My long weekend trip to the Bay Area was topped by an outstanding performance on the part of the New York Jets defense, as it completely shut down an already suspect Oakland Raiders offense in front of an almost half empty Oakland-Alameda County Stadium. I know—as I said, I was there.
Before talking game details, I need to dispel some very untrue rumors, or urban legends if you chose, regarding the fans of the Oakland Raiders.
Is it true they have their own section called the "Black Hole" where even the most frenzied fans dress up in costumes that would have any trick-or-treaters on Halloween looking over their shoulders? Yes, it’s true.
Do they have tailgating parties that start at the crack of dawn and serve some of the finest food on the planet? Absolutely.
Do they talk smack to anybody and everybody who walks the parking lot in any jersey other than a Raiders' one? For sure.
Are they miserable drunks and alcoholics that start fights, carry dangerous weapons, and give you no chance to enter the stadium as they run you down in Harleys? Not a chance.
Wearing my well-worn and rather faded Curtis Martin jersey that I dug out of storage for this rare event, I was ready for the worst of it. At least I wouldn’t have to hear my wife sling the “chicken*#%@” phrase at me for the rest of the trip. There I was ready to be entertained, or maimed—whichever came first.
The Raiders fans couldn’t have been nicer. Sure, they had their say, but it was no different from other home parks I have attended wearing the opposing team's shirt. If anything they were milder than the fans in Philadelphia, by a long shot—and there I wore a Donovan McNabb jersey and I was trashed.
Anyway, as I said earlier, the food was outstanding and everybody was willing to share and that was perfectly fine with me.
The game was virtually over in the first quarter. After the Jets went up 14-0 in the first quarter after two costly turnovers, not only did it appear that the Raiders gave up, but their fans certainly did as well.
I spent most of the game listening to the Raiders fans around me blast not only the team's head coach, Tom Cable, but the entire coaching staff and the game plan that didn’t seem to exist. JaMarcus Russell was replaced in the second quarter and for all intents and purposes the game was over right then and there.
Overall, the Jets played well. Mark Sanchez played this game not to lose while using his running game extremely well and his short pass game worked as well as it could be planned.
The loss of Leon Washington with a broken leg will cost the Jets dearly down the road, but yesterday it was Shonn Green whose performance opened more than a few eyes on the Jets coaching staff.
Green had 19 carries for 144 yards and two TDs while his partner Thomas Jones put another big game performance on the board with 26 carries for 126 yards and a TD.
Sanchez only had to go to the air 15 times, completing nine passes for 143 yards. His highlight reel came in the first quarter as he called his own number and scampered into the end zone on a quarterback draw.
The special teams unit was in on it as well, as they completed another fake punt attempt for a first down. If I have been counting correctly on those, that makes it two out of three successful attempts so far.
I’m surprised that other teams don’t try that more often, because you rarely see more than one guy rushing the punter, and when he is blocked out of the play, 30 yards down field is usually free and clear.
Any time your defense causes four turnovers and your tandem of running backs can scamper for more than 300 yards, the game gets easier. Easy enough to grab a fourth quarter hot dog? Sure, who not.
That’s what Mark Sanchez did yesterday after complaining that he was not being able to keep food down 24 hours prior to the start of the game. So with the game well in hand deep in the fourth quarter, there was Mark munching on a dog, and today, that’s all the New York press wants to discuss.
I am so glad to be out of there. Let’s just talk football.
The Jets have their three critical games ahead, along with a bye week.
They will have return matches with the Miami Dolphins, who blew a huge early lead yesterday to the undefeated New Orleans Saints, and the New England Patriots, who took it to the Tampa Bay Bucs in jolly old England, reminding our British forefathers that an American Patriot is still hard to beat even after 233 years or so.
The Jets will also get to see the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team not much like themselves whose game performances are not matching their expectations.
Should be fun. By the way, I’m picking the Phillies in seven games to repeat as World Series Champions. Look for that series preview tomorrow.