By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, November 25th, 2007 at 8:09 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes and observations from Sunday’s 20-17 win by the Raiders over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium:
– Lane Kiffin said often he never bought into the AFC West streak, and he didn’t want his players to believe it, either. Just pretend as if it doesn’t exist and prepare for the next game.
Well, not exactly. Apparently Kiffin reminded the Raiders of their 17-game losing streak often.
“You can stop writing about it and Kiff can stop reading it and reading it to us,” defensive tackle Warren Sapp said.
– The way Herm Edwards managed the end of the game for the Chiefs made Art Shell look like Bill Belichick.
After the Raiders took a 20-17 lead, they did what they almost always do _ allowed Kansas City to drive right back down the field and deep into scoring territory. A third-and-5 pass from Brodie Croyle to Eddie Kennison got just four yards, bringing up fourth-and-1.
The Chiefs called time out. Then they decided to challenge the ruling on the spot, believing they may have had a first down. If they had made the challenge immediately, they would have lost a time out if they lost the challenge, and still had all three if they were right.
When officials upheld the original spot, the Chiefs were out a pair of time outs and had only one left.
Then the Chiefs decided to go for the first down on fourth-and-1 and didn’t get it when Kolby Smith was stopped for a 1-yard loss by Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard.
Kansas City rushed for 163 yards and Smith had 150 on 31 carries in his first start, but it was a risky call. Too risky, Sapp believed. Referring to the two big pass plays Kiffin called on Oakland’s scoring drive which led to the leading score, juxtaposed with Edwards’ work in the final moments, Sapp said, “Kiff goes a little unconvetional and Herm hands us the game. That’s wrong. You kick that ball, you tie the game and you’re at home and live to fight another day. You tie that game, kick it off, line it up and play defense and stretch the game a little longer.”
– Kiffin noted that Dave Raymer, the Chiefs kicker, had missed a 30-yard field goal a short time before.
“I don’t know that I was surprised,” Kiffin said. “I guess you’ve got to keep in mind they had just missed a field goal pretty bad, so maybe it had to do with the footing or the kicker.”
– If Edwards had called something other than the base running play on the fourth-and-1, he likely would have hit paydirt. Rob Ryan had sent in a goal line defense, something the Raiders rarely do at the 23-yard-line in short yardage.
Kirk Morrison said he thought back to Dick Vermeil’s decision to send Larry Johnson in from the 1-yard line with time running out in his rookie year and figured it would be a run.
“You just think back to all the times that we played the Kansas City Chiefs. For them, passing in that situation would be copping out,” Morrison said. “That’s just not their mentality.”
– Raymer’s field goal preceeded an amazing three-play sequence unlike anything the Raiders have shown in recent years.
On first down, Daunte Culpepper hit Zach Miller with a 28-yard gain. Miller, the rookie from Arizona State, has been predominatly a block-and-release receiver. The depth of the route caught the Chiefs flat-footed.
“It looked like one of our other plays and I just took it deep, and it worked just like it did in practice,” Miller said. “We knew it would be there all week and we called it at a perfect time. They were all up on the ball, and it turned out pretty awesome.”
On the next play, Culpepper waited for Porter to get between zones and led him perfectly for a 35-yard strike down the right sideline to the 14-yard line. Fargas ran it in from the 14 on the next play.
The team that has numerous eight-plus play drives end in punts had scored on three perfectly executed plays.
“We talked about it with our players. It’s going to be in the fourth quarter, it’s going to be like all these other games and we’re going to go for it,” Kiffin said. “We’re not going to wait for something to happen, we’re not going to wait for them to screw it up. We’re going to go for it. We’re going to attack, and I thought we did that, especially in the second half.”
– Kiffin talked during the week about how eager he was to face the same team for the second time in a season. He said Sunday night some plays, the pass to Miller in particular, were adjustments based on the prevous Chiefs game.
“We did a lot today that counteracted what we had done last time and what we’ve been able to see with matchups,” Kiffin said.
– Whatever it is Kiffin was drawing up, what made everything possible was the Raiders best offensive line play of the season. It wasn’t perfect, but considering they were playing in Arrowhead against a front seven that dominated them in Oakland, it was better than the Week 4 domination against an extremely weak Miami defense.
Paul McQuistan was called for a false start and a hold but held up much better than in Tennesee or Minnesota. The decision to play him at right tackle and leave Robert Gallery at left tackle was a wise one in terms of continuity.
On the three-play drive which gave the Raiders the lead, Culpepper had all the time he needed to complete the passes to Miller and Porter. No Chiefs were anywhere near the pocket.
– He got some help as Kiffin tried to limit one-on-one situations, but Barry Sims effectively controlled Allen, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate, as few linemen have this season.
– Fargas’ 139-yard effort was the first time the Raiders put a back over 100 yards in Arrowhead since Nov. 5, 1978. Art Whittington gained 134 yards that day.
– Michael Huff got his first interception in the 27th game of his career, correctly reading a Brodie Croyle sideline pass for impressive rookie Dwayne Bowe.
“That took a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Huff said. “They were throwing it to the outside receiver, Tony (Gonzalez) stayed in and blocked and I just took a chance and jumped it. I just made a play.”
– In case you were wondering, yes, LaMont Jordan’s 5-yard touchdown run was supposed to be a pass.
“You liked that, huh?,” Kiffin said. “Should I make myself look good? No, that was a halfback pass. He was supposed to throw it away if it’s covered. It was a great play by him. And our guys still fighting on the backside, playing until the whistle. It was a really good play by LaMont. Yeah, it was a halfback pass.”
Jordan has been with the Raiders since 2005 and had never scored a rushing touchdown on the road. The first time he gets one, it comes on a pass play.
Jordan apparently moved back above Dominic Rhodes as the second back behind Fargas.
– The Raiders twice had possessions on the Chiefs side of the field _ Huff’s interception gave them the ball at the 26 and a 29-yard Dustin Colquitt punt let them open at the 48 _ and wound up with field goals both times.
More maddening, both times the Chiefs immediately came back and scored, once on a touchdown and once on a field goal, and took a 10-6 lead into the half.
– Smith is the eighth running back to gain 100 or more yards on the Raiders this season, joining Travis Henry, Ronnie Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, LenDale White, Ron Dayne and Chester Taylor.
– Stuart Schweigert missed the first game of his career after suiting up for 58 consecutive games and was replaced in the starting lineup by Hiram Eugene, although Eugene came out on occasion with Chris Carr playing deep safety in some packages.
– Supported with good protection and a terrific running game, Culpepper completed 68.1 percent of his passes (15 of 22) for 170 yards. He had one pass dropped _ one which would have been a first down by Curry _ and another to Porter was ruled out of bounds and looked as if it could have been ruled complete.
– As to the report last week that JaMarcus Russell would start Dec. 2 against the Broncos, Kiffin said Culpepper would start against Denver.
– Expect the Raiders to keep moving forward with the plan to get Russell in a game, although if they look as smooth and error free under Culpepper as they did against Kansas City, it might make Kiffin more hesitant to do it as soon as Sunday.
Which, of course, is a good problem to have.
– Jarrod Cooper went down with a knee injury in the first half and Kiffin indicated he is probably out for the season. The Raiders played most of the game without their two most valuable core special teams players, Cooper and Isaiah Ekejiuba, who was inactive with a foot injury.
– Janikowski had his first touchback in two weeks and converted both field goal attempts, including a 54-yard bomb. He has made 17 of his last 18 attempts.