Greetings my fellow members of the Silver and Black Pride community! I am pleased to bring to all of you the 13th installment in the series, Talkin' With Tyvon, from Raiders starting strong safety Tyvon Branch.
After the great upset victory against the defending Super Bowl champs in Pittsburgh, Tyvon and the Raiders are exited about how they have now come together as a team and building toward the future, as you will read in his answers.
The Community is invited to pose some questions for Tyvon in the comments section and he will do his best to get as many of them answered as quickly as possible:
It is great to come home from Pittsburgh with a win. Beating the Super Bowl champs at home was a great feeling. We are starting to really gel as a team, and not let the little mistakes beat us. Offensively we are putting up some points, and as a defense, we are trying to put them in the best position to score. This week we have Washington. They are coming off a close one, and we are focused on winning two in a row. Thanks for all your support and GO RAIDERS!!!
SABP: Great game Tyvon, great victory in Pittsburgh, probably one of the best Raiders games in years! From the outset of the game, and certainly through the first 3 quarters, the defense played with a lot of intensity and except for a few of the big plays, really limited the potent Steelers offense. What was the game plan coming in and why do you think there was such an offensive shootout in the 4th quarter?
TB: The game plan coming in was to alleviate the big plays. I think we did a decent job of that, and we came out ahead at the end of the game. The team was focused all week, and we saw some things on film that we could go after. The 4th quarter was a bit of a shootout because each team had felt each other out and knew what it could do. Also, when teams feels pressure they begin to play more aggressively and that allowed for more points.
SABP: Nnamdi said to the press last week that the Raiders play a "simple defense" that opposing offensive coordinators frequently exploit. However, in the Pittsburgh game it looked like there were some disguised coverages and some zone blitzes and where the Steelers had their big plays were more a result of missed tackle or blown assignment rather than scheme. Do you think that the defense (simple or not) that is being run now can be on par with the leagues other top defenses if you guys fix your tendency to give up the big plays?
TB: I think if we stick to our assignments and progress we can beat anyone. We have a lot of talent on this squad and would put ourselves up against any defense. Complex or not, it is all about execution. If we don't execute we will not win. I think you saw some good execution Sunday, and we came out with the W.
SABP: As for your game, man you were up and down. You were laying the wood and made a lot of big plays to stop gains from being much longer than they would have. But you also gave up two big pass plays in succession, although, I must admit, even Deion Sanders would have given those up, they were perfect passes. Then you went for a strip instead of a tackle and allowed the Steelers to get to the 3 yard line and eventually score. What goes through your mind when you see that you have a chance to strip the ball or make a tackle?
TB: It is always the safe bet to make the tackle. Looking back that is what I should have done. Although going after the strip when other people are close by to make the tackle is okay, making the tackle is the number one goal. Going after the strip is something that can really help out though. A big play can change a game. The game is so quick and seeing that split second opportunity to go for the strip is something that I had to do.
SABP: Man, Tyvon, you guys really snatched victory from the mean jaws of defeat. For a moment it looked like Hines Ward's push-off/facemask on CJ was going to be the difference in the game. BUT, Gradkowski would NOT be denied. What is it like to have him as a leader on this team, especially to see him guide the offense in the 4th quarter to successive touchdowns answering the Steelers scores?
TB: He is a great player and leader. Bruce has a real knowledge of the game and his passion shows on the field. Sitting on the sidelines watching him work his magic is a great feeling. It is obvious that he has a strong desire to win.
SABP: In the 3rd quarter you went to the sidelines with a bit of a limp. What happened and what was the injury?
TB: I just got dinged up a bit. All is well, and I am ready to go for this week.
SABP: The Redskins are coming to town this Sunday and this will be a perfect opportunity for the Raiders to follow up a great victory and win two consecutive games for the fist time this season. I've asked you this question before about the team dealing with "winning", but do you believe that the Raiders will have learned something from the Dallas game, (which followed a great victory over the Bengals) to be able to carry the momentum from one week to the next?
TB: We will keep going after it. The Cowboys are a great club and really brought it to us that day. We will stay focused this week and really go after Washington.
Thanks Tyvon and we all look forward to you and the Raiders bringing it to the Redskins on Sunday.