It was the biggest game of the season thus far for this team. Sitting at 1-1 after a tough late loss to the Bills last week. Playing in their home opener in front of a sold out crowd against a team who was in the AFC Championship game the past two seasons. It was also the start of a brutal three game stretch. If that wasn’t enough incentive to get up, nothing is.
And the Raiders got up too. They scored on the opening drive and after going down 17-7, came back to tie it before halftime. They showed they can play a full game which was something they didn’t do in week two.
Since looking out of sorts in the preseason, they showed flashes of great play in the first two games and took that play up a notch in this game to beat the Jets 34-24.
Here are the players who gave the full house something to cheer about and those who didn’t quite rise to the occasion.
A top Baller once again, he tore through the Jets defense all day. His longest run of the day was the longest of his career. It went for 70 yards and a touchdown. He also took a handoff and looked to make a halfback pass but opted to tuck in and run instead. That was a smart move as he was able to run for 27 yards on the play to set up a touchdown on the next play. He became the first player vs the Jets in the Rex Ryan era to go over 100 yards rushing in a half and just the fourth to go over 100 yards for an entire game. McFadden had 121 yards rushing in the first half and 171 for the game. Even if you remove the 70 yard run, he still goes over 100 yards on the day. That is impressive against any team, let alone a team with as solid a defense as the Jets. He now leads the NFL in rushing with 393 yards.
Entire offensive line
I have lauded the work of a few of these guys since the season began, but last Sunday they were all great. There was only one sack on the day and it was when Jason Campbell tripped on air and was touched down. In the second quarter, Jared Veldheer gave up a hit on Campbell just after he released the ball. And that was it. Neither Veldheer nor right tackle Khalif Barnes gave up a single pressure or hit on Campbell the rest of the game. We have already covered the rushing performance of McFadden which was due in large part to the blocking by this offensive line. Denarius Moore enjoyed their play as well when he took an end around and Samson Satele completely obliterated a Jet defender on a block to help free up Moore to go 23 yards for the touchdown. Stefen Wisniewski had his moment on the first play of the fourth quarter when he took on a blocker to clear the hole for Michael Bush to walk into the endzone for a touchdown. And the fact that Cooper Carlisle‘s name doesn’t come up just means that he was doing his job with no mistakes—as is usually the case with offensive linemen. The most telling stat may be that the Raiders lead the NFL with eight rushing touchdowns—twice as many rushing touchdowns as the next best team with four.
Speaking of the rookie phenom, he was back to amazing in this game. While I am not completely certain if he was technically a starter, he was in on the second play of the game so it really doesn’t matter. He had a 13 yard catch on that second play and it was followed by Antonio Cromartie being called for pass interference on him on the next play. That was 38 yards between the play and the penalty on the drive that ended with the Raiders’ first touchdown. Cromartie would be called for pass interference on Moore again in the third quarter. Then to end the third quarter, Moore was given the ball on an end around and when he saw the edge cut off, he broke it inside and shot downfield. He looked to be stopped short of the end zone, but he wouldn’t be denied, stretching out across the goal line for the touchdown. He would touch the ball five times for 57 yards and a touchdown to go along with the yards on the two pass interference penalties by Cromartie.
Last week he had 323 yards passing and the team lost. In their two wins he had a combined 264 yards passing. He had 156 yards passing in this game but most importantly, he continues to make great decisions and runs this offense with precision and efficiency. In that mindset the only stat that really matters is turnovers—of which he had none. He also makes the right passes at the right times when the Raiders need it most. He had a 28 yard strike to Kevin Boss on the opening drive to set up a touchdown. Then on the Raiders’ final drive of the first half, when the team needed to go into the locker room with some momentum, he completed six straight passes with three first downs to set up Sebastian Janikowski for the game-tying 54 yard field goal.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Jets were able to pull within a touchdown and all they needed to do was stop the Raiders’ offense to have a shot at tying the game. To avoid suffering a similar fate as last week in Buffalo, the Raiders needed to sustain a long scoring drive. The first play of the drive, Campbell rolled out and once he couldn’t find anyone open, he scrambled for 10 yards and a first down. Then a few plays later, with the Jets in good coverage on the Raider receivers, he waited and fled the pocket and dropped a perfect pass in to Michael Bush for a 25 yard gain. It was just what the Raiders needed to keep the drive going, and it put the Raiders in field goal range where they went up by two scores for the final score of 34-24.
