After battling a full 60 minutes, the Oakland Raiders fell to a 1-4 record after losing 23-20 to the undefeated Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
I have been mulling this game over in my head for a few hours, and think I am okay to talk about the loss now.
First off, I do not know if Atlanta played down to us, or if this is the Raiders team we have been waiting to see play.
Second, for the most part, I hated the play calling. First, I will mention the failed outside run by Darren McFadden on 3rd and goal. We settled for a field goal, when we should have had a touch down. Impossible with the play calling. In fact, this was yet another game with a less than 3 yard average per carry for Darren McFadden. I find this difficult to comprehend considering that over their last 5 games the Falcons have given up an average of over 5 yards a carry. McFadden had a long of 14 yards in this game. I can not be excited about that. I can not be excited about runs of 3,4,4,3,3, -3, 4 and 1 yard(s). This is nothing to be happy about. Currently his season average is 3.2 yards a carry, down from the 5.4 yards of last season, and the 5.2 yards of the 2010 season. Something is wrong, and it has nothing to do with Mr. McFadden. I guess the strides made in the running game Greg Knapp talked about have nothing to do with McFadden's performance. That is kind of a drag considering he is the starting running back, and on 4 carries Mike Goodson had 11 less total rushing yards with 23 less carries. Yeah, wrap your mind around that one. We have a player that had runs of 1, 6, 14, 9 and 43 yards. Sadly, the 9 and 14 yarders were called back on holds. But facts are facts. Goodson was running better, and with more success. So why didn't we use him more?
Now let's go back to the Raiders' second to last drive. There we were with a first down at the Atlanta 32 and 4:18 left on the clock. We needed to kill time, and that is usually done by getting first downs utilizing short passes in the field of play and running plays. All we needed was a field goal to win the game. Essentially, we needed to keep the ball moving and keep possession of the ball. Did we rush the guy that was averaging more yards per carry than McFadden? Did we try to run Tawain Jones? Nope we run the guy that isn't even averaging 3 yards a carry. Then we throw, on back to back downs, to Denarius Moore. One pass just slightly deeper. The plays were obvious and coverage was easy. Carson Palmer, had he thrown that ball half a second early, would have hit Moore. The worst that could have happened was it would have been incomplete and the game would have been in the hands of our defense after a Sebastian Janikowski field goal. That didn't happen. They intercepted and brought the ball back for a touchdown. We went to Denarius Moore 9 times this games. Guess we could have used Brandon Myers, or another wide receiver , like Derek Hagan, Rod Streater or Darrius Heyward-Bey. We went to the well once to often when it came to that pass to Moore.
Fortunately, our last drive, we managed another TD ourselves, with only 40 seconds left on the clock. Tie game, so a quick defensive stop and we hit over time! It didn't happen like that.
Our defense is what allowed their last score. Our defense could not stop them. More specifically, the PREVENT defense. We all know prevent defenses prevent a win. We should have brought more pressure on Ryan. We knew he was going to have to pass. The defense we had been running was working. Instead, we go prevent and they get the yards they need to get in field goal position. we needed a block or a penalty on them, and we got neither. With one second left on the clock, we were done. We had 3 interceptions being aggressive, and we stopped being aggressive.
That will bring me to the penalty phase of the game. Did the Raiders commit penalties? Yep. Probably more than the 12 they were called for, even though two of them were called on jersey numbers not only not on the field, but not on the roster. The Falcons were called for 4 penalties, I believe. We declined a couple of them. I just find it more than coincidence that the Raiders were facing a team that was supposed to trounce them, and without some of those conveniently called penalties, and of course the distinct lack of penalties called against the Falcons things may have been different. What penalties? Maybe for oh, the hit on Denarius Moore, the blow to the head on Carson Palmer? I suspect those were just the usual case of simultaneous synchronized blinking that we have come to expect from the "real" referees. I am still trying to figure out the touch down pass that went against Philip Wheeler and Tyvon Branch. I was under the impression there could be
Updated 10-14-2012 at 11:13 PM by BlitzChick
In a game where my beloved Raiders should have been competitive, we looked like a Pop Warner team playing Super Bowl champs in the 37-6 loss to the Denver Broncos, a team we have beat in their house for the last 4 seasons. This is the worst beating we have taken from Denver since 1962.
