Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Awesome win!

From Contra Costa Times:
The groundswell of newfound enthusiasm and belief started Nov. 7, according to Raiders coach Norv Turner. It gained momentum during the team's bye week and carried over into the game against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 21.

It reached new heights Sunday night, and there's no telling how far it can take the Raiders after their stunning 25-24 victory over the Denver Broncos.

"It's a great win," Turner said, "but can we build on it?"

Turner seems to think the sky is the limit after Oakland's Mile High comeback against a Denver team that trounced Oakland 31-3 six weeks earlier.

The Broncos started the day 7-3 and tied for the AFC West lead with the Chargers. The Raiders needed a victory just to keep alive their faint playoff hopes after losing seven of their first 10 games. Go figure.

"If a win like this is an isolated example, then that's what it is," Turner said of Sunday's come-from-behind victory against the Broncos. "But what I see, and I've seen it since we got ready to play Carolina, there was a feel after that San Diego game that we have to go and play better."

He was referring to the game the Chargers beat the Raiders 42-14 on Oct. 31. Turner, quarterback Kerry Collins and cornerback Charles Woodson criticized the team's play and issued a challenge for players to stop talking and start producing.

Such lopsided losses were inexcusable, they said. Eight games were more than enough for young, inexperienced or new players to jell and play the kind of football expected of them.

Lo and behold, the Raiders beat the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 7 for their first road victory in almost 23 months. Then came a rematch against the Chargers in which the Raiders came within one play of pulling off an upset before losing 23-17. On Sunday night, the Raiders rallied from 10- and 11-point deficits in beating the Broncos on the road in a nationally televised game.

"I see it as what's happened over the last month more than what happened Sunday," Turner said.

Losing big to the Chargers and Broncos the second time around would have undermined Turner's grand plan, the one he hatched in the spring that promised gradual improvement.

"There's a process you have to go through," Turner said, "and our team has had to go through that. We've gone through it with injuries, through playing a lot of young guys."

Now, rookies such as right offensive tackle Robert Gallery and right guard Jake Grove, second-year wide receivers Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel, second-year linebacker Sam Williams and new quarterback Collins get it, Turner said. The many players who struggled early on have matured into reliable contributors.

Curry caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown Sunday night. Williams made a handful of key defensive plays. Gallery and Grove were part of an offensive line that gave Collins plenty of time to throw in perhaps Collins' best performance as a Raider.

"We've got five games left and let's continue to grow and let's build on this game and everything we've done over the last month," Turner said. "That's not necessarily just in games, that's in how we practice, things we've gotten done on the field, our approach."

The recent spate of encouraging play might not be enough to spur the Raiders to a playoff berth this season, but it has everyone looking forward to each game and seeing how far they can take this thing.

"I wanted it to happen six, seven, eight weeks ago," Turner said. "You get optimistic, you get excited and all the way back to the way we played against Tampa (Bay, a 30-20 victory Sept. 26), you come out of that game and you think you're going to do everything you want to do. The best thing is, those guys feel they've gotten better."

I'm really happy and excited that wee could pull off a win like that. I really hope we can win the rest of our games and let fate deal us a hand and possibly giving us the wild card. I think if we really can get Collins(26-45, 339 yds,4 Td's) and Porter(135 yds.) to get in the game, every game, we could make something of this blistered season.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The rest didn't help us.

From sports.yahoo.com:
San Diego's slow, uninspired start nearly cost the Chargers a share of first place.

And they knew it.

Antonio Gates had eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown, LaDainian Tomlinson ran 37 times for 164 yards and a score, and the Chargers won their fourth straight game, 23-17 over the Raiders on Sunday.

Drew Brees passed for 226 yards and also ran for a touchdown to help the Chargers (7-3) beat the Raiders for the second time in three weeks after their 42-14 win on Halloween.

``This time around, they made it much more interesting and exciting,'' Chargers linebacker Steve Foley said. ``I think their energy was a lot higher. They had the kind of attitude that, 'We're not going to lose this game at home.'

``We made too many mistakes and let them back in the game.''

San Diego figured its rematch with the Raiders would be much closer than the Chargers' romp last month.

San Diego swept the season series for the first time in 12 years and maintained a tie for first place in the AFC West with Denver, which won 34-13 at New Orleans. The Chargers play at Kansas City next week before hosting the Broncos on Dec. 5.

