Football like no other sport in this country is all about teamwork. No player can do it alone. Even the great quarterbacks of this league require receivers to make the catches and blocker to allow them time to throw the football. In that spirit we honor the teammates of the week.
Lamarr Houston, Vance Walker
These two make it happen for each other. When either is getting double teamed, it frees up the other one. When one gets pressure the other gets the sack. Twice in last week's game did this happen. Once it was Houston getting the pressure to allow Walker to get the sack and then later it was Walker putting on pressure to get Houston the sack. Not having a solid defensive tackle last year is what caused the Raiders pass rush to struggle. With Richard Seymour injured much of the year, he wasn't the threat he once was. The Raiders therefore had the worst pass rush in the league. Walker is younger and healthy and this duo is playing better and better together.
Houston leads the team in sacks (4.0) from the defensive end position and after a slow start to the season, Walker now is tied for third on the team with 2.0 sacks of his own.
They have also teamed up as part of one of the most stout run stopping defensive lines in the league. Over the past four weeks the Raiders are second in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (76.0) and are sixth in the league over the entire season allowing an average of just 89.9 yards rushing per game.
This run defense has been key for the Raiders. They have allowed fewer than two yards per carry three times this season. Those are the three games they have won against the Jaguars, Chargers, and Steelers.
Pat Sims does well too but he is simply more of a large difficult to move object. It is Walker and Houston who must work together most to put pressure on the quarterback as well as shut down the left side of the offense to running backs trying to squeeze through. Last week they each had a run stuff as Steelers' running back Le'Veon Bell ran for just 24 yards on 13 carries (1.8 yards per carry). Houston added 5 solo to his league leading 25 among 4-3 defensive ends. Walker added 4 solos tackles. Both had two run stops and a tackle for loss.
They will face the other Pennsylvania team on Sunday. They must stop one of the best running backs in the league - LeSean McCoy - as well as Nick Foles at quarterback who had thrown for six touchdowns and no interceptions in with two starts. He also rushed for a touchdown.
If the Steelers game is any indication, the Raiders will be putting the primary responsibility for this win on the shoulders of the defense. They have held up well under such pressure and the bulk of that depends on the play of Lamarr Houston and Vance Walker.