Long time rivals the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders played out what was, perhaps, the hardest fought game of the season on Sunday. Anyone who did not watch this game missed out. Penalties, quarterback pressures, interceptions, big plays, this game had it all.
If anyone thought this was going to be a boring game, or that one team was going to run away with the show, they were dead wrong.This was a knock down drag out fight to the finish with penalties galore.
Both teams showed that there's more to them than they're given credit for. They also showed they still have more work to do to keep up with the league's elite. I hope after such a hard fought battle that both of these teams walk away with a little more respect than they had going into the game.
Todd Haley: I am one of Haley's biggest fans, but I just have to ask: Why did the Chiefs repeatedly try for long passes on 3rd and 1? Our runners weren't getting huge yards, but they were getting yards. Its no secret Matt Cassel's strengths are faking the run and short passes. Why not a run attempt or a short pass to get the first down? Don't we want to run the clock anyway?
The failed fake punt doesn't really bother me as there wasn't much to lose on that play but everything to gain. As always he used his time outs well (even though I knew the ice the kicker move wouldn't work on Sebastian Janikowski).
Tom Cable: I don't have a lot to say about Cable. The fake punt was a flop, but if it had worked it would've been great for the Raiders. I'm not sure what he was thinking challenging the second touchdown attempt for the Chiefs. I know if you're going to challenge a touchdown its as good a time as any, but back-to-back that early in the game?
All in all, the coaches did a pretty good job and I'm still a Todd Haley fan, even though I cussed him a few times.
I said to expect a lot of penalties on both sides, but I had no idea that this game would carry a season high 27 penalties (that's league wide). I also said there would be unnecessary penalties. There was plenty of holding, offsides, unsportsmanlike like conduct (on both sides) and two penalties that reversed would-be touchdowns for the Chiefs.
The Raiders led the penalties department, but the Chiefs just about demolished their mostly clean record in a single game. Between the two teams 240 yards were given up in penalties. That's the difference between smart football and rivalry football.
The officiating in this game could've been worse, but it was pretty bad. The first pass interference call on Johnson was questionable at best. After a challenged touchdown attempt against the Chiefs, the officials forgot what down it was. The error wasn't caught until the following play after a Chiefs penalty. There was also a questionable turnover to the Chiefs along with a few other debatable calls.
The scary part?
Some of the officials calling today's game officiate during the Super Bowl.
Matt Cassel: He came through most of the first half looking like the better quarterback rushing twice for a total of 11 yards. He also ran a yard for a touchdown, but it was negated by a penalty. He put up the first score of the game with an 11 yard pass to Verran Tucker. However, a pass into heavy coverage at the end of the half led to some words with his coach as the team left the field for halftime.
In the second half he hit Dwayne Bowe in the end zone for a 20 yard touchdown pass. Other than that he did little to impress. While I still think Cassel is a good quarterback he certainly didn't silence his critics today.
Jason Campbell: Campbell struggled through much of the game, but he found Khaliff Barnes in the end zone for a touchdown late in the 3rd quarter while also connecting on some game changing passes near the end of the game and in OT.
The bottom line is he did enough to get his team the win.
As a whole, the two quarterbacks were fairly even in play. Cassel had 35 attempts and 20 completions for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns. Campbell had 33 attempts and 19 completions for 229 yards and 1 touchdown.
I said both quarterbacks would be pressured—not that it takes a crystal ball to predict that. Matt Cassel was sacked three times by Michael Huff, Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant.
Campbell was sacked four times with Eric Berry getting two, Wallace Gilberry and the ever-faithful Tamba Hali getting one each.
Who's the better quarterback? I think that depends on what one wants from their quarterback. I think Cassel is a better leader and he's more versatile than Campbell.
Kansas City: We didn't see anything spectacular out of Kansas City's special teams today. A 72 yard punt return by Javier Arenas for a touchdown was wiped out by a penalty, courtesy of Eric Berry. Ryan Succop did his share with two successful field goal attempts from 41 and 25 yards, respectively.
Oakland: Oakland's special teams weren't perfect as Sebastian Janikowski missed a 47 yard field goal attempt. However, Jacoby Ford's 94 yard punt return was nothing short of spectacular.
Janikowski more than redeemed himself with a 42 yard field goal to tie the game, and followed that kick with a 33 yard field goal in overtime for the win.
Oakland's special teams wins the battle and the war.
The Chiefs may have won some battles (turnovers and penalties), but the Raiders sure won the war.
The offenses and defenses were pretty evenly matched. Looking at the stats after the game, the difference in almost every area of play on both sides of the ball is small. Both the teams left something to be desired as neither played their best, OR their worst.
Special teams had a huge impact on this game. Kansas City gift-wrapped Oakland one of it's two turnovers, providing four of Oakland's five scores.
Hat's off to Oakland's special teams and indeed to Oakland as a whole. Perhaps not for a game well played (sorry but there were way too many mistakes to say either team played well) but certainly hard fought and better played.
Whether Oakland played their best or not as a Kansas City fan I must grudgingly admit they earned it. I expected nothing less when these two teams fought it out.