I am shaking my head in disbelief.
I am sitting here asking myself why.
Then I look at the head coach, who, when on screen, was talking into his head set, looking like he was walking his dog, waiting for it to relieve itself. This is the same guy that said we need to be patient with the zone blocking scheme we are using on the offense.
This would be the scheme that has managed to stop a healthy Darren McFadden from having any runs over 8 yards in our losses. McFadden did have one run for over 20 yards, and it went for a score. This was not a play called in by the less than illustrious offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, in our single win. It was an audible by our beleaguered quarter back, Carson Palmer. Take away that single 64 yard run, and one of the fastest running backs in the league is averaging a whopping 2.4 yards per carry.
This would be the scheme that has allowed Carson Palmer to feel the pressure no fewer than 24 times and allowed 7 sacks. This may not include the knock downs after the passes. There have been 14 passes defended.
Say what you want about Carson Palmer, but he has been dealt a rough hand. He is unable to sell a play fake because the opposing defense is containing what should be one of the best running backs in the league. We are not changing the running game enough. With the ZBS and dull plays, the running game is failing. This allows any defense to key in on the quarterback and the young, injured wide receiver corps. He has to deal with some of the most and predictable play calling I have ever seen. He can't audible out of everything. He has to work with what he has and must work within the restrictive confines of it.
The defense is getting dogged playing on the field for 37:25, 36:15 and 34:41. The San Diego loss is the only game where time of possession was not lopsided. They are also hampered by a few other things, other than an offense that has trouble giving them the rest they need. The Zone Blitzing Scheme is not working. In fact, the Miami Dolphins had as many quarterback hurries in the game against us as we have had in 4 games, 9 total. We have had only 3 sacks. Two of those were in losses. We have had only 9 passes defended. Part of
that I can put on that we lost our two starting corner backs, and who knows how long they will be out. The other part I am putting the fact that our corners, no matter who they are , are playing a minimum of 5 yards off the wide receiver across from them. Then there is
the fact that the blitzes and stunts are about as well disguised as an elephant in bunny ears. We aren't fooling anyone. To put the nail in the coffin, the defense is preparing by practicing against an offense that NO ONE ELSE IN THE LEAGUE RUNS with the zone blocking scheme.
In this game I can not believe that our defensive coordinator did not think Peyton Manning and the Broncos were going to run a no huddle offense. Even knowing this, we were not prepared. Substitutions CAN be made on the defensive line by having guys ready to run on, and
telling guys to hustle their asses off the field. Nope, why bother changing a defense up that has lost two games, and allowed a team without its starting running back and aging quarterback to score 31 points against it? It is working FINE! REALLY IT IS!
So in a quick re-cap. We have a head coach that does not appear to give a damn, an OC that is running a zone blocking scheme, as I mentioned above, something no other team in the league is doing. Others mat utilize a hybrid of it, but nothing like we are doing. And for some
reason that makes sense to no one else but the guys running the show on the Raiders sideline, we allow our defense to run a zone defense both on the line and in the secondary, practicing against a largely ineffective offense.
No one can see the failure written on the wall with that formula!
We have talent on the team. We have guys that can block, open holes for the running back, give Carson Palmer the time to throw. We have guys we that can catch the ball, with Brandon Myers and David Ausberry at TE, Marcel Reece at whatever position you want to call
him, and Derek Hagan, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore and Rod Streater and more at wide receiver. As much as it surprises me. Mike Goodson has looked good when we have used him. All Darren McFadden needs is a crease.
