Raiders week 16: Ballers & Busters

The Raiders needed to go into Kansas City and come out with a win if they hoped to stay alive in the playoff race. Both teams knew it was going to be a tough, hard fought game. It lived up to that with the teams battling it out into overtime and the Raiders holding on by the skin of their teeth for a 16-13 win.

It was a very messy game for the most part. But with the help of a few big plays by both teams, it stayed close and somewhat watchable.

The ugliness ebbed and flowed between the two teams with neither playing like they deserved to win the game. In the end, the statement of the game would probably be that someone had to win.

Ballers

Richard Seymour

Seymour had a few nice plays in this game. Early on he had a run stuffing tackle to help hold the Chiefs to a field goal. He had a sack that was wiped off the board by a holding penalty of Stanford Routt. Early in the fourth quarter he had two pressures in a row resulting in an incompletion and then an interception by Routt. But none of those plays holds a candle to what he did to finish out both halves. To end the first half, the Chiefs lined up to kick a field goal that would have given them a 6-3 lead. Seymour blocked the field goal to keep the score tied at halftime. Then with the score tied again at the end of the game, the Chiefs lined up for another field goal. This time it would have won the game and kicked the Raiders out of the playoffs. But Seymour blocked his second field goal. It kept the game tied at 13 all and sent it to overtime where the Raiders won it. The first block kept the Raiders in the game, and the second block was a downright miracle. Those big mitts saved the Raiders’ season and kept their postseason hopes alive.

Denarius Moore

He led the team in receiving with four catches for 94 yards. Most of that total came on one play. Early in the third quarter, with the score still tied at 3-3, he put on the afterburners and beat his man. Palmer launched the pass high and far and Moore hauled it in effortlessly in stride to take it 61 yards for the touchdown. It put the Raiders up 10-3 and was their only touchdown of the day. His other fine catch was a 20 yard catch that was thrown behind him and he had to adjust to pull in. It came on the drive in which the fake field goal was called back and Janikowski missed the 58 yard field goal.

Matt Giordano

Right off the top, he led the Raiders with ten combined tackles (9-1). He was valuable in both run defense and pass defense. His first tackle was in the run game. With the Chiefs at their own 5 yard line after a long Lechler punt, Giordano came up and stopped the runner from getting off a big run. Then after just one first down, he came up again to contain the runner on third down to allow Routt to tackle him well short of the first down and force a punt.

The next time Giordano was seen, he was making his biggest play of the day. Late in the second quarter, with the Chiefs threatening, he intercepted Kyle Orton in the end zone and returned it 61 yards to turn the tables back to the Raiders. Then on the final play of the first half, Seymour blocked the field goal attempt and Giordano picked it up and attempted to make one final play before halftime.

In the third quarter he gave up his one big play when he allowed Terrance Copper to catch a 43 yard pass in front of him. The Chiefs would get a field goal out of it to pull within four at 10-6. Late in the fourth, the Chiefs broke off a 49 yard screen play. The only reason it wasn’t a 52 yard touchdown was that Giordano didn’t give up on it and outran all his teammates to stop it at the three yard line. It is effort like that which results in leading the team in tackles and could earn him a spot on this team next season.

Carson Palmer

I struggled with this Baller nod. On the one hand, he had two huge throws that played a role in the Raiders winning this game. On the other hand, he had several throws that were part of the reason the Raiders were in such a precarious situation in the first place.

The Raiders got their first score with no help from Palmer. After a 91 yard opening kickoff return, the Raiders would go no farther and settled for a field goal. Then the Raiders’ second drive ended with Palmer throwing his first interception. Although it wasn’t entirely his fault as he was hit as he threw, it was on first down and he would have been wise to just tuck it and move to the next play.

In the second quarter, he had Denarius Moore past the first down marker but he threw short to him and the catch was made two yards behind the first down marker. That led to the fake field goal attempt that was called back and the missed 58 yard field goal to keep the Raiders with no points on the drive.

The next drive he began by throwing into triple coverage and was nearly intercepted. He ended it a few plays later by throwing into double coverage where it was intercepted. An abysmal first half by any standards. But the second half was a different story.

Palmer went 4 for 4 on the Raiders’ first drive of the third quarter. The final catch was the 61 yard bomb to Moore for the touchdown. It was a great first step in recovering from his first half transgressions. However, he was back to throwing into double coverage on the Raiders’ next series and was nearly intercepted again on two consecutive three and outs. His final act of regulation was a key first down throw to TJ Houshmandzadeh that set up the field goal to put the Raiders up seven at 13-6.

But when regulation ended, it was a new game. Now it was all about overtime. And in overtime, it was one play from Palmer to Darrius Heyward-Bey for 57 yards that set up Janikowski for the game winner. That moment Palmer went from goat to hero. Seymour gave this team new life, and Palmer won it.

Tyvon Branch

He had five solo tackles in the game. Three of those tackles were run stuffs. One for three yards and the other two for no gain. In the waning seconds of the first half, he came flying in on a blitz to force Orton into an intentional grounding. That put them in third and 21 with a long field goal which was blocked. Branch started the second half with one of his run stuffs for no gain, helping in a three and out. He later had good coverage on an incompletion as well.

