Raiders-49ers: Oakland's Defense Was Too Much for San Francisco
I know it's only the preseason. This game doesn't even count, right?
Maybe this game doesn't count for stats and record keeping, but to see a Raider team come out and dominate a game the way they did tonight: Well, even the most unintelligent football fan would have to see that this new Raider squad will be a force to be reckoned with over the next several years.
The Raiders racked up 248 yards on the ground with an explosive running game. In the first quarter, Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas split the runs pretty equally, with DMC racking up 48 yards on 12 carries.
Michael Bush converted four of five short-yardage situations, turned a screen pass into 23 yards, and scored a rushing touchdown. But the biggest run of the night was from a player who isn't even listed on the depth chart.
Louis Rankin ran the ball 72 yards immediately following an interception in the red zone, which brings me to the real story of the game.
The defense of the Oakland Raiders was relentless tonight, recovering two fumbles and recording two interceptions. The Niners failed to establish a running game against this tenacious defense, and the constant pressure on the SF quarterbacks was just too much to handle.
The Niners were unable to find their way into the end zone, with two red-zone passes getting picked off.
The only touchdown besides Bush's rushing TD was a 53-yard punt return by Johnny Lee Higgins for the Raiders, in which he showcased his amazing speed. I may be a bit biased here, but watching Higgins tonight, the first thing that came to mind was Devin Hester. He looked THAT good!
Higgins was drafted in 2007 for his speed, and with some hand development, the Raiders would like to see him as a WR. He's got the speed, and if his catching ability improves, move over Mr. Moss.
The only question mark left for me after tonight is in the form of a J for JaMarcus Russell. Throwing two for five with 15 yards in his first preseason game was disappointing. He only played two possessions, so it is my hope that with more playing time, he will develop into the leader we need at the quarterback position.
The Raiders had the opportunity to put at least six more points on the board in the form of two field goals, but on all but one fourth down, Lane Kiffin elected to go for it. Kiffin gave his players situational experience by going for it, even on 4th-and-7 from midfield.
All in all, the Raiders played well. I know it's preseason, but if the way this entire team played tonight is any indication of the season to come, it's going to be a good season to be an Oakland Raiders fan.
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