Yet here we sit, 1-3 after getting beat
But with 3:09 left in the game, the Steelers still had the ball. Then the inconceivable happened. At least inconceivable to the Steelers sideline. A team that had managed only 2 quarterback hurries all game long, sacked Big Ben. I guess Richard Seynour decided it was time to re-introduce himself to Roethlisberger. So then, it was decided it was dunk and dink time. Another 6 yard pass to Heath Miller, who ended the game with two touchdowns and 60 yards of receptions. 3rd and 9 was a bit long, but it could be gotten. Except the Predator had some of his best coverage of the game, there was some pressure and the pass was incomplete. 4th and 9 was a bit much to try , so the Steelers elected to punt.
Considering our offense had struggled on and off all game, I think the Steelers felt confident they could stop the Raiders offense.
Carson Palmer then became the Carson Palmer all Raiders fans had been hoping to see. After a couple of misfires, he threw a strike to Brandon Myers for 15 yards and a first down. This was followed up with a 9 yard pass to Derek Hagan, a guy whose number wasn't called until the 4th quarter, but was ready to play. An 8 yard play to Marcel Reece gave us a first down. Then Hagan hauled in another pass, for 17 yards. Over the middle. I guess Pittsburgh wasn't guarding the middle so much. We still had 2 timeouts, after we used one for the Myers injury. We were definitely within Sebastian Janikoski's field goal range.
Now it was time to get the ball where we wanted it. No surprise that McFadden ran left to get the ball to the left hash mark and SeaBass kicking on the grass. Carson Palmer kept the ball for the 2nd down play. Again - positioning and killing time.
We called a timeout with 3 seconds left. A huge gamble if the Polish Cannon missed his mark. But he didn't. The ball went through the uprights as the Raiders gave HC Dennis Allen a birthday gift a day late, his first regular season win in his rookie season as head coach.
A few plays also worthy of mention: the nice return by Mike Goodson. Our first decent return of the season. The first down play to Reece was a thing of beauty. The TD pass to Moore I mentioned? He laid himself out for that one. After one completed pass for the Steelers, Giordano had a nice stick, leading with his shoulder, that didn't allow any YAC. The pass to Streater was an important play. On that first pass to Hagan for 3 yards? We needed 3 yards. It was thrown to the sticks, one of my sore spots about the offense.
It was a huge win for the team. It was huge for so many different reasons, including that the Steelers are a good team.
But this is a game we finished.
There was fire, there was passion, there was no quit.
They were tired, and they didn't give up.
Late signed players, and guys that probably wouldn't be on an NFL team if it weren't for us made plays.
Then there was one of the best acquisitions the Raiders made, Philip "The Predator" Wheeler. He had 7 tackles, 4 assists, 2 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. (Remember we had only 2 QB hurries all game. Gotta give props!)
After been scorched the first half, and the Steelers leading massively in all areas, (except the score thankfully), we had things sort of evened out.
With one run, that for a TD, Darren McFadden had more yards rushing than the entire Pittsburg offense. Despie Dennis Allen's assurances, I am still not sold on the zone blocking scheme. One big run is not a successful run game. In fact, without that run, he averaged only 2.88 yards a carry. Hence the continuing doubt in the ZBS.
Both QBS completed over 70% of their passes. After only 10 passes in the first half, Palmer threw 24 passes in the second half. The 34 total still a far cry from Ben's 49 pass attempts, but with 31 of those in the first half, that means only 18 pass attempts in the 2nd half.
We finally converted on 3rd downs, and had a 58% success rate. We were 0-4 in the first half. We ended up 7 for 12, which means we missed only ONE 3rd down conversion attempt in the 2nd half. And that ended up in a SeaBass field goal. The one that tied the game.
They had 43 plays to our 19 in the first half. They ended up with 70, so 27 plays in the 2nd half. We ended up with 56, so that makes 37 offensive plays for us in the 2nd half.
We were making plays and moving the ball, and most importantly putting points on the board. They added 7, but stalled completely in 4th quarter. After they put a hurt on DHB. After they pissed off the defense. After they pissed off the entire team. I believe in my gut of guts that injury gave
The Oakland Raiders showed something the 34-31 home victory against the long time rival Pittsburgh Steelers, and that , simply put, was passion.
