Strap On Yer 'Skis and Ride With The Oakland Raiders

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Strap On Yer 'Skis and Ride With The Oakland Raiders
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Well, I've been known to say that Bruce Gradkowski isn't any better than JaMarcus Russell, and I don't see how it helps our future to play him.

I've also been known to be wrong. Often. And this is another example.

Whether or not Gradkowski has Russell's physical gifts is debatable, but one thing is not: The guy loves the game and pumps his teammates up.

Even Russell.

Credit to the big guy: He was the first player out there to congratulate Gradkowski after he'd thrown a beautiful 29-yard TD pass to Louis Murphy, who made an exceptional move and finally had a replay decision go his way on the game-tying catch.

One thing that was interesting was that in celebrating with Gradkowski, we saw more raw emotion from Russell than we have at any other point in his Raider tenure.

I fully retract my earlier sentiment that the Raiders had no better chance to win with Bruce than they did with JaMarcus. The team fed off his energy yesterday, and you could see in their eyes that they truly believed they could win at the end.

Gradkowski running around, smiling and laughing after the game was Favre-esque, and so refreshing as a Raider fan. You could actually tell whether we won or lost. When we made mistakes, he got upset. When we made good plays, he got pumped up. The team fed on that, and after a sluggish start, took the play to the Bengals for the last half of the game.

The defense was stout yet again, and once they realized the offense could actually move the ball, they shook off some early doldrums and hammered the Bengals into submission.

I said before the game the biggest key was pressuring Palmer, and when we didn't earlier, he carved us up. After the defense began getting some reciprocity from the offense, they played like they were possessed and held the Bengals to nothing of significance in the second half.

I don't know if he's the answer going forward, and I don't care. Gradkowski, I now realize, gives us the best chance to win right now, and with our roster, decent QB play could garner a few more wins for this downtrodden squad.

With Gradkowski throwing and Janikowski kicking, we've got a great pair of 'Skis to navigate the treacherous "Super G" that is our remaining schedule.

And how about young Desmond Bryant stepping up? Exciting young players on that line, with Shaughnessy, Bryant, and Jay Richardson.

That's the Raider team we love, and we can be proud of. Great game, guys, and way to battle to the end. I was impressed on so many levels that I'm positively giddy today.

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