Big Bruce vs Big Ben in this weeks post-game and nobody takes a back seat to this billboard.
With so much going on in Raiderland it should make this blog a more interesting piece than it might otherwise have been. A public showing of distrust in Al Davis, a massive win over the Steelers and an amazing QB showing is an embarrassment of riches for this writer.
Big Bruce (as I will continue to refer to him for now) vs. Big Ben turned out to be a quarterback matchup that stunned everyone as much as the win. The Steelers for all of their problems are a capable, tough and opportunistic team that really didn’t need to do much to beat the Raiders. The Steelers of past years would have played a mistake free game and capitalized on the mistakes of the Raiders to win this game. Ben Roethlisberger would have thrown for 250 yards, 2 TD’s and Omar Epps would have had “unleashed hell” just as they always had in Steeltown. If you called that game script to your friends and bet on the Steelers to cover that spread you would be right. You would be right every other day of the year except this past Sunday when the world turned just a bit sideways and threw your Silver Soldiers an early holiday gift. To keep it in perspective the Steelers had every chance to win this game and send the Raiders home with nothing but bruises. A lead of 24-20 with 1:56 left in the game should be a sure thing when playing this Raider group and really for the defending champions it should be a sure thing against almost anyone. The second seal of fate on this game was the potential interception that Steelers corner Joe Burnett dropped on the winning Oakland drive. Not that it was an easy ball to swallow, but the Steelers on their way to their many playoff successes have really capitalized on those opportunities to close out games and I’m sure that will be hard to watch on the game tape.
Then the real story begins and ends with our boy Big Bruce Gradkowski throwing the game winning touchdown to Louis Murphy all while managing the clock and taking away any hope the Steelers may have had of marching back. Everyone knows that Bruce is not going to be the guy forever. He isn’t the guy you lock up on a long term deal or bend over backwards to please. Bruce is a guy who works hard, will do what is asked of him and the reason he has been successful this season in relief is because he doesn’t know it. When he steps on the field he is the multi-year QB, face of the franchise, pro-bowl, decision-maker and talent level has nothing to do with it. He believes in himself and he works hard and this is where his value steps out. I’m not about to pick on JaMarcus Russell because that has been done to death (and I’m saving that for later) but this is his Vince Young time. Sit on the bench and watch the other guy take charge for a while and show you what it takes and just maybe something good comes out of it. I enjoyed the win, I loved the game and I couldn’t be happier for Bruce but it’s hard to watch such a high pick be rotting on the bench. Let’s hope I don’t have to watch J.R. sit on the bench in that silly toque for the next few years.
The Raiders opened this season with a tight game against San Diego showcasing what could have been a very promising season right away. It hasn’t turned out the way we hoped but pre-season predictions are rarely accurate unless you cheer for Indy (who never lose until it counts). The point being this team has some excellent pieces and really could play the spoiler role again which is exciting enough. Last year the Raiders/Jets game that ended in spectacular fashion was a prime example of what we might be looking forward to for the last few weeks.
Finally a quick note on the Oakland billboard everyone is talking about. For those who don’t know, some fans purchased a billboard letting Al Davis know they wanted him to resign and hire some proper management to run the team. I think it’s great that fans in any city would talk to their team owner in this way because it shows how much they care. As long as they know Al Davis doesn’t care what they think then no harm, no foul. It’s a fun story and if there is a website where we can contribute to the next billboard then let me know.
Thanks to Kevin Lee and Sportstalkbuzz for giving me the chance to throw my hat in the blogging ring. Remember I don’t want you to just read, I want you to read and react. Blogging is all about comments and I want to hear them.
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Written by Luke Mirza