Greetings, Raider Nation! What a game that was, as the Raiders put the Denver Broncos out of their misery with a 27-14 victory at the Oakland Coliseum. If that’s the last football game played there, it was a memorable and magnificent one.
So, who stood out and who should step down?
1) Dwayne Harris
Harris has been a stalwart return man all year, and we’ve seen him make some highly intelligent plays on special teams this season. However, none were as impressive as the one he had tonight. After the Broncos punted on their first possession, Denver attempted to down the ball inside the Raiders one yard line. However, they did not do so, and Harris picked up the ball and ran it all the way back for the game’s opening score. He got the crowd fully into the game and his returns helped Oakland maintain advantageous field position all night long.
2) Doug Martin
This may have been Martin’s best game as a Raider, and this performance is the sort of thing Jon Gruden was looking for when Martin was signed. The Muscle Hamster ran for 107 yards on only 21 carries and he brutalized the Denver defense, running defenders over on a regular basis. He also had a catch for nine yards and was a huge part of Oakland being able to sustain drives.
3) Raiders secondary
The Broncos offense didn’t have a whole lot of success going down the field. They didn’t have a ton of success on short or medium routes either. Part of that was the terrible field conditions, but a lot of it was because the Raider secondary was tough as nails tonight. In the last two Denver possessions, the Raiders ended them both by intercepting Case Keenum, and the safeties and corners were stiff against the run. Special mention of Karl Joseph inasmuch as he hit people extremely hard this evening and was the only Raider to sack Keenum.
4) Brandon Parker
If there’s one Raider who has taken, and deserved, a lot of criticism from Raider fans and media this year, it’s rookie tackle Parker. But tonight he was a man, shutting down Bradley Chubb who has become one of the best young DEs in football. Parker made Chubb look like an undrafted chump. Could he be coming into his own as a starting-caliber player?
1) Vance Joseph
It’s one thing to get outcoached. That happens to even the best coaches sometimes. But it is another thing to have your team completely give up and quit playing for you, each other, their city, or the logo on their helmet. That’s what has happened to the Broncos under Joseph’s watch. Tonight the Broncos were an absolute mess, woefully underprepared and gave minimal effort. That is completely on Vance Joseph, a man who was a bad defensive coordinator before being upjumped to head coach for no reason. Joseph should be fired tonight, and frankly John Elway should too.
I’ve heard a rumor that Marvin Lewis wants Joseph on the Bengals staff, and I have to say that Lewis, Hue Jackson and Vance Joseph would be the most unintentionally hilarious coaching staff of all time. Hook that Hard Knocks up to my veins, bro.
2) Case Keenum
When John Elway signed Keenum to a big offseason deal everyone was like “uhhhh....okay?” because this right here, what we saw tonight, THIS is the real Case Keenum. He is not a guy who will go out and win you games on his own, put the team on his back and will them to victory. He is a guy who plays just about as well as the rest of his team does. When the defense and receivers play great, so does he. And when the team gives up, he throws for just over 200 yards and two back-breaking interceptions. The entire game was garbage time for the Broncos and Keenum still threw for 5.5 YPA and a passer rating of 72.1. Just a dismal performance when the team needed a hero.
3) The City of Oakland
Oakland and losing sports teams to other cities, name a more iconic duo. The Warriors will be on the other side of the Bay soon, and the Raiders have been rendered homeless because of a stupid and frivolous lawsuit that city brought upon themselves through a series of bad decisions and fatal miscalculations. The Coliseum is, by any measure, a terrible place to play, and yet tens of thousands of people come out to support the Raiders when practically nobody comes out to support the A’s even when they are winning. And so the city, in their infinite wisdom, prefers baseball over football. There is no environment in American sports quite like the Black Hole, like Oakland on a football gameday, and the city has flushed it down the toilet because reasons, leaving fans high and dry. It’s a pathetic display all around, made doubly painful when you saw fans tonight, long after the game was over, still faithfully in their seats to say goodbye to the team and the stadium. The Coliseum is dead, long live the Coliseum.
4) The Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers lost again on Sunday, this time at the Saints, in one of the worst officiated games I’ve ever seen that didn’t involve the Raiders. Now the Steelers know what it’s like to be on our side of the fence. They choked the Charger game away, got trounced by the Raiders (even though the score was close, Oakland dominated that game start to finish), and sandwiched a win over the Patriots between that and fumbling away a game at New Orleans. Now, they have to rely on the Browns to beat the Ravens if they want to make the playoffs.
Let’s be clear here. The Browns, right now, are the best team in the AFC North. The Steelers have no business making the playoffs this year because they suck. Mike Tomlin is the most overrated coach in the NFL and Roethlisberger is the most overrated quarterback. The only good parts of the team are their pass rush and receivers. The Browns and Ravens are better in nearly every facet of the game and I, for one, laugh heartily at the misfortune of the Steelers. May they be terrible for the next 50 years. The Browns will win that division next year and will absolutely dominate it for the next decade and there is nothing the Steelers can do to stop it, and I couldn’t be happier about it.