Last week the Broncos raced out to a 17 to 3 lead over the Raiders. The Raiders charged back and held a brief 20 to 17 lead. With the game in the balance, SeaBass made a 52 yard FG that didn't count since ShanaRat called a timeout prior to the play. The ensuing kick hit the left upright.
Fast forward to this week. The Raiders raced out to a 16 to 0 lead. The Browns' rallied to take a brief 17 to 16 lead. With the game on the line and a few seconds on the clock, the Browns trailed 24 to 26. Browns kicker Dawson hits a 40 yard FG that didn't count since Kiffin had called a timeout a few seconds before the ball being snapped. On the ensuing FG attempt, DT Tom Kelly blocked Dawson's kick.
The Raiders took command in the 1st half largely on the backs of the defense, Lamont Jordan and 1 critical 3rd and inches call. LB's Morrison and Howard both had key interceptions that set up 2 FGs. In the 2nd quarter, the Raiders faced a 3rd and inches. This drive was set up by 7 consecutive runs. With the Raiders running the ball effectively, Kiffin caught the Browns off balance by calling for a play action pass, roll out where McCown hit a wide open Ronald Curry for a 41 yard TD pass. Later in the quarter McCown injured his left ankle on a scrambled run play. McCown gutted it out for the rest of the half but to the delight of the Raider fans in attendance, Culpepper finally took over for good starting in the 2nd half.
The key series in the 2nd half happened with Culpepper under center and the Raiders down 17 to 16. Culpepper led the Raiders to a 15 play, 80 yard TD drive that took 9:04. Culpepper (8 of 14 for 118 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs) did just enough (1 TD drive, 1 FG drive) in the 2nd half to give the Raiders a comfortable 26 to 17 lead.
A bone to pick ...
For inexplicable reasons, the Raiders defense went into a soft, prevent, protect the lead mode with a 9 point lead. The front 4 was ineffective the entire day putting any adequate pressure on QB Anderson who was sacked only once (Gerrard Warren). The Raiders defense has all 11 returning starters from last year but seems to be falling into the trap of becoming too predictable. Rob Ryan needs to realize that it is perfectly acceptable to take more chances on defense by employing an occasional blitz. If the front 4 isn't getting to the QB, start blitzing. Get the QB to start hearing footsteps. Start dictating the action and tempo of the play on the field. Take a page from your pop's mentality and cut the dogs of war loose. Here are 5 guys that should be used in a blitz package:
SS Michael Huff: He spends enough time in the box, on the line of scrimmage. He has the speed to get around the corner and get to the QB or hurry his pass.
LCB Nnamdi Asomugha: In man to man, press coverage, Nnanmdi is near the line of scimmage. With Nnamdi's speed and wing span, he is a excellent candidate to blitz.
RCB Fabian Washington: Shock the hell out of the QB and blitz Fabian. Fabian is the fastest player in the entire NFL ... the element of surprise + speed = winning formula for a successful blitz.
WLB Thomas Howard: Howard had the fastest 40 yard time in the combine for all the LBs. His 4.4 speed is remarkable. Start using this speed as an ocassional edge rusher.
MLB Kirk Morrision: Morrison is a savvy football player. A delayed blitz in the middle of the line where Morrison gets right in the face of the QB would create good opportunities for sacks and turnovers by forcing the interior lineman to quickly choose who they are going to pick up.
3 weeks & counting ...
This is the 3rd consecutive week that the Raiders have held the lead in the 4th quarter, scored 20 or more points, LB Kirk Morrison has had an interception, and RB Lamont Jordan has gained over 100 all purpose yards. Kirk Morrison leads the league in INTs (3) while Jordan is #2 in the league in rushing (350 yards). Behind an improved offensive line, Jordan has been the engine to the Raiders offense.
Through 3 games, here are Jordan's stats: 69 rushing attempts; 350 yards; 5.1 yards per carry; 2 TDs; 1 fumble; 11 receptions; 121 yards; 11.0 per reception. Total all purpose yards: 471 yards.
Congratulations to Lane Kiffin for his first victory in the NFL! Kiffin has done a remarkable job overhauling the personnel (40% turnover) and coaching staff (entirely new offensive coaching staff), changing the offensive shemes, and dialing up the plays. However, the most important aspect credited to Kiffin is how he has postively impacted the competitive spirit & attitude of his team. The 2007 Raiders' will to win has been evident in all 3 games under Kiffin. In all 3 games played this season, the Raiders have overcome 2nd half deficits to take the lead. Sure, the Raiders only have 1 win to show for their efforts. The point is that if a team continually puts itself in a position to win eventually it will learn what it takes to put their foot on the windpipe of their opponent. Load the cannons for the Fins. Let's ride.
|AFC West||Record||Next Opponent|
|San Diego||(1-2)||vs. KC|