What a Differece a Win Makes

Are you kidding me? That second half was a thing of beauty! Talk about what a difference a win makes Raider fans. The Raiders scored on all 4 of their 2nd half possessions, or as Lebron James might say "not 1, not 2, not 3...". That is the way I pictured Dennis Allen's team playing coming into this season. Key turnovers for the D and a methodical approach on offense. It was especially great to see the Raiders play well in the 2nd half after having failed to do so in the first 2 games.

The first half was not the prettiest but they managed to keep up with the Steelers high powered offense. It was great to see Darren Mcfadden let out some frustration on the Raiders second possession by finally breaking free for a 64 yard touchdown to tie the score at 7. It was an especially impressive response by the Raiders considering their first possession had ended in an interception by Carson Palmer.

Unfortunately the Steelers immediately responded with a solid drive that ended in their second TD to one of the most underrated TEs in the NFL Heath Miller. However hold the phones because the Raiders seem to have one of those underrated TEs themselves in Brandon Myers who was big in this game with 4 catches for 55 yards, but I digress. Even after the Steelers went right down the field to take a 14-7 lead the Raiders did not lose their cool. They drove the ball right down to the redzone where Carson threw a beautiful ally-opp type pass to DHB for a 3 yard touchdown to tie the game at 14. The Steelers would add a field goal to take a 17-14 lead into half time.

The Steelers came out ready to embarrass the Raiders with a 9 play 80 yard drive on their first possession of the 2nd half. It was especially bad because there wasn't anybody within 10 yards of the Steelers best player Mike Wallace on that TD. However the Raiders would not go gently into the night. They came back again and simply would not be denied, even after it appeared they were going to be!

After a replay overturned a DMC TD and then a negative yard run by McFadden it was 3rd and goal. Instead of just getting a field goal we were able to take a play out of the back of the playbook by throwing a one yard TD from Carson to little used 3rd TE Richard Gordon. After that play, which was Palmer's second TD pass, the score was 24-21 Steelers.

The next drive it had appeared that even with the extra energy from the Raiders the fates were still not on our side. It felt like that to me because of the way the Steelers scored their next touchdown. Their WR was just reaching the endzone when the Raiders defense forced a fumble. The ball rolled right at two Raider defenders but got passed them, and somehow in the ensuing pile up the ball squirted right back into Antonio Brown's hands. He had been the fumbler to begin with. It even caused one poster in our Game Thread here on S&BP to state "god hates us". Luckily on this day that ended up not being the case as our Raiders would score the final 13 points in the game for our first win of 2012.

Those 13 points all came in the 4th quarter after the Steelers had taken a 31-21 lead. They also all came after Darrius Heyward-Bey was taken out of the game after a helmet to helmet hit that went uncalled by the replacement refs. It was a scary time as DHB lay immobile and likely unconscious on the field for over 10 minutes. The fans were acknowledged by DHB with a thumbs up from the stretcher but he had to be taken to the local hospital for tests. We all wish DHB a safe and healthy recovery from this hit and I believe that can be said from fans of either team. Nobody wants to see an injury like that and now we must be patient to find out the details.

After DHB Carson connected on a 3rd TD pass, this one 17 yards to Denarius Moore. The Raiders would recover a Pittsburgh fumble on the next drive and that would result in Janikowski tying the game at 31 with a 32 yard field goal. Then the defense would come up big one last time by forcing a Steelers punt with just 1:43 left on the clock. The Raiders would proceed to march down the field for a game winning 9 play 49 yard drive that ended with a 43 yard game winner by Jano. The game winning kick was set up by a great catch and run by fan favorite Derek Hagen on a 3rd down. Thanks for coming back home where you belong Mr. Hagen!

The NFL is one weird whacky world. After the first 2 games the Raiders looked disastrous but after this game they look formidable again. I have no idea what to expect come next week and right now I don't even care. What I care about right now is that we got our first win of the season and its time to celebrate. Send whatever extra energy you may have to DHB in hopes of a speedy recovery. The man continues to put it all out there for this team and its fans and deserves as many thoughts and prayers as we can give him. Have fun and be safe everybody, we get to celebrate a 34-31 victory today over one of the toughest teams in the NFL!
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