By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 at 8:34 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes and quotes from the Raiders’ 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Coliseum:
– Nice timing for the Raiders to pull out miraculous win on the day they dedicated to Marquis Cooper, their former teammate lost at sea March 1 and presumed dead.
In attendance was Cooper’s widow Rebekah, 3-year-old daughter Delaney and mother Donna.
Fitting that the Raiders would win on a special teams play, with rookie Brandon Myers with a strip and recovery of Andre Caldwell to set up Sebastian Janikowski’s 33-yard field goal as the Raiders scored 10 points in a span of 18 seconds.
“He (Cooper) caused the fumble. That was unbelievable. His wife was here and his daughter was here. Before the game his 4-year-old daughter said she was excited to watch the game. She said, ‘I get to see my daddy play!,’ linebacker Sam Williams said. “Man. I just spread the word and everybody felt the emotions of that. It was special.”
– Wide receiver Louis Murphy scored his first touchdown since a 57-yard, fourth-and-14 strike from JaMarcus Russell in Week 1 against San Diego.
He even got to feel as he did when an earlier score was reversed when a replay official said he didn’t have possession.
“I was like, `Oh, man, here we go again,’ ” Murphy said. “This time, there was no issue about catching the ball, only if Murphy had crossed the goal line. The touchdown stood.
“I was in the slot, and I had a seam up in there,” Murphy said. “If it’s Cover 2 I was supposed to go across the middle. If it’s Cover 1 I just stay up the seam. It was Cover 1 and I stayed up the seam. Bruce (Gradkowski) did a back-shoulder throw, we’ve been practicing it all week, and it was a successful play.”
– The storyline for this win ought to include the defense as much as it does Gradkowski and the improbable final minute. Read why in my Web exclusive column.
– The Raiders had just three penalties for 13 yards, but one looked as if it would be costly when Stanford Routt was called for roughing the passer on third-and-6 when his helmet collided with the helmet of Carson Palmer.
With first and goal at the 3, Thomas Howard dropped Brian Leonard for a 2-yard loss, Leonard ran four yards to the 1, and then Routt atoned for his mistake with an 18-yard sack of a confused Palmer.
“That’s why I didn’t even know how to take him down the second time,” Routt said. “I just took him down as softly as I could.”
Cincinnati came away with no points when Shayne Graham missed a 37-yard field goal.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said the blitz was one of many tendency-breaking calls from defensive coordinator John Marshall.
Asomugha said Marshall has been blitzing more of late, but the Raiders haven’t been getting often enough for the results to be noticed.
– Most noticeable difference between Gradkowski and JaMarcus Russell came on the 29-yard touchdodwn strike to Murphy. Gradkowski went through a progression, started off looking to his right, then came back to find Murphy open on the left.
– Word of the day came from Murphy when asked about Gradkowski _ punctual.
“It was a great approach. This week, he was full of energy,” Murphy said. “He commanded the huddle, and he was punctual, and he was ready for the Bengals . . . he said that we’re gonna continue to try to just move the ball and try to get first downs. Nothing too big, just move the chains. So that’s what we did.”
– Gradkowski doubled the Raiders season total of touchdown passes from two to four. No new receivers involved, however, Murphy and Zach Miller have two each.
Only four completions were two wide receivers, but they were all important. Two went to Chaz Schilens for 41 yards, including a fourth–and-10 16-yard catch on the final drive, the touchdown to Murphy and a 7-yard third down conversion to Darrius Heyward-Bey on a drive that led to Sebastian Janikowski’s 52-yard field goal.
“It seems to me like he has a good grip of the defenses and where to get the ball to,” Schilens said. “We just didn’t beat ourselves, so that’s the most important thing. Beating ourselves with turnovers and things, that’s a quick way to lose a game. So we hung in there. It wasn’t pretty in the beginning but we hung in there, hung in there and pulled through.”
Heyward-Bey was targeted six times and had the one reception. He also had an early drop which brought out the boos.
– Coach Tom Cable drew some boos when he ordered a Shane Lechler punt on fourth-and-1 from the Oakland 47-yard line while trailing 17-10 with 7:50 to play. Justin Fargas had been stuffed on a third-and-1, and Lechler came in and punted the Bengals back to the 10-yard line.
“I felt like we just kind of got out of whack there on the third down play,” Cable said. “The defense, you noticed, we had really gotten some stops even gave up a couple big plays but we were able to stop them after the big plays in the second half so I was pretty confident we’d get a second chance at the end there.”
– After the Gradkowski-to-Murphy touchdown, rookie Brandon Myers delivered the game-winning play on a strip and fumble recover against Andre Caldwell, allowing Janikowski to convert a 33-yard field goal with 12 seconds left.
“I was on the backside and was trying to chase him down. I saw he was going to reverse field and kind had the ball out here to the side a little bit and I tried to make a play and it happened,” Myers said. “It all happened so fast. I didn’t really realize what happened until I got up but it was definitely exciting.”
– So much for Chad Ochocinco talking up a storm against Nnamdi Asomugha.
“He never opened his mouth,” Asomugha said.
Ochocinco, however, did open his mouth with the coaching staff. In the coaches booth next to the press box, a Bengals coach could be heard after an early series talking to “Chad,” telling him to quit waving cornebacks closer and to stay under control.
Ochocinco finished with four catches for 67 yards with just one reception for 12 yards in the fourth quarter. He caught one pass against Asomugha on a dig route, which Asomugha saying afterward he thought Ochocinco had pushed off.
“Nnamdi’s the best in the game. Hands down,” Ochocinco said. “He will always be until someone goes at him on a consistent basis. It seems no one tries to. Not even us.”