``Good teams don't always play their best, but we found a way to win. That's the bottom line,'' Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. ``It was the kind of game I expected it would be.''

Oakland's Doug Gabriel had a 15-yard TD reception negated with 7:54 remaining after rookie right tackle Robert Gallery was flagged for an illegal block in the back -- another mistake in a season defined by missed opportunities.

Instead, Oakland got a 31-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski and fell short again. The Raiders are 3-7 to start a season for only the fourth time since 1964, and owner Al Davis looked glum standing alone in the locker room watching his dejected players.

Both teams had two weeks to think about this rematch with their bye last weekend.

Kerry Collins, who spent extra time in the film room during Oakland's week off, went 18-for-30 for 227 yards and two touchdowns and didn't throw an interception for the first time in nine games dating to last season with the Giants. It was one of his most efficient games since taking over for injured Rich Gannon in Week 4.

He did miss two long passes to Ronald Curry in the Raiders' final drive.

``I felt like I played better today,'' Collins said. ``I feel like I'm getting more and more comfortable working in this offense. I feel like I'm seeing the field better. I have a better understanding of what we're trying to get done.''

Gates, who scored twice in the teams' first meeting, scored his ninth TD of the year and sixth in the Chargers' last three games on an 11-yard pass from Brees in the first quarter. Gates also drew several penalties against Oakland's improving defense.

Brees ran untouched 6 yards for a score in the second quarter and Tomlinson -- as healthy as he's been in six weeks after dealing with a groin injury -- also had a 6-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter.

Teyo Johnson, inactive for the first eight weeks, pulled the Raiders within 16-14 on his 8-yard reception late in the third quarter. Johnson got his second career touchdown on just the first pass of the year thrown to the former Stanford star, who started five games last season as a rookie.

Curry caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Collins late in the second quarter for Oakland, which snapped a five-game losing streak with a 27-24 win at Carolina on Nov. 7.

Curry, who started out as a scout team quarterback in 2002, threw a pass in the fourth quarter intended for Jerry Porter that was nearly intercepted by Sammy Davis.

The Raiders showed signs of consistency on defense. They kept San Diego out of the end zone from the 1 late in the third quarter -- a stand highlighted by defensive end Tyler Brayton's deflection of a pass headed for a wide-open Gates in the back of the end zone.

The Chargers settled for Nate Kaeding's 19-yard field goal.

The Raiders were held without a first down and to only 16 yards in the first quarter. Oakland finally got a first down 8:35 before halftime when Collins hit Porter for a 17-yard gain, which led to Curry's touchdown.

After a greatly needed rest week, nothing seems to be going our way. We havn't had a win over a team with a winning record all year. We havn't been able to make plays when the count. Our running game is terrible this year, and when the recievers miss an oppurtunity, it kills the whole team. We need to pull it together to finish the season strong or else we will never get better. Go Raiders!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

6 straight, career worst for Davis

From Mercury News, San Jose:
We can now conclude that this is Al Davis' greatest nightmare and worst creation.

His Edsel. His Frankenstein. His agony. His Waterloo?

You saw what he saw during a 42-14 loss Sunday to the San Diego Chargers: a Raiders team that has no victories in its past five games, no hope, no direction, no way out and no chance against Marty Schottenheimer and Drew Brees.

No chance against Schottenheimer and Brees. Now there's a sentence that should chill the soul of any football man.

You saw what Davis saw, a 2-6 team that looks like it might and should never win again. You can imagine what he is thinking right now, with half a season left and a full-scale flop on his hands.

You know what this team is? It's the worst Davis has fielded in his 41-plus years with the Raiders -- from top to bottom, from offense to defense, from coaching staff to executive suite to practice squad.

Davis has never had back-to-back dismal teams. But last year's surly squad went 4-12, and everything Davis and his aides did to fix it has only made things more unwieldy, less stable . . .

It isn't going our way this season. Our last game is no exeption.. We had 22 total rushing yards which is laughable in this league of Professional Football players. We havn't really been able to get anything going this season. When we have , it hasn't lasted long. Our playoff run this year is nearly out of reach and we are barely mid-way through the season. Our defense isn't playing so great either. We had 10 penalties last game which cost us nearly 75 yards. With this combination of missed tackles and bad runs, it is getting our team more and more into the "L" column. Lets finish the second part of the season off with some "W"'s!