This Winning Thing Is Neat

Finish him!

Hey guys. Isn't today great? Just another wonderful Monday. Now that my weekend is over, I can't wait to see what life has in store for me this week. Hey, look at that, there's a bluebird on my shoulder.

Life is better after a Raiders victory. I look forward to watching the NFL Network and ESPN. I can't wait to look at various web sites that discuss football and of course, I went over to Turf Show Times to enjoy the lament of our victims and let me tell you--their tears taste like honey.

Before the game, I said if the Raiders didn't win by more than four, I would give up my hope for the season. Can I take that back? While the Raiders only won by two, they did everything else I wanted them to accomplish. In short, I wanted to see them beat up the Rams.

And the Raiders ended up landing hay-makers like Mike Tyson and I'm not talking Tyson vs. Holyfield, Tyson, I'm talking Tyson vs. Desiree Washington, Tyson. The defense swarmed to the ball. The D-line got great penetration. Special Teams were hitting and not missing tackles. The offensive line got a good push on running plays. The Raiders ball carriers took the hits to the defense. McFadden especially, but also the WR's and Zach Miller after catching the ball.

The stats reflect this more than the score. The Raiders won in virtually every statistical category:

25 first downs to 16, 41 percent to 20 on third down conversions, 173 yards rushing to 75, 231 yards passing to 135, 3 sacks to 2, 36:49 time of possesion to 23:11. Look at those yards! That's right 404 yards! That is the first time the Raiders have gone over 400 yards since October 23...2005!

It was far from a perfect performance, but it was more than enough to keep my hope rolling. After all, for me this season is as much about watching those seeds of hope start to blossom as it is wins and losses.

The Post Game Awards:

 

The Snoopy Dancing Sticker Awards:

  • Bruce Gradkowski: There'll be plenty more on this. From everyone, I imagine. I plan on doing a more in-depth look at the QB comparison a little later in the week. In the meantime, dancing snoopy for you!
  • Cooper Carlisle: Carlisle's performance in itself probably wasn't worthy of this elite sticker, but given the fact that, I, you, him, her, that monkey and his flying fesces has bashed this guy--I think he deserves the highest honor. I am going to back off Coop. Most of the day he was lined up against Fred Robbins. Robbins is a beast and Cooper neutralized him. He got off to an auspicious start. On a 3rd and 1 play in the first quarter, Robbins blew him up and stuff McFadden. On the next play Seabass missed the field goal. After that though, Coop was a rock.
  • Nnamdi Asomugha: I don't think a team has thrown at him yet. Well, the Rams did once and they completed it, but they had to cheat to do it and it got called back when Nnam was picked and he was still almost in position. All hail....
  • Stanford Routt: I hereby nominate Routt for the Most Improved Player Ever Award. Bigger tests lay ahead for Routt, but he is exceeding expectations. He had an illegal contact early then gave up a short out for a first on 3rd down early, but after that he was a shutdown corner. His INT was huge and he played it well.
  • Daniel Loper: For a guy most people thought wasn't even going to make the team, he did a hell of a job. He was no where near dominant, but he was servicable. I am glad to have him as a backup. Now let's hope he doesn't have to play next week, but I bet he does.
  • The Defensive Tackles: They kicked ass and they did it without Richard Seymour. Henderson looked like everything we'd hope he'd be, Des Bryant was solid. Jay Alford adds incredible depth. Tommy Kelly...TK had a couple of penalties, the personal foul could have been a killer and I have no idea what it was for, but he was dominant. The Rams made no progress running his way. This was a Rams team whose interior offensive line is supposed to be a strength.
  • Darren McFadden: He looked elite. In a world where most people had conceded McFadden was not an every down back, the most impressive thing to me was how he finished this game. 30 carries and he was laying the lumber in the fourth quarter. 
  • Shane Lechler: Typical day at the office for Shane. But Lechler's Awesomeness was highlighted by the Rams punter's suckiness. He sucks so bad that he was almost great, as his punts were landing laughably short they were almost bouncing off of Raiders blockers. In fact one did. Luckily JLH grabbed. We love you Shane!

