The Oakland Raiders come up short in back to back weeks, as they fall to the Miami Dolphins in the Black Hole 33-17. With a dismal showing on offense for the second week in a row, adjustments will have to be made quickly, as they look to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
The game started on a high note for the Raiders and Raider Nation when emerging speedster, and rookie wide receiver Jacoby Ford took it to the house on the opening kickoff for 101 yards. Whether you were a part of Raider Nation in the stands, at a bar or at home, you just knew Sunday was going to be your day. Too bad the Dolphins didn’t get that memo.
The Dolphins would go on to score the next 10 points in the ball game behind a Dan Carpenter 49 yard field goal and a Chad Henne touchdown pass to running back Patrick Cobbs. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen was slated to start, but head coach Tony Sparano went with the injured Chad Henne, because he felt a one-knee sporadic quarterback would give his team a better shot at winning on Sunday. Apparently, coach Sparano had access to a crystal ball, because Henne had a big day throwing for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Thigpen saw a few snaps, but Henne was clearly the difference maker.
Wide receiver Davone Bess had a big day with 6 catches for 111 yards, as well as Ricky Williams with 95 yards rushing and a touchdown score. The Dolphins offense showed up in Sunday’s ball game, but the Raiders offense somehow missed the bus to the same game.
The lone bright spot for Oakland was the play of Ford who had over 208 kickoff return yards, plus 4 catches for 108 yards and two touchdown scores. His 44 yard touchdown catch put the Raiders back on top, as they went into halftime up 14-13. The rest of the Raiders offense was anemic. Coach and crowd favorite, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski had a game to forget, as he showed more signs of rusts than readiness, throwing for 252 yards (that led to only 10 points of total offense) a touchdown and 2 interceptions that were very costly. Midway through the third quarter, you wondered if Jason Campbell would make a cameo, but color analyst Steve Tasker made a valid point in regarding a possible QB switch. When you look at these two quarterbacks they are basically the same guy, no one is better than the other, so whoever is hot normally gets the nod. However, I couldn’t help but to think if Campbell was struggling, we definitely would have seen Gradkowski.
Running back Darren McFadden was held in check from start to finish. Although he had 63 yards receiving, he was held to only 2 yards rushing, and no that’s not a misprint as McFadden has been knocked off his Pro Bowl pace these last two games. Another Pro Bowl hopeful, tight end Zach Miller had only one catch for the whole game. We know Gradkowski had his mishaps, but offensive coordinator Hue Jackson could have and should have made better adjustments to get these two more involved. The offensive line has been manhandled in such a way these last two ball games, I’m surprised they can even look at each other, let alone into a mirror without having feelings of disgust. Inconsistency on offense cost the Raiders big time against the Dolphins.
Now, the defense will not escape this blog without criticism as well. It was a tale of two halves for the Raiders D. In the first half, the Raiders held the Dolphins to 13 points. It could have easily been 23 points if it weren’t for linebacker Rolando McClain’s interception at the goal line on one drive, and a big sack of Henne on the following drive that took Carpenter out of his comfort zone, as he missed a 52 yard field goal attempt late in the second quarter. The run defense was solid at the time and Henne hadn’t developed a rhythm quite yet.
The second half was like a different game, as they gave up a total of 186 yards rushing, as the Wildcat gave the Raiders defense fits. Henne got going in the second half, as the Raiders couldn’t get off the field on third down giving up 24 first downs to the Dolphins offense. Even though Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha returned to the line up, it wasn’t enough for the secondary, as rookie cornerback Walter McFadden took the place of injured corner Chris Johnson, and was the target, or should I say victim of most of Henne’s passes in the second half. Both McFaddens had games to flush down the toilet and never ever, ever ever ever see again.
Coach Cable has to find a way to halt this two game losing streak ASAP. Good teams know how to bounce back, young and bad teams often get stuck. Does Cable have what it takes to lead the Raiders to the playoffs? Only time will tell, as next week they face the typical second half of the season resurgence of their AFC West rival, the San Diego Chargers in San Diego. Hopefully the Raiders and Raider Nation can get over this hangover effect soon enough.
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Written by Arthur Kai