Aaron Curry

He had six combined tackles (4-2) and five of those tackles were run stuffs. His first tackle was the second of the day for the Raiders on a run stuff for a one yard gain. He then had a tackle on a three yard run and tackle for no gain. His biggest tackle of the day came in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs going for it on fourth and one. He shot in from the outside and got an arm around the running back and he was stopped for a loss. The Raiders took over on downs with a short field and drove to kick a field goal and take a seven point lead with under three minutes to play.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

He was second on the team in receiving with 4 catches for 70 yards, but it was one particular catch that made him a Baller in this game. The first play of overtime, he flew downfield to put his defender on his heels and then broke outside to catch a 57 yard pass to put the Raiders in instant field goal range to win the game. The only criticism is that if he had caught it with his hands instead of cradling it, he probably could have scored on the play. But the catch was good enough to help give the Raiders the win.

Honorable Mention

Michael Bush

He didn’t do anything great in this game. But he deserves credit for continuing to be the ox that this team throws their harness around. He carried 23 times in this game for 70 yards and caught two passes for 24 yards. His biggest plays were a 17 yard screen on the Raiders’ second drive and an 11 yard run late in the game to help put the Raiders in range to kick their final field goal in regulation.

Bryan McCann

He started the Raiders off on the right foot by returning the opening kickoff 91 yards. It gave the Raiders a lead right out of the gates. It is always important to get out to a fast start and McCann gave that to the Raiders. Also it is worth noting that despite being known for his fumbling problems when he arrived, he has been great about holding onto the ball. Now his speed and ability to break off a big return have shown up as well.

Betweener

Stanford Routt

He had another tough task this week. Last week he faced off against Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and this week he had to defend Dwayne Bowe. Routt lost nearly every battle he had with Bowe in this game. Those lost battles included giving up the game-tying touchdown catch and then giving up a 25 yard catch to Bowe on the Chiefs’ final drive. He was also called for holding three times and pass interference once.

He seemed to make up for most of his mistakes in this game. After giving up a six yard catch to start the second quarter, he had the tackle to end the drive three plays later. After two holding penalties on the next drive, he had a pass defended in the end zone and Giordano intercepted it on the next play. On the next drive he was flagged for pass interference but two plays later forced an incompletion with tight coverage. To start the fourth quarter, he was called for holding again but ended that drive with his interception.

I cut him some slack on the TD catch he gave up as well as the 25 yard catch on the following drive. He was in single coverage on both catches and was in good coverage. The TD catch was a well placed back shoulder grab and the 25 yarder, Routt was all over Bowe but couldn’t come away with it. He needs to be given more help on these receivers and he is not being given that help.

Busters

Chuck Bresnahan

As has been the case many times this season, including just last week, the Raiders were ahead in the final seconds of the game only to see the opposing offense make big plays to come back. The only real difference this week was the Raiders were up by seven points instead of six and therefore could take the game to overtime and win it. It was actually a little bit worse this time because it took a blocked field goal to send it to overtime. Bresnahan said the problem was that guys are “trying too hard.” Well, maybe they wouldn’t feel they needed to overcompensate if they had any faith in the defensive scheme they were trying to implement. They clearly do not trust the scheme or perhaps the lack thereof. It is not as simple as getting a guy like Michael Huff back from injury. They will need to remedy the giant holes in the defense next week or they will most certainly lose to the Chargers. If the Raiders are not up by more than one score in the final seconds, Philip Rivers and Co. will walk right through this defense just as Kyle Orton (the first time), Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, Tom Brady, Matt Schaub, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Matt Moore, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Stafford all did this season. They should all be sending Bresnahan gift baskets after the season is over.

Lito Sheppard

He and Routt were both abused a bit in this game. The main difference is Sheppard didn’t make up for it. Well, he also wasn’t stuck defending Dwayne Bowe that often either so he has less excuses. He gave up the first catch of the game to the Chiefs. It came on third down and led to their first points of the game. He was called for illegal contact to begin the Chiefs’ next scoring drive in the third quarter. On their following drive he gave up two catches for 22 yards. On their game-tying drive he gave up a 12 yard catch. He finished it off by giving up the last catch of the game for the Chiefs. There was just :09 left on the clock and the Chiefs were out of field goal range. They would need a ten yard catch and with that receiver going out of bounds to stop the clock or they would run out of time. They got exactly what they needed with an 11 yard catch and run by Terrance Copper on Lito Sheppard. It put the Chiefs in line for a 49 yard field goal try. That catch would have given the Raiders the loss if not for the Seymour block.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 16: Ballers & Busters

Dec 19, 2010; Oakland, CA, USA;Oakland Raiders place kicker Sebastian Janikowski  at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Photo via Newscom

This game could have been huge for the Raiders. If the Chiefs had lost early in the day, the Raiders could have kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over the Colts.  But the Chiefs won, and then the Raiders lost, so in the end, it was a wash. At least for the Raiders, anyway. All the cards fell for the Chiefs on Sunday as the Raiders and Chargers both lost which gave them the AFC West crown.

The Raiders were in this game early, fighting neck and neck with the Colts just as expected. But the Raiders couldn’t muster a single offensive touchdown in the first three quarters. Combined with the Colts long sustained drives eventually wore out the Raider defense and two late Colt touchdowns sealed it.



The Raider defense held together well against Peyton Manning through nearly three quarters and they kept the Raiders in the game with two interceptions. But the offense wasn’t scoring any touchdowns and eventually Manning was able to have his way afterall.

It was a game full of moments where the Raiders were not quite there and the Colts did just enough. And that is how it ended.

