Bears vs. Raiders: 10 Things We Learned from Oakland's 25-20 Win
It wasn't the prettiest of games and at some points, the Raiders were pretty hard to watch.
But in the end, they just won baby.
The win not only holds off the second-place Denver Broncos for another week, but teaches us something about the Raiders.
Turn the page to see what.
Bresnahan Has To Call It Better
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I've listened to just about all of Raider Nation talk about how Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan should be fired. I never really read into it too much. For the first time today, I actually see why.
The Raiders are leading 25-13 early in the fourth quarter, and Bresnahan dials up a coverage where Stanford Routt plays underneath while Matt Giordano has Bears' speedy receiver Johnny Knox over the top.
Come on man!
You have to know that Giordano, as well as he's played for the Raiders this year, can't run with Knox. Now all of the sudden, there's plenty of time left in the game, and the Bears are only down five points.
The only two people on the Raiders defense that can run with Knox are Routt and DeMarcus Van Dyke. Yet, the one you choose to cover Knox over the top is a guy who can't run.
I could understand a little if that were Michael Huff in Giordano's place.
It's hard to stop fourth-quarter momentum after plays like that.
Wisniewski Needs To Play Center
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For the second game in a row, Raiders center Samson Satele got running back Michael Bush killed. He was supposed to pick up the defensive tackle on a play that Wisniewski was pulling, and he whiffed.
Michael Bush is doing well in McFadden's stead, and Taiwan Jones is hurt too, so the Raiders can ill-afford to have Bush hurt. The main reason you don't like to play rookies is because of blown assignments, yet there's one by the veteran, and Wisniewski doesn't have one from the center position.
Wisniewski has flat outplayed Satele, as the rushing numbers were good last week when Satele went out of the game. If he couldn't get over to to make the block because his knee is still bothering him, that's all the more reason why he shouldn't have been in the game.
What does Satele have to do to not start anymore?
Tyvon Branch Still Can't Cover
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I was starting to talk about the way Raiders strong safety Tyvon Branch has improved in pass coverage. But I guess I was held prisoner of the moment when he came through with a big pass defense to effectively end the Vikings game last week.
That was a big play in the game, but I failed to realize that the Vikings were 4-5 on him with a touchdown. Today, the only difference was that he didn't make a big play at the end of the game.
He actually allowed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Bears tight end Kellen Davis that pulled the Bears to within five in the fourth quarter. I think it's time for the Raiders to go to former second-round pick Mike Mitchell.
He can cover and hit!
Murphy Still Clutch
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From his first game in the NFL against the San Diego Chargers in 2009, Louis Murphy has been a clutch receiver. He also had clutch performances against the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers that year.
Last year, Murphy provided more of the same—on pace to have over 1,000 yards receiving before getting injured. This year, the season began with sports-hernia surgery for Murphy, and he did little since coming back a few weeks ago.
He was doing very little today until the Raiders needed a big play late in the fourth quarter to make it a two-score game. In comes Murphy to come through with a 47-yard catch to set up a three-yard touchdown run by Bush.
Yes, we miss Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore, but it's nice to have a clutch deep threat like Murphy.
Linebacker Corps Looks Good
Yeah, I know, the Bears ran for 172 yards today and 100 of those yards were on five plays. But outside of of those big plays, the Bears weren't able to control the clock and consistently gauge the Raiders on the ground.
I didn't like it too much, but the Bears actually were running the ball to get back in the game late instead of passing. I'll obviously take that over passing though—because the clock runs out quicker when you run.
What the linebackers did really well today is sniff out those screens the Bears are known for and put a big hit on Bears running backs. Second-year middle linebacker Rolando McClain put a big one on Forte, had a sack and had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Strong-side outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley blew up a screen, had a sack, and a hit on the quarterback that forced an interception. He also had an interception that he returned 73 yards, deep into Bears territory—setting up a field goal.
