Season in a Nutshell: Top 10 Season-Killers for the Oakland Raiders
For the Oakland Raiders, it has been a season of good wins and painful losses. Before today's game finished, the Raiders were out of the playoffs, due to a win by the Chiefs against a Titans team that didn't look anything like the Week 1 opponent.
For your viewing pain, take a look at these 10 things, that either the Raiders have to learn from...or hope the NFL can fix for seasons to come...
10. A Tale of Two Titans
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When the season opened on the road, many hopes were dashed as the Raiders seemed to run into a buzz saw of painful plays, as Jason Campbell looked lost on the road. A 38-13 throttling showed that the Raiders needed plenty of work, before playing against specific clubs...and that playing on the road, don't expect to play 11 players.
However, what probably added salt to this loss was how badly these Titans have fallen in recent weeks. The team was foolish enough to hook up with Randy Moss, thinking that this would solve problems that have bottled up Chris Johnson's rushing abilities. This was also the team that got victimized by the Chiefs, eliminating the Raiders. One has to wonder, what if we had played the Titans in Week 10, instead of Week 1 or in Oakland?
9. Don't Count Entirely on Your Kicking Game
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After Campbell was benched against the Rams, Bruce Gradkowski entered the picture, helping the team win against a Rams club that was up-and-coming. Ironically, that same Rams club is still in line for the playoffs, with a win today against the 49ers.
The following week, the Raiders travelled again, this time to Arizona to face the Cards. Something should have been amiss, when the opening kickoff was returned for a TD. Of course, being on the road, no holding calls would come from the zebras, letting stand a 7-0 lead after 102 yards were run off. Seabass ironically had multiple chances to score in this game but managed to botch three, including the game-winner from 32 yards out.
Against a team that is 5-10 right now? Again, what if we played them later, after Anderson was knocked out an a rookie inserted into the game? Or in Oakland?
We will never know, as the Raiders fell to 1-2, with the Cards at 2-1.
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As it was, the Raiders-Texans game on the third of October could have been a lot worse. Arian Foster didn't play during the first half...but the few times he did, he proved the Raiders' run defense to be porous.
However, as it was, the Raiders were in this game late and driving for a tying touchdown when the Boink occurred. Bruce Gradkowski was looking for an open option for a first down and tossed it at Louis Murphy, only to hit him in the hands...and it bounced off, into the hands of an awaiting Texan to seal the win.
You might find it odd...how do the Raiders play facing the Texans early in the season? 0-2, the last two years. How do they fare, playing them late? 1-0, with a win in 2008.
As it was, Campbell's "boink" put the Raiders at 1-3, setting up a meeting with the Chargers the following week...
7. San Fran Retreat!
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If one game wants to stick in your memory, a lot of fans looked at this one with a bad taste in the mouth.
Unable to get into the end zone, the Raiders were held to three field goals, muting a lot of the celebration from the previous week's win over the Chargers. Maybe the Raiders were hungover, maybe they tried the fish...whatever happened, the 49ers benefitted from missed calls and poor field conditions to win a game the Raiders should have had...
How about we try this in Oakland, next time?
6. Bye Week and the Curse
I know most players love the bye week. It gives the team a chance to get players healthy, see who's ready to start, make some adjustments....and get completely off track.
For the Raiders, they would come into the bye, at 5-4. A loss by KC would put the Raiders in a first place tie, giving the fans optimism for a good year.
5. Steel the Show
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Coming out of the bye, the Raiders had to travel across the country to play the Steelers, a team that had lost the week before to the Patriots...and the Raiders had won last year on the road as well.
This game didn't really get out of hand, until the Steelers baited a Raider to take action. Similar to the Browns game last year, a mouthy Steeler player provoked Richard Seymour. Then on the second play, Benji Roethlisberger tried to run his mouth as well...and Seymour snapped.
Now, I don't condone violence, unless it's the only way to get a moron to shut up. But if Seymour was going to get thrown out of the game...disable the guy who got you thrown out. If it was Benji, take an arm off. As it was, Steelers' gangster Harrison himself should have been suspended a few times, but given the cushy feeling, the league has taking small parts of his paycheck...they'd hate to lose the income.
Most importantly, with Seymour gone, the Steelers could run at will, hitting the Raiders hard and often.
4 Injury Detail
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In today's game, the man above actually caught a nice third down pass, moving the chains.
However, it's too long for a player to get healthy, when it's Week 16!
Nicknamed "Glass" for obvious reasons, it seems to stand logic that the Raiders either need to address a run defense that still has holes...or upgrade with a No. 1 WR option...or graduate Jacoby Ford to the position.
Other small injuries to Darren McFadden early or nagging pain to John Henderson makes one wonder about the conditioning these players are getting...is it enough to keep them on the field or just enough to keep them breathing?
I dread the idea of an 18-game season.
3. Something Fishy in Oakland
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With the Raiders reeling from the Steeler debacle, the Dolphins came to Oakland to find the Raiders had switched QBs again, going with Bruce Gradkowski.
The Raiders came out looking flat, with Bruce tossing two picks and only one TD, while the 'fins got some good running from their backs, adding more question marks to the coaching staff. Is Marshall just using the same plays over and over, and now are memorizing on how to beat the club? Or do the Raiders simply need more healthier players to stop the constant pounding?
Whatever the reason, losing to a team that is now 7-8 and lost to the LIONS, you have to wonder...did we let one get away? Yep.
2. The Non-Catch and Other Officiating Mistakes
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If any game can highlight how one person's opinion can affect the outcome of a game, this was it.
With the Raiders up by 10, a play to the side resulted in a long 74-yard play to Rashard Jennings...or did it?
Considering that the Raiders' coaches saw it with their own eyes, they saw the player step out of bounds, back on the Jags' end of the field. However, apparently in the viewing booth, the refs had public access TV in their little booths...or something that involves quarters...and called it a TD.
Now, this might not have been a problem, but the Raiders already had to burn a challenge, due to earlier officiating mistakes. So with the Raiders now up by only three, the Raiders got the ball, promptly fumbled and the Jags wound up with the ball.
Three minutes after the first TD, the refs awarded a second TD, this time to Mike Sims-Walker, who had one foot in and one foot out...but because the refs hate to be challenged, they decided to call it a TD...after all, his uniform is the same color as the end zone!
Whoever says that officials can't control the outcome of the game, look at it like this. If just one TD wasn't called, it's a tied game. If both TDs weren't called, the Raiders win. More importantly, the Jags' never would have gotten into a pattern, heading into the fourth quarter.
Other examples of this problem can be seen in games such as the Colts with soft penalties, poor choices of spotting the ball, poor field conditions, such as in Pittsburgh or even the non-calls, all can lead to a L instead of a W.
Call me a homer...but at least I have glasses...some of these officials need canes and cans of pencils.
1. The NFL and the Schedule
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This mess has been brought to you by the NFL. The NFL would like to thank you for wasting your money in buying into this product, that produces owners and millionaires, all the while ensuring that no one questions the officiating, which never makes mistakes, or provides schedules that defy logic.
Looking at the Raiders' schedule, a few of the more oddball features are:
The Raiders have played the Steelers seven times, six of those have been in Pittsburgh. Why?
Meanwhile, take Kansas City for example who got to play the Browns and the Bills, combined for 9-22.
Some of it is obvious, as AFC West had to play the NFC West...49ers, Seahawks, Cards and Rams. But you have to wonder, how does the NFL figure out those other oddball choices?
As it was, the Raiders are now 7-8, the chiefs won the AFC West due to scheduling and home field officiating...it will be interesting to see if the NFL is out to sabotage the Raiders next year, or if they'll get a break.