Ballers

John Henderson

The veteran defensive lineman showed off his run stopping skills in this game. The Colts were running at him all day in the hopes that the absense of Richard Seymour would open some holes for them. But those holes were not opening up the way the Colts had hoped they would. Big John ended the Colts second drive with a run stuff for no gain. Then he had another run stuff for a short gain on their next possession. He had two more run stuffs for minimal gain on their next drive. He came out after halftime to have another tackle for a short gain to help end a series after four plays. Two drives later he had another run stuff. He gave up his only big run of 18 yards on the next drive but he followed it up with consecutive tackles, the first for a short gain and the other a tackle for loss. The next drive he had yet another run stuff for no gain.

The Colts had just 57 yards rushing at halftime. It wasn’t until later, when the defense began to wear down that the Colts were able to finish with better rushing numbers. But it wasn’t John Henderson that was giving up those yards. Despite being one of the oldest players on the team, he maintained his high level of play until late in the game. He is a more than worthy substitute for Seymour.

Zach Miller

Zach led the team in receiving with 9 catches for 66 yards. He also had the Raiders only offensive touchdown of the game. He had 39 of his 66 yards on five catches on the Raiders final drive to bring them within five points of the Colts. Earlier in the game he had a 15 yard catch to set up a field goal attempt just before halftime.

Sebastian Janikowski

Janikowski missed a field goal in this game. Just to get that out of the way. It was a 54 yard attempt just prior to halftime that was slightly wide right. I am inclined to be forgiving of missing the occasional 54 yard field goal in a vacuum. But considering he started the game with a 59 yard field goal, which is 2nd in Raider history behind his OWN record field goal, I am even more inclined to let him off the hook. Then after that he had three more made field goals from 38, 51, and 45 yards out. All of which were no-doubters. He attempted three fields goals of 50+ in this game while hitting two of them. And it is not unusual to expect him to hit from that distance either. He is quite a weapon.

Jacoby Ford

He opened this game with a bang. He has become known for that. He opened the Broncos game last week with a 71 yard reverse for a touchdown. He opened the Dolphins game with an kickoff return for a touchdown. And he opened the 2nd half of the Chiefs game with a kickoff return for a touchdown. Aside from the TD return on the opening kickoff of this game, he had a 17 yard catch early in the 4th quarter to set up a field goal. We get it Jacoby, you’re good.       

Chris Johnson

He had a pretty tremendous game overall. With three passes defended and an interception. He nearly had another interception early in the game.He gave up a touchdown pass in the 4th quarter when he let the receiver get behind him which kind of put a damper on things but it was a blip on an otherwise great game for him.

Busters

Hue Jackson

This seems like a case of focusing more on film study than on ones own weapons. How is it that Darren McFadden, the Raiders best weapon, gets just 11 run plays in this game? It has been proven throughout the season that the Raiders win when McFadden gets 15+ runs in a game. The even greater head scratcher is the fact that the Colts have the 28th ranked run defense. But Hue must have seen something in film study that suggested the Raiders best shot would be to pass the ball 43 times.

Sure, short dumps and screens should be part of this offense with the Colts weak and beat up linebacking corps. But the Colts are giving up an average of over 135 yards per game and he chooses to hand the ball off to McFadden just 11 times? Cable said that McFadden tweaked an ankle in the game but that doesn’t explain why the Raiders there were just 17 runs called the entire game compared to 46 pass plays. Bush and Reece received just 3 carries each.

The Raiders were set up with 3rd or 4th down and short yardage eight times in this game and six of those times, Jackson dialed up a pass play. There were  just two run plays called on 3rd and short and BOTH resulted in first downs. That wasn’t proof enough?

Prior to the Raiders final drive that gave them their only TD of the game, the Raiders had three straight possessions without a single run called. The first was a three and out. The second drive came with a short field after an interception. It began with a catch and ended three plays later with a sack and a long field goal. The third was a four and out and a turnover on downs. By the time the Raiders had their only sustained touchdown drive of the day, it was too late.

Tyvon Branch, Mike Mitchell

Peyton Manning was picking on these two all game long. Any time he saw either of them lined up on one of his receivers, he smelled blood. And it worked quite well. Branch started his day with a missed tackle on a 12 yard run in the first quarter. Next drive Mitchell gave up a 14 yard catch and a few plays later, Branch was picked on for a 19 yard catch that set up the Colts first touchdown of the day. The very next drive, Branch gave up a 20 yard catch and two plays later Mitchell gave up a 9 yard 1st down catch. That would lead to a Colts field goal to take the lead 10-7. Two possessions later Mitchell started off by giving up an 8 yard catch. The drive ended when Branch gave up a 19 yard touchdown grab and the Colts re-took the lead 17-13 heading into halftime. During halftime the Raiders coaches must have realized that putting these two on a receivers was backfiring because they were not put in that position again for a while. Not until Mitchell gave up a 13 yard 1st down catch on 3rd and long on a drive that led to the Colts final touchdown of the game. That’s gonna leave a mark.

Jared Veldheer

Yes, I know he had a tough task in protecting Jason Campbell against Dwight Freeney. And when I start writing a series called “All things considered”, days like this will be looked upon in a different light. The plain truth is though that Veldheer didn’t have a great game. He looked like a rookie trying to hold off an All Pro defensive end. In the first quarter, he gave up a third down pressure on Campbell that resulted in an incompletion and ended a Raider possession. It would have been a sack if Robert Gallery hadn’t came over to help him out on the rush. Then in the 2nd quarter, Campbell held the ball a little too long and Veldheer gave up a sack. In the 3rd quarter, he was schooled by Freeney on a spin move and gave up another sack. Late in the 4th quarter, Veldheer finished his day off with a holding penalty and then a false start with the Raiders at the 2 yard line. I have little dought he will learn from this and be better off.