It was not showing in the first half, and it started showing in the 3rd quarter, and it reared its big, beautiful head in the 4th quarter when rookie Rod Streater suffered a minor injury, but much more seriously, 4th year receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey took a shot from a helmet that knocked him out cold. He was taken to the hospital and game was delayed for between 11 and 12 minutes , as he was put on the board, strapped down, and taken off on the cart. I am not ashamed to say I was in tears, because as most of you know, I am a DHB homer. I love this kid. And judging from the way the team stepped up its play , so do his team mates.
So where to start?
Ben Roethlisberger is a good quarterback. In the past 7 years, he has had only 2 years where his qb rating was below 90. In those 5 years with over his 90+ qb rating, 2 of those years his rating was over 100. Prior to today, he was looking at 99.5 rating. He has regularly completed roughly 60 % or more of his passes. We know he is no slouch.
Today he was throwing against a patched up secondary. We have Ron Bartell on Injured Reserve, with the chance to come back. Shawntae Spencer is out. Those are our starting corners. Michael Huff went to play corner, from his safety spot, moving Matt Giordano to his spot. Then we have such big names as Pat Lee (1 start between 2008 and 2011) , Phillip Adams (zero starts in 22 games) and Joselio Hanson (19 starts between 2004 and 2011). This isn't meant to denigrate these guys. Just showing we don't have a whole lot of starting expereince in that secondary, especially going to a dime defense. Playing zone doesn't help much, either. The cushion being allowed the wide receivers on the outside was unbelievable. A 7 to 10 yard cushsion on a 3rd and short. Quick slant and an easy first and a gain of at least double what was needed.
Add to that, we were not consistently applying pressure on Ben, either.
The statistics bear this out.
The Steelers had 14 first downs, 11 of them by passing. Roethlisberger was 22 of 31, 207 yards, 2 touchdowns and a huge 110.6 quarterback rating. There were no passes defensed and no sacks.
Compare that to only 5 first downs for us, with Carson Palmer completing 6 of only 10 passes, sacked once, and interception that wasn't his fault, leading to a 61.2 qb rating.
Time of possession? 21:35 to 8:24.
But they only had a 3 point lead. They had fumbled the ball away and Darren McFadden had a great 64 yard run for a touchdown. For those that didn't notice, this was a Carson Palmer audible. With just under 2 minutes left in the half, Palmer threw a beautiful pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey who caught the pass over his shoulder. With his hands. Something some critics think he can't do. He secured it with his body, git both feet in bounds and kept control of the ball, though the Steeler bench tried to imply he was juggling the ball. The play was reviewed, as most scores are, and it was a great pass and catch.
On the flip side, they had only punted once, and they were getting the ball back coming back from half time.
It took them only 3:20 to score in the 3rd quarter after Matt Giordano went down in the corner of the end zone with muscle cramps, with dehydration being the most likely cause. Hard to see him go down. Many folks forget what an athlete this young man is. Not only did he lead the team in
interceptions last year, he has brought some very fast guys down. From behind. If he didn't get back in the game, this would have been another huge blow to the Raiders already shaky secondary. Fortunately, Matt was able to return to the game.
At the end of the 3rd quarter, they scored what would be their final score of the game, though I don't think anyone wearing black and gold was even beginning to think that. I know I was not thinking it.
Then the Raiders offense kick started, was driving down the field. Rod Streater got hurt on a play. Then Darrius Heyward-Bey was nailed illegally, without a flag being thrown, and was knocked unconcious.
