The Raiders entered week four full of confidence after a big win last week over the New York Jets. But still, they were facing the best offense in the NFL in the Patriots, so they knew the order was a tall one. The coliseum was packed and the Raiders were pumped. But they couldn’t channel that energy into a win.
Instead, the team seemed to be flying by the seat of their pants, and next thing they knew, they had made stupid play after stupid penalty while the Patriots took full advantage of every mistake.
There were signs of the Raider team that beat Denver, hung with the Bills offense into the last seconds, and beat the Jets. But the ugly side of the Raiders reared its head too many times. So with no further lead-up…
Another Raider game, another McFadden top Baller. This week he was not playing at 100% from the groin strain he suffered in last week’s game, but you couldn’t tell when he was in the game as he was still running past defenders in space as evidenced by yet another big run—this time for 41 yards. The coaching staff held him out nearly the entire second quarter as they checked him out, which is why he had just 14 carries in the game. But he was still able to gain 75 yards on the ground for 5.4 yards per carry. He added four catches for 48 yards. His total yards from scrimmage was near his numbers all season as he continues to be this team’s number one weapon.
Boss put up the kind of numbers the Raiders expected from him when they signed him this offseason. He had four catches for 78 yards on the day and was a toe away from having a late touchdown as well. He got started early with two catches on the Raiders’ first drive. The first catch was his longest of the day, going for 23 yards to put the Raiders on the 13 yard line looking to score. Then on third and 19, he had a 12 yard catch to put Sebastian Janikowski in range for a chipshot field goal. On the Raiders’ first drive of the second half, Boss had a catch in which he put a stiff arm on a defender and took it for 20 yards. The drive ended with another Janikowski field goal. Later Boss matched his 23 yard catch with a great grab in which he shielded off the defender to haul in the pass and put the Raiders in first and goal at the seven yard line. The Raiders would score a touchdown three plays later.
Houston quietly put together a decent game amidst an overall collapse by the Raider defense. He was third on the team in combined tackles from his defensive end spot which included one tackle for loss. On the Pats’ first drive, they drove to the 17 yard line and were looking to score when Houston and Wimbley teamed up for a run stuff for a short gain. Unfortunately the Patriots scored on a pass one play later. Houston held containment that helped stuff a run for a short gain. He had a run stuff for no gain on the first play of the second half and then added another run stuff for a one yard gain a few plays later. In the fourth quarter, immediately following Jason Campbell’s second interception, Houston had his run tackle for loss.
I always talk about how DHB doesn’t catch with his hands, fight for the ball, or catch long passes. Since he did all three in this game, it is only fair that I recognize his efforts. In the second quarter, with the Raiders down 10-14, they lined up on third and four and Campbell threw the ball up for Heyward-Bey. He was covered, but he held off the defender and leapt up and pulled down the 28 yard catch. It was the most impressive catch I have seen him make, and it put the Raiders in Patriots territory. His last catch of the day was the longest of his career in the air, and it came on a long pass in which, yet again, DHB was covered and he caught it over his shoulder for a 58 yard gain. The Raiders had no chance of coming back for the win, but it was still a nice catch from him.
The Raiders needed him at his best against his former team, but he completely lost composure. He almost single-handedly gave the Patriots their first touchdown. He came racing through to sack Tom Brady on a play that had been blown dead with a delay of game. The Patriots were lined up in third and 9 at the 21 yard line and would have been in third and 14 after the delay of game penalty. But Seymour came flying through to throw Brady to the ground and was called for roughing the passer. He claims not to have heard the whistle, which is very possible with the crowd being as loud as they were but everyone else had stopped, including Brady. So Seymour, in his furor, was the only guy on the field or otherwise that didn’t notice everyone had stopped playing. The penalty gave the Patriots an automatic first down. Three plays later, he was called for a facemask penalty making him responsible for 30 yards on a touchdown scoring drive that should have stopped with a three and out. He lost control and it cost his team. The rest of the game he was a non-factor and both of the Patriots’ running backs were able to put up great numbers and a rushing touchdown apiece.
Campbell had a lot of passing yards in this game, but stats don’t win games. He had critical mistakes at critical times. His first big mistake came with the Raiders in second and goal at the 7 yard line. He dropped back, looked for an open receiver and threw RIGHT to a Patriots defender in the end zone. He claims he was trying to throw it away and it slipped. But if he had thrown it away, it would have meant an intentional grounding penalty as he was still in the pocket. Some think Darrius Heyward-Bey was supposed to run his route to the inside or perhaps Campbell just thought he would. But if DHB had run his route inside, he would have been in triple coverage. Campbell also had open field in front of him to scramble. He could have tucked it and gained a few yards or perhaps a TD. Instead he threw the most mysterious interception I have ever seen. It held the Raiders without a score and gave the Patriots the ball at the 20 yard line. They drove for a field goal to head into half up 17-10. Then they got the ball to start the second half and scored again. So instead of the Raiders being up 17-14, next thing they knew they were down 24-10. In the fourth quarter, with the Raiders desperate to score for a chance to win, Campbell threw right to nose tackle Vince Wilfork. He was going for the check down to Darren McFadden and didn’t see Wilfork standing there. Even though Wilfork weighs in at 367 pounds and is always standing there, somehow Jason missed him. That interception sealed the Raiders’ fate. Campbell’s longest pass as well as his only touchdown both came on the Raiders’ final drive when they had no chance of coming back to win. Stats be damned.
This is what people in the football world affectionately refer to as a ‘welcome to the NFL moment’ for Chekwa. After a fantastic game versus the Jets, he was beaten like a drum against Tom Brady and the Jets. He gave up a catch to start the Patriots’ second touchdown scoring drive that went for 24 yards. He was flagged for illegal contact on the next play. He gave up a 21 yard catch to Wes Welker a few plays later. On the next Pats scoring drive he gave up two catches for 26 yards to Chad Ochocinco. He later gave up a seven yard catch on the Pats’ last touchdown drive.
I don’t put an actual name here because it can be hard to know exactly who the defensive coordinator is for the Raiders. Sure there are little things here and there you can place on the man who actually holds the title of defensive coordinator. But the Raiders have run the same man-on-man, right-corner-left-corner scheme since the 60′s. And Chuck Bresnahan was not the Raiders’ defensive coordinator back then. But if there was ever a time to put the Raiders’ best corner on another team’s best receiver, it was this game. Routt lined up on Welker in the slot about three plays in the game that I could see. He defended him well too. On one particular play on the Patriots’ first drive of the second half, Routt was on Welker in the slot and they stayed away from him. But on the very next play, on third and 7, Tyvon Branch was on Welker and he gave up a 32 yard catch to him. The drive ended with another Patriots touchdown. Welker had nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown in the game. So… that didn’t work.
Speaking of Branch, he had great coverage on Rob Gronkowski in this game. Unfortunately, the rest of his coverage was lacking. He gave up a 15 yard catch and missed the tackle to end the first quarter. A bit later he was blocked on an 11 yard run on a drive in which the Patriots scored their second touchdown to retake the lead. The Patriots’ first drive of the second half was Branch’s worst of the game. After two stops, the Patriots were lined up in third and 7 and Branch was beaten by Welker for a 32 yard catch. That gain was trumped to end the drive when Branch completely whiffed on a tackle on a 33 yard run for a touchdown.