Arm Chair Analysis - Indy @ Oakland
Game sure started out nice, huh? Gotta love Jacoby Ford! 3 KO returns for TDs. This one was set up by Ford reading his 1st block and then putting it into over-drive untouched for 99 yards. He has a 2nd gear of acceleration that is truly astonishing.
This game was puzzling, encouraging, and disappointing all rolled into a big fat burrito. Puzzling in terms of the the identities of the teams being flipped. Encouraging by how far this team has come in 12 months. It was disappointing because the Raiders, for unknown reasons, forgot their formula for success and the fact that before kickoff were eliminated from playoff contention. Thank the Thumbtacks for mailing in their game with the Condiments. At least KFC's strong arm was put to good use by causing a concussion to his own teammate on the sidelines with an inadvertent pass.
Upon further review and reflections, here are some of my random thoughts on Sunday's game:
What happened to sticking with our offensive unit's identity and strength, the running attack?
Prior to the coin toss, the Raiders were the #2 ranked rushing offense in the NFL and Indy was the #28 ranked rushing defense. Even Joe Arm Chair QB would surmise that the Raiders would pound the rock, establish the run between the tackles, and dictate the terms of the game.
In spite of a 7-0 lead, causing the Colts a 3 and out on their 1st possession, and a game evenly matched in time of possession, the Raiders only attempted a grand total of 10 rushing plays in the 1st half. What's up, Huey?
The Raiders rushing attack is the engine that drives the team to success. It creates viable play-action-pass opportunities. The rushing attack keeps the defense fresh. Most importantly, it is what we do best by exerting our will and physicality upon the opponent.
Here is a breakdown of the Raiders 7 victories this season with the rushing attempts and yards listed:
vs. St. Louis - 40 rushing attempts, 173 yards
vs. San Diego - 30 rushing attempts, 111 yards
at Denver - 52 rushing attempts, 328 yards
vs. Seattle - 39 rushing attempts, 239 yards
vs. KC - 26 rushing attempts, 112 yards
at San Diego - 52 rushing attempts, 251 yards
vs. Denver - 41 rushing attempts, 264 yards
In these glorious 7 victories, the Raiders have AVERAGED 40 rushing attempts, 211 yards for over 5 yards per carry.
On Sunday, the Raiders had inexplicably only 20 rushing attempts for 80 yards. Of those 20 rushing attempts, McFadden and Bush combined for a measly 14 TOTAL attempts.
Why would a team go away from their strength and exposing an opponent's OBVIOUS weakness? I'm afraid that I don't have any logical reasons but just more questions for Baby Huey such as;
*Was Indy doing anything on defense special to take away the Raiders running attack? No.
*Were the Raiders RBs getting stonewalled by 8 or 9 in the box? No.
*Was Oakland forced to pass more than usual to play catch-up due to falling way behind on the scoreboard? No.
The Colts ran the ball 39 times for 191 net yards which is completely out of character. Big Rich Seymour was sorely missed on Sunday as the Colts gouged the Raiders D right up the pipe.
2 Raider pass interference calls were highly questionable and ultimately pivotal to the final outcome. I don't normally make a big deal out of the officiating. However, these 2 PIs clearly were not interference and led to 2 Colts TDs.
The first PI just before the conclusion of the 1st half was against Chris Johnson on Pierre Garcon. At worse, it was nothing more than harmless hand fighting well before the ball was near Garcon. This play was from the Oakland 43 on 3rd and 15 with only :45 left on the clock. Sure enough, the next play Manning found a teammate in the end zone. Instead of the Raiders going into half up 13-10, the momentum was shifted with a Colts 17-13 halftime lead.
The second PI, which was completely bogus, came against Standford Routt covering WR White on a deep seam route. Routt simply didn't interfere with White. This infraction put the Colts on the Raiders 12 yard line and led to another TD. The Colts 1 point lead was pushed up to an 8 point margin. Prior to the PI, the Raiders D had put the clamps down on Indy's offense. The offense had shrunk the lead from 4 points to 1 point.
In the final arm chair analysis, the way that the game unfolded was not in the Raiders wheelhouse. When the Raiders have won in 2010, it has been built on the sturdy shoulders of a dominating rushing attack, an opportunistic defense, and solid special teams play. The failure to commit to the 1st component to this formula put the team in uncharted territory.