The Oakland Raiders struggled on both sides of the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in week two, which may have partially been attributed to a short preparation week after their Monday night opener against the San Diego Chargers.
Expectations were high that they would have a strong performance against the supposedly lowly Chiefs, which as we all know was not the case.
In sifting through the dismal offensive statistics and the porous run defense, there were some very encourage performances to be found by the silver and black, including the following:
Shane Lechler seemed to singled handedly keep the Raiders in the game with his booming punts, five of which came after three-and-out offensive sequences. His seven punts averaged 56.9 yards total, 45.9 yards net, with a 70-yard bomb on his first attempt. His kicking continually backed up the Chiefs and kept the defense from having to play on a short field.
The overall defensive line play was not sharp compared to their stellar week one performance, but defensive end Greg Ellis had an outstanding game. He continually provided good push on the pass rush, and recorded five solo tackles, two of which were sacks, three QB hits, and three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Sebastian Janikowski’s kicking was outstanding. He was two-for-two on field goals, hitting from 48- and 54-yards out. In addition all four of his kickoffs went deep into the end zone and resulted in touchbacks. Like Lechler, his efforts kept the Chiefs from starting their drives with good field position.
Like the first game, Michael Huff came up big with two turnovers at crucial times, killing promising Chiefs’ drives. In the third quarter with the score tied 3-3 he intercepted a Matt Cassel pass and returned it to the KC 49 to end a five-play drive.
Early in the fourth quarter he intercepted another Cassel KC pass at the Oakland six-yard line, which terminated a nine-play, 64-yard KC drive. In addition he registered three tackles and defended four passes, an all around good day.
The Raiders did a good job in avoiding penalties, especially considering the loud crowd noise at Arrowhead stadium. They were flagged seven times for 45 yards, only two of which resulted in KC first downs. They have had fewer penalties than their opponents in each of their first two games.
Can this be attributed to Coach Cable and his focus on basic football principles? Whatever the reason this was a game where the Raider could ill afford to give up first downs via penalties.
In addition to these performances, there were other individuals whose contributions should also be recognized. The emergence of Gerard Warren as more of a force in the defensive line is somewhat surprising, and may be attributed in part by Richard Seymour and Ellis having to be accounted for by the offense’s blocking scheme.
Also the defense did a good job bending but not breaking and giving up large gains, limited the Chiefs to three plays over 20 yards, and two scores.
On the rookie front, Darrius Heyward-Bey got his first reception as a Raider and Desmond Bryant registered his first tackle. These were the high points from an otherwise ugly game as I see them. Do you agree?