I was definitely in a funk this week after the Raiders choked against the San Francisco 49ers. The overnight decision by Roger Goodell to over-regulate the physicality of the game felt like a knife to my spleen.
You know that feeling where you start to wonder if everything is just meaningless?
Not only did this win give me a jump-start, but it also put the Raiders of new back on track with the Raiders of old.
Despite the two touchdowns by Denver, the game was never close, except at the beginning when it was still 0-0. Both Denver scores were touchdown tosses to tailback Knowshon Moreno.
Now, for the good stuff:
A week after the Raiders choked against the 49ers, the Raiders made a statement by defeating the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Stadium, 59-14. In doing so, the Raiders climbed to 2-0 in the AFC West.
The Raiders choked against the 49ers because the offense stalled. This week, the Raiders moved the ball at will, thanks in part to the creative play-calling by offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
The Raiders finished the day with 532 total yards, which included positive days by seven runners and seven receivers.
The second-best passer in the league, Kyle Orton, finished the day 12-29, with 198 yards, two touchdown tosses and an interception. It should be said, though, that most of those yards came in garbage time.
The Raiders more or less humiliated Orton, collecting four sacks, snatching a pick-six, recovering Orton's fumble and stifling the receivers in competitive time.
Second-year safety Mike Mitchell led the defense in tackles with five total, plus a forced fumble.
On special teams, kicker Sebastian Janikowski had a career day with eight extra points, a field goal and eight touchbacks. The other two of the 10 kickoffs were muffed catches by Denver that pinned the Donkeys inside the 15.
Punt returner Nick Miller also gave the Raiders prime real estate in field position, with an average of 7.8 yards on six returns, with a long of 17. He also had a reception for 32 yards.
Quarterback Jason Campbell and tight end Zach Miller got the fireworks going on the opening drive when Campbell tossed a 43-yard touchdown to Miller, who finished with three catches for 65 yards. Campbell finished 12 for 20 for 204 yards and two touchdown tosses.
On the next drive, much-maligned cornerback Chris Johnson intercepted a pass by Kyle Orton that he returned for a touchdown. (Johnson also had a 27-yard penalty for pass interference on Denver's touchdown drive to open the half.)
A few plays later, Darren McFadden ran into the end zone for a touchdown. After less than five minutes, the Raiders had jumped out to a lead of 21-0.
Coach Cable would answer the Denver "momentum" when the Broncos improved the score to 14-38. The Raiders drove down the field to the one yard line.
On fourth down, the Raiders stepped up and pinned the tail on the Donkeys with a one-yard run by fullback Marcel Reece. In addition to the touchdown, Reece finished the day with 58 combined yards running and receiving. He also put an exclamation point on his day by being a major factor as a blocker.
Miller has consistently been the most reliable target in the Oakland passing game that has dealt with injuries at quarterback to Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski. Miller is starting to look like possibly the best tight end in pro football when you consider that he has had a rapport with both quarterbacks.
Not easy to do.
I hope this statement game resonates against Seattle and Kansas City before the Raiders' bye week in Week 10. A win over the Chiefs would improve the Raiders to 3-0 in the division. In a year where the AFC West is considered up for grabs, wins in the division will make the difference.
The other difference is the point differential against common opponents after this game.
The eight touchdowns by the Raiders are the most in franchise history, seven of which were technically by the offense (one TD came after the fumble).
Tailback Darren McFadden accounted for four of those touchdowns (three runs, one reception) after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury. He finished the day 16 for 165 with three touchdowns, plus two receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Can you say fantasy beast?
Fortunately for DMC, the Raiders also had tailback Michael Bush and guard Robert Gallery on the field. Bush allowed the Raiders to rest DMC, which certainly helped him break off big runs late in the game, such as a 57-yard run for a touchdown that was the straw that broke the Donkey's back. Bush had a respectable day as the grinder in the offense by finishing 15 for 52 plus a touchdown.
Some observations that could interest just me:
If I have one criticism of the game, it was that the Raiders had to settle for a field goal after a touchdown was nullified by a penalty. They had another touchdown nullified by a penalty, but answered with a touchdown. The Raiders could have finished with nine touchdowns for a score of 14-63.
Just saying is all.
Raiders owner Al Davis compared quarterback Jason Campbell to Raiders great Jim Plunkett before the season. Yet, after today, the better analogy might be between Hall of Fame tailback Marcus Allen and Darren McFadden. McFadden's career day tied with Marcus Allen, Art Powell and Harvey Williams.
Interestingly, Harvey Williams was released by the Chiefs in 1993 and replaced by free agent Marcus Allen. Williams joined the Raiders in 1994, and he scored four touchdowns against San Diego in 1997.
McFadden better keep it up and not get cocky, though, if the Raiders want to finish the season as a contender as they were in 1983, and not as they were in 1997. Fortunately, the Broncos' roster no longer includes Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, as it did in 1997.
Is DMC the next Williams, or the next Allen?
A day like should remind all fans, especially Raider fans, that sometimes patience pays off (*coughs* Darrius Heyward-Bey *coughs*). McFadden entered the league as the fourth-overall pick in 2008. He showed flashes of the brilliance we saw today, but had been hampered by injuries.
The Raiders will face the Seattle Seahawks in Oakland next week. The Seascum right now are the second-best defense against the run, but they stink against the pass. Nevertheless, that statistic is likely deceptive, because it has been too easy to pass against Seattle.
Three times so far, the lead rusher in the game played for the opponent (Knowshon Moreno, Mike Tolbert and Steven Jackson).
Like Tom Cable said, the 12th Man must arrive for the Raiders next Sunday. The Raiders have done their part to prove their resilience. Now, the Raiders must follow up this win with a win.
Just win, baby!
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