Cleveland Kicker Phil Dawson’s 37 yard game winning field goal as the clock expired was like a kick in the stomach. In a season marked by unfulfilled expectations, this game defied all logic. With the clock showing 0:00, the final score showed Browns 9 - Raiders 7 .
How do the Raiders lose a game at home when the following takes place; Lamont Jordan has a career best day of 132 yards on 25 carries. The Raiders win the turnover battle 2-1. The Raiders win the time of possession battle 33:38 to 26:22. The Raiders convert 7-16 3rd downs (43.7%) to the Browns 4-15 (26.6%). The Raiders recorded 3 sacks to the Browns 2. The Raiders Shane Lechler out punts the Browns Richardson 49.3 to 43.0. The Raiders shut down the Browns lead back Ruben Droughns (53 yards on 18 carries; 2.9 yards per carry). The Raiders defense puts up a valiant goal line stand. The Browns had 1st and goal from the 4 yard line and came up empty. How do you lose when your defense holds the Browns to no touchdowns for the game?
The reason the Raiders came up short was because the offensive unit was able to score only 1 time in 10 possessions. The Raiders offense was punch-less primarily because Lame Duck QB Collins completed only 8 passes to his trio of wide receivers. The Raiders came up short because their QB completed less than half of his passes and compiled a 56.5 passer rating. I’m sorry but when you have Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, and Doug Gabriel as your receivers, this stat line is not only perplexing but absolutely atrocious. That is 2 receptions per quarter. How does perennial All-Pro WR Randy Moss go an entire game with 1 measly reception? When arguably your best player on the team has this type of production, there needs to be some serious changes made. The first order of business for Mr. Davis is hiring a head coach who will use Moss’ all world talent to be a playmaker and difference maker. The second point of business is to change the QB delivering the ball to him. The Raiders added another “L” to the loss column because K Sea-Bass missed a FG and had another FG attempt blocked in a game decided by 2 points. For the season, Sea-Bass has converted only 19 of 29 FG attempts for a dismal 65.5% rate. Although Sea-Bass misses didn't help the cause, this offense was built to score touchdowns not field goals. When your kicker and QB are both shooting blanks it is next to impossible to win.
It is disheartening to see the Raiders defense play so well and be unsupported by the kicking game and offense. The Raiders defense has played much better than anticipated this season. DE Derrick Burgess recorded his league high 14th sack. Rookie CBs Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt held up well in coverage. Rookie LB Kirk Morrison made 2 key stops on the goal line. 2nd year man FS Stuart Schweigert and LB Danny Clark were flying to the ball. The young guns on D are stepping up and making plays while the offense has been a major disappointment.
The offense is stuck in quick sand because Collins is unable to manage the game. He lacks the ability to call an audible, improvise, or avoid the pass rush. Collins has the offense stuck in neutral because he is unable to complete a decent % of his passes to top flight receivers. The offense is going nowhere fast because Collins doesn’t command respect in the huddle and consistently receives a grade of “F” in leadership abilities. I hate to keep using Collins (and Turner) as punching bags in my blog but I have had enough of their tired, losing ways. Give me a QB and Head Coach who has the passion and fire in his belly to win. Give me a QB and Head Coach who commands respect amongst the team members. Give me a QB and Head Coach who will lead and inspire the team to victory. The light shining on the quest for the Lombardi Trophy might be very dim right now but my faith is unshaken. Sure, Santa might have dumped a lump of coal in the Silver and Black stocking this season but I’m hopeful that the 2006 season will bring a shiny brand new QB and Head Coach. Feliz Navidad.
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Silver and Black Forever,