Raiders week 12: Ballers & Busters


It was back home for the Raiders to face the Chicago Bears. The Bears were riding a five game winning streak coming into Oakland. However, they were to play their first game without their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler. With Caleb Hanie getting his first start, it was up to the Raiders to take advantage and come away with the win.

Even with Hanie at quarterback, the Bears were still dangerous. Their defense is among the best in the NFL and their running game with Matt Forte was also something to be reckoned with. But the Raiders matched them stride for stride in most aspects while forcing turnovers and capitalizing just enough to pull out a 25-20 victory.

The Raiders snapped the Bears’ five-game winning streak and are now on a three-game winning streak of their own. It took a team effort to get this win and that will show in this week’s Ballers & Busters.

Ballers

Aaron Curry

Well, sooprise, sooprise, sooprise. After taking a few games to get his footing in his new digs, Curry showed the kind of potential that made him a top draft pick. What Curry has always had is energy and fire. But what he added in this game was discipline. The results speak for themselves.

He had two tackles for loss in this game, the first coming on the Bears’ second possession when he came shooting in on a well-timed blitz to catch the runner for a three yard loss. It helped hold them to a second three and out to start the game. Next series, he had containment on the outside to force Matt Forte to the inside where he was tackled for a short gain. Then two plays later, he shed a block and used his great speed to close quickly on Hanie, forcing a bad pass that was intercepted by Stanford Routt. It put the Raiders in field goal position and they went up 6-0. He stopped Hanie on an attempted scramble on the next drive and it too ended in an interception—this time by Michael Huff.

Midway through the second quarter he had his second tackle for loss when he sniffed out a dumpoff pass and stuffed it three yards in the backfield. A few plays later, he was in the backfield again to slow the runner enough that he was tackled for a short gain. But his biggest play would come on the next drive.

With the Raiders up 9-7 and the Bears in scoring position, he stepped in front of a short pass to tip it and Kamerion Wimbley came down with the interception. Then he blocked the man closest to him and sprinted downfield to give Wimbley a personal escort for him to return the interception 74 yards. The result was a 12-7 Raider lead instead of the Raiders losing the lead heading into halftime. Hanie made sure he knew where Curry was the rest of the game.

Kamerion Wimbley

It seemed when Curry tipped that ball to Wimbley for the interception, he passed on his stats as well. Because while Curry was a beast in the first half, Wimbley was in his own beast mode in the second half. But first there was that 74 yard interception return. He nearly made the endzone but was dragged down at the end of the run by a horsecollar.

Wimbley made his presence felt in the first quarter when he came flying in to hit Hanie just after he released the ball and Huff intercepted it. That hit was foreshadowing for later on. He really got things going in the third quarter. The Bears’ second series was all about him. He had a run stuffing tackle for no gain on the first play, hit Hanie as he threw incomplete on the next play, and sacked Hanie on the final play. He finished the day with four tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 quarterback hurries, an interception, and a pass defended.

Sebastian Janikowski

He kicked six field goals in this game. That broke a franchise record that had stood for 50 years. Four of those field goals were outside of 40 yards. He also had a touchback which he hasn’t had many of since his hamstring injury. Johnny Knox had a 56 yard return on one of his kickoffs but that was more due to poor tackling. Otherwise, Janikowski kept Devin Hester in check with some nicely placed kicks all day.

Rolando McClain

It was the linebacker’s day I guess. Sure, they were teeing off on Caleb Hanie but that is not important. McClain did what he was supposed to do. He made life for Hanie and the Bears’ offense extremely difficult all day.

He ended their second possession with a three and out when he pressured Hanie into an incompletion. Later in the first quarter, he sacked Hanie for an eight yard loss which set them up in third and 15. Hanie would be forced to throw for it on the next play and it was intercepted. He had several other run stops in this game, most notably the one to end the Bears’ drive to start the fourth quarter and a tackle for a loss of six late in the fourth. He finished second on the team in combined tackles (5-1) with a sack, two tackles for loss, and a quarterback hurry.

Tyvon Branch

Led the Raiders in tackles again (8-0). He usually does. It’s when he gets those tackles near the line of scrimmage and/or cleaning up after his teammates that he gets the most credit. He had four tackles in the first half, both were near the line (3 yards, 1 yard). Then on the Bears’ first possession of the second half, he came in on a safety blitz, hit Hanie who rolled out of it, but Tyvon stayed with him to sack him for a 10 yard loss. The next play was a third and 20 and Branch tackled the receiver for a short gain to end the series. He had his one hiccup in this game when he gave up the Bears’ only touchdown on a nine yard pass to the tight end. But Branch made amends when he tackled Matt Forte inbounds in the final seconds to seal the win for the Raiders. It was the second week in a row he has closed out the game for the Raider defense.

