Just hours removed from Oakland's first nationally televised game of the season, a 37-21 thrashing at the hands of the rival Denver Broncos, there are plenty of reasons to be disappointed in the Raiders.
Atop the list for many might be the penalties.
Against one of the best teams in the league, everyone knew that Oakland had to limit mistakes and get a little bit lucky. Eight penalties for 77 yards, however, doesn't qualify as "limiting mistakes" — especially when many of those penalties took place early in the game with the result still in question.
For me, however, it had little to do with the penalties.
For others, it might have been the defense's inability to stop Denver at all. In total, the Broncos ran 73 plays for 536 yards — an average of more than seven yards per play. On the night, Peyton Manning incompleted just five of his 37 passes as the defensive backs looked outmatched by some of the league's best receivers. Add into the equation the fact that Oakland failed to get any pressure on Manning all night, and the defense was definitely a let down.
Once again, however, my disappointment was aimed in a completely different direction.
Finally, for others, the disappointment might have rested with the offensive line and their inability to open up anything resembling a hole for Darren McFadden. In fact, I felt bad every time DMC was forced to run the ball, because within a step of taking the hand-off, McFadden was usually staring down two Bronco defenders with no blocker in sight. Of course, missing four of the projected starters up front makes this situation a bit more understandable.
But as the story goes, once again, my disappointment was rooted elsewhere.
So if it wasn't the offense, the defense or the bone-headed mistakes, where could this disappointment possibly come from?
Well, I'm glad you asked, because it comes from none other than Oakland Raider head coach Dennis Allen.
Now, I'm warning you — this disappointment isn't the product of high expectations or on-field schemes. Instead, my frustration with last night's game is rooted 100% in irrationality (probably) and my love for the Raiders as an organization.
As I sat down to watch last night's game, I'll be honest — expectations weren't sky high. I hoped that the Raiders would make things interesting, that Terrelle Pryor would instill in me some confidence that he might be a quarterback for the future and maybe, just maybe, one of my all time favorites — Sebastian Janikowski — would get a shot at kicking a long field goal.
And there, my friends, in point number three, is where my irrational disappointment lies.
With 19-seconds left in the second quarter, Denver kicker Matt Prater knocked home a 41-yard field goal to extend the Denver lead to 27-7.
After a touchback, I joked with my friends that I hoped the Raiders could just get the ball to midfield to give Janikowski a chance to break the all-time longest field goal record — a mark he's currently tied for the lead of.
The reason was simple: it's Monday night, it's at altitude in Denver, and the way the game was going, there wasn't much hope for a comeback.
Sure enough, the Raiders complete two passes in a row — for 14 and 16 yards — and end up exactly at the 50-yard line.
As the camera finds Janikowski warming up on the sideline I could hardly contain my excitement — who knew in a game in which the Raiders were more than two-touchdown underdogs that I could get this excited?
Sure enough, as the second pass is completed, Janikowski grabs his helmet and starts heading for the field as you can almost see a grin starting to develop on his face.
The announcers are sure this is going to happen — and I'm so convinced, I call my dad because I wanted him to hear my excitement as Seabass — one of my all time favorite NFL players — attempts history.
The rumors of Janikowski kicking 70-yarders in warm-ups are swirling through my ahead (right alongside the 77-yard attempt Lane Kiffin sent him out for years ago).
But then, the unthinkable happens.
As Janikowski is preparing to take the field, Dennis Allen never signals for the field goal unit.
Janikowski, looking almost shocked, just stands their — clearly disappointed in his head coach.
Sure enough, the Raiders drop back for a hail mary attempt only to see Pryor get sacked for an 11-yard loss as the clock struck zero.
I simply couldn't believe it.
Here was Janikowski, the team's first round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, playing in his 14th season with the Raiders — tied as the second longest tenured player with one team in the league.
Now, lets remember, those 14 seasons haven't exactly been the most joyous of all time, and yet, Janikowski has remained in Oakland despite it all — even the loss of his good friend Shane Lechler.
Some might argue the kick didn't make much sense — it's unlikely he makes it and the team is down 20 points anyways, why even bother?
On one hand, I agree — for most teams it doesn't make any sense. You need points — and lots of them — so why bother with a low percentage attempt at three of them?
The answer? Because you have Sebastian freaking Janikowski.
The guy tied for the NFL record, the guy who owns other records like: longest overtime field goal, most career field goals over 60 yards, most 50-yard field goals in a game and most 40-yard field goals in a game.
Just yesterday, former coach Jon Gruden joked that he didn't want to pick Sebastian Janikowski in 2000, but in the interview he admitted he was wrong.
Here's a guy in Janikowski who is a fan favorite on a team with little hope of making the playoffs. He has been around for 14 seasons — most of which were painful ones — and he's widely regarded as having one of the best legs in league history. Add into the equation that there for someone to break the record, everything has to line up perfectly.
The team has to have the ball around the 50 at the end of a half, bonus points if the game is being played in Denver.
Check and check.
The odds of this opportunity ever happening again for Janikowski are slim to none, and in a game the Raiders were getting smoked in, at least in my eyes, Dennis Allen and the Raiders owed it to Janikowski to give him a shot.
After the game, when asked about it, Dennis Allen admitted that he hadn't even considered putting Janikowski out there.
Well Dennis, every fan watching the game — and even the announcers — not only considered it, they expected it.
And because of that, welcome to my doghouse.