Kevin C. Cox
After a list of Ballers that was more on the brief side, we wade into the depths of Busterdom. Where we stare into the abyss and the abyss stares back at us. To read this article from the beginning, click here.
I almost feel like making Michael Huff a Buster for this game. If he weren't playing so well at corner, the team would have put him back at free safety and Giordano wouldn't have been out on the field to get his ass handed to him.
We pick up the action in the second quarter when Giordano was blocked to give up a 20-yard end around to AJ Green. Later in that same drive, he was among a host of Raiders who missed tackles to give up a 31-yard run that set the Bengals up in first and goal at the five yard line. They would score a touchdown three plays later.
The third quarter was a good one for the Raiders but come the fourth quarter, the Bengals decided to play some offense again. On the second play of the fourth quarter, the Bengals broke off a 39 yard run. Giordano way downfield and didn't make contact with the runner until he had already ran 35 yards. He then pushed Giordano few more yards until Branch came over to keep it out of the endzone at the one yard line.
Later in the fourth, following the brawl that had three players ejected, Giordano gave up a 48-yard catch downfield. Then after the Bengals had run the clock out sufficiently, he gave up a touchdown catch for the final score of 34-10.
There were so many times in this game that Bengals knew exactly what was coming. And Knapp apparently thinks the Raiders have Ray Rice and they were playing the Chargers. I can't see any other reason for calling so many third and long plays that end up short of the marker. One particular play allowed a free rusher into the Raiders backfield to tackle Jeremy Stewart for a loss. I watched it so many times and everything about it says the blockers were not confused but rather the play design was at fault. The Bengals didn't do anything special. The rusher just saw a huge opening and ran right through it untouched.
The Raiders first drive of the third quarter stalled in part due to a screen pass the Bengals saw coming a mile away. Mainly because that play in that situation is called like clockwork. The result was a tackle for loss. Two plays later, in third and 14, he called a 7-yard pass. On the next drive he did the EXACT SAME THING. Third and 14 and completed a 7-yard pass. Let's see here, 14 yards needed, 7 yard pass... hmm. I'm no math wiz but I am pretty sure that's exactly half the yards needed for the first down. Luckily, Janikowski was about to give the Raiders some points on a 55-yard field goal.
Oh, and that predictable screen pass in the third quarter? He did it again in the fourth quarter. And you'll never believe what happened. Ok, maybe you will believe it. The Bengals saw it coming and stopped it for a loss... again. The next play, in third and 24, the drive ended. Soon, so did the Raiders chances making a game of it.
I group these guys together because 99% of the pass protection and run blocking issues fall on these five gentlemen.
Brisiel got it started when on the Raiders' first possession he was completely shucked by Geno Atkins to give up a sack. Two plays later, on third down, Brandon Myers gave up a sack to end the series.
Next possession, Brisiel got it started again when he couldn't open the hole Reece was to run through and he was tackled for a two-yard loss. It started a three and out.
Two more three and outs and we were in the second quarter. Veldheer started that drive by giving up a tackle for a loss. A few plays later, Myers chose to double team a defender while leaving a big gap through which the defender stuffed Stewart for a loss. The drive ended when the Raiders went for it on fourth and one and Brisiel, Barnes, and Bergstrom could get no push and Owen Schmitt was stuffed for a loss.
The following possession, Veldheer gave up pressure on Palmer which caused him to make a high pass to Reece which bounced off his hands and was intercepted. The Bengals got into field goal range on one short catch and kicked a field goal before half time.
The third quarter was supposed to be the good one but it could have been even better had they not had to overcome the offensive line. Their second series started when Myers, Veldheer, and Brisiel were ALL beaten and Palmer as crushed between three defenders on a sack. It started another three and out. Barnes added a false start on the next series.
The first play of the first quarter saw Bergstrom allow Manny Lawson to get around him and easily swat the ball out of Palmer's hand for a strip sack. The Bengals recovered and got a field goal out of it to effectively end the Raiders momentary comeback attempt.
The next drive featured the phantom clipping call on Brisiel but what really sealed it was when on third and 24, Barnes stood there flatfooted while the play started and the defender ran past him. He didn't even know the ball had been snapped and turned around like "What happened?" Palmer was flushed from the pocket and the drive ended on an incompletion. I think we can all agree, his false starts are much better than not starting at all. That was a fine way to end another day of terrible line play for the Raiders.
Most of this game you couldn't even tell Kelly was on the field. He gave up a gap for a first down run on third down on the Bengals second touchdown drive. On the next touchdown drive, they went back his way on another third and short and picked up the first down again. Two plays later, they went through him on a 31-yard run to set them up at the 5 yard line. Then in the fourth quarter when the two teams began brawling on the field, he came running off the bench to join the melee and was ejected.
I can't give him a pass this time. And apparently he couldn't do much passing in this game either. He is usually under pressure, this is true. But sometimes the issue is him. He let the boos get to him and it showed in his play. He was afraid to take any real shots downfield and was off target many times on routine short yardage throws. On one three and out in the first quarter, he began with yet another miscommunication with Denarius Moore, then threw behind him where the defender nearly intercepted it, and finished it off when he was sacked because he didn't recognize a safety blitz and call for a blocker to that side.
The final drive of the first half started with decent field position after a missed field goal by the Bengals. Palmer started that drive with a low incompletion. A couple catches had them knocking on the door until Palmer was pressured and he threw high for Marcel Reece who had the ball bounce off his hands where it was intercepted. Then it was the Bengals who would get a field goal instead.
On the Raiders first drive of the third quarter, they had their best field position of the day. They started at the 50 yard line and on the first play, Palmer nearly threw another interception. A few plays later, he was called for delay of game. Then the drive ended when he completed a 7-yard pass on third and 14. Sure, that was the play that was called but come on.
He was able to put together one touchdown drive after that but the Raiders were still down 24-10. He finished with just 146 yards passing which snapped his 16-game streak of 200 yards passing. Which is probably for the best. It was all the more ridiculous with the losing they have been doing.
I acknowledge the play he made on the forced fumble and subsequent saving from it going out of bounds. If only it had actually counted. It was his other mistakes that do count, however. He gave up a 44-yard catch on the Bengals second drive which ended with a touchdown. In the second quarter, he gave up the Bengals third touchdown on a five yard catch. Then just before the half, he gave up the 11-yard catch which put the Bengals just in field goal range and they added three points more.
DHB played 92% of the snaps in this game and had zero catches on four targets. By comparison, Juron Criner played 66% of the snaps and had three catches on five targets. There is something very wrong with that comparison. There is something very wrong with DHB having zero catches on four targets all by itself. His lack of production aside, he made two big mistakes in this game. First, with the Raiders knocking on the door for the first time in this game, he had a ball go right through his hands on third and one. The Raiders went for it on fourth down and didn't convert. A couple drives later, he didn't sustain his block on a screen play and it was stuffed for a loss.
The first half of this game was a travesty on defense. These big run plays are not normal. They are not just the fault of personnel because the plays drawn up require perfection for them to work. When things don't go perfectly, they go downright horribly. One guy gets blocked or is out of position and there is nothing but open field for the back to race 30 plus yards down the field. There were rumors following the game that Dennis Allen had taken over defensive play calling after halftime. There is no proof of this unless you go by the "proof is in the pudding" school of thought. That being the sudden stout defense in the third quarter. An argument could be made that the Bengals were sitting back and just making sure they didn't make any huge mistakes since they were already up 24-0. Either way, if Allen had taken over those duties, he would had to have given them back come the fourth quarter because the defense was right back to a state of disarray at that point. And the rest (the Raiders) is history.