Shane Lechler

Lechler had five punts on the day. Three of those punts were stopped inside the twenty yard line. The first was a masterfully placed coffin corner kick to pin the Bears at the three yard line. The second was a towering 51 yarder that was downed by the Raiders at the four yard line. All World return man Devin Hester had no chance on the day. He had two returns—one for seven yards and the other for zero yards. All that is enough to get Lechler a Baller nod. But I haven’t even gotten to his biggest punt of the day. Make that the biggest punt of his career. Better yet, the biggest punt in Raider franchise history. It came in the fourth quarter with the Raiders at their own 20 yard line after a three and out. Hester stood 55 yards downfield ready to receive the punt. Lechler launched the ball 80 yards downfield for a touchback. It took Hester a moment to realize what he was seeing, at which point he started sprinting toward his own goal line but was never able to catch up with it as it landed near the goal line and bounced into the endzone. It was the longest punt in Raider franchise history and was glorious to behold.

Brandon Myers

Myers is a Baller for the second time this season. Last time I mentioned that he had never been on the list before due to the fact that he just doesn’t see much playing time. That hasn’t really changed since then. But what also hasn’t changed since then is Myers’ making plays. First he did it with his hands when he caught a 25 yard pass on the Raiders’ first drive that ended with a field goal. He also did it in the run game, blocking for Michael Bush including laying the key block that opened the hole for Bush to score the Raiders’ only touchdown from three yards out. But where Myers really made his presence felt was on special teams. He stopped Devin Hester three times in this game. All three times, Hester didn’t make it back to the 20 yard line. The first was a kickoff return stopped at the 18 yard line, the second a punt return of 7 yards stopped at the 12 yard lined, and the third a kick return to the 16 yard line.

Carson Palmer

Completed 21 of 37 passes for 301 yards and one interception, despite having almost constant pressure in his face from the relentless Bears defense. His nicest pass was a 47 yarder dropped in perfectly to Louis Murphy to set the Raiders up at the three yard line. It led to a touchdown run on the next play which gave the Raiders their first fourth quarter touchdown in two months. Not since the week five win over the Texans had the Raiders scored in the fourth quarter. Palmer was still unemployed at that time, with no clue he would become a Raider.

Marcel Reece

The Raiders were without Palmer’s top two receivers for this game so it was up to Reece to fill the void. He stepped up to the challenge and caught five passes for 92 yards to lead the team in receiving. Palmer targeted him early and often, and Reece started off with an uncharacteristic drop in the endzone to start the game. But he got the call again in the second quarter and took a screen pass 47 yards. It led to a field goal, and the Raiders retook the lead 9-7. Reece had two more catches to start out the second half—one for 11 yards and two plays later a 29 yarder. That too set up a field goal as the Raiders extended their lead 15-7.

Busters

Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, Samson Satele

Otherwise known as the left side of the Raiders’ offensive line. These three have had many great games this season. There have even been times in which I have lumped them together as Ballers. But as a group, they were manhandled by the Bears’ defense. That’s not to take anything away from the Bears’ defense. But if you want to point to the reason the Raiders had so much trouble getting into the endzone in this game, you need look no farther than these three and the battles they lost at the line of scrimmage on Sunday.

Satele got things started off on the Raiders’ second possession when he gave up a run stuff tackle for no gain, which led to a three and out. Next drive it was Veldheer’s turn. He ended the Raiders’ next drive when Julius Peppers beat him for a sack. Just last week I along with a few others in the media were heaping praise on Veldheer for holding Jared Allen to a sackless game. The prospect of holding Peppers without a sack ended early for Veldheer in this one.

Next drive was brutal for the Raiders Oline. On the second play, Wisniewski gave up a run stuff at the line, next play Veldheer was blown up by Peppers to give up a hit on Palmer. Two plays later, Veldheer gave up another sack.

Things didn’t get much better for Veldheer in the second half. With the Raiders at the Bears’ nine yard line, he was called for holding. Two plays later, they would settle for yet another field goal. Next Raider possession began with Wisniewski losing his block and giving up a tackle for a loss of two.

