Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Still Fighting

Although I don't believe in "moral" victories, the Raiders effort vs. the SB Champion Colts showed a tremendous will to win. This game was a testament to Head Coach Lane Kiffin's strong leadership and game planning abilities. The Raiders fought tooth & nail with the Colts and held a brief 14-13 in the middle of the 4th quarter.

Colts 21 - Raiders 14: Calico Jack’s Six Pack

Raiders Goal Line D is Stupendous:
Facing the high powered, prolific, complex offense of the Colts, the Raiders D buckled down on 3 separate occasions with their back up against the goal line. The Raiders defensive goal line stands was instrumental in keeping the game close and winnable. Instead of giving up 21 possible points, the D allowed the Colts only 6 points.

Goal Line Stand #1 - Indy's 1st offensive possession. Indy had the ball 1st and 10 at the Raider 12. The Raiders D stuffed Addai for 1 yard. Manning throws an incomplete pass. On 3rd down the Raiders hold WR Wayne to a short gain. Raiders hold the Colts to a FG.

Goal Line Stand #2 - Indy's 2nd offensive possession after taking a 10-0 lead on a punt return TD. Indy had the ball 1st and 10 at the Raider 6 yard line. Indy ends up going for it on 4th down from the 1 yard line but the Raiders blanket the Colts WRs and the Colts end up with no points. Without this stop, the Colts would have gone up 17-0 and the game is effectively over.

Goal Line Stand #3 - In the 3rd quarter with the Colts up 10-7, the Colts have a 1st down on the Raider 1 yard line. The Raiders stonewall RB Keith and Addai on consecutive run plays for no gains. On 3rd down Manning fails to complete a pass to TE Clark. The Colts are forced to kick a FG.

109 yards to Pay Dirt:
This was the most amazing Raiders offensive drive of the entire season. Taking over on the 1 yard line after a successful goal line stand, the Raiders executed a methodical, highly efficient 20 play drive that consumed 11:49 of the clock and ended with a 3 yard TD reception by Ronald Curry. This drive had 7 1st down conversions including a 4th down and 1 conversion and a 1st down on a 1st and 20 series. 7 passes & 13 runs. Yes, officially this was a 99 yard TD drive but the Raiders needed to gain 109 yards due to the 10 yard holding call on OG Carlisle.

Punt Return Killer:
The one big breakdown that the Raiders had in this game was on Special Teams. The Colts Rushing went 90 yards on a punt return for a TD. The right side of the Raiders coverage team didn't keep their lane assignments. Giving up punt returns in back to back games is a big concern.

Superman Howard:
Playing in his 2nd season for the Raiders, WLB Thomas Howard recorded his 6th interception for the season. Howard is currently 3rd in the NFL in interceptions which is quite an achievement for a linebacker. To put Howard's 6 interceptions in perspective, here are some numbers to chew on: Howard has as many or equal number of "receptions" as WR Dwight(6); TE Madsen(6); WR Higgins(3); RB Rhodes(3). The next closest LB in interceptions in the league is Indy's Brackett with 4.

1k For Huggy Bear Junior:
RB Justin Fargas crossed the 1000 yard threshold by going for 89 yards on 26 carries and 1 TD. In the 2007 season Huggy Bear Jr. has a been a beacon of light. Unfortunately Fargas' banner year came to a close in the 4th quarter when he sprained his MCL. Starting in only 7 games, Fargas final numbers are impressive (1009 yards, 222 carries, 4.5 ypc) but his value to the team goes beyond the statistics. Fargas, in my humble opinion, has been the heart and soul of the 2007 Raiders. Huggy Bear Junior had been a good soldier, team first Raider biding his time for 4 years awaiting the opportunity to shine. When given the chance by Lane Kiffin, Huggy busted down the door and earned the respect and admiration of the Raider Nation.

Highway Robbery in Alameda:
I hate to end this post on a sour note but I would be remiss to neglect the dubious officiating on a critical, game altering play. With the Raiders down 21-14 facing a crucial 4th down and 9 at the Indy 16 and 1:54 on the clock, McCown attempted a pass to WR Porter on an inside slant pattern to the 7 yard line. The Colts cornerback Hayden had his right arm completely draped around Porter pinning Porter's right arm. The official had a good view of the play and yet didn't call a pass interference when it was clear as day that this was an obvious PI. The Raiders should have had a 1st down and goal to go on the 7 but the non-call effectively ended the game. I'm not the type of fan that makes a habit about whining about the officiating. However in this case, the blind zebra's non-call was extremely disheartening particularly in the context of a close, hard fought game. Uggh. Kiffin said it best in reference to this play: "I'm never one to complain about the calls or make excuses," Kiffin said. "It's just unfortunate that the game comes down to one play, and you don't have a chance to make a play on it."

In spite of the loss, the Raider Nation should be proud of this team's will to win. This is the type of game that lays a foundation for future success and brighter days ahead. The Colts game was a good measuring stick for the 2007 Raiders overall improvements and progress.


Blogger kigleigh said...

nice post CJ,some valid points as usual mate.Fargas has proved himself beyond doubt IMO,next year with him and Bush we should be in good hands.i have seen no reason to doubt Coach Kiff over the trials and tribulations of the season,i think we have a bright coach with a bright future.I too would like to see more of Russell before the season draws to a premature close and the best christmas present i can think of would be him to come out starting against the powder-blues in the last game,throw a few bombs,a few 100 mph darts and run over a so-cal softy or two leading us to a 3rd divisional WIN in the process..Here's hoping,and Merry Christmas to the RAIDER NATION .

10:31 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Best holiday wishes to you, Kigleigh.

Watching #2 start vs. the Chargers and end the season with a divisional win in front of the loyal Nation would be awesome. The Kiffin/Russell partnership in 2008 will be the beginning of a return to glory!

Onwards & Upwards.

11:34 AM  

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