Even Steven: JaMarcus Russell Rallies Raiders For Win Over Chiefs

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst ISeptember 20, 2009

The Raiders took an ugly win from the Chiefs in Arrowhead, but a win is a win nonetheless.

Before the vultures decide to pick over an unbalanced performance by JaMarcus Russell, there is one big positive to say about J-Russ. 

He led the winning drive.

Russell is still learning after the Raiders made him the Number 1 selection in the 2007 NFL Draft.  It has also been after Michael Lombardi and Lane Kiffin attempted to undermine and sabotage Russell's future by trading receiver Randy Moss and acquiring quarterback Josh McCown.

Russell may have struggled mightily in Kansas City, but came through in the situation where quarterbacks make their name.

Keep in mind also that the Raiders stole Kansas City's home-opener, on a very humid day that created exigent conditions, in one of the toughest games in the NFL for any road team, and one of the NFL's greatest rivalries.

My thinking is that the combination of noise and humidity made it difficult for the Raiders offensive-line to open the running-lanes, which forced Russell to attempt more unsuccessful passes.

Ultimately, Russell remained poised on the winning drive, after a game riddled by mistakes on both sides.

The Raiders defense would bend but would not break, and provided big plays when it mattered most. 

Defensive-end Greg Ellis provided two timely sacks and five tackles, while safety Michael Huff provided a performance of redemption after losing his starting spot to Hiram Eugene. 

Huff collected three tackles, two interceptions, and defended Kansas City's final pass.  One interception halted a long drive by the Chiefs offense and thus kept points off the board.

With this win, the Raiders have won three-straight in Arrowhead, which is no easy feat.  It seems like every Raiders-Chiefs game in Arrowhead is a nail biter that is decided by a field goal or less.

Just when the game seemed lost after the Chiefs scored a touchdown with only a few minutes remaining, Russell rallied what had been an anemic offense for the game-winning drive.

Russell would remain poised despite 3 penalties by the Raiders.  The drive included a 19-yard reception by receiver Louis Murphy on 2nd & 15, a 28-yard reception by receiver Todd Watkins on 3rd & 15, while runningback Darren McFadden capped-off the drive with an 11-yard reception, a 9-yard run, and then a 5-yard run for the touchdown.

Greg Papa and Tom Flores would comment on KSFO that the Raiders won, in a way similar to the Chargers win over the Raiders.  In that, the Chiefs outplayed the Raiders only for the Raiders to win, just as the Raiders had outplayed the Chargers, only for the Chargers to win.

Looks like the Raiders are even and will head back home to Oakland to face another divisional rival, Denver.

The Raiders must remain focused, and not succumb to arrogance or elation, because the Raiders now have a chance to be 2-1 in the AFC West, which will be critical for any play-off push, in a division that could easily be decided by tiebreakers.

I do not know why but the Raiders started the season with a, "murderer's row" in the AFC West, and thus, they must capitalize on it.


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