Raiders 2012 season Ballers & Busters

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 season is in the books for the Raiders. And while that may be a book they'd just as well burn, there were some outstanding performers amongst those pages. I recount those performers in my 2012 season Ballers.

This is where we see the good news. Where we give credit to those who should pat themselves on the back if even for a moment because they did everything they could to try and keep the Raiders respectable. In the end, their performances weren't enough to keep the team from finishing 4-12 but it goes a long way to help build a core for next season.

Ballers

Lamarr Houston

He led the team as a 7-time Baller with six of those coming in the final eight games of the season. An astounding five times he was named Top Baller. He was also Honorable Mention twice.

In week four he started to show the kind of hustle we would see most the season when he ran all the way down field to recover a fumble from Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas. In week seven, he finished the game by running down another receiver, this time forcing the game-clinching fumble in overtime. During regulation, he was in the backfield all day and led the team with nine tackles (5 solo). He added a late sack of Chad Henne to stop any chance the Jaguars would make a comeback.

In week nine, he blocked a field goal, recovered it and returned it 34 yards. He also had two tackles for loss in the game and his energy served as a wakeup call for the entire team. His play from week seven to week nine earned him Defensive Player of the Month honors.

He returned to Top Baller status in week 13 against the Browns. He was all over the field in that game. He stopped the Browns first drive when he reached out and took down the running back with one arm and tacked him for a loss. A bit later, he got pressure on Brandon Weeden and hit him as he threw resulting in an interception. He ended another drive when he was held and then got pressure on Weeden again to force an incompletion. Later, Houston batted down a pass at the line and on the same drive, he sacked Weeden for a ten yard loss. The following drive, he laid another hit on Weeden to force an incompletion.

He was Top Baller again in week 14. The Raiders held the Broncos offense to one of their lowest outputs on the season thanks to the efforts of Houston. He sacked Peyton Manning early in the game and later, with the Broncos on the one yard line, he had a tackle for loss to help keep them out of the endzone. He was a Baller again the week 15 win over the Chiefs in which he had several key tackles and constant pressure on Brady Quinn. Then he was Top Baller for the final game of the season against the Chargers when he led the team with 13 tackles. Luke Kuechly of the Panthers was lauded for having 13 tackles the week prior and he is a middle linebacker. Houston is a defensive lineman. That's not supposed to happen. That made three Baller nods in the final four games including two top Ballers. What a tremendous player he has turned into.

Marcel Reece

Despite not seeing his first start until week 9, he was named Top Baller four times this season. Prior to that, he had made honorable mention twice in limited work.

He got his first extensive playing time in week 9 when McFadden went out with a high ankle sprain. That game he led the team in catches (9) and receiving (95 yards). He was Top Baller for a second straight week in week 10 by leading the team in catches (7 for 56 yards) and rushing (13 for 58 yards). He also looked better than Darren McFadden had just about the entire season. He was Top Baller for the third straight week in week 11. In that game he ran for 103 yards and caught four passes for 90 yards. His final catch went for 56 yards and set up a touchdown. Three straight weeks at Top Baller wasn't enough. He was Top Baller again in week 12 for four in a row. In that game he led the team in rushing (74 yards) and was third on the team in receiving (4 catches, 29 yards) for a total of 103 yards from scrimmage. He had 15 carries and broke seven tackles for a 4.9 yards per carry average.

Brandon Myers

This third year tight end shocked the world and showed he had better receiving skills this season than anyone had anticipated. He was second on the team with six Baller nods which included one Top Baller. He led the team in catches (79) and receiving yards (806).

Week one he was the second leading receiver and had the longest reception of the day for 26 yards. Week two he was the Raiders leading receiver with 6 catches for 86 yards. Week three he led the team in receiving again with 4 catches for 55 yards. Those four catches all came on scoring drives including a critical 15-yard catch on third down on the game-winning drive. His one knock was his blocking which at times was pretty awful.

His blocking wasn't all bad all the time, though. In week eight, he laid a nice downfield block to spring Denarius Moore on a 58-yard catch and run. He also laid a key block on a 10-yard McFadden run and had a long catch as well for 29 yards. In week nine he caught two touchdowns catches - the first TD catch was the first of his career -- and in week 11 he added another and led the team with six catches.

As many catches as Myers had all season, none compared to week 13. In that game he tied a Raider franchise record with 14 catches to finish with 130 yards and a touchdown.

Sebastian Janikowski

Seabass was often the Raiders' leading scorer this season and a few times, he was the only scorer. He was named a Baller four times on the season. He converted the most field goals in the NFL this season and didn't miss inside 50 yards.

Week three he kicked the game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired. In week six he had two field goals including a 52 yarder. He kicked four field goals in the Raiders week seven win over the Jaguars including the game-winner in overtime. In week 15, he had every one of the Raiders points on five field goals. He missed his first field goal of the season inside 60 yards in that game. It barely missed from 51 yards out. But he also made field goals from 50 and 57 yards out. With his first field goal in that game, he moved into sole possession of third place all time in field goals of 50 yards or more.

Rod Streater

He came on strong down the stretch, making Baller four times in the final eight games.

His first Baller nod came in week nine when on one play he turned defender to bat down what looked to be a sure interception and then caught a 25-yard touchdown two plays later. He had three more catches in the game as well as earning a pass interference on his defender in the endzone to set up a touchdown from the one yard line.

He had a gorgeous over-the-shoulder 64-yard touchdown grab in the week 13 against the Browns. On the throw, he adjusted perfectly to haul it in for one of the best catches I've seen a Raider player make. He finished the day with three catches for 96 yards.