Smiley Face Sticker Awards:

  • The Defensive Ends: This group was led by LaMarr Houston. The guy is relentless chasing the QB. He is not getting pushed anywhere on run plays. Trevor Scott brought some good QB pressure. I would like to see more from Shaughnessy, but he gets a pass since he didn't get pancaked on any run plays.
  • Thomas Howard: The guy has a limited role as the nickel backer. It is a role he seems perfectly suited for. What impresses me most with Howard though is his attitude. It would've been easy for him to pout and give up on this team, but he is playing with passion and intensity. 
  • The FB's: Marcel Reece hasn't had the big plays he did in the pre-season, but he is picking up his blocks. A rapid improvement for this converted WR. Rock Cartwright also saw some FB time and had a great block pick-up in the fourth quarter freeing Darren McFadden for a key first down run.
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey: Welcome to the NFL DHB. Bey looked great after catching the ball. He is strong and hard to bring down. To become elite he needs to keep improving on catching the ball with his hands, but damn...he is light years ahead of last year
  • Louis Murphy: Typical Murph. Good routes and great passion, intensity and clutchiness.
  • Play Calling: I liked it on both sides of the ball. They rattled Sam Bradford early with some blitzes then allowed the D-line to get pressure. Offensively, the play calling looked a lot better with Grad in. But I thought it was a good mix of run/pass and short/long. I loved the little pitch outs to McFadden. We've wanted to see him running out wide and we finally got it.

Mr. Yuck Sticker Awards:

  • Kickoff return blocking still is nonexistent.
  • Sebastian Janikowski: I love Seabass. There is not another kicker I'd rather have. It is because of his high expectations that he is on this list. His missed field goal attempt was off the infield dirt, but he is too good to miss any kick inside 50.
  • Screen Passes: The weapon that looked so effective in the pre-season has been horrible in the regular season.
  • Redzone offense: Remember that Zach Miller guy? When you get close to the endzone, throw it to him.
  • Nnam on the right side of the field: Move him around...please. Next week, maybe?

Items Worth Watching:

  • Left Tackle Rotation: Interesting concept. Veldheer had a rough outing. He had a couple of penalities and got burned for a sack/fumble. Veld shows promise and he looks particularly strong on the move in run blocking. Not to be outdone, Mario Henderson got burned for a sack/fumble, although it was not quite as glaring as Veldheer's. Overall, Henderson was better, but I am all for Veld making this his position.
  • One of the things that fascinates me about football is the chain of events. Things are connected and little miscues or breaks can turn into huge game changers. A good example of this: Zach Miller dropped a beautifully thrown ball by Gradkowski on a designed roll-out. Miller makes that catch 99 times out of 100. Had he caught it, it would've been a first down and the Raiders would be primed to go in for a TD and would've been in Seabass chip shot range for a game icing FG. Instead he dropped it. The next play, Veld jumps offsides. The next play, Grad throws a pick.
  • Rolando McClain: Let's see, what did Death Ro do? I don't remember seeing him. Oh yeah, that's right, he was the guy doing the Hulk Hogan impression and body slamming people. I admit that got me out of my seat. I also admit that was a stupid play. I have seen the sentiment that he was making a statement, but Ro, if you want to make a statement, do it with a legal hit. He had Amendola lined up dead to rights, but Amendola kinda spun away from the big blow. Had the Raiders lost, that would be one of the things we were pointing too. Since they won, I'll say, that was pretty fucking awesome. Just no more fourth quarter personal fouls please.
  • Other than that, Rolando had an up and down day. He struggled on the Rams first TD drive. He took a bad angle on Steven Jackson's 23-yard catch and run and then missed with a weak arm tackle. Before that, he took missed filling the hole on a Jackson run that netted a first down. He then bit on the play action, which opened up the middle throwing lane for an easy TD pass. McClain seemed to get better as the game went and gave solid run support and pass coverage. He seems to be on track.
  • Danny Amendola: I have to give this guy a shout out. On the same play he took a big hit and then a body slam from Ro. Not only did he just bounce right back up, but he made the catch on the very next play. Amendola, you can be my wingman anytime.  
  • Safety Play: It was much improved this game, but then again the Rams don't throw deep...ever. The Raiders spent much of the day with eight men in the box. Huff and Branch looked good tackling. Tyvon makes me nervous in coverage. While he was right there with Clayton on the second TD catch, he was a fraction of a second late. He makes me nervous going against teams with more of a deep passing attack.
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