Stanford Routt

Part #$@% of our ongoing series; “The Whipping Boy”, starring Stanford Routt. Let’s get right to the action: On the Colts first touchdown drive, he was manhandled by his receiver and acted as a pick on Asomugha to give up a 14 yard catch that set up the touchdown on the next play. Next drive he gave up an 11 yard 1st down in which instead of tackling the receiver, he just pushed him over the first down line. The drive ended with a field goal. On the Colts touchdown drive before halftime, he gave up a 16 yard catch. In the 3rd quarter, he began with a holding penalty. Then the next drive, he gave up a 9 yard catch, followed by a pass interference penalty and then three plays later he gave up the touchdown catch that put the Colts up 24-16 heading into the 4th quarter.

Matt Shaughnessy

He had just two tackles in this game while the bulk of the tackles were going to his new neighbor, John Henderson. He had just one tackle for a short gain on a run in the 2nd quarter and it all fell apart for him late in the game. The Colts got the ball up 24-19 midway through the 4th quarter and he gave up a 9 yard run followed by a 12 yard to start off a drive for the touchdown that put the game out of reach. Then he had the final missed play when he bit on the play fake and didn’t protect the back end of the line to allow Peyton Manning to take a naked bootleg 27 yards to end the game.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 16: Ballers & Busters

NFL: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

And so it came to pass that the Raiders yet again could not string together two wins in a row. This team seems to be able to get up for the formidable teams and yet when they play the lesser lot of the NFL, they lose all of that bluster that got them the big win just a week prior.

This team has beaten the playoff bound Eagles and Bengals as well as the playoff hopeful Broncos and Steelers. And yet how the same team can lose convincingly to the pathetic Chiefs, Redskins, and Browns is baffling.

This time, of course, it was the Browns’ turn to be witness to the Raiders’ self destruction. Promising drives by the Raiders would suddenly end with penalties, poor play selection, or a turnover, while drives by the Browns would somehow just continue because of poor execution, and lack of discipline by the Raiders.

The Raiders seemed angry in this game, but not the good kind of angry that won them the game against the Broncos last week. This was the kind of game that gets multiple unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and two ejections (seriously, Stanford Routt and Tony Stewart were both ejected for two separate incidents).

 

Now it is my sworn duty to give recognition to those who kept their heads about them and played smart, disciplined football — and serve up those who served up that rancid turd that was pinched off in Cleveland on Sunday.

Ballers

Sebastian Janikowski

Janikowski played an extremely large role in the Raiders’ having success in this game. His first job was to keep the ball out of Joshua Cribbs’ hands at all costs. And he did that. The only decent return by the Browns on the day came from Jerome Harrison to start the second half. I blame that more on John Fassel or Tom Cable for asking Janikowski to kick to that part of the field instead of to the corner or out of the back of the end zone. In fact, I questioned not kicking the ball out of the end zone all day but Janikowski executed the design so well each time (except that one time) that it wasn’t a huge problem. But aside from his kick-off duties, he earns the top Baller spot for his field goals. He was 3 for 3 on Sunday. The first one was a 44 yarder, the second was a 34 yarder and the third one was a career high 61 yarder that he hit to send the Browns into the locker room with just a one score lead. That field goal is the fourth longest field goal of all time. He has had the best season of his career this year and so it is fitting that he finally hit the length of field goal that he was always said to be capable of hitting when he was drafted in the first round out of Florida State. His field goal percentage alone has earned him a Pro Bowl nod as he has missed only one field goal inside 50 yards. Heck, he has only missed two field goals over 50 yards despite attempting 8 of them. He hasn’t gotten the recognition because the Raiders are not a potent offense so he hasn’t gotten as many opportunities as some kickers have. Last week he hit his third 54 yard field goal of the season and this week he set a new career high while taking over sole possession of the fourth longest kick ever. I would say he is sure to get the recognition now. But whether the voters show it is another story altogether.

Zach Miller

He easily led all receivers with 9 catches for 110 yards. In fact, he had as many catches as the entire Raider wide receiver corp combined. Just for good measure, he alone had more catches than the entire Browns TEAM. His second catch of the game was in the beginning of the second quarter and it was the only catch on the drive. It went for 12 yards and instantly put the Raiders in scoring position where Janikowski would hit his 34 yarder to bring the Raiders within four. On the next drive he caught a short pass on third down which was good for a first down. Unfortunately, a holding penalty and a sack after that would back the Raiders up and they were forced to punt. His next catch came on the Raiders’ final drive before halftime and just 18 seconds left on the clock. It went for 9 yards. One play later Janikowski would set up for his record setting 61 yard field goal before the break. On the Raiders’ first possession of the fourth quarter, he had an 11 yard catch to put the Raiders in scoring position but Frye threw an interception on the next play to end the drive. His next catch was a 27 yard catch to set the Raiders up at the 26 yard line. He was then called for a completely bogus taunting penalty. The replay shows him taunting NO ONE in any way whatsoever. Then a play after he caught a ball for 7 yards, Frye threw a pass intended for him but he was interfered with to give the Raiders an automatic first down at the 2 yard line. Four blown pass plays later, the Raiders would be held out of the end zone. Miller had his most impressive catch and run on the Raiders final drive. He caught it about 15 yards out and ran past a couple defenders and stiff armed another until he had taken the pass 31 yards downfield. Unfortunately, the drive would end in another interception to essentially end the game. Miller did his part, as usual, but there is only so much he can do.

