Hey, your guys' drink stinks! [via sportsdesignblog.typepad.com]
To much of the NFL's surprise, the Cincinnati Bengals owned the AFC's number two record at 7-2 coming into today's battle with our 2-7 Oakland Raiders. To even more people's surprise, the Raiders were the ones that walked off the field a victor on Sunday afternoon. Trailing 14-0 early, the Raiders scored 10 points in the final 33 seconds to come away with a shocking 20-17 upset of Cincinnati. Losing in Oakland is nothing new to Cincinnati, as the Bengals fell to 0-10 all-time in Oakland according to commentators Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots.
First Quarter: The Bengals started the game with the ball and tried to even help the Raiders out on their first drive. A couple of penalties even infuriated quarterback Carson Palmer a little bit, and the running game struggled. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Bengals marched down the field very successfully with their passing game. In a 14-play, 78-yard touchdown drive, Palmer completed five big passes and ran it into the end zone himself. Chad Ochocinco, finishing the game with just four grabs for 67 yards, looked really good early. On the Raiders' first possession, they actually picked up a first down; however, it'd be their only one of the quarter and Shane Lechler booted it away. The Bengals kept the ball moving as we headed to the second quarter. There was a bit of injury trouble, however. Richard Seymour went to the locker room with a lower back injury and did not return to action.
"Watch and learn Darrius," says Chaz. [via a.espncdn.com]
Second Quarter: Momentum shifted to the Raiders' side in the second quarter as a fumble had the Raiders in business. It was a bit of wacky play, as Kirk Morrison picked up the fumble at first. Then, he fumbled himself. Thankfully, Greg Ellis was there and gave us the ball. Of course, two plays later, the Raiders committed a turnover of their own. A bad exchange gave the Bengals the ball right back. They would proceed to march down the field in nine plays -- all rushes -- to take a 14-0 lead. After a three-and-out, the Bengals had the ball again. This time, they couldn't pick up a first down. We saw a Larry Johnson appearance as he ran for five yards on a few carries. The Raiders received the ball at their own 29 after the punt and had their most successful drive of the day so far. Bruce Gradkowski capped off a 71-yard drive in less than three minutes with a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller, our most reliable target. Our defense gave us the ball back and Gradkowski put Pro Bowl candidate Sebastian Janikowski in position for a 57-yard field goal. He just missed it, though, and we went into the locker room with Oakland trailing Cincinnati, 14-7.
Third Quarter: Oakland started out with the ball and on their first third down of the drive, Darrius Heyward-Bey actually caught a pass. I was shocked! At that point, he had been thrown to 31 times on the season. It was his just his seventh grab. The Raiders moved the ball predominantly on the ground with Bush and McFadden before the drive stalled. Janikowski booted through a 52-yard field goal to cut the Bengals lead to 14-10. On their next possession, running back Bernard Scott, who had a career-high 119 yards, ripped off a 61-yard run on the second play of the drive. The Bengals, though, missed a field goal which many would consider a chip shot. The score held, 14-10, with just over five minutes to go in the quarter. The good fortune wouldn't last long. Michael Bush fumbled, defensive end Robert Geathers scooped it up and Chaz Schilens saved a touchdown with a tackle. The Bengals took over at Oakland's 18 thanks to the Raiders' second turnover of the day. The defense, more specifically Stanford Routt, forced the Bengals to settle for just three points for the second consecutive drive. Routt had a big sack on the last possession and a big defended passes on this drive. This time, Shayne Graham makes the chip shot kick from 25 yards out and the Bengals took a 17-10 lead. After a three-and-out punt, the Bengals had the ball at their own 20 following a touchback. On a big third down play to end the quarter, Laveranues Coles made a 40-yard catch.
That face had a smile on it after the conclusion of this one. [via a.espncdn.com]
Fourth Quarter: The Bengals kept moving the ball and thought they'd be in great position to get some points; however, the Raiders picked a great time to even up the turnover margin. Rookie defensive lineman Desmond Bryant picked up the Jeremi Johnson fumble caused by Sam Williams and the Raiders had it at their own 15 needing a touchdown drive to tie things up. The Raiders had something going, but when they needed a yard, they couldn't get it. With plenty of time left to get a stop, Tom Cable elected to punt it back to the Bengals. Cincinnati was unable to get anything going on their next possession. A pass to Ochocinco was incomplete, a Scott run went backwards and Greg Ellis got in there to sack Palmer. A punt gave Gradkowski and the Raiders a chance to tie the game up once again, with the drive starting at the Bengals' 43 yard line. Disaster struck quickly, however, as Gradkowski was hit as he threw by Jonathan Fanene and that hit caused the wobbly throw to be intercepted by Johnathan Joseph at the Cincinnati 21 yard line. Eventually, the Raiders forced a punt with just over two minutes to play in regulation. It sailed into the end zone. Trailing 17-10 at the 20 yard line with a pair of timeouts and exactly 2:12 to play, Oakland had one last chance. Gradkowski hit the sure-handed Miller for nice big plays putting the team into Cincinnati territory. Four plays later, the Raiders faced a fourth down needing 10 yards with just under a minute left with one timeout. Gradkowski didn't miss Schilens for the third time in a row, as Bruce hit Chaz to move the chains. A spike killed the clock at 41 seconds. Then, on the next play, Gradkowski hit rookie Louis Murphy deep for a big-time touchdown on the left side of the field and a booth review upheld the call. Janikowski's extra point tied the game, 17-17, with 33 seconds left in regulation. On the kickoff, wide receiver Andre Caldwell ran to the right and tried to cut it back toward the middle. He forgot the most important thing: the football. Tight end Brandon Myers recovered the fumble and Janikowski nailed 33-yard field goal. The game is over and the Raiders walk off the field with a stunning 20-17 upset of the Cincinnati Bengals.
My Thoughts and Tidbits: Wow, what a different a competent quarterback makes? If Gradkowski doesn't hit Heyward-Bey last week, maybe we're 4-6 instead of 3-7, Still, let's enjoy the win. Gradkowski did a tremendous job and he earned my vote for player of the game. He plays with heart. Nnamdi Asomugha did a pretty good job on Chad Ochocinco when he covered him. From what I can recall, Chad only caught one pass on Nnamdi. Ochocinco's lone grab in the second half was against Chris Johnson, who had trouble defending others in this one as usual. Without a doubt, this win feels great. It's the sweetest win of the year if you ask me. Next, we have the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. It'll be on Thursday afternoon, the same time as this one was on CBS. Luckily for us, it won't be blacked out so most of us won't have to catch a stream. With all that said, enjoy the victory, nation. I don't care what they say. We earned it.