-13.
Then it was time for the team to bring out it’s defensive strength they showed in the Seahawks game to come in and keep the Cheifs from scoring. They did keep the Cheifs from scoring on two consecutive drives. Then the offense came back for another successfull drive for a short field goal to go up 17-13.
Unfortunately a muffed punt return and fumble by Nick Miller would put the Chiefs in scoring position and they would go back up 20-17. But the defense was not going to let that mishap keep them down. That would be the last score theChiefs had. Their final act was intercepted Matt Cassel to give the offense one more chance to come back.
And come back they did. They got the ball with just over 2 minutes to play and drove the ball down to kick the field goal and tie it up at 20 apiece and send the game into overtime. The drive was capped by a miraculous catch in which Jacoby Ford took the ball away from the defender to put them in scoring position.
In the overtime, every facet of this team came together from those three wins in the previous four games. They left the memories and poor play from the 49er game behind. The kickoff was squib kicked and muffed by the returner and he was tackled at the 10 yard line for the special teams mastery. Then the defense stopped the Chiefs on a three and out. Then the offense, with some good field position, picked up 47 yards on one pass play to, who else but, Jacoby Ford. Then Janikowski came out and nailed a 33 yard field goal to win the game.
It was a season in microcosm. But in the end, the Raiders showed that the team that lost in the opener to the Titans, lost on a missed field goal to the Cardinals, and lost thru in incompetence to the 49ers, is now a team of the past. This is the team that makes plays on offense, defense, and special teams to win football games. And this time they did it with the full force of the Raider Nation behind them. They also did it without their best defender in Nnamdi Asomugha and their best offensive weapon in Zack Miller.
It’s going to be a good bye week and stay tuned for my Ballers & Busters for this game as well as my midseason Ballers & Busters next week.