Michael Bush

He was given the ball 10 times and got 52 yards out of it. So clearly he was in the same form he was last week. He simply wasn’t given enough opportunities to carry the Raiders to a win. But he averaged 5.2 yards per carry and the Browns had no answer for him. Again, he did what was asked and more. He simply wasn’t asked to do it enough (more on that later).

Nnamdi Asomugha

Yeah, he shut down his side and gave up no catches as per usual. Along the way he had tight coverage to force an incompletion on the Browns’ second possession. The drive would end one play later with a field goal. On the Browns’ first possession of the second half, he came up on a run play out of the wildcat and got the corner before Cribbs could get there to force him inside and where he was tackled for a short gain. That drive would end one play later with a field goal. On the next Browns drive, it looked as if the Browns had a touchdown run from Jerome Harrison but the problem was that Nnamdi had perfect position to make the stop so a Browns defender had to block him in the back. The run was called back and a few plays later, the Raiders would force Harrison to fumble and the Raiders would take over without the Browns scoring. You didn’t see him otherwise because the Browns were not stupid enough to test him. Smart move.

Chaz Schilens

He had 4 catches for 64 yards and should have had a few more through little or no fault of his own. On the Raiders’ second drive he was thrown at twice. Both times he was wide open and both times Frye was off the mark. The first time he had his man beaten and Frye overthrew it. The second time it was an underneath, out pattern that Frye threw wide and out of bounds. Frye would continue to find Schilens open the rest of the day with better success. On the next drive, Schilens caught a 16 yard pass on one play and on the next play he would lay a nice block to spring Michael Bush for a 14 yard run. Then two plays later he had another catch for 4 yards. He would drop his only pass of the day two plays later but the Raiders were already in scoring position and got a field goal out of the effort. The Browns would lock him down for a little while after that but near the end of the third quarter, with the Raiders at their own 6 yard line, he would catch a 20 yard pass on first down to give them some breathing room. Then late in the game after a penalty started the Raiders on their own 6 yard line again, he caught a 21 yard pass on second down. It would be the first play en route to a 92 yard drive that ended on the Browns 2 yard line. On the Raiders’ final drive of the game, he had a 6 yard catch on the first play but then the drive ended for the Raiders when Frye stared Schilens down and the defense read it and intercepted the pass to end the Raiders’ chances.

Honorable Mention

Tyvon Branch: He did give up one big catch in the game to the Browns’ tight end that went for 25 yards, but other than that he played a great game. He was second on the team in tackles with 7 solo and 1 assist. This includes a couple of tackles on special teams as well.

Busters

Tom Cable

Last Friday I laid out a few things that I thought the Raiders needed to do to win this game against the Browns. One of those points was to hand the ball to Michael Bush. Along with that, it was inferred not to put the game on the arm of Charlie Frye. Unfortunately, that was advice that Cable did not follow. Even after Bush had 133 yards last week, he didn’t allow Bush to carry this team. Even after Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs ran all over the Browns last week, he apparently didn’t trust that Bush could and would do the same thing. Even though Bush had 50 yards on just 9 carries by HALFTIME of this game, Cable only gave him the ball one more time the entire rest of the game. Heck, Bush didn’t even touch the ball for the first time until the Raiders’ third possession. And while Bush had just 10 carries all game, Frye threw the ball 45 times. How much sense does that make? On the Raiders’ first possession, Cable had McFadden run for a short gain, and then Frye threw right into the arms of a defender for an easy interception. The Raiders’ second possession, he ran McFadden for a short gain and then had Frye pass the ball twice for two incompletions and a three and out. Are you seeing a trend here? The Browns clearly saw the trend before it even happened. Perhaps Rob Ryan knew exactly what Tom Cable was going to do: just what he should not have done. Bush was finally given the ball on the Raiders’ third drive and he ran for 18 yards on two carries to help the Raiders get their first score of the day. Give Bush the ball and the Raiders score; what a concept. And even though the concept should have been realized at that point, it apparently wasn’t. The next two drives would end on failed pass plays. Then after a holding and a sack (yes, two more failed pass plays) would stunt the Raiders’ next drive, they gave the ball back to the Browns with 1:46 left in the half. For some reason Cable thought that this was enough time to stop the Browns, get the ball back and score before half so after one play by the Browns, he called a time out to stop the clock. What would happen next was an implosion of mind boggling fashion. To make a long story short, the Browns would get several first downs accompanied by two Raider unnecessary roughness penalites, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty culminating in a 17 yard touchdown strike with :18 left on the clock. Eighteen seconds is less clock time than is taken to call a play. You think the Browns could have gotten down the field and scored if Cable hadn’t called that time out? Probably not. The time out was a premature anticipation and it backfired big time. Then to start the second half Janikowski was told to kick towards Jerome Harrison instead of Joshua Cribbs and instead of… well, away from ANYONE. After Harrison fielded the kick, he ran it back to the Raiders 47 yard line. Another big-time back fire. Then three straight drives after that would end on pass plays (intentional grounding, tip pass at line, and interception), the Raiders would have a drive to the Browns’ 2 yard line. With first and goal at the 2, Cable called FOUR STRAIGHT PASS PLAYS. Every single pass fell incomplete. The third was intercepted but the defender had only one foot inbounds. The final Raiders drive of the game was also ALL pass plays and it ended with the final Frye interception. All the while, Bush ran the ball just ONCE the entire second half. Explain that one, Tom.