This rookie was injured through much of camp and wasn’t able to get all the practice time in that he needed. He is supposed to be the last cornerback in the rotation, but injuries to Chris Johnson and Demarcus Van Dyke rushed him into service. Chekwa stepped up big time. The first play he made was a tackle on a return in which he took the helmet off the return man. Then late in the first half he had a coverage incompletion on third down. That gave the Raiders the ball back with enough time to drive down and kick the game tying field goal. Then on the Jets’ first drive of the third quarter, he had the tackle on a short catch and the drive ended on the next play. Next Jets possession he tackled LaDainian Tomlinson for a short gain on a direct snap run. The drive ended with a three and out. Next drive, with the Jets going for it on fourth and two, he had a pass defended. He had a rough drive a bit later when he gave up a 24 yard catch early on and then gave up the touchdown catch to Plaxico Burress. But he had great coverage on the TD pass and there was little he could do about it. As is so often said, “There is no defense for a perfect throw.” Chekwa finished the game with a coverage incompletion to help keep the Jets from scoring at the end of the game.
Quite a game for this former Bronco castoff. He got in the backfield to sack the quarterback three times. One was a solo sack and the other two were shared sacks. The Raiders had four sacks on four consecutive Jets possessions to start the second half and Moss was part of three of them. He also had a tackle for a short gain on a pitch run.
Hue Jackson, Al Saunders
Hue has this offense moving like a well oiled machine. Saunders has designed some great plays and Hue seems to make all the right calls at the right times. The Jets defense was hopeless to stop anything the Raiders were doing. Most of the time it was old fashioned ground and pound football but there was just enough trickery mixed in to keep them guessing. There were two trick plays in this game and they came back to back. With the Raiders on the 50 yard line, first came the half back pass attempt that McFadden ran for 27 yards. That was immediately followed by the end around to Denarius Moore that covered the final 23 yards for the score. This is one confident and comfortable offense. Now if the defense can come near that level of play, watch out.
Bush is the Raiders’ closer. When they need a touchdown or first down in short yardage, they call upon him. At the end of the game, when the opposing defense is getting worn down, they call upon him. He had a touchdown on a one yard run to begin the fourth quarter, but his biggest play was the 25 yard catch that put the Raiders in field goal range and sealed the victory.
Seymour had a half sack, but his biggest play may have been on the final play of the game when he hit Mark Sanchez on a scramble attempt on fourth and goal from the two yard line. That tripped Sanchez up just enough that his knee touched before he crossed the goal line which reversed the touchdown call and gave the Raiders the ball back. They would rush out the clock from there.
He had one big catch in the game of 28 yards but his best play came when he sealed off the edge of the Jets defensive line so the Darren McFadden could break free and take the ball 70 yards for a touchdown.
I am rather tired of putting him on the Buster list already. It occurs to me that perhaps the Raiders are asking too much of their young middle linebacker. After all, he does make a few good plays. His mistakes are just so costly that the good plays seem trite by comparison. He got off to a very bad start in this game. He gave up a 25 yard catch on the first Jets possession. Then on their second drive, he missed a tackle on Tomlinson and after LDT broke away from him, McClain resorted to jogging afterward, which he did last game as well. This has got to stop. Last game his missed tackle and ensuing dogging it resulted in a huge touchdown run, and this game it resulted in a 74 yard run after catch to the one yard line. The Jets would score two plays later. In my mind it doesn’t matter what he did after that play. He had already played like a Buster. He did play much better for a while in this game as evidenced by his leading the Raiders in tackles on the day (7-5). But then on the Jets last drive, he gave up a huge 32 yard catch to put the Jets at first and goal at the nine yard line. Thanks to some solid defense from his teammates, they were able to keep the Jets from scoring but it got pretty tense at the end there.
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