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With the Ballers already accounted for, we now move on to the Busters.
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Probably his worst game since his first half of his rookie season. He just kept moving the Raiders' backward on Sunday. In the first quarter he gave up a tackle for loss on a run. The next Raiders drive he gave up another tackle for loss. Then in the third quarter he had his worst moment. John Abraham got the edge and underneath him to give up a hard hit sack on Palmer to force a fumble. The Falcons recovered the ball and returned it to the two yard line. He added two penalties on a false start and a holding call. The hold negated a 16-yard catch on the Raiders final drive. The result of all this was a loss of 72 yards and a turnover.
As usual, he was outmatched. He is a great zone blocking offensive lineman which is nice when the Raiders are running the ball. But when they are passing, he is a dangerous liability. I had just got finished pointing out that John Abraham had three sacks the last time the Raiders played the Falcons back in 2008 and how he would be chomping at the bit to face off against Big Willie Smith. And we didn't have to wait long for proof. On the Raiders second offensive possession, Abraham beat Smith to sack Palmer. A few drives later, Smith was called for holding to bring back a 21 yard McFadden run.
On a series in the third quarter he was called for holding twice on three plays. The first one brought back a 14-yard Goodson run and two plays later, he was called for holding again but this time it was declined because the 7-yard run was not enough to make up the yards he had lost on his initial holding penalty. The Falcons had just come back from six points down to tie it up at 13-13 and the Raiders were looking to respond. That hope faded quickly thanks to Smith and his grabby hands.
For most of the game, the Raiders defense gameplan was fantastic. But when the Raiders needed a defensive stop the most, Tarver dialed up Chuck Bresnahan and asked for advice. The obvious answer was the fool proof prevent defense. The Raiders had tied the game up with a great final drive and left just :40 seconds on the clock for the Falcons to move the ball into scoring range. That seems like a tall task but thanks to the air tight prevent (you from winning) defense, they walked right up the field, unopposed to get in field goal range where Matt Bryant kicked the game winning 55-yard field goal. The drive went 43 yards in :35 seconds thanks to 5 of 6 passes. The final four catches were taken out of bounds to stop the clock. Like taking candy from something that hands you candy. Game over.
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