Posted by Bill Soliday, Raiders beat writer for ANG Newspapers
Another opener, another road game, another loss. Some things never change. The Raiders are so like that. It’s going to be argued for a solid week whether this game contained more good or more bad.
I say more bad. And it was not your garden variety bad. It was ominous bad.
Yes, you had to kind of like the Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan factors, but then you knew that was coming. Together, they accounted for 240 of Oakland’s 353 net yards.
Then again, Moss only caught five of 14 balls thrown to him – five of 15 if you count the failed two-point conversion in which he interfered and still didn’t catch the ball.
Bet you weren’t sure whether to like the way Kerry Collins played or whether to hate it. He started like a madman on that opening drive, and then was 3 for his next 15 passes, including the fumble-ception that turned the game New England’s way.
Furthermore, you didn’t know whether to blame Collins or his offensive line for the inconsistency. The blocking ranged from passable to horrid. All I can say about that is it’s a good thing Kansas City’s defense is next up on the schedule.
While you had to kind of like the rushing defense (2.4 yards a pop), you could do nothing but cringe about the pass defense. It still looks like the No. 30 group in the league.
It was a major disappointment, particularly safety Derrick Gibson, who had played so well in the preseason. The way Tom Brady picked on Gibby, he looked desperately in need of a lawyer with a restraining order. I counted six completions in the first half alone for 91 yards and a touchdown. That he kept getting set up by New England’s offensive tactics to be covering quick wide-outs was yet another feather in Bill Belichick’s hoodie.
After Tom Brady was done with Gibson, he went after rookie Stanford Routt with the passion of a hormone-driven teenager. And Nnamdi Asomugha didnt have the best of games either. Stuart Schweigert didn’t pull any major boners, but then he wasn’t in the thick of things like an accomplished free safety tends to be.
That leaves Charles Woodson. And the way Brady left him alone, it proved once and for all that there is no such thing as a franchise player who plays cornerback. You, too, could end up paying $10.57 million to a virtual leper.
All these things are fixable and let’s face it, New England is the class act of the NFL. But the most disturbing facet of the entire exercise had nothing to do with New England. It had to do with an old friend – that bellowing yellow rag. They had more flags flying in their faces than a color guard at the U.N. And it speaks to an age-old Raider problem.
Mike White couldn’t solve this problem, Joe Bugel did no better. It wasn’t one of the miracles Jon Gruden worked. Bill Callahan was tormented by it. And now, Norv, it’s your problem.
Thursday night, the Raiders had 16 (count ’em) penalties for 149 (get an abacus) yards worth of prime Massachusetts real estate. Think about that number and then consider the following:
Let us count the ways:
Ronald Curry holding, nullifying a 7-yard run and giving the Raiders 2nd and 18 instead of 3rd and 1; Kerry Collins delay of game; Alvis Whitted, false start; Jake Grove holding; Ron Stone personal foul flagrant face mask; Collins intentional grounding.
12 men on the field; flagrant face mask against Gibson, although Woodson was actually the guilty party; Stanford Routt personal foul forearm to the head of a receiver; Routt 23-yard interference penalty; Asomugha defensive holding.
Tim Johnson holding on kickoff; Johnson downfield on a punt; unidentified Raider downfield on a punt; Shane Lechler delay of game.
And two other penalties were declined (Robert Gallery holding, Moss interference on conversion). Toss those in and the tally would have been 18 penalties for 169 yards.
Bad as the Raiders have been in this department over the last 10 years, and they have usually either led the league in being penalized or come very close, this one was epic. Only three games out of the last 145 stand out as no less than this one as equal in the penalty department.
The Hall of Shame
Not sure whether this should be mentioned, but I suspect there are members of The Nation who will say it deserves a major billing. Each of the historic four games was played on the road.
Feel free to expound on that one … and I think you know exactly what I’m talking about.