Charlie Frye

Sure, he had 333 yards of passing. I would hope he had over 300 yards when he had 45 pass attempts. But it really doesn’t matter how many passing yards you have if you have no points to show for it to go along with 3 interceptions. His first interception was his first pass play of the game. Heck, JaMarcus Russell can do that. In fact I think it is his trademark. It would set the Browns up at the Raiders 17 yard line where they would score a touchdown in two plays. When the Raiders got the ball back, he would make two wildly inaccurate throws. Both had Schilens wide open, one was an overthrow and the other was thrown wide out of bounds. Those too are also JaMarcus Russell trademark throws. Throws like that are why this team lost 7 of its first 9 games this season. Two drives later Frye ended a drive when he threw an errant pass incomplete. He seemed to settle in a bit for a while after that but he still couldn’t get the Raiders into the end zone. Then the fourth quarter came and he had his second interception. He was late on a timing route to Higgins that was jumped by the defender. The Raiders were at the Browns’ 24 yard line and looking to score but instead left without even a field goal to show for it. The return on the interception would set the Browns up with good field position and they would turn it into a field goal of their own. That’s at least a 6 point swing. Add that to the 7 points he gave the Browns to start the game and you have a score of 13-12 in the fourth quarter. If he had been able to complete any of those passes from the 2 yard line (that he should have been asked to attempt), that would have been a Raider touchdown. Or if he hadn’t thrown his final bonehead interception to end the game, that could have been a score. As I said, yards mean nothing. You give the other team easy points while not scoring any of your own, you lose.

Jonnie Lee Higgins

JLH was doing his best DHB impression in this game. Well, his DHB is better than the real DHB considering JLH’s one catch was longer than any catch DHB had all season. But this is not about DHB, it is about JLH so I will stick to topic. On the Raiders’ final possession of the first quarter, he flat out dropped their best chance to keep the drive alive. Later, in the third quarter, he dropped another pass and with the Raiders in third and long, the drive would end on the next play. Then in the fourth quarter after he had a nice 33 yard catch to start the drive, it ended on Frye’s second interception. Sure Frye was late on the pass but Higgins didn’t come back to try and fight for the ball or knock it away from the defender. He just watched as the defender jumped the pass and returned it half way down the field. That was just his day as a receiver. As a returner, he only had two returns for a total of TWO yards. One went for zero yards and the other for 2 yards. Then to put an exclamation point on it, he muffed the final punt of the game. Luckily it went out of bounds but at that point it didn’t make much difference.

Richard Seymour

He started his day by getting completely manhandled on the block that allowed Jerome Harrison to run through the line untouched for a 17 yard touchdown in the first 1:30 of the game. Then later in the game, on the Raider implosion to end the first half, he completely lost his s#*t. He was called for offsetting unnecessary roughness penalties when he and a Browns Olineman got into a scuffle. But apparently that didn’t sit well with him and he got angry with the ref and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. When it happened, the Browns were still on their own 23 yard line with just 1:22 on the clock. Later in the drive he and Gerard Warren would both take an outside angle to try to get pressure while Harrison ran right up the middle for a nice gain. But it was the two penalties he had that kept the Browns drive alive and would lead to a touchdown before half time. The two score lead was one the Raiders couldn’t overcome. After this penalty there would be several more to follow, many of which seemed to be fallout from this initial incident. Seymour is supposed to be a leader on this team. The Raiders traded for him so he could be a positive example for his teammates. Well, they certainly followed his lead in this game. And he led them straight to a loss.

Stanford Routt

Speaking of fallout, Routt was the next Raider player to lose it. Two plays after Seymour’s incident, Routt head butted a Browns player and according to an official, it was so vicious that it warranted Routt being ejected from the game. The Raiders have been seriously lacking in depth at the corner position so the loss of Routt is a big deal. What was just as big was the 15 yards that came with the unnecessary roughness penalty. It set the Browns up at the Raiders’ 27 yard line and a drive that started with the Browns just looking to run out the clock, was now a scoring opportunity that materialized right before their eyes. Oddly enough, after that the Raiders actually looked better on defense in his absence. You can interpret that however you like.

Cooper Carlisle, Chris Morris

Just prior to that imploding drive, the Raiders were stopped on a drive that looked like it had some promise. But thanks to a Chris Morris holding penalty and Cooper Carlisle giving up a sack on Frye, that drive ended just short of a scoring opportunity. After the penalty and the sack, the Raiders were knocked out of field goal range and were in third and 24. This after the Raiders had already made up for Carlisle giving up a run stuff a few plays before that. Then early in the third quarter these two would team up to stop the Raiders again. The first play of the drive, Morris was called for holding but it was declined because the Browns had stuffed McFadden at the line anyway. Then three plays later Carlisle was brushed off by his man and Frye tried to get rid of the ball as he was being sacked and was called for intentional grounding. The loss of down would end the drive. Oh, and by the way, Morris came in for an injured Langston Walker and on his fourth play from scrimmage he had a drive killing false start penalty. Breathe.

