On the strength of stellar performances by Michael Bush and the offensive line, the Oakland Raiders exposed Matt Cassel and the Kansas City Chiefs for what they really are—overrated.
The game started out competitively, but in the end, the Chiefs had no answer for Raiders' defensive line—despite Oakland playing without Pro Bowler Richard Seymour.
This game proved several things for the Raiders. It justified the trade for Jason Campbell, it highlighted that the Raider defense is greatly improved and it showed Raider Nation that there is reason for hope in the future.
This game also did one of three things for the Chiefs...
1. Gave them motivation. This could serve as a wake up call for the Chiefs heading into the playoffs.
2. Exposed them as being overrated. The fact is, Kansas City has only beaten two teams with winning records. (Chargers and Jaguars)
3. Set a blueprint for how to beat the Chiefs at home. I'm sure the Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff will learn quite a bit from this dismantling.
Whatever the case, Raider Nation has some bragging rights as the Raiders complete the division sweep, becoming the first team since the AFL/NFL merger to sweep their division and not make the playoffs. (But the 7-9 Seahawks are in?)
More importantly, Oakland fans have good things to look forward to in 2011. (Assuming there is a new collective bargaining agreement before too long.)
Let's have a look at who shined and how the Raiders got it done in the hostile environment of Arrowhead stadium.
The Chiefs had no answer for the bruising style of Michael Bush.
No Darren McFadden? No problem.
Michael Bush had a great day against the Chiefs. Bush showed none of the hesitation or indecision that had worried me about his game in the past. He was decisive and ran with power and speed.
This is what Raider fans expected to see from Bush after witnessing his moments of greatness—(and inconsistency)—last season.
25 carries for 137 yards and one touchdown isn't a landmark game, but Bush was more dominant than his stats would indicate.
Obviously, Bush got a lot of help from the offensive line, but that's another slide.
The Raider offensive line played very well...especially in the running game.
I have been one of the biggest critics of the Raider offensive line play this season. After the game on Sunday, I found myself eating my words a bit.
Outside of giving up 2.5 sacks to pass rushing expert, Tamba Hali, the offensive line played pretty well. Not perfect, not fantastic, but better than they have all year long.
Campbell had time to throw, Bush had holes to run through and the Raiders owned the time of possession 33:28 to 26:32 and won the game.
In the end, that's all that really matters.
When the Raiders traded a fourth round pick in the 2012 draft to the Redskins for Jason Campbell, everyone knew it was a good deal.
No one knew how good—until now.
Again, Campbell didn't light up the scoreboard or sling it all over the field, but he did what was required to move the ball and lead the Raiders to victory.
In my pregame article, I suggested that Campbell needed to simply "take what the defense gives him" and "manage the game."
Campbell did just that.
15 of 25 for 155 yards and one touchdown is not earth-shattering, but it was enough to get it done on Sunday afternoon.
Zach Miller was exactly what a tight end is supposed to be—a security blanket for the quarterback.
Just like happened a lot last season, Zach Miller led the team in receptions on Sunday.
Miller did the two things you expect your tight end to do more than anything else—block in the run game and be the "security blanket" for your quarterback.
Five catches for 35 yards doesn't seem like much on paper, but, as a former tight end myself, simply being there for his quarterback made Miller really shine in my eyes.
I'm sure Raider Nation agrees.
The Raider wide outs showed up more than any other time in two seasons.
Sunday marks the first time in a long time that the Raider wide receivers actually played a big roll in the offense.
It's about time.
It's good to see Chaz Schilens back, Louis Murphy had some drops, but made some big catches, and Jacoby Ford helped in the pass game and the run game too.
Wide receivers combining for six catches for 88 yards and one touchdown would be a down day for most teams, but Raider fans know—this is a welcome improvement.
Here's the deal...
When Stanford Routt plays like he did on Sunday, he's one of the best. The problem is, he is inconsistent at best.
