Raiders finish strong at Arrowhead

For the Oakland Raiders, today may have been the last game of the season but as far as the season as a whole the consensus from the players coming out of a victorious locker room is that it was a stepping stone towards the things that are yet to come for the young Raiders team. In their 31-10 victory over the playoff bound Kansas City Chiefs at a stadium where they were previously unbeaten this year, the Raiders showed that they are for real and when they come to play they are more than capable of winning.

Tony Bruno had this to say on CSN’s Postgame Live, “The Raiders showed today that they want to play for Tom Cable. They went out and said we want to keep this guy.”

It’s clear the players in the locker room unanimously agree with that sentiment and many members of Raider Nation feel the same way. When I asked on our Facebook page following the game, an overwhelming majority of people said that the Raiders need to keep the coaching staff intact. Several people, including myself, believe that the Raiders are just one or two players away from being that playoff team they strive to be.

“We’re not losers anymore,” said head coach Tom Cable following the victory. “We are 8-8. We’re done with that losing and we’re not doing it again.”

That is a strong statement from a guy who roots are deeply planted in this team. Growing up a Raiders’ fan has really helped put Tom Cable in the good graces of Al Davis. A 6-0 record against the division this year can only stand to prove to Mr. Davis that his team is headed the right way under the Cable’s motivational speeches and leadership. So far, the two have combined to produce two pretty good draft classes and have this team moving in what appears to be a playoff bound direction in 2011.So why rock the boat by firing Cable?

The Raiders were dominant today on defense; pressuring Matt Cassel all day and making the KC rushing attack look average. They held the Chiefs to 201 total yards and just 115 and one touchdown on the ground by the leagues number one rushing offense. 87 of those yards came from Jamaal Charles and 47 of that came on one long run. They had 10 tackles for loss against the Chiefs potent ground attack.

Meanwhile Matt Cassel was 11 of 33 for 115 yards and two interceptions. He was pulled late in the game to save him from potential injury when it became clear the game was in the books. The Raiders sacked the Chiefs QB’s a total of 7 times and hit them another 15 times.

The Raiders offense took a while to get going, but they would compile 344 total yards including 209 yards on the ground without their 1,100-plus yard rusher Darren McFadden, who was inactive with a toe injury. Michael Bush had 25 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown getting the bulk of the work in the absence of McFadden. Jason Campbell added 33 yards on four carries including a 21 yard run on third-and-twenty that gave the Raiders a crucial first down on a 14-play 91 yard drive for a touchdown that was the longest drive for the Raiders this season.

Campbell also added 155 yards through the air on 15-25 passing with a touchdown to Chaz Schilens, who was absent for most of the year but will go into the offseason healthy for the first time in a long time. Campbell’s passer rating of 91.3 marked the seventh time in thirteen games played this year that he had a rating of 90 or higher.

The Chiefs first home loss of the year came on the heels of finding out that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will not be returning next year, choosing instead to take a job as the offensive coordinator for the Florida Gators in 2011. Weis was given much credit for developing Cassel into a topflight quarterback and turning Jamaal Charles into a Pro Bowl running back. The Chiefs offensive line, which was good most of the season failed to live up to expectation today heading into a home playoff game next week. They were absolutely dominated by the Raiders defensive front four. They managed a meager 72 yards in the first half compared to the Raiders’ 192.

The Chiefs finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, but only managed to go 2-4 in their own division. The Raiders meanwhile, played like they were the playoff team today and finished 8-8 overall with a 6-0 in the division. Following the game, Bill Romanowski said, “They’re better than their record and they should’ve won more.”

But in spite of their letdown by not making the playoffs, tight end Zach Miller was more positive following the game, “It’s huge for us (and going undefeated in the division) was our goal coming into this year. We’re disappointed that we didn’t make the playoffs, but we can use this as a stepping stone going into next year.”

Head Coach Tom Cable sent a message to his players at his postgame press conference when he said, “Take care of your bodies. You played hard today, you deserved to win and you did. And get ready for next year, because it’s going to be good.”

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