Defense, special teams let Jags off the hook


News, notes and observations after the Raiders fall to Jacksonville 38-31 and put their AFC West title hopes in serious jeopardy:

— Yes, there were a few play calls and offensive sequences that were peculiar.

Bottom line, however, the Raiders put up 31 points, 476 yards and did something that had been harped on in this space for weeks. They got things done in the passing game in an offensive game of real balance, rather than putting up passing numbers during what was basically an avalanche of rushing yards.

They scored 31, but they gave up 31. In one half of football.

Coach Tom Cable played with the schedule this week to get the Raiders off to a good start. Not sure what he could have done to get them to finish.

A couple of things:

Any defense that wants to ascend to elite status does not give up 31 points in a half.


And yes, the defense wasn’t entirely at fault for the second half collapse given Jacoby Ford’s fumbled kickoff return (heck of a play by Kasim Osgood) and a 65-yard kickoff return to Deji Karim.

“I don’t even know where the guy came from,” Ford said. “I just hit the hole and the ball just kind of came out. I’m probably not going to let that one go for awhile because that was a big momentum swing in the game . . . that’s hard to swallow and it’s on me.”

If you’re an elite defense, you hold the Jaguars to field goals in those instances.

“Just too many big plays defensively,” Cable told reporters after the game. “We gave up too many to get some offensively. And I thought the turnover on the kickoff return was big. So those two things were really the difference in the game. We played our tails off, just too many big plays.”

In all, three of Jacksonville’s scoring plays totaled 152 yards _ a 74-yard run by Rashad Jennings, a 48-yard pass from David Garrard to 49ers castoff Jason HIll and a game-clinching 30-yard TD run to Maurice Jones-Drew.

Although the Jaguars put both backs over 100 yards, Jones-Drew didn’t break free until the fourth quarter and most of Jennings’ damage was confined to the one run.

“We didn’t play the game we needed to play,” cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “We knew they could run the ball better than just about any team in the league, and that was our goal, to stop that, and those big plays are what hurt us. We could have played much better. The offense kept us in the game.”

— The season is starting to take on a 1999 look. Oakland, 6-7, is still in the division race, and finishes with Kansas City, a 31-0 loser to San Diego without quarterback Matt Cassel, out following an appedectomy. The Chiefs play at St. Louis and host Tennessee before playing the Raiders. Cassel could return to face the Rams, but there are no guarantees.

San Diego, a game back of Kansas City at 7-6, hosts the 49ers Thursday night and has has road games at Cincinnati and Denver to finish the season. Three foes with a combined record of 11-29.

In 1999, the Raiders bounced the Chiefs from an AFC West title at Arrowhead Stadium with a 41-38 win in overtime, giving the title to Seattle at 9-7. It isn’t hard to envision the Raiders doing the same thing for San Diego this year.

— With Asomugha having no passes in his direction, it was a rough day for Michael Huff, who was enjoying seeing his role expand of late, mixing play as a corner and a blitzer in with his primary job as a single deep safety. Huff was beaten on Garrard’s 48-yard scoring pass to Hill (on second-and-18, no less) and later was the defender when Garrard hit Mike Sims-Walker with the score that put Jacksonville up 28-24 with 3:44 to play.

“I felt that was the worst third quarter of my career,” Huff said. “I shouldn’t have given up those two touchdowns.”

The pass to Sims-Walker looked as if he might not have gotten both feet in bounds (chances are it would have been inconclusive and still been a touchdown) but Cable had already used his second challenge hoping Rashad Jennings had stepped out of bounds on his 74-yard scoring run.

“Ah, I don’t know,” Huff said. “I still should have made the play.”

— About Jones-Drew’s scoring run . . . of course he goes in and scores the touchdown. Maybe he he stops at the 1-yard line if Jacksonville is up by a score, but not when it’s tied.

Can’t you just see it? Jones-Drew stops at the 1, then the Jaguars have a false start, a sack-fumble, or some other horrific play, and they don’t score at all. In a tie game, if there’s a touchdown to be made, you take it.

— OK, here’s where it got weird for offensive coordinator Hue Jackson (other than Ford’s first-quarter Wildcat snap which lost two yards on third-and-3 from the 6-yard line and forced the Raiders to settle for a 26-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal).

Campbell is out of the game with a stinger, a play in which the Raiders were fortunate that a Terrance Knighton touchdown was nullified on a helmet-to-helmet personal foul on William Middleton.

So Kyle Boller comes in and immediately completes a lucky 20-yard pass to Zach Miller, throwing out of a well under pressure between three defenders. Darren McFadden is stopped for no gain and Boller scrambles for seven yards to the 31, bringing up third-and-3.

Boller throws incomplete to Murphy, then has a second pass intended for Murphy intercepted by Dan Carey. They need to get three yards to the 28 to keep a drive alive, and neither play includes McFadden.

Cable’s thoughts?

“I don’t know,” he said. “That is not for me to decide right now.”

— Brilliant day by McFadden, with touchdown runs of 57 and 36 yards and a 67-yard touchdown reception (nice block by Murphy on that play). He rushed 16 times for 123 yards and caught three passes for 86 more.

McFadden has gained 993 yards this season, should break 1,000 next week against Denver and health permitting, could wind up as the second-best single-season rusher in Raiders history, behind only Marcus Allen’s 1,759 yards in 1985. He’d need 302 yards in his last three games to pass Napoleon Kaufman for second (1,294 yards in 1997). Mark van Eeghen is third with 1,273 yards in 1977.