He gave up some catches to Dwayne Bowe, but he provided some great coverage too. He's a walking contradiction.
All I can say is: The interception return for a touchdown that sealed the deal (and ended Cassel's day) was a work of art. The fact that Bowe was held scoreless was big factor in the victory as well.
Bottom line: Routt played great and helped the Raiders win.
Kamerion Wimbley had the kind of day most linebackers only dream about.
One word comes to mind when describing the day Kamerion Wimbley had on Sunday.
Wimbley was all over the field, but mostly in the Chiefs back field. It seemed Charlie Weiss and the Chiefs' offense had no answer for Wimbley and the Raiders' defensive scheme.
In this case, stats do say it all...
Four solo tackles (two for loss), three assists, three sacks and countless hurries and knock-downs is a stat line every linebacker in the NFL would love to have every week.
Wimbley showed up, and showed up big for the Silver and Black.
Rookie middle linebacker Rolando McClain has shown flashes of brilliance this season. Sunday was the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication.
McClain was always near the ball, never got caught up in the wash and must have been a thorn in the side of the Kansas City coaching staff.
Al Davis, Tom Cable and Raider Nation expected great things from this kid, but if he puts up eight tackles and an assist every week, McClain will find himself etched in Raider lore as one of the greatest ever.
With Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour on the bench due to injury, the Raiders needed some one to step up to fill the void.
Desmond Bryant answered the call in a big way.
Five tackles, one assist and one sack isn't going to wear out the statistician's pencil, but from the defensive tackle position, that's a more than solid day.
Stats don't tell all in this instance either. It seemed like the announcers were calling his name on every play.
Whether he was in the backfield wreaking havoc, tackling the running back at the line of scrimmage or pressuring the quarterback, big No. 90 made noise all day long.
Tyvon Branch is one of those players that makes you throw your beer at the television on one play, and shout with glee the next.
On Sunday however, Branch once again showed off his newly found talent—blitzing.
Known more for being a solid tackler, Branch has emerged as one of the better blitzing safeties in the league.
If you don't believe me, ask Matt Cassel.
Along with the sack in this picture, Branch added five tackles and an assist to help the Raiders' defense dominate the Chiefs in their own house.
Michael Huff—One tackle and one interception. As long as he keeps playing like he did in Arrowhead on Sunday, the "trade Huff" demands from the fans will stop.
Lamarr Houston—Four tackles, one assist and one sack. This rookie is becoming one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the league.
Quentin Groves—Three tackles and one assist. No one can question his speed or his heart. He made some great plays on Sunday.
Matt Shaughnessy—Three tackles, one assist and countless pressures. Until he left with injury, Shaughnessy was making life difficult for the Chiefs on every play.
Tommy Kelly—Three tackles. The haters can say what they want, but this guy is always around the ball and is always among the league leaders in tackles among defensive tackles. Sunday was no exception.
Jarvis Moss—Three assists and one sack. This kid is turning out to be a viable rotation player and a great depth pick up for the Raiders.
Tom Cable has done what some thought was impossible—made the Raiders relavent again.
The 2010 season was one of ups and downs for the Oakland Raiders and the Raider Nation. An 8-8 record isn't what the fans had hoped for, but it's more than just a moral victory for most.
Moments of near perfection (59-14 over the Broncos) spoiled by moments of complete and utter failure (Janikowski's three misses in Phoenix).
Times when the Raider Nation stood on its collective feet and cheered with all their might (sweeping the Chargers) and times when we all held our heads in shame (laying an egg in San Francisco).
One thing it was not was boring.
The haters can, (and will) say whatever they want. They'll call the Raiders and their fans everything but human, but one thing they can't call us any more—losers.
What do you say Raider Nation? Who did I miss? What was the best/worst part of this game, or the season for you?
Let me hear you in the comments.
Be sure to catch my weekly off-season series on how the team should proceed with personnel and coaching beginning next Monday, January 10, 2011.