Next drive the Raiders would get back to the nine yard line—this time in first and goal. But the offensive line collapsed big time. On three consecutive plays the Raiders moved backward. Veldheer started out by giving up a tackle for a loss of three. Then Wisniewski was called for holding, wiping out a touchdown on a screen to Bush. Finally, Satele gave up a sack. The Raiders went from first and goal  at the nine yard line to fourth and goal at the 26 yard line. And again—wait for it—a field goal.

The Raiders were finally able to score a touchdown on their next drive but not without having to overcome a holding penalty on Satele. Anyone still doubt the strength of the Bears’ defensive line and linebackers? I can tell you the Raider offensive line has no doubts.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 12: Ballers & Busters

Nov 28, 2010; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Jacoby Ford (12) is defended by Miami Dolphins free safety Chris Clemons (30) on a 52-yard reception in the fourth quarter at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 33-17. Photo via Newscom

The Raiders seem to have reverted to the team they were in week 4 of the season. At that point in the season they had just one win. That one win was against the Rams (before they started playing well) and they only managed to score 16 points. Well, the Dolphins are not the Rams and 17 points was not going to cut it.

What makes this even more sad is that the Dolphins and Raiders should match up very well– especially with Brandon Marshall having been out with injury.

It was as if the Raiders were counting so much on Tyler Thigpen starting that they thought they would beat the Dolphins simply by stopping the Wildcat. The Raiders did do well stopping the wildcat. But while they were playing as if it was a running play, Chad Henne was torching them through the air. To the tune of 307 yards passing and 2 touchdowns. 111 of those yards went to Devon Bess who was returning to his home town of Oakland to show the team he grew up rooting for that they made a mistake in not drafting him.

When the Dolphins offense wasn’t having their way, their defense was stonewalling the Raiders formerly potent running attack. As bad as the Raiders were made to look last week against the Steelers, I am starting to believe that may have had more to do with the Raiders than the defense they line up against.

So with that in mind, let’s get down to business.

Ballers

Jacoby Ford

Talk about hot and cold. Jacoby Ford has been all but invisible in 9 of the 11 games this season. But when he shows up, he SHOWS UP. He turned some heads when he single-handedly pulled the Raiders up by their boot straps to beat the Chiefs in week 9. He showed us some skills we didn’t know he had in him in that game. And all by itself, it could have been a fluke. But he proved without a doubt that was no fluke.

He got this game started off the same way he got the 2nd half of that Chiefs game started off– with a kickoff return for a touchdown. This one he took out of the endzone for 101 yards.

He led the Raiders in every offensive category in this game but passing. He had 108 yards receiving on 4 catches, one went for a touchdown. And it was a beauty too. Gradkowski floated it over Ford and his defender and Ford bated the corner until the last moment when he broke off of him and hauled in the pass. Then he shot up the sideline for a touchdown. And that wasn’t his most amazing catch either. When he stole that certain interception away from Brandon Flowers in the Chiefs game, it was the play of the week.  And he did it AGAIN in this game. Just amazing that he can do that. It is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It is one thing to catch the ball simultaneously and wrestle the ball away from the defender. But for the guy to have what looks like a sure interception only to have Ford simply take it out of his hands is truly something to behold.

He even led the Raiders in rushing when he took a reverse for 13 yards.

I have to say I was wrong in my assessment of this kid when he was drafted. I was right that he was an Al Davis pick on draft day, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind about that. But I was wrong in thinking he was an average receiver. He is an extraordinary receiver with extraordinary speed. Can you say Steve Smith?

Rolando McClain

He didn’t play a perfect game by any means.  But he did have a solid game overall and held down his position quite well. He was a big part of the reason the Raiders were able to keep the wildcat under wraps nearly the entire game. Last week he didn’t look as if he was fully recovered from his injury. This week he not only looked back to 100% but he looked as good or better than he has much of the season.  And part of his good day today included an interception at the goal line. It was the first of his career and it was a big one. It came in the 2nd quarter with the Raiders down just 7-10. It kept the Dolphins from scoring which allowed the Raiders to take back the lead a couple drives later.

Then in the 3rd quarter, with the Raiders down 23-14, he had a tackle for loss and another run stuff to force a long field goal attempt that would be missed to keep the Raiders within striking distance. He finished the day second of the team in tackles with seven.

Tyvon Branch

Branch is back as a Baller after leading the Raiders in tackles again (9-2) and saving their bacon quite a few times on runs and short catches that could have been much longer if it weren’t for him. His best drive came in the 2nd quarter with the Dolphins starting their series on the Raiders 26 yard line after a turnover. On the first play the Dolphins ran left and Branch came streaking up to the line where you could hear him pop Ricky Williams for the stuff. Two plays later, on third and 8, he was sent on the safety blitz and sacked Chad Henne. The loss of yardage made for a 52 yard field goal attempt that missed to keep the Raider down just 7-10. And the resulting good field position helped them score a touchdown on the next possession. Then he made the final play of the first half when he had a pass defended at the goal line to force the Dolphins to settle for a field goal.

