By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, December 28th, 2008 at 5:27 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes and analysis from the Raiders 31-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, courtesy of locker room quite sheets and information relayed by beat writer Steve Corkran:
– The most important player on the Raiders wants Tom Cable as his head coach.
“He brought us from one direction and took us up the ladder,” quarterback JaMarcus Russell said. “He always told us that deep down he thought we were a good football team. By him becoming (head) coach, he guided us in a different way. He talked to us about what needed to be done, we need to make some changes and within that, I think we did.”
– Cable on the chances of being named head coach in 2009: “It’s all I can do. It’s the best I can do. I want to be the head coach of the Raiders but it’s not in my hands. I know I put this team together and it’s going in the right direction, and today proved that.”
– Cable called the win what it was _ a game to build a season highlight film around.
He felt it was crucial to keep the game close early and “match the intensity of a team trying ot make the playoffs for the first 10 minutes.”
That accomplished, the Raiders set about building on last week’s 27-16 win over Houston, instead of tearing it down with another loss.
“We became a team, I thought, last week, and we proved it today,” Cable said. “The thing I’m most proud of is we lost a bunch of guys and we had someone like Michael Bush step up and run for so many yards against a good defense. The biggest thing is we stayed together as a team.”
– Bush, with 177 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, sounded relieved to have shown his worth.
“It’s been a long year for me, so the offensive line did a good job,” Bush said. “Luke (Lawton) did a good job blocking and it just all came together. We wante dto ocme out with a win and we did a good job at it.”
– Regarding the 67-yard touchdown burst that put the Raiders ahead, Bush said, “All I know is I saw my line block a guy on the inside, and my guard Cooper Carlisle, had a good kick out block and I just hit it up in there,” Bush said. “I felt someone grab me, but I said to myself I can’t let someone bring me down with an arm tackle.”
The 177 yards rushing was the seventh best individual total in club history. He gained 129 yards in the fourth quarter, the third-most in the NFL since 1991.
“He turned his shoulders downhill to the defense and he really went after it,” Cable said. “He ran so violently, and that’s what you need.”
– The Bush option pass which went for a big 43-yard pass interference penalty was drawn up in the dirt on the fly, Cable said.
“Had he thrown a little sooner, it would have been a touchdown, but w egot what we needed out of it _ a big chunk,” Cable said.
– Cable on Davis: “We had good conversations. He was fired up for the game today. It was good. He was there. Believe me, he was there.”
The Raiders appeared to put the “woe is me” syndrome behind them in coming back from a 10-point deficit on the road. Cable said it was something the Raiders couldn’t have done two months ago.
“No chance. We didn’t trust each other, didn’t depend on each each other enough to do that,” Cable said.
– Asomugha’s neck injury got worse over night, according to Cable. He said it was hoped he would be ready to play at kickoff. Asomugha has been excused from the final team meeting Monday, while Shane Lechler is expected to attend.
Asomugha and Lechler, prospective unrestricted free agents represented by Tom Condon, had their lockers cleaned out Friday before the team left for Tampa.
– How far down the bench did the Raiders go?
That was Greyson Gunheim, a pracitice squad player for much of the year, sacking Jeff Garcia on the final play of the game. Tommy Kelly didn’t finish the game because of turf toe. Thomas Howard didn’t finish with an ankle sprain. Return specialist Justin Miller was playing cornerback.
Miller held up well other than being in primary coverage on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to Mark Clayton. Miller first chucked Ike Hilliard in the slot, then veered toward Clayton, who broke free down the sideline.
The seven-play, 61-yard drive which closed out the first half with Russell’s 3-yard TD pass to Chaz Schilens was their first successful drive inside of two minutes all season at the close of a half or game.
– Tampa Bay had what coach Jon Gruden termed “an emotional downer” when Carnell “Cadillac” Williams blew out his knee in the second half. He had 78 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns at the time, seemingly all the way back form blowing out his left knee two years earlier.
– Linebacker Derrick Brooks, hobbling around on one leg for much of the second half, was at a loss to explain how the Bucs couldn’t finish not only the game, but finish out a strong season after compiling a 9-3 record.
“I’m really apologizing because I don’t have the words to explain why we wer not able to do it,” Brooks said.
– A fabulous game by Lechler, who had a 47.7 gross punting average, a 41.7 net, and pinned the Bucs inside the 20-yard line three times.
– Linebacker Kirk Morrison, coming off a season-low two tackles against Houston, had a game-high 13 against the Bucs to lead the team in tackles for the fourth straight year.
“It was tough. We knew what we had all week long with Garcia,” Morrison said. “We wanted to keep him in front of us and limit his big plays. They go ta couple on us but we stuck with what we were doing and in the end it came out perfect for us.”
Gruden noted that the Bucs were depleted in terms of depth and affected by Williams’ injury, but said, “That’s no excuse. Everybody in this league has the same plight that we have but you’re the head coach and you have to take responsibility for it.”
– ESPN’s Chris Mortensen included the Raiders as a team executive vice president Bill Parcells is interested in should he void his contract with Miami after one year and $12 million.
If Parcells were to come to the Raiders, he’d be be working for a lot less than that.
– Another reason Cable makes the most sense _ do you really want to go through the process again of a new coaching determing he can’t work with Davis?
Rather than dread it, Cable embraced it, and not in the sort of Joe Bugel-esque fashion which caused his authority to evaporate.
– The Raiders will have the No. 7 pick in the 2009 NFL draft, just ahead of Jacksonville.