It was 3rd and 3 with a little less than three minutes left in the ball game. Down by 8, you figured at worst the Raiders would have to go for it on 4th down right? Guess again, as not only was the third down pass not completed, but the pass ricocheted off the intended receiver (Jacoby Ford) and was intercepted by linebacker Takeo Spikes as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Oakland Raiders in the battle of the bay 17- 9, getting their first win of the season. This game is like “Hangover Part 3″ for Raider Nation, largely due to the fact that the Raiders dominated for much of this ball game. That’s why you play all 60 minutes, because anything can happen. The Raiders let a huge opportunity to gain ground on the AFC West leader Kansas City Chiefs slip through their hands, and are fortunate they are only two games behind them in the standings for now at least.
What did happen in Sunday’s ball game was a solid effort by the much maligned Raiders’ defense that has taken their share of criticism, mainly due to their run defense. They flustered quarterback Alex Smith, and held running back Frank Gore in check for most of the ball game. The defense was so good, that it was starting to look like a Baltimore Ravensesque performance, you know the type of game you win 12-10. Too bad the game did not end that way.
What did not happen in Sunday’s matchup was the Oakland offense that averaged over 27 points n the last three ball games. The offense regressed in the worst way with quarterback Jason Campbell going 8 of 21 for 83 yards. While running back Michael Bush rushed for only 47 yards on 20 carries. Three letters come to mind when I saw this display of horribleness on Sunday, SMH! Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson had a good game plan to begin the ball game, but must have lost that script after his first two drives. Lets not mention the same defense who allowed Smith to throw two late touch down passes in the game, taking advantage of John Marshall’s gambling defense, as well as allowing Gore to gain momentum and eventually rush for 149 yards, none bigger than the 64 yard scamper midway through the 4th quarter that put them in position to score the touchdown that would seal the game for them. To be considered a real contender you must have consistency and efficiency on both sides of the ball simply put.
What needs to happen is the that Raiders training staff find Mr. Miyagi to help out with running back Darren McFadden’s hamstring injury as well as John Henderson’s fractured foot. The offense clearly begins and ends with McFadden. The adrenaline of taking on AFC West rival the San Diego Chargers last week helped them score 35 points, 12 from special teams. Their offense has not looked crisp since early in the Arizona game. Bush must step it up, because of the unknown time table of McFadden, and he is simply better than what he is showing. Henderson was Oakland purest run stopper and they need him in the worst way ASAP, because their run defense has given up five running plays of 40 or more yards for the season, most in the NFL. Don’t be surprise if Campbell gets the nod to start but is supplanted during the ball game by Bruce Gradkowski at 85 percent of health. Coach Tom Cable must turn his team’s solid efforts into victories very soon because some losses are just inexcusable.
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Written by Arthur Kai