Busters

Walter McFadden

After rookie Jeremy Ware got ripped a new one last week, rookie Walter McFadden got torn apart. It should be criminal to abuse another person as badly as Wal*Mac was on Sunday. He was spelling Nnamdi Asomugha through muc h of this game because Chris Johnson was out with an injured groin. It became painfully obvious why the team would even attempt to take their chances with a Nnamdi at less than 100%.

McFadden started seeing extensive action near the end of the first half. And it is no coincidence that that is when things started to get out of hand. He almost instantly gave up an 18 yard catch on 3rd down. Two stops later, he gave up another 11 yard first down catch on 3rd down. The drive ended in a field goal to bring the Dolphins within one at 14-13.

Immediately after halftime, he was victimized again. On just the fourth play of the drive, he gambled on a short pass to his receiver and gave up a 57 yard catch and run for a touchdown. And just like that the Raiders were down 14-20.

Two drives later he was called for holding on his receiver that put the Dolphins in scoring position again. Next drive he gave up a 19 yard catch on 3rd and 8. Next drive he gave up a 29 yard catch that set up another Miami field goal that made it a two score game late and essentially ended any chance the Raiders had to get back in the game. All told he was responsible 151 yards offense and 13 points.

Bruce Gradkowski

If you look solely at his numbers, he appears to have had a decent day. 53% passing and over 250 yards, a TD and 2 interception. But I don’t take too much stock in numbers. Much has been made of who is the better quarterback between Gradkowski and Jason Campbell. I have chosen not to compare them solely with each other but rather take the perspective of which QB is better for this team. Afterall, what else really matters? For the purposes of B&B, the only thing that really matters is if they played well or they didn’t. And Gradkowski did not. He was erratic all day.

His first big mistake came when he underthrew Marcel Reece up the sideline so badly that Reece had to stop and reverse field to try and come back for the ball but it was easily intercepted instead. If not for that poorly thrown ball, his first half would not have been all that bad. It was the 2nd half where he really lost it.

The first time the Raiders got the ball on offense in the 2nd half, he tried to force a ball to his receiver and it was almost intercepted. Then he was wide and incomplete on the next play to force a three and out. A couple of drives later he set up the Dolphins perfectly off of play action and rolled out to his right where Jacoby Ford had beaten his man and was wide open headed for the end zone. But he threw the ball way too late and the safety was able to come over for the interception.

The following drive he threw what looked to be a sure interception if it were not for Jacoby Ford stealing it out of his hands just has he had done for Jason Campbell late in the Chiefs game. The resulting catch went for 52 yards to put the Raiders in scoring position. But the drive ended three plays later when Gradkowski threw to no one in the back of the end zone. Hard to say what was going on there but it wasn’t good. The Raiders settle for a field goal when they desperately needed at touchdown.

The next Raider drive he had three errant passes. He threw the first one right into the ground, then he threw behind his receiver, and on 4th down he missed a wide open Jonnie Lee Higgins. The Raiders had to score on that drive to keep any hope alive and it ended right there.

Cooper Carlisle

As is so often the case of late, the entire line put in a dismal performance. But I attempt to pick out the worst offender among them. The line made things very hard on Gradkowski and impossible for Darren McFadden. Aside from the pressure that was constantly being put on Gradkowski, the first real mistake made by Carlisle was when he missed his block and caused Marcel Reece to get hit hard at the line, causing him to fumble. Then on the next drive, Carlisle was beaten on the rush causing Gradkowski to get hit as he threw for an incompletion. Then on the Raiders last drive attempt, they were forced to go for it on 4th and 4. Carlisle was beaten badly and had to hold his man. The Dolphins were called for a pass interference penalty that would have given the Raiders a first down but the holding offset caused offsetting penalties and they were unable to convert when given another attempt.

Tom Cable, Hue Jackson, John Marshall

I can’t say enough about how lost this team was in this game. Mike Mitchell after the game insisted that the fault wasn’t in the coaching but there is no way I believe that. On offense, the Raiders were back to their vanilla play calling. After last week’s game Cable said that the Raiders are sticking to their gameplan. And we saw how well that worked for them against Pittsburgh. But while Pittsburgh’s defense has been tough on most opponents, Miami hasn’t looked near as good. And still the Raiders made them look like the Steelers. All the while, the Bills were making the Steelers defense look mediocre. The BILLS! The fact that McFadden has gone from 108 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry to a total of 16 yards on 18 carries in the last two games, is no accident. Both the Dolphins and Steelers simply stacked the box because they didn’t fear the passing game or play action.

