Kevin C. Cox - Getty Images
The Raiders lost a heartbreaker on Sunday. Which I suppose is a lot better than getting blown out as they had two weeks ago. They put up one hell of a fight and there were some nice performances in the process. This week's Ballers & Busters bears this out.
What a turnaround for Huff. Literally, he was turning around. The result was an interception and four passes defended. He started off the game looking like we would be expecting the same Huff as the past few weeks when he gave up a 25-yard catch on the very first play. But he learned from that and the next time the Falcons tried a long pass, he made an impressive interception on a would-be touchdown. The Falcons were held scoreless and the Raiders drove down the field to hit a field goal for a ten point swing.
Huff wasn't perfect and he gave up a few catches in the first half. Nothing earth shattering though. And in the second half, he was lights out. He started with a coverage incompletion on the Falcons first possession for a three and out. Next possession, he had a pass defended which he nearly intercepted. Then after the Falcons forced a fumble and had position at the 2 yard line, he teamed up with Rolando McClain to stop them on third down with a tackle for loss and hold them to a field goal. He ended the next possession with a pass defended on third down. Then he did it AGAIN on their next possession, this time guarding Tony Gonzalez.
He keeps this up and they may not move him back to free safety.
Every game he makes at least one highlight reel catch. In this game, he had several. He started out with a ridiculous 49-yard grab. The Raiders were at their own two yard line after the Huff interception and on first down, they were already in Falcon territory. It helped set up the Raiders' first field goal. He had an 11-yard catch on the Raiders next drive to set them up at first and goal at the 9 yard line. The Raiders would kick their second field goal. The next drive would start at the Raiders 28 yard line after an interception. On the second play, Denarius took a short pass, ducked under what looked to be a sure tackle and raced for a 25-yard touchdown.
He set up or scored every one of the Raiders' scores in the first half to send them into halftime up 13-7. He had one more catch in the second half for a 17-yard gain and was hit hard in the head by his namesake, William Moore. It looked like the hit may knock him out of the game but he came back in the game. He caught another pass for 16 yards on the Raiders' final drive but it was called back by a holding penalty on Jared Veldheer. Moore finished as the Raiders' leading receiver with five catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
On the Falcons second possession of the game, Shaughnessy had a tackle for no gain on first down. He then finished off the series with a three and out when he tackled Jaquizz Rodgers for a two yard loss on third and one. Later in the first half he sacked Matt Ryan for an eight yard loss. Then on the Falcons first offensive play of the second half, he got into the backfield to tackle Michael Turner for a three yard loss. The series ended in another three and out. He finished second on the team with 5 combined tackles (4 solo) including 3 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. The sack was the only one for the Raiders in this game and gives him 2.5 on the season which leads the team.
The final yards per carry of 2.6 for McFadden does not tell the whole story. He is used a lot as a short yardage back for the Raiders which destroys his ypc even if he is able to pick up the short yardage the team needs. He rushed 27 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. He might have had a great deal more had his runs not been called back from penalties. He had at least two big runs called back due to offensive holding. One could argue he would not have gotten those yards in the first place had the holding not occurred but it's hard to say. He also caught three passes for 28 yards including one on third down at the end of the third quarter which he scooped off his shoelaces and took for 20 yards.
His touchdown run came on a drive in which he picked up the final five yards on two runs and it tied the score at 20-20 with :40 left on the clock. But McFadden best play of the day didn't come on offense. It came after Carson Palmer was sacked and fumbled the ball. McFadden chased down Ray Edwards at the two yard line. The Falcons were kept out of the endzone so that tackle was worth four points. McFadden did have a fumble of his own but in his defense, the defender was in the backfield and in his face as soon as he was handed the ball. The Falcons missed the field goal try so no harm done.
On the few plays McFadden wasn't carrying the rock, Goodson was tearing it up. How's this for a line: 5 touches, 96 yards. He touched the ball only FIVE TIMES and had nearly as many total yards as McFadden did (98). Four of those touches were rushes and he had 59 yards on those carries for an 14.8 yards per carry average. I guess you could say he is a good fit for the zone blocking scheme. His second touch of the day was a screen pass he took 37 yards to set up the Raiders' second field goal. His final touch of the day came in the fourth quarter and he took for 43 yards to set the Raiders up in scoring position. He had one other carry for 14 yards that was called back due to a holding penalty.
He isn't flashy, there's no doubt there. But he sure is clutch. He saw very limited action in this game. He was a perfect four catches on four targets though and they all came late in the game. The last three catches came on the Raiders final drive. With the Raiders suddenly down 13-20, Hagan took the first pass of the drive for 17 yards. A few plays later, he caught a nine yard pass to turn second and 20 into a more manageable third and 11. The Raiders would convert the third down and on the ensuing first down, Palmer hit Hagan in the soft spot in the zone and he took it 38 yards to set the Raiders up in first and goal at the five yard line. They scored a touchdown two plays later.
It is often the case that his work deserves kudos. His 52-yard field goal earns him Baller status this week. He had two field goals in the game and really should have been allowed to kick a third or even a fourth. In the first half, the Raiders were set up for what would have been a 58 yard field goal which is well within Seabass range but for some off reason Dennis Allen opted to send out the punt team. Then late in the game, the Raiders were well within field goal range when Carson Palmer threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Janikwoski was primed and ready to give the Raider the lead on a field goal or perhaps add an extra point to a touchdown. He wasn't given that chance. He also had four touchbacks on five kick offs.
The Raiders backup and former starting center came in the game at right guard to fill in for Mike Brisiel who had left with a concussion. His run blocking was outstanding and actually far better than we have seen from Brisiel this season. I had been very critical of Brisiel for his issues run blocking and giving up run stuffs on McFadden. Parsons was very solid in that regard including laying the key block to spring Goodson for his 43-yard run midway through the fourth quarter and helping get the push to get McFadden in the endzone on the final drive. Where Parson still lacks is in pass protection. He gave up a hit on Palmer to force an incompletion and also gave up a sack on Palmer.
He had a fantastic day for the most part. He threw for 353 yards and a touchdown. He also led the Raiders on a brilliant final drive. But in the scheme of the game, the interception was HUGE. The Raiders and Falcons were tied 13-13 late in the fourth quarter. The Raiders were in scoring position at the Atlanta 28 yard line with 2:55 left on the clock. All he had to do was protect the ball and the Raiders could take the lead while milking the clock. But instead of going up by three or even seven points, he threw a dangerous pass on an out route that Asante Samuel picked off and had nothing but open field in front of him for the touchdown. Now the Raiders were down by seven points. He led a touchdown drive to tie it back up but the Raiders should have had the lead, not the tie. Then the Falcons used the remaining time to drive for the game winning score. Tragic hero.