Some think that as Ryan Mundy was the one that was beat in the end zone by Darrius, that perhaps he was looking for some revenge on the hit that illegal hit. I do not know. Football is a tough game. I hate to think anything like that about any player, but we all know about Bounty-Gate in
New Orleans, so who is to say? It isn't like we will get any information out Mundy. This wasn't the
first time he has hurt a Raiders player. The hit he laid on Johnnie Lee Higgins a few years
Sunday, as the Oakland Raiders were squaring off against the home team Miami Dolphins in what ended as a 35-13 drubbing, I actually had some hope that the Raiders would make a showing. Let me re-phrase. I had hope the Raiders would make a GOOD showing. Not much hope, but being the die hard fan I am I try to approach every game as one we can win.
Well, that is as long as do something about our running game. Oh, and our over-all performance on the line of scrimmage, both on offense and defense. Then there is is still the lack of blocking for our return game on special teams.
Pretty much everything I said that needed to be fixed after we lost on Monday night, except now, I have to add one more thing. TACKLING on defense.
Poor tackling gave Reggie Bush 172 yards on the ground, including 2 touchdow runs of over 20 yards. The Dolphins had one drive that consisted only of giving Reggie the ball. Oh, that drive ended with a touchdown. This guy IS stoppable, but not for the Raiders defense in the second half! Lamar Miller, a rookie , managed an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Even rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a 13 yard run and a rushing touchdown. A total of 263 yards on the ground. Add another 200 yards in the air by a rookie qb.
So out of these 463 yards, (452 net), total, over 2/3rds were in the second half. That would indicate that the Dolphins made some changes in the offense during half time.
We had 263 net yards in the first half, and ended with 396 net yards. This means we dropped our net yards by roughly 1/2 the total yards.
This indicates there was some adjustments in the Dolphins defense.
Our changes? Our adjustments? Well, whatever the hell they were, if , in fact,there were any, were a step BACKWARDS.
I stated last week that we used McFadden too much, and that changed. This is a good thing, but we still allowed the defense to key in on him. The zone blocking scheme is not working for him. It isn't woring for the team. Hybrid the danged thing , or mover away from it. it isn't a matter of one center being better for the run, and one being for the pass. The scheme we are using IS NOT WORKING! What makes it worse, in my mind, is the talent is there, in all aspects of the team, but it is not being used properly.
The zone defense, where the cornerbacks are playing 7-10 yards off the receivers is allowing passes and yards after catch because there is room in the zone.
I have already mentioned the ZBS on offense that isn't giving Carson Palmer time, and when he does have it he isn't always making the best decisions. He held on to the ball too long when Darren McFadden was open. By the time he threw it? yeah - too late. One pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey had DHB getting hit by 2 different defenders. They were able to close on him.
That being said, protection was better for him in the first half. Palmer was 13 for 25 with a 98.6 QB
rating at the half. He ended with 24 for 48, an interception and a 74.4 QB rating. Could be the fact that the Miami defense had only 1 QB hurry and 1 pass defended in the first half, and ended up with 9 qb hurries and 6 passes defended. Holes need to be created and Palmer needs better protection.
We went ONE for TWELVE on 3rd down conversion attempts. That one conversion came in the first half. One does not need to be majoring in mathematics to know that is failing. I'd say failing miserably, but in truth, it is failing in a rather grand fashion. I know we started in rather poor field position most times we had the ball, but that can happen when we have someone fair catching a punt inside the 10 yard line. ( At what point are the return men instructed to let it go?)
Brandon Myers stood out again on offense.
Phillip Wheeler stood out on defense. Two of the team total of 4 quarterback hurries were because of Wheeler. Just to complete the comparison, we had a whopping TWO passes defended - on a rookie quarterback.
We should have been in his face all game long.
I know there are new coaches. I know there are new coordinators. I also know that the product being put on the field currently is NOT going to do much in garnering wins. The sooner changes are made that SUIT the talent on this team, the better off it will be, and the more successful it will be.
I would love to ask the coaching staff how the ZBS is a good thing. I would love to ask how the zone defense is doing. I would love to ask Head Coach Dennis Allen how the Raiders are expected to "finish" a game, when it appears we didn't even really start the game.
The individuals on the team need