On the defensive side for the Raiders, what happened to the confusion they caused against the Seahawks and Broncos? Now they are following the same formula every single set of downs. It always results in sending the house on third down. And while those blitzes resulted in two sacks on the day, there were 19 third down attempts by the Dolphins. Two sacks in 19 tries is not good results. The Dolphins converted on nearly half of their third down attempts. Every one of the Dolphins touchdowns were long ones because once they got past the first line of defense, there was no one else there.

Nnamdi Asomugha

Definitely the worst game of Nnamdi’s career. He was in and out of the game with injury simply because the Raiders didn’t have better options. He was a half step slow in his breaks in the game and in the NFL, that is all it takes to go from elite to pedestrian. In the first half alone, he gave up a 27 yard catch, a 13 yard catch, was called for holding, and gave up a 17 yard catch. All told, he gave up 4 catches in limited action and was responsible for 69 yards for theDolphins. This performance already has the “Nnamdi is overrated” chanters out with their pitchforks and torches. Of course, these are the same guys that said the same of Charles Woodson, so take that for what it’s worth. As for me, I treat it like the time my favorite breakfast place got my eggs wrong. It was bound to happen sooner or later and I didn’t start flipping through the yellowpages to find a new place.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 12: Ballers & Busters

Oakland Raiders v Dallas Cowboys

After the Raiders beat the Bengals last week and the Cowboys barely escaped a loss at the hands of the Redskins, I said that this week’s game could get interesting. I was wrong. The Raiders looked overmatched all game long and were beaten handly by the Cowboys 24-7. That is to say they lost by a score of 24 to 7 not that they were beaten 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although it may have seemed more like the latter.

In previous contests, the Raiders could at least drive into the opponent’s territory a few times and kick field goals. This time they could only muster up one touchdown with all other drives stalling before the Raiders could launch any kind of threat.

On offense, the Raiders couldn’t keep the Cowboys pass rushers out of the backfield. On defense, the Raiders couldn’t get consistent stops. As has been the case many times this season, they would look great on one or two downs and then suddenly give up a huge play that wasted their previous efforts.

It was difficult to decifer between the good and the bad because for the most part the mistakes were a team effort. A team that lacks overall discipline and direction. But I think I was able to separate those to praise and those to blame.

Ballers

Justin Fargas

The Raiders came out looking like they had a solid plan and Fargas was a big part of that plan. He got the start and though McFadden was lined up in the backfield as well, he quickly split out wide and Fargas was alone in the backfield. This seemed to work pretty well too. Fargas ran two times in the first short drive for 5 yards and 4 yards. Then on the second drive he came out and ran for 21 yards and then 12 yards on the next play. A couple drives later, he had rushes of 7 yards and 4 yards consecutively. Then suddenly he stopped getting carries. The rest of the game he only got the ball a few more times. This despite gaining 49 yards on just 6 carries in the first quarter alone. He would get just 6 more carries over the final three quarters to finish with a team leading 63 yards. How much sense does it make to not hand the ball to the guy that gained almost 50 yards while averaging over 8 yards a carry? Fargas could have easily gained over 100 yards in this game and the Raiders would have been a lot better for it if he had been given the carries to accomplish it.

Trevor Scott

The Raiders are extremely thin at the linebacker position so some people may have noticed that Scott was lining up in a hybrid style DE/LB position quite often. And it seemed to work pretty well for him. He is a rangy and fast defender and that position allows him to showcase those abilities. He led the team in tackles with 5. Two of those tackles were sacks– the only sacks the Raiders had on the day. He had a tackle after just a few yards on a punt return to pin the Cowboys deep. He also had a run stuff and read a pass in the flat to the running back and tackled him for a loss on the play. He had a shot at a couple of interceptions that didn’t happen. One was in his hands so quickly and unexpectedly that he didn’t see it coming and dropped it. The other he was running away from the QB and he and Tyvon Branch collided and neither could come away with it. Tyvon would likely have had the INT had Trevor not made a play on it but it is hard to fault a guy for making such an effort.