In week 14, he led the team in receiving with 4 catches for 100 yards. It was his first 100 yard game in the NFL. He had never even had a 100 yard game in college. He was the best receiver on the team again in week 15, catching 6 balls for for 62 yards. That gave him 258 yards receiving in the past three games.

He was a Baller again for the season finale in San Diego by catching 5 passes for 77 yards. He also laid a key block on a Terrelle Pryor rushing touchdown. That made for three Baller nods and an honorable mention in the final five games. Not bad for an undrafted rookie.

Philip Wheeler

The new Raider was the team's leading tackler on the season (109). He was a Baller three times, two of which he was Top Baller.

In a week three win over the Steelers, he led the team with 11 total tackles (7 solo) including 2 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He led the team with 11 tackles again in decisive week 8 win over the Chiefs. He also had a sack, a tackle for loss, and two quarterback hurries.

He was Top Baller again the next time the Raiders played the Chiefs. He finished the game with 7 solo tackles including a tackle for loss, a sack, and 2 quarterback hurries.

Honorable Mention

Miles Burris

The rookie linebacker came on strong to start the season, making Baller three times including Top Baller in the first game of the season. At that time he was a very sure tackler. His tackling would get more suspect as he hit the rookie wall late in the season and had some bad games. But what he did overall was outstanding for a fourth round rookie asked to play nearly every defensive snap on the season.

Week one he led the Raiders with 9 tackles including two tackles for loss. In week seven, he was second on the team in tackles and had his first sack late in the game to help the Raiders take it to overtime where they beat the Jaguars. He was second on the team in tackles again in week 8.

His first big mistakes of the season came in the Buccaneers game in week 9. He was in the linebacking corps that was left in the dust by Doug Martin while he ran for 251 yards. On several of those runs, Burris either missed the tackle, was out of position, or was blocked out of the play. That rookie wall got more solid the following week when he was torched all over the field by Joe Flacco and the Ravens as they put up 55 points on the Raiders. The following week, the Saints had done their homework and they too torched Burris all day long.

Burris came back strong with a surprising 13 combined tackles against the Bengals in week 12. He was back against that wall in week 13, however, and it showed up in some really poor tackling including a missed tackle that resulted in the largest gain on the Browns game-winning drive.

Week 16 he was a Baller although it wasn't a perfect game for him. He missed a couple key tackles including one that would have sacked Cam Newton for a safety. But he also led the team with 7 combined tackles. He added a half sack, QB hurry, pass defended and an interception off a tipped pass.

Betweeners

Carson Palmer

His passing numbers were gaudy to say the least. He was on pace for the best season of his career and had he not gone out with a cracked rib in week 16, he would likely have done it. As it stands, he threw for over 4000 yards (4018) and 22 touchdowns. But from the start, his interceptions were killing the Raiders. He finished with 14 interceptions in 14 full games. He had just three full games in which he didn't throw an interception including nine straight games with at least one interception late in the season.

Little did we know at the time but week two was much like Carson Palmer's season in microcosm. He had big passing numbers (373 yards), a touchdown, and an interception. The touchdown was on a screen pass in which Mike Goodson ran 64 yards. Then there was a late interception and 53 garbage time passing yards at the end.

The following week, he showed up big working the no-huddle offense that shocked the Steelers and everyone else. He didn't have gaudy passing numbers (209) and the Raiders won. He also threw for three touchdowns. It was like a tease though because we would not see another performance like it the rest of the season.

In week six, he had a great day and even a fantastic final drive. But he killed it with a pick six late in the game. The Raiders were already in scoring position so it was at least a 10-point swing that put a dagger in the Raiders hopes of pulling out the win.

In week seven, he essentially took over the playcalling from Knapp in the second half and brought the Raiders back against the Jaguars. In week nine, he threw for a season high 414 yards and 4 touchdowns but It took him 61 passes to do it and he threw another late interception. To his credit, he had brought the Raiders back into the game in the first place and the defense ultimately blew it.

In week 10 he put up big numbers again but he had become too predictable -- opting for the short pass on nearly every attempt. He would stare down his receivers resulting in several tipped passes. Many of those tips were linebackers who stayed at home and watched Palmer's eyes. One of those tips resulted in an interception.

In his return to Cincinnati in week 12, he was clearly rattled by the showering of boos. He threw for just 146 yards and was not taking any shots downfield. The Raiders easily lost.

He was back to big passing numbers again in week 13. He threw 54 passes for 354 yards but they were did in by another late interception. The Browns took the ball on the interception and drove for the game-winning touchdown.

He would go down with a cracked rib early in week 16 and be out for the final game of the season.

Michael Huff

I give him a lot of credit for stepping up from safety to play cornerback. He had some good games and some bad. He was a Baller twice in the first half of the season and a Buster twice as well. He was a Baller twice in the second half of the season and a Buster twice as well. So, yeah, you could say it was pretty evenly matched.

In week six, following the bye week, Huff had turned the corner (so to speak). He was Top Baller against a tough Falcons team. Matt Ryan thought he could pick on Huff at corner but Huff had been practicing getting his head around and the result was an interception and four passes defended. The Raiders nearly beat the Falcons who were undefeated at the time.

In week seven, he didn't give up a catch against the Jaguars. He would come back to earth a couple weeks later against the Buccaneers when his former AFC rival, Vincent Jackson, burned him several times and Huff gave up 83 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. He came back strong in week 12 when he shut down Bengals top receiver, AJ Green.

Peyton Manning didn't care about Huff's progress since the two faced each other in week four. He still went after Huff and again had a great deal of success against him. Huff rebounded against Brady Quinn the next week (as one would expect) and didn't give up a single catch in a shutout victory.

Continue to the BUSTERS

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