Chris Johnson

This is a Buster I didn’t want to list because he played his tail off in this game. But there is no denying that a lot of the yards and scoring went through him so he has to be here. He gave up the second touchdown of the game on a 17 yard touchdown pass to Mohammed Massaquoi at the end of the first half. Earlier in that same drive he gave up a 14 yard catch as well. In the third quarter he was beaten for a 28 yard catch on third down. Then in the fourth quarter he was called for pass interference on third down. That drive ended in a field goal and the final score of the game.

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 16: Ballers & Busters

Well, fool me twice. The Raiders came into this week’s matchup with the Texans looking like they had given up on the season. On the other hand, the Texans, were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Not only that, but the Raiders had never beaten the Texans and this Raiders team did not look like a team capable of shedding any back riding monkeys. So what did they do? They had an overall great game and beat the Texans decisively, of course. In the process, the Raiders had their first opening drive touchdown of the season, a FIFTH return touchdown of the season, held the Texans to under a hundred yards rushing (including the speedy Steve Slaton to just 66 yards), and looked dominant nearly the entire day. Now let’s hand out the gifts to the nice and coal to the naughty.


Ballers:

Jonnie Lee Higgins: He now has the most touchdowns of any Raider this season after scoring two touchdowns on the day. One was a TD catch on the Raiders first drive of the second half in which there was a crowd in the area and he came back for the ball. He just wanted it more and had the skill to get it. And the “Molly Ringwald” he broke out afterward was priceless. The other TD was an 80 yard punt return for a touchdown (His third of the season) and then the dance he broke out is illegal in three states and looked like he would dislocate something. How he gets flagged for a backflip and yet is allowed to go into a mock seizure is beyond me. He had 3 catches on the day for 56 yards, the longest being his touchdown that was from 29 yards out.

JaMarcus Russell- He always seems to have a great game or a terrible game. Who was he channeling on Sunday? Rich Gannon? He started out the game by hitting his first 6 passes including going 3 for 3 for 51 yards on the Raiders first drive culminating in a 20 yard strike to Chaz Schilens for the touchdown. He also went 11 for his first 13 passes and finished the game with a 72% completion percentage with 236 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. This was by far his best game of the season. He completed passes to six different receivers including thee each to the two starting wide receivers. His only real mistake came when a designed bootleg was called that was broken up and he fumbled the ball away to the Texans on the Raiders 14 yard line in the 4th quarter. Thankfully though, the Raiders held their ground and the Texans were unable to score. Meltdown averted. He gets an “A” for effort.

Tom Cable- Finally, the opening drive he scripted yielded results. He also did what I have been jumping up and down screaming about all season; he called a lot of screens, play action passes, and misdirection toss plays. With the Wildcat being all the rage these days, there has never been a question that this team is built perfectly for that type of scheme. McFadden is a big reason why but he is not the only part that fits. Bush (although he didn’t see the field) is perfect for it as well as Russell, Higgins, and the zone blocking scheme. The onside kick that was called, caught the Texans completely off guard. And unlike the ridiculous fake field goal on fourth and ten that was called a couple of weeks ago, this decision made a lot more sense. It was low risk, high reward. It resulted in another three points but more importantly it completely sucked the air out of the Texans along with any momentum they may have had from their touchdown on their first drive. His only blemish was not calling a timeout during the Texans last drive before half which resulted in the Raiders running out of time despite a Higgins catch that put them within what would have been a chipshot field goal. That play alone would have been enough to blow his chances of making this list if it weren’t for his body of work being nearly flawless the rest of the day so he gets a pass…for now.

Brian Schneider/ Special Teams- For the second time, but what should be the fifth time, this season, they make this list. Even if five return touchdowns in a season is not a record, it should be simply because it is not like we have Devon Hester or Dante Hall back there. Jonnie Lee Higgins and Justin Miller won’t wow anyone with their moves or their escapability. What they have is good insticts a deceptiveness. Everything else is thanks to the badass blocking of the special teams guys we have and the attention to detail that Brian Schneider has coached into these players. So in a season that is pretty much awash, at least the Raider fans have been treated to the most excited play in sports…FIVE TIMES.

Tommy Kelly- When the Texans finally got the ball back after the Raiders’ successful onside kick, he had two straight tackles on Steve Slaton runs that went two yards. The end result was a Texans three and out. It is amazing how well the defense can play when they have some rest isn’t it? That was an important drive because it was the first chance the Texans had to try and pick up where they left off when they scored on their first drive. But those hopes were dashed and they would not recover. The entire D-line was impressive with Kelly leading the way. As I said, they held the Texans to just 90 yards rushing on the day.

Mario Henderson- Don’t look now but the Raiders have found their left tackle. For the second consecutive game, he doesn’t give up a sack and doesn’t have a single penalty. That alone is enough but he was also fantastic in run blocking. One in particular saw him blocking his man down the field to allow McFadden to break off a nice 11 yard run when the Raiders only needed 2 for the first down. To really drive home what Henderson has accomplished, we need only look at the names of whom he has successfully blocked in the four games he has started this season: Tamba Hali, Mario Williams (Pro Bowler), Richard Seymour (Pro Bowler), Aaron Schobel (Pro Bowler). Sacks given up: ZERO.

