Last week, the hardest part about putting together the positives was narrowing down the choices. This week that was not an issue what so ever. It was night and day between the big home win over the Steelers and the disaster in Denver. But that said, I still found some positives.
The theme of this week's positives is effort. The Raiders were beaten up, down, and sideways by the Broncos. And while many of the Raider players were not giving maximum effort (cough-RolandoMcClain-cough), that was not the case for everyone.
The first time we saw some good effort was from Richard Seymour who ended the first quarter by batting a ball at the line of scrimmage not once, not twice, but THRICE (yes, that's a word)... on three consecutive plays!
He single handedly (see what I did there?) kept the Broncos out of the endzone on that drive and then batted the field goal only to see it go through the upright anyway. The field goal was one of those things where you just throw your arms up (see what I did there?) and accept that you did the best you could and it wasn't enough.
Another guy who was out there doing the best he could was Taiwan Jones. Since being demoted from his running back duties and relegated to special teams, he has not hung his head. He has lowered his head and used his tremendous speed to be a damn fine gunner.
His first gunner tackle came in the second quarter and he stuffed the return man for a loss at their seven yard line. The next one came a series later and he stopped the ball carrier for no gain. It was critical that time because Lechler was punting from the back of the endzone and the Raiders needed every bit of his 53 yard punt. Jones and his hustle gave them just that.
In the third quarter, he combined with Travis Goethel to stop the ball carrier for a 12 yard return. The last, he missed the tackle and was called for a facemask. BUT, he was still by far the first one there and therefore the hustle was still there. The team is very happy to have him helping out with this previously dreadful coverage team.
In the midst of this came the most impressive play of the day. On the drive following Jones' first gunner tackle, Peyton Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas and Thomas was off to the races. He was 40 yards downfield and looked to be headed for a sure touchdown. Then he just fumbled without contact.
And who should come out of nowhere to recover it but Lamarr Houston. All 285 pounds of him ahead of every linebacker and all but Tyvon Branch (one of the fastest players on the team).
THAT's hustle. And that fumble recovery is the kind of reward that comes from not giving up on a play. Not jogging it out (cough, cough) when you don't think you have a chance at catching the ball carrier. As you will notice in the clip, right behind Houston was Broncos' tight end, Jacob Tamme, who would likely have recovered, setting the Broncos up in first and goal had Houston not been on his horse.
As you can see here, he catches the ball through the tight coverage and swiping arms of Tracy Porter. And he didn't leave his feet and break stride. He pulled the ball in and kept running. If not for a good play by the safety, Denarius would have been gone for a touchdown. But the way he makes tough catches look routine is positive enough.
And how's this for a positive, the regular refs were back and the Raiders still had just 5 penalties for 41 yards.
If you want a positive that doesn't show up in the highlights of this game, consider that the Raiders now have a bye week to get healthy.
Darrius Heyward-Bey is back at practice and should be ready to play after the bye week. If he had been on the field for this game, he could have taken some pressure off Denarius as well as had a few catches of his own and there would probably have been some more positives to talk about.
Also missing from the lineup were Khalif Barnes at right tackle and Shawntae Spencer at corner. The players forced into the starting lineup-Willie Smith and Michael Huff-contributed greatly to the loss. Both Barnes and Spencer could be back after the bye week.
And on that note, I leave you with this (And you better be whistling along. Jesus knows):
Be sure and get this song stuck in your head (as if you have a choice) and enjoy the rest of your day.