That interception was first tipped by weakside outside linebacker Aaron Curry—blowing up the screen play. Curry didn't have a sack, but he had two tackles for a loss and a hit on the quarterback that forced an interception.
I'll call that a good day for the linebacker corps.
Special Teams: Sebastien Janikowski
Bears superstar returner Devin Hester averaged only 19.5 yards per kick return thanks to the coverage unit. Some credit should definitely be given to Raiders kicker Sebastien Janikowski with the squibs he executed.
When it was late in the game, he mustered up enough to kick a few out the back of the end zone. Janikowski was 6-6 with a long of 47 yards today—accounting for 19 of the Raiders 25 points.
I think his hamstring is feeling a little better.
Nice to know he can win games for the Raiders again.
Special Teams: Shane Lechler
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Hester was also stopped today on punt returns—averaging 3.5 yard per punt return on the day. I definitely have to give some credit to the coverage unit there for the times that Hester was able to get his hands on a punt.
But special credit has to be given to Raiders punter Shane Lechler, who has a propensity to sometimes outkick his coverage—leading to big returns. But today, Lechler pretty much had a perfect day, as he only allowed two of his punts to be returned.
On one punt, he not only outkicked his coverage, he outkicked Hester by sending one over his head for an 80-yard punt. He also killed three of them inside the 20-yard line, with one of those at around the five.
Lechler has no problems dealing with top returners.
Jared Veldheer Became a Complete Left Tackle
We already knew that Jared Veldheer got to the point where he could handle speed-rushers off the edge. What we were all looking to see is if he could handle the power and length of a Julius Peppers.
It would have cemented his trip to Hawaii this year to shut out Peppers, but it wasn't pretty for Veldheer early on. Peppers looked to be manhandling Veldheer at first—getting two sacks on him in the first half.
But the real encouraging thing is that Veldheer stayed with it and didn't allow Peppers to get to Palmer in the second half. I knew Veldheer would give up a sack or two early, I just wanted to see what his ability to learn and adapt after.
He passed my test.
I think he became a complete left tackle in the game.
Palmer Has Some Plunkett in Him
Sure, there's plenty of Jim Plunkett's story in current Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer. They both were out of football for a time, were Heisman Trophy winners, came from the Pac-12 and failed with their first teams.
But I noticed something in the play of Palmer today that was reminiscent of Plunkett in the 80s. I remember so many times, yelling at the television, wondering where Plunkett was throwing the ball, as he threw interceptions.
Then when the game was on the line, Plunkett came up with a big throw that won the game for the Raiders, and I loved him again. Such a thing happened today, as Palmer threw an interception early and couldn't seem to get on track.
Then late in the game, Palmer threw a dime to set up what ended up being the game-winning score. Palmer was exhausting today with an ugly 300-yard game, but got it done when he had to.
Shades of Mr. Plunkett.
They Can Finish!
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In a few of the Raiders games, they've gotten out to leads and seemed to be waiting for the other team to come back. They appeared to be sitting on the ball while the other team would score—causing some of those games to be losses.
Most of the trouble there was the fact that the Raiders hadn't scored in the fourth quarter in seven games coming into today's game. Thanks to Palmer's dime and Bush's plunge, the Raiders broke that drought with a touchdown to finish the game.
The recovery of the on-side kick by David Ausberry was huge to.
This game was far from pretty, but the great teams win ugly just as well as they win sexy. The great teams also hold their own through numerous injuries to key players until they are able to play again.
The Raiders have even found a way to bounce back after their starting quarterback was lost for time indefinite. A trade is made for another quarterback, and the Raiders are now 3-2 since losing Campbell.
Superstar running back Darren McFadden has yet to play a game with Palmer, Ford has been out for a couple of weeks and Moore missed today. Corner Chris Johnson practiced last week, and he looks to be coming back very soon with the other the.
So does that mean the Raiders have a great team?
It means they have the makings of one, and they will be scary when everyone is back.