The Oakland Raiders come up short in the eastern time zone yet again, as they took a tough “L” against the Jacksonville Jaguars 38-31. This unfortunate loss, gives the Raiders no more room for error during their playoff push, plus some outside help will be needed if they plan to make it to the post-season.
Up 17-7 at halftime, Raider Nation had a lot to cheer about. For the first time in the eastern time zone, the Raiders looked crisp and sharp. Quarterback Jason Campbell had a perfect passer rating in the first half, while running back Darren McFadden was making plays running and especially receiving, as he and Campbell hooked up for a 67 yard touchdown score to give the Raiders an early 7-0 lead. The defense contained Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and running back Maurice Jones-Drew for most of the first half as well.
The third quarter started with a quick touchdown strike from Garrard to wide receiver Jason Hill for 48 yards. This play was interesting because safety Michael Huff, who’s been playing cornerback for the banged up Oakland secondary, was giving Hill at least 20 yards off the line and on 2nd and 18, Huff apparently didn’t think they were going to go for all 18 and then some on that play. I still was scratching my head on that one, but the result was a touchdown, as the Jaguars pulled within 3 points 17-14.
On the Raiders next possession, McFadden would score on a quick hitting 51 yard touchdown run, giving the Raiders a 24-14 lead midway through the third. Raider Nation could just about breathe a sigh of relief as the Raiders looked like they finally took their “A” game to the eastern time zone.
But all of sudden, its like somebody turned on a momentum switch for the Jaguars, which means things would take a turn for the worst for Oakland. Follow these sequences that would eventually turn Raider Nation from a picture of jubilee, to a stupor within 3 minutes.
On the next Jaguars drive on a 3rd and 2 the Raiders give up a 74 yard touchdown run to the speedy and unknown running back Rashad Jennings, who for the game, had 5 carries for 109 yards. On the next kickoff, wide receiver Jacoby Ford (who had been playing great as of late) fumbles the kickoff, basically giving the Jaguars an invitation to the end zone. Three plays later Garrard hooks up with wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker for a 10 yard touchdown pass. For the game, Garrard threw for 159 yards, 3 touchdowns and had one interception.
At this point Raider Nation is in disbelief, and thoughts of God why have you forsaken thee yet again enters the brain of the Nation. Being outscored 21- 7 in the 3rd quarter, on the road can be deflating for any team. Would the Silver and Black respond? Here’s the next sequence of events.
The Raiders hold the Jaguars to a field goal to begin the fourth quarter giving the Jaguars a 31-24 lead. On the Raiders next possession, Campbell would get knocked out of the game on a play in which he fumbles and the Jags would score, but there was a suspect personal foul penalty called against Jacksonville, so the touchdown is negated as the Raiders and Raider Nation would gladly take the phantom call. Now with Campbell being dazed, the Raiders have to turn to 3rd string quarterback Kyle Boller, because Bruce Gradkowski is out for the rest of the season. Boller, on his first play sends a strike to tight end Zach Miller. Raider Nation at this point can do nothing but hold their breath. On 2 and 10, he scrambles for 7 yards, but missed a nearby McFadden who could have picked up a a first down and then some. On 3rd and 3, he overshoots wide receiver Louis Murphy on a slant route. On 4th and 3, he throws and interception as disbelief sets in for Raider Nation like frost bite.
The Raiders defense finally made another appearance in the 2nd half, as they held the Jaguars to a 3 and out series. On Oakland’s next possession, Campbell returns as prayers by Raider Nation were answered. He began the drive with some efficient passes, as he finished the game going 21-30 for 324 yards and two touchdown scores. McFadden caps of the drive with a “big boy” 36 yard touchdown run that seemed to tell all the Jaguar faithful to s@#$ it! For the game, McFadden had a combined total yards of 209 yards and 3 touchdowns (123 yards rushing and 86 yards receiving). The ball game is tied up31-31 with a a little under 2 minutes left in the ball game. Would we see overtime?
Thanks to the Raiders special teams and defense, that seemed highly unlikely as the Jags returned the kickoff back to the Raiders 30-yard line. On the very next play, Jones-Drew would take it to the house putting the Jaguars up 38-31 with a 1:34 left in the ball game. For the game, Jones-Drew had 101 rushing yards and touchdown score.
After getting a solid return from Ford, Campbell and the Raiders would come up short, as time expired before Oakland could put another 7 points on the board. Even though this was a disheartening loss, the Raiders still have a chance to make the playoffs, but it will take a near flawless performance on both sides of the ball, and a little luck to go along with it for the next three weeks. Coach Tom Cable has a tough task ahead of him, but its not impossible if they can find a way to grind it out. I guess before you learn how to win, you have to learn how to fully bounce back from tough losses. This was tough loss #4 that Oakland should not have lost. Someone from Raider Nation please pour me a shot, and don’t forget to stop by the Raiders locker room to hand out several more, because it might be needed to get through the next three weeks.
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Written by Arthur Kai