Chaz Schilens- Wow what a find this guy has become. Are the Raiders the only team that scouts in San Diego or what? Every game, he makes fantastic catches while sacrificing his body for the ball. He had 3 catches on Sunday for 52 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was the Raiders’ opening drive score in which he shook his defender and headed for the corner of the end zone where Russell hit him in stride. My guess is he will be spending a lot of time in the black hole in the future. His second catch was a beautiful 24 yard leaping catch over the defender. Between he and Higgins, I think the Raiders have two of their top three receivers next season. The big question is; How many receivers had to get hurt to discover this?

Gibril Wilson- He led the team in tackles with seven. And he only gave up one first down catch the whole day. Most of his tackles were in the run but he was also on the spot to stuff screens and outlet passes including one where he nailed Owen Daniels for a loss on a pass into the flat. Last week the Patriots used those kinds of plays to completely dismantle the Raiders. This week, Wilson was having none of it.

Nnamdi Asomugha- He had one really nice play on the day in which he obliterated Owen Daniels after he made a catch (that he didn’t give up). Hey, when you get the ball thrown in your direction ONE time the whole game, you have to get your hits where you can find them.

Stanford Routt- He wasn’t victimized for a sizable gain one time in this game and his assignment most of the time was Kevin Walter who had a measly 17 yards on 2 catches. His biggest play though was when he batted down Matt Schaub’s pass on fourth down in the end zone. That was a potential game saving pass defense so that alone puts him on the list. But he had an all-around good game.

Justin Fargas- The run to pass ratio was just what it should have been on Sunday and that was thanks in large part to Fargas and his constant hard fought, grinding it out, downhill running that allowed the Raiders to control the clock for much of the game. He finished with 93 yards on 22 carries.

Derrick Burgess- Ok, I ask yet again, what is the one thing we ask him to do? Sack the quarterback. And for the first time this season, he did just that. He had two sacks on the day. The second one ended the game for the Texans as they turned the ball over on downs and the Raiders kneeled the clock out. His first sack resulted in a punt two plays later which Higgins took back for a TD. Then the Texans next drive he had a QB pressure on one play and the next play he hit Schaub’s arm as he threw to cause the Texans to go three and out. This is what he does when he is healthy. But we have all seen what he is capable of in the past.

Chris Johnson- His day started off a little rough. He gave up a first down catch to Daniels on the Texans first drive. Then on the Texans next drive, he had a pass interference call. After that I think he gave Deion Sanders a call and got a refresher because he was on point the rest of the game. And, he had a tough assignment most of the day. That was to guard perenial probowler Andre Johnson. Johnson only had 19 yards on 2 catches on the day and 12 of those yards were not with Johnson guarding him. So let me reiterate that: He held Andre Freaking Johnson to ONE catch for SEVEN yards. But as the infomercials always say “But wait there’s more!” He had the only interception on the day for either team and it was on a play in which he completely shut down Johnson’s route and became the receiver. Other than that he had a tackle for loss in which he flat out nailed Steve Slaton on a screen pass, he teamed up with Rashad Baker to crush Kevin Walter on an attempted reception at the one yard line and they knocked the ball out of his hands, and he had a pass defended in the end zone on third down. DeAngelo who?

Zach Miller- As usual, he is the big playmaker in this offense and he led the team in receiving yards with 70 on 4 catches. 17.5 yards a catch is pretty damn good for anyone, let alone a tight end. This game was advertised as the matchup of the rookie Rbs but it should have been the battle of two of the top three tight ends in the league. That is what it ended up being.

Honorable Mention:

Rob Ryan- He finally seemed to figure out how to stop the opposing offense from eating up huge chunks of yardage on screen plays. Unfortunately it took that debacle against the Pats last week for him to figure it out.  

Busters:

Kirk Morrison- Get this; the Raiders starting middle linebacker only had one tackle. If that were because no one was in his area to be tackled that would be one thing but that wasn’t the case. If that were because the tight end was not seeing any passes, that would be one thing but that wasn’t the case either. In fact Owen Daniels had 7 catches for 111 yards on the day and a few of those were given up by Morrison. He also had other chances to make a tackle that he didn’t and they resulted in big gains. The first big one was a 65 yard catch and run by Anderson in which he was easily handled on the block. The next opportunity, he gave up a first down catch to Daniels in which Asomugha came up and made the tackle for him. His final opportunity, he looked to have Slaton wrapped up for a loss on a pass into the flat but he whiffed and Slaton ran for a first down.

Cornell Green- A staple to the Busters list, he had his usual few busted plays that resulted in bad things for the Raiders. One play, he was beaten so quickly that McFadden barely had time to get the handoff before he was tackled for a loss. That is as good as a sack. Then the big one was when JaMarcus Russell rolled out on a designed bootleg only to find the defensive end waiting for him. And when Russell tried to break free, he fumbled. The Texans took over already in scoring position. The Raiders should fashion a billboard that says: “Cornell Green; Turning offensive plays into opposition points.”

Just two Busters? It must be that Christmas cheer.

Happy Holidays to all of the Raider Nation this year

May this win make your Christmas merry and bright

And hopefully the airline won’t cancel my flight.

Patrick will be writing next weeks B&B

Because for Christmas I will be in BFE

Hopefully he will have as much good to say

When the Raiders beat down Tampa Bay

Hey, you never know, we could get lucky?

And it sure would be sweet to stick it to Chucky.

Ok, ok so what if poems are cliché and lame

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good game.

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

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