Zach Miller

As usual, he led the team in receptions. This is really starting to sound redundant. He had 5 catches for 73 yards and they were all in the second half. In fact his first catch was the very first play of the second half. It went for 8 yards. A few plays later he had a huge 28 yard catch. Then after a penalty took the Raiders out of field goal range and made it first and 25, Zach had a beautiful 12 yard, one handed snatch out of the air on a screen pass to get the Raiders back into scoring position. Three plays later, the Raider would score their only touchdown of the day. Proving once again that when the Raiders want to score, they have to go through Zach Miller. He had his final two catches on the final drive. One went for 4 yards and the other was a short dump off that in which he broke a tackle and ran for a 19 yard gain.

Busters

Mario Henderson, Robert Gallery, Samson Satele, Cooper Carlisle, Cornell Green

Yes, the entire offensive line. And I am not just putting them together because it looks better that way or because I can’t place individual blame for an overall poor performance. I listed them all because each and every one of them had a terrible game individually and each earned the dishonor of being a Buster. One needs only go through the game play by play to see it. Mario Henderson got it started off when he gave up pressure on Gradkowski causing him to rush his throw resulting in an incompletion to end the first drive. On the second drive Carlisle was called for holding which put the Raiders in a hole they couldn’t dig out of, forcing another punt. On the third drive Carlisle gave up a run stuff and the drive ended on the next play. Fourth drive Satele was completely blown up by nose tackle Jay Ratliff with ONE ARM to give up a tackle for a loss and the drive ended on the next play. The fifth drive started with Satele giving up a run stuff and ended with Cornell Green giving up a sack. The sixth drive began with Satele giving up a run stuff and ended with Henderson and Green getting pushed into the backfield to close the pocket which resulted in a hurried, off-target pass. The sixth and final drive of the first half ended when Gallery gave up a hard sack and forced fumble to stifle any chance of the Raiders scoring before halftime. In the seventh drive, Henderson gave up a run stuff and two plays later Gallery was called for a chop block that negated what would have been a 24 yard Louis Murphy reception to the 1 yard line. The eighth drive saw Henderson get beaten around the edge which forced another bad throw and incompletion and the drive ended with a three and out on the next play. So as you can see, every single one of the Raiders’ offensive lineman had a terrible game. The combination of DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Anthony Spencer exposed the Raiders’ line and the Raiders don’t have the weapons to make them pay for their overpursuit. The result was complete domination by the Cowboys pass rush.

Kirk Morrison

Yeah, he is back to Busterville. Last week, he played quite well and earned his first Baller nod in quite a while. But this week, he was back to his old self again– giving up huge play after backbreaking play. He was handled on the block when Felix Jones busted through and took the ball 46 yards to the house for the Cowboys’ first touchdown. In the third quarter he gave up a 44 yard catch to Jason Witten– the Cowboys would score a touchdown on the next play to put the game away. And his final mistake was when he missed the tackle on the Marion Barber 32 yard run. Each one of those plays was the longest play by that player on the day and two of them led to touchdowns. Morrison should write a book titled “Losing for dummies.”

Sam Williams

When Kirk Morrison wasn’t giving up the big yardage, Sam Williams was. He was the primary linebacker on the biggest play of the game– the 66 yard run by Tashard Choice to set up the Cowboys first score. He was blocked along with Morrison on the 45 yard touchdown by Felix Jones. He gave up the biggest play (21 yard catch) on the Cowboys’ final drive before halftime that resulted in a touchdown and a 17-0 halftime score. Then on the first possession of the second half he gave up a 37 yard catch to Witten. This team continues to be in a state of emergency at the linebacker spot. The starters are not cutting it and there is no depth behind them. Why again did the Raiders wait until the fifth round to draft one (Slade Norris)only to relegate him to the practice squad? I suppose that is a discussion for another day.

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 12: Ballers & Busters

The Raider Nation is rejoicing this week after the Raiders beat down the Broncos IN DENVER and sent all of them donkey fans home to cry in their Coors Light. I had a funny feeling about this game and despite everyone insisting the Raiders were going to get trampled by this years vaunted “Orange Blush” defense in Denver, I thought otherwise. It seemed like the stars were aligned for an “upset”. I can’t disagree with those who said “until this Raiders offense proves otherwise…” because after a MONTH without an offensive touchdown this offense didn’t deserve any faith being placed in them. But with the Broncos getting worse as the year has gone on and the Raiders defense looking better, combined with the vengeance on the mind of the Raiders after the 41-14 thrashing they took in week one, this game had upset special written all over it. There were a lot of heroes in this game which is not surprising. Last week, even after a loss, in my B&B I had more good to speak of than bad. Most of which was on the defense. This week the offense got on board in a big way. The Broncos couldn’t get anything going and then they couldn’t stop anything. By the time the 4th quarter rolled around they were in desperation mode and it was over. Here are this week’s biggest contributors along with those that fell a bit behind.

