Playing their first meaningful game in the month of November in eight years, the Oakland Raiders found a way to overcome multiple (but oh so typical) penalties, three turnovers, and a sluggish start on offense to upend the AFC West division leading Kansas City Chiefs 23-20 in overtime.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked two big field goals (three total for the game) late in the ball game, a 41-yard field goal to send it to overtime, and a 33-yard field goal to win it in overtime. The Raiders have their first three game winning streak for the first time since 2002. The Raiders also go into the bye week, only a half game behind the Chiefs.
Although the Raiders, undermanned on offense and defense found a way to get it done, the man of the day was rookie wide receiver Jacoby Ford, who had 148 yards receiving and 158 kickoff return yards and a touchdown, becoming only the second NFL player to accomplish that feat (Gary Ballman – 1963). It started in the second half when he returned the opening kickoff for 94 yards to the house getting Oakland on the board after being down 10-0 to start the 3rd quarter. His play continued as he made a big catch late in the third quarter that would set up a Janikowski field goal, giving the Raiders a 17-13 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter. On the game tying drive in the 4th quarter, he made another huge 29 -yard catch to set up Janikowski for the game tying field goal. On the Raiders first possession in overtime, Ford caught a 47-yard pass from quarterback Jason Campbell that would set up Janikowski’s game winning overtime field goal. This was a big game for a player who was struggling a little getting used to the NFL game, but with 4.2 speed it was only a matter of time before he would get adjusted well enough.
Campbell got off to a slow start, but finished the game strong going 19 0f 33 for 229 yards and a touchdown score. After losing his starting job to Bruce Gradkowski, Campbell has stepped up big for Oakland in the last three games since Gradkowski went down with a shoulder injury. Although coach Tom Cable insists that Gradkowski is their starting quarterback when he becomes healthy, I’m not so sure if I would mess up the chemistry that Campbell has developed with this offense. Campbell has led Oakland to three straight wins, and even though Gradkowski plays well with this erratic offensive line, he’s not that good to just give him the starting job back, otherwise he would have been the starter to begin the season. Hey, I’m just saying.
Running back Darren McFadden had a solid game rushing for 89 yards, and also had 25 receiving yards. A big shout out goes to Oakland’s defense, who played with a depleted secondary and got it done. The run defense was monstrous, which was led by defensive tackle Richard Seymour, held the #1 rushing offense in check only giving up 53 yards rushing to running back Jamaal Charles and only allowing 104 rushing yards total for the game. The overall team play of the Raiders got them a key win, as they are once again legitimate contenders in the AFC West.
Going into the bye week, Oakland appears to be in great shape. Their 3-0 in the division, they get to rest some bodies and hopefully be able to have some key players return to the field when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers in two weeks. Sunday’s game wasn’t pretty, but it showed the progression of Oakland learning how to win. Raider Nation will be in euphoria for the next two weeks, til the next challenge arises. Job well done “Silver and Black!”
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Written by Arthur Kai