Another week, another loss. And not near as exciting a loss as the offensive explosion last week against the Chargers. This week saw the Raiders behind from start to finish against the Cardinals. They pulled to within one point at 14-13 but then the Cardinals pulled away and won 24-13.
The was more intrigue heading into this game than most of the other games the Raiders had played. They were facing a decent, albeit not dominant team in the Cardinals with several former Raiders on their team, including quarterback Carson Palmer. And the Raiders were coming off that big game from last week so there was some hope they could put some points on the board. They didn't really do that.
After the Raiders first drive of the third quarter brought them to down just one point, the rest of the game felt like a slow march of death. It seemed both sides knew how this would go. The Cardinals scored on their next drive, then it was some back and forth for a while, ending with a long sustained drive by the Cardinals to put the game away with a field goal.
And so it goes.
I can easily say I have not seen a player with better abilities to get off blocks than Mack. He is virtually unblockable. The result is run stuff after run stuff. On the Cardinals first drive, he burst into the backfield to stuff the runner for a five-yard loss to set up third and 12 and ultimately the drive stalled. He had another run stuff for no gain on the next drive. And another run stuff for a 2-yard gain on the following drive. His second tackle for loss came on the first drive of the third quarter and set up a third down which the Cardinals didn't convert - on of the few. The Cardinals seemed to focus on either double teaming Mack or running away from him on their next drive and the result was a touchdown. On the next drive, on third and 16, Mack got the edge on Jared Veldheer who was flagged for holding to set up third and 26. The Cardinals would eat up clock on their last drive and add a field goal, but Mack did everything in his power to stop it. He had four run stuffs on that drive alone, one for a loss and one for no gain. He, of course, led the team with 11 tackles (10 solo). Think what this defense could do if Mack had a little help. They might actually stop an opposing offense once in a while.
The ageless one continues to show he is a complete freak of nature. He is disciplined in the run game, and is makes more plays in coverage than anyone on this team. First and foremost, he had an interception in this game - his team-leading second pick of the season - which he returned 27 yards to the 13-yard line and the Raiders tackle on a field goal as a result. He also added four run stuffs, and held his gap to allow another. The Cardinals first touchdown went through him, but he made a decent play to try and stop it. It was a screen to running back Stepfan Tayler and Woodson hit him in open space. Taylor somehow managed to keep his balance and barely keep his knee from touching as he dove for the endzone.
For just the second game of this season, Janikowski had a field goal. In fact he had two. He had missed on from 54 yards out last week and during the week, Sparano decided to make a change at holder. Matt Schaub was holding for this game and Janikowski had another shot from 53 yards out. This time he was true, just as at one time we came to expect from him. That second field goal pulled the Raiders to within one at 14-13. Janikowski was also asked to see to it there was no opportunities for Cardinals return man, Ted Ginn Jr. He did just that by booming all four of his kicks out the back of the endzone.
Brice Butler - He had the big 55-yard catch to set up the Raiders' only touchdown, but he was later called for an illegal block in the back that canceled out a 54-yard return by TJ Carrie. One pretty much cancels out the other.