And McFadden missed two games with a hamstring strain.

— Welcome back Zach Miller. The Raiders tight end had caught just four passes in his last three games, but had four catches for 68 yards against Jacksonville. Likewise Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had two catches for 40 yards, his first since Oct. 31.

Heyward-Bey also let a deep sideline pass go through his hands while under tight coverage _ not a drop, really, but the kind of play a top-tier receiver makes.

“We’re capable of making plays and we showed that today,” Heyward-Bey said. “We’re also out there, blocking, helping Darren when he gets to the second level. We’re blocking DBs so he can get to the end zone. We’re just doing our job.”

— Rolando McClain was inactive with tendinitis that apparently worsened either as a result of playing last week against San Diego. Meanwhile, Kirk Morrison, the man moved aside for McClain, finds his team in first place in the AFC South at 7-5.

Predictably, Morrison wasn’t crowing about it.

“I told you, it wasn’t about playing those boys, it really wasn’t,” Morrison said. “A couple of guys were chirping a little, John (Henderson). You don’t need that. It’s all about coming out there and let’s prove it on the field. We come away with a victory and we’re still on pace to do what we’ve got ot do, win this division.

“Everybody tried all week long to get something out of me, and you’re not going to get it because I’m playing meaningful December football.”


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • mistic1

    # Just Fire Baby Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I will say it again. i like athletic qbs, and it seems that is where the game is headed.

    race is not a factor.


    I will believe it once you prop up a white athletic QB.

    All it has been is Troy Smith, David Garrard, Mike Vick, Cam Newton, Robert Griffith III, the Oregon QB and that bum from Texas A & M.

    Other than Vick, Garrard and possibly Newton, the only other thing they all have in common besides being black is that they stink at QB.

    Jake Locker is the best QB athlete in the draft. Runs a faster forty than Vick. Crickets from you. Why? Alex Smith is more of an athlete than Troy is, nothing from you. Hell Kapernick is half white, and you bypass him as well.

    Tell me how I am off.

    This is such trash. Are you so small minede that you analyze my post looking for white qbs?!?!


    I dont think locker is very good at all, i dont think he is a very good passer. Same with the kid from nevada, i think he along with locker played largely inferior competition.

    Alex smith is a terrible qb.

    Otherwise the guys that i have mentioned are guys i think are good qbs that are pass first guys.

    Only if you could join us in 2010 and let go of your outdated race based out look on life.

    Football is just a game, relax

  • bcz24

    Dakota Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 11:52 am
    If we franchise Michael Bush and then try and trade him we will be the laughingstock of the NFL.
    I think we will be spared that humiliation. You cant franchise a player unto the new league year (February or March) but the current CBA will expire. There will be no option to franchise with no CBA, and from all I have read the players are definitely sticking to eliminating the franchise tag all together. If they owners get 18 games, then the players will almost certainly get this point.

  • Just Fire Baby

    It’s going to be Brady and Matt Ryan in the Super Bowl.

    Two of the slowest QB’s in the league. They don’t scramble, they don’t have mobility, they stand tall in the pocket, know exactly where to throw the ball before it is snapped and have out of this world accuracy.

    That’s what it takes in the NFL. Mobility and scrambling ability is what bad QB’s have to keep them in the league for awhile until that mobility gets eaten up by father time.

  • mistic1

    # The Real MaddenRaider Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I’ve been trying to get Mistic to name one play where Campbell picked up a blitz and hit a hot route, he never did. Maybe he’s searching youtube, I don’t know. I’ve never seen Campbell do it. Mistic also said that the reason we have McFadden block so much is because our line sucks. That’s funny, because we actually had McFadden running various routes yesterday until Campbell started getting eaten up by the blitz. Then suddenly, McFadden’s staying in the backfield and blocking. We know why Mcfadden’s blocking, Mistic. Jax realized that Campbell was useless against the blitz, so they started dialing it up every down.

    Football 101, when your o line cant stop the pass rush keep your back in to block, or tight ends or both. this is called max protection.

    The book has been out on our oline for the last few years, we cant pass protect.

  • alex7

    As for the Vikings,

    when have we beaten a Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, DeAngelo Williams, Brandon Jacobs, Jones-Drew, LT, Shonne-Greene type of team?

    We have a horrendous record against teams with top RBs.

    Jamaal Charles earlier this year was popping 5 yards a carry against us but got hurt and only had 10 carries.
    Steven Jackson maybe counts, but not sure he’s elite anymore.

    Still we have like a 1-10 record against those top backs the last few years.

  • elboocho

    oh by the way TJ,..I talked to Pat Conner, (KNBR)..youre banned again,..thats what you get for your nonsense posts in here…..even though no local tv for Denver game this sunday, Im putting my Gruden banner up anyway….if hes not back next year,..well, sadly, it will be the first year since the 1995 return I will not be a season ticket holder….and of course Im real, so I am pretty sure theres no shot…but I can hope.


    sucking on the KNBR D**k are we narco LOL must be a whiner fan because u sure do sound like a B***h 🙂

  • kokomo

    Did any of you read the Yahoo report this morning on rumors of internal fighting between Cable and Hue?

  • J Hill

    That top organization will bring in a new QB, new HC, new WR, and not think that we’re “on our way”.


    I would say a top org would try and bring in BETTER QB, BETTER head coach, and a BETTER WR.

    I think we could