The Oakland Raiders take down the AFC West Champs, the Kansas City Chiefs 31-10, and become the first team in NFL history to sweep the division and not make the playoffs. The Raiders (8-8) posted a non-losing record for the first time since 2002.
The Raiders did what they do best at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon, which entails running the football effectively and creating turnovers with their fast defense. With Run DMC (Darren McFadden) out of the game due to injury, fellow running mate Michael Bush went to work, rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown score. He put the Raiders up for good late in the 3rd quarter, with a 26-yard touchdown run 17-10.
Quarterback Jason Campbell led the offense in the 1st half. Picking his spots, he threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chaz Schilens to give the Raiders a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. He also led them down the field to set up a Sebastian Janikowski 38-yard field goal right before the half came to an end, as the Raiders go up 10-3 at halftime. For the game, Campbell threw for a 155 yards, and a touchdown score to lead Oakland to their 8th win of the season.
If the offense controlled the tempo of the game, then the Raiders defense put this game out of reach early in the 4th quarter, creating two turnovers that turned into 14 quick points. The first turnover, was an interception by safety Michael Huff that immediately put Oakland in striking distance, and led to a Jacoby Ford 10-yard end around touchdown run to give Oakland a 24-10 lead. On the very next series, on 3rd and forever (3rd and 30), cornerback Stanford Routt jumps into the passing lane for an interception, and takes it 21 yards to the house for a pick 6, putting the Raiders up 31-10 and this game well out of reach.
The Raiders defense held the running game in check, giving up 87 yards to Pro Bowler Jamaal Charles, most of which was late in the 4th quarter when the game was already decided. They also held quarterback Matt Cassel to 115 yards passing and two interceptions. This game was a studying example of what the Raiders need to play like week in and week out on both sides of the ball come next year.
With a little more steady play at the quarterback position, and a true #1 receiver, the Raiders offense could really be explosive in the 2011-2012 season. On defense, an added run stopper or pass rusher, and maybe an extra addition to the secondary will allow the Raiders to become a consistent top 10 defense next season as well. I hope reports of Coach Cable likely being fired at the end of the season are false, because he has officially re-established Oakland as a team to reckon with come next year. It took him a while, but he did it his way, which embodies the spirit and toughness of great Oakland teams from years past.
This should be the beginning of Cable’s Reign in Oakland. Hopefully, for the Raiders and Raider Nation it will be. This is that season you put in the hole, right before you become a perennial playoff contender for years to come. This was indeed, a season of growth.
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Written by Arthur Kai