Ballers:

JaMarcus Russell - You have no idea how good this feels to be putting Russell at the top of this list for the first time this year. Actually, you probably have a pretty good idea of how good it feels if you are a Raider fan. We have all been wondering when Russell was going to start showing the same potential as other Qbs in their first year of starting such as Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Brady Quinn, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Cassel and Tyler Thigpen. He may have only had 152 yards passing in this game but he only had ONE incompletion. If you factor in that he had a touchdown pass and no turnovers, his passer rating was around 150 for the game. Among those passes was a 30 yard pass to Zach Miller to set up first and goal which lead to the Seabass field goal, a 51 yard bomb to Ashley Lelie that lead to the Raiders first offensive touchdown, and a touchdown strike to Ashley Lelie in which he scrambled out of the pocket and threw a laser between defenders to put the Raiders up by two touchdowns. Then he had my favorite play of the game. Where he took the snap and kneeled down to end it. He was on target all day and handled the added trick plays flawlessly. Finally, we see what he is capable of and it gives Raider fans a lot to look forward to. But that white fur coat and sunglasses at the press conference was going a bit far.

Chris Johnson - Chris Muthuf!#$%in Johnson! Talk about comin out of nowhere, this guy. Actually, to be accurate, he came out of Louisville and was drafted by Green Bay in the 7th round (245th overall) in 2003. He was out of football in 2004 and played with St Louis in 2005 for 13 games. He was picked up after being released in training camp by the Chiefs in 06 and last year in training camp with the Raiders he looked like he would earn the “most quickly to be cut first” award and yet he kept making the team much to my dismay. Now he looks like the DeAngelo Hall contract should have been given to him. He has no easy task either. While teams stay far away from Nnamdi’s side of the field, Johnson is working his tail off getting half the passes thrown his way. He has instilled a confidence in the coaches and fans that he can carry that load. When you have two corners like this then the other team only has the slot receiver to go to and no team can win games with one receiver picking up a few yards here and there. The first play CJ made looked to be a pick six. But the refs would not allow the Raiders to score so easily. They called him for a holding penalty that was completely ridiculous. His next play was one in which Tatum Bell caught a pass in the flat and CJ NAILED him immediately in the open field for no gain. He had three passes defended to go along with another three passes in which he had his receiver blanketed and the pass fell incomplete. He only gave up one sizable catch to Marshall that went for 32 yards which is pretty good considering Marshall is one of the best receivers in the league.

Ashley Lelie - This is why we got him. So he would go to Denver looking for revenge and leave it all on the field in the process. Unlike Javon Walker who has been hurt for both meetings with Denver. Lelie had four catches for 92 yards and a TD. And the 51 yard catch he made was a beauty. He was double covered and the man covering him directly had his arms inbetween his and Lelie STILL came down with it. That is what great receivers do. I am not saying Lelie is great. I am simply saying that he was acting like a great receiver on that catch. He also was doing a great impression of a great receiver on his TD catch in traffic. Every catch he had on the day was either for a first down or a touchdown. I have no problem with different receivers on this team having coming out parties on different days. Last week it was Curry. Next week, the Chiefs will try and shut down Lelie and Curry and perhaps someone else will show up big. Then again, without being able to double either one, perhaps both Curry and Lelie will have good games. It is the Chiefs afterall.

Justin Fargas - Fargas had the first one hundred yard rushing game for the Raiders all season. And it wasn’t on one big run and a bunch of little runs. It was from ripping off good chunks of yardage to keep drives alive and help the Raiders control the clock throughout the game. He had 107 yards on 24 carries and if you take off the 3 straight predictable run plays at the goal line in the first quarter that went no where, he averaged over five yards a carry. He had a 5 yard run that set up the McFadden TD in the 3rd quarter, then he had a 21 yard run, a hard fought 4 yard run, and a 6 yard run that put the Raiders on the 6 yard line and led to their final touchdown. Then he ran for 12 yard first down on the final play of the game to seal the victory and put him over 100 yards. Now that is what it means to be a workhorse.

