Wow. What a game. That's one I don't think we'll forget in a hurry.
Even if Mr Davis hadn't passed on yesterday, it would still have been a tight, exciting game. But after Sunday...and the defense coming through in the clutch, especially the game-clinching INT by Huff...it was just that little bit more special. Just win, baby. Like I said in the game thread - I knew as soon as Schaub threw that ball that we had won.
I gotta say, i had all but written this one off at halftime. DMC was shut down and Jason was struggling. It was a matter of time before Foster started to gash the run defense and we would blow our first game in the post-Al era. But that never happened.
For the first time this season, our D really stepped up. We did what I never thought we could - we shut down Arian Foster in the running game (even if he pwned us receiving - I did need something from him in fantasy).
The main reason we were able to shut him down was our D line played their best game of the season - just like we knew they had in them. They continually shut down Foster before he could make it to the second level and our poor-tackling LBs, and (particularly the second half) gave Schaub all the hell they could. I had thought the team needed to do two things to win today - McFadden had to beast and our defensive line would have to rattle the hell out of Schaub, who once again proved today that he can fold like a deck chair on the Titanic in the clutch (good to know for the playoffs). The fact that DMC was not dominant today shows just how much the D turned up to play.
It also shows that Jason Campbell had a solid game. Don't be fooled by his mediocre stats. He had a few bad patches through the game but he made all the throws that were needed (no interceptions by nose tackles this week) and didn't screw things up, which is generally about what we ask from him. When he was struggling, it was partly because our O-line was not able to keep up their exemplary play from the first four rounds and let the pressure get to him. Hopefully Satele's injury isn't too serious cause he's been rock solid this year.
Offensive player of the game has to go to one of my favourite whipping boys though - arise, The Receiver Formerly Known As Dick Hands. 7 receptions, 99 yards, a touchdown from a hell of a YAC run on a screen pass and most importantly, no drops. In the three games when JC has targeted him regularly (Buffalo was all DMoore, and the Jets put Revis on him all game) he's shown consistent improvement. His route running is light years ahead from when he first came into the league and even his hands have gone from terrible to manageable - hence, my retirement of the Dick Hands moniker. Mark him down as another beneficiary of the Hue Jackson School Of Offensive Development - we're finally seeing some decent and consistent production out of him now that we've figured out that he can be used for something other than go routes.
This game, however, wasn't about individual performances. A few guys (LaMarr and Death Ro in particular) had their best games of the season, and Jano's long range FGs are becoming routine. But ultimately, this one belongs to the whole team who put in a collective effort greater than the sum of its parts today and came out with a win.
Next week we're at home to Cleveland. I am sitting in my lecture theatre looking at cheap flights from Sydney to San Fran and seriously wondering whether it's worth selling my guitar and begging my parents for a loan to fly to Oakland just for the weekend. I feel like I need to be there. But even if (most likely) I can't pull anything off, the fact that I would consider it for a regular season, non-divisional home game says all that needs to be said. The first home game since the passing of Mr Davis is going to be as emotionally charged as this week. There is some Trap Game potential here - but the boys and the crowd will be too fired up to be complacent.
I'm going to close with one final tribute to Al.
"Cause yr larger than life
That's how I remember you
The harder I try
I can't forget you
The more I learn
The less I know
If this is a feeling then I want it to go
Cause yr larger than life"
You got the win, boys. Now let's get back to work.