The kicker to all that is it looked like the Raiders were going to be dominated in the early going. But somehow, the Raiders were able take an ugly game and make the end result of it pretty by winning.
Turn the page to take a look at what we learned about the Raiders doing so.
I told everyone that would listen that the Texans couldn't just smash mouth the Raiders before the game. They shut down the Jets ground and pound along with the Denver Broncos physical running game this season.
Texans running back Arian Foster had just 68 yards on 22 carries after Foster had a 20-yard run on is first carry. Outside linebacker Quentin Groves was out of place on the play but came back to play a great game from there.
Young middle linebacker Rolando McClain was a warrior out there along with Kamerion Wimbley. The front four was a dominant as Raiders fans could expect them to be.
More on the front four later.
The defensive line was dominant in both the run and pass today!
Did you notice the switch?
With Matt Shaughnessy out, there were times that Richard Seymour kicked over to defensive end with "Big" John Henderson playing defensive tackle. I thought that this should have been the Raiders startng lineup all along but many bought into Matt Shaughnessy being a superstar.
To that, I say he's not a superstar yet and the Raiders need to stop the run more than they need a superstar. Shaughnessy could always come in on passing downs for now as the combination of Seymour, Henderson, Tommy Kelley and Lamarr Houston doesn't look like it can be run on.
The Steelers couldn't even stop Foster and the Raiders did!
The 6'7" Henderson's presence was even felt on passing downs as he had one of six passed tipped at the line of scrimmage. That's really important because the Raiders were abused by the short pass against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is 6'5" too!
This defensive line could put a limit on the opposing team's short passes and running game.
Seymour was still able to get two sacks from defensive tackle.
I'm not worried about Raiders running back Darren McFadden's numbers today because they were skewed. McFadden had 51 yards on 16 carries but had a 41-yard run called back on a phantom holding call.
The referee called it on Cooper Carlisle but a replay showed that he clearly didn't hold on the play. That was on a draw play and other than on such plays, the Raiders have been unable to run the ball up the middle.
But I did notice that when Satele was hurt and came out of the game for a spell, the Raiders were able to run the ball up the middle. That's becaues Stefen Wisniewski kicked over to center and Joseph Barksdale filled right in at left guard.
Raiders head coach Hue Jackson really needs to revisit that one along with switching out right guard Bruce Campbell for Cooper Carlisle. For the love of Al Davis, bullies are made from size and speed in the NFL so this needs to be done.
Right now, opposing teams will just focus on keeping McFadden from getting outside.
If McFadden could get a push up the middle, the Raiders would have more running options—leading to a 2,000-yard season for McFadden.
The Raiders would win more games too.
After 2008 first-round pick Darren McFadden broke out last year, 2009 first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey is breaking out this year. Heyward-Bey (7REC 99YDS 1TD) has put two good back-to-back games together for the first time in his career.
The icing on the cake Heyward-Bey's 34-yard touchdown catch-and-run to seize the momentum of the game. No one has been any harder on him than I have but when he makes plays like that, I have to warm up to him.
More importantly, his confidence is growing—allowing him to trust his own ability more!
I'm starting to think he's going to do it this year!
Jason Campbell actually showed that he does have some Jim Plunkett in him.
I can hear you guys say,"How can you say that? He threw the ball all over the place. He was horrible." He really was horrible but there were many times in Plunkett's career where Raiders fans wondered what the heck he was doing on some of the plays.
Then Plunkett would make a play to help us win a game and we loved him again just like Campbell did today. After the first half, I was thinking, "I can't believe in the Campbell anymore. Get him out of there!"
Then in the fourth quarter, he evades the rush and throws a dime on the run to Chaz Schilens for a 18-yard score. That was a monumental play for the game as the Raiders were behind 17-15 at the time.
It was monumental because the two teams traded field goals from that point. Turn Campbell's touchdown pass into a field goal and the Texans only need a field goal instead of a touchdown in the red zone at the end of the game.
Campbell needs to play better but I'll give him props for making a difference while having a bad game.
After a few years of playing way out of position at strong safety, Michael Huff was looking like a bust. Then last year, he proves his worth by making second team All-Pro behind Ed Reed.
Then he gets a big contract and many in Raider Nation are up in arms over it—saying, "He's not worth it." Huff started the season with groin and ankle problems—affecting his play and Raider Nation was really all over him.
Then Huff missed some time with a concussion—giving him a chance to rest the groin and ankle. As good a free safety as he is, I am awfully curious about Huff playing corner as he is good in man coverage.
After a see-saw battle with the game on the line, Huff wins the game for the Raiders with an interception. You guessed it—he was playing corner at the time—covering Texans receiver Jacoby Jones.
I still want to see Huff at corner—at least until Chris Johnson is 100 percent.
But one thing we know now is Huff is worth the money Davis paid him.
I love what Hue Jackson did with the team today!
On the day after Davis dies, Jackson tried to win instead of trying not to lose. On a 4th-down play, Jackson dialed up a fake punt in which special teams star Rock Cartwright had a 30-yard run for a first down.
That lead to a field goal by the Raiders so that call made a difference. If you're a real Raiders fan, you have to love that Jackson dialed up a deep ball that could have put the game away instead of running.
Rookie receiver Denaruis Moore was open but it didn't happen because Campbell was off.
That was an move typical of Davis!
You see something and go for it!
It's easy to come out not quite ready to work when the man that has signed your checks passes away. It is especially hard when the man that signs your checks works hands on with you and cares so much about all of his employees.
But the Raiders were able to shake off that rocky start and finish the game with a win. Back-and-forth battles that look like your going to lose at the end and you make a play to get the win usually makes your season.
When the Raiders go on to the playoffs or beyond this year, Huff's interception should be looked back on. This is a young team trying to learn how to win games like this and today's dramatic victory is a step toward that.
If gives the team confidence and lets them know they are supposed to win games like this.
Big Al: I know you had a hand in this one and your're not done yet and you'll help the Raiders "just win baby!"