Darren McFadden - While he only had 38 rushing yards in the game, he added the dynamic to this offense that we have been waiting and hoping for since he was drafted. He lined up at quarterback in the wildcat formation and ran 11 yards for a first down. He caught a screen pass that went for 9 yards and a first down. Then two plays later he scored the Raiders first offensive TD in four games on misdirection pitch left. He lined up at receiver and drew a pass interference call that put the ball at the four yard line which led to the Raiders second offensive touchdown. Then he ran it right up the middle to score the final TD of the game. Now THAT’S versatility. And it is about time.

Jonnie Lee Higgins - Two punt return Tds in two games?! The difference in this game was that he had an all around good game on the returns. Simply because he didn’t lose yards and he didn’t take punts and run right into a tackle as he had for the last few games. He smartly got well out of the way of a punt that was troublesome. He also had an end around that went for 9 yards when it initially looked like he would be tackled for a loss.

Thomas Howard - He led the team in tackles (again) with seven. Three of those tackles were on run stuffs for little or no gain. He didn’t give up a single big catch all game. He also had three QB pressures and two ridiculous roughing the passer penalties which can be added to the mountain of useless evidence for the case against the refs and their Raider hatred. Most notably though was Howard’s interception which was the only interception all day for either team. He ran full speed at Tony Sheffler after the ball was in the air and he turned around just in time to grab the pass and continued his momentum out of bounds. It was as if he had eyes in the back of his head. That interception set up the Raiders final TD to put the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Gibril Wilson - He didn’t give up a single big catch all day and still was second on the team in tackles. He had two run stuffs, one pass defended and one QB pressure. He recovered the Broncos fumble on the five yard line to stop them from scoring. As usual, he had a good all-around game. He deserves to be in the probowl this year. So get out there and vote Raider fans!

Sebastian Janikowski - So what if he only had one chip shot field goal on the day. I am not going to penalize him because the Raiders were able to score four touchdowns. His first kickoff went for a touchback…of course. His next kickoff was from the 15 yard line after Jonnie Lee Higgins was flagged for excessive celebration. Then Seabass said to the refs and the Broncos “Oh, you wanna throw a BS flag huh? Ok I will go ahead and kick this ball 85 yards to the goal line anyway! That all you got for me?” His next kickoff was a bouncing kick that was taken at the 7 yard line and returned to the 15. His next kickoff went to the goal line and was returned to the 22 yard line. And his last two kickoffs went for two more touchbacks. I am so glad he is on our side.

Jon Alston - He only had two plays in the game. Both were blips on the radar but they went a long way. He blew into the backfield on the first play of the game to tackle Hillis for a four yard loss. It was like he was saying “I just wanted you to know what you are in for ALL day.” Then on the Jonnie Lee Higgins punt return TD he ran up behind Higgins to block prospective tacklers…with his HELMET in is HAND! I am sure many Raider fans (including myself) were laughing histerically every time the network replayed it. It is enough that he kept blocking without a helmet but to do it with his helmet in his hand while using one arm? That certainly is enough to make this list. And it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Busters:

Stanford Routt - Well it only stands to reason with Asomugha shutting down the left side of the field and Chris Johnson only giving up one big catch, that someone had to have given up some catches for some yards. Afterall, Cutler did have 204 yards passing. So in this game, it was Routt who was victimized most of all. On the Broncos first drive he gave up a 9 yard catch to Stokley, and missed a tackle on a Brandon Marshall catch that went for 21 yards and put them in scoring position on the 5 yard line. On the Broncos next drive Routt gave up a 6 yard catch to Stokley for a first down, and then gave up a 28 yard catch to Darryl “Stone Hands” Jackson. Then on the Broncos next posession he gave up a 13 yard catch to Stokley on a drive that ended in the Broncos tying the score at 3-3. On the last Broncos posession before half he was called for illegal contact on a drive that luckily ended in a missed field goal. Which means that he was responsible for 87 yards of Bronco offense in the first half alone. He seemed to hold it down a bit better from there on out but late in the game the Broncos needed to go down field more so there were less short passes in the slot for him to worry about.

Refs - They tried their best to screw over the Raiders but could not keep them down this time. The Raiders were flagged 10 times for 90 yards. There were three roughing the passer penalties and every single one had the booth anouncers saying “Oh come on!” and they are non bias. Then there was the holding call on Chris Johnson that was incidental contact and negated a pick six. And the most ridiculous one was the excessive celebration call on Jonnie Lee Higgins for doing a backflip. He didn’t use a teammate or a prop and the back flip took all of two seconds. Not only that but he has ALWAYS done a back flip when he has scored and has NEVER gotten a flag for it in the past. So why now? Why ever? Could it be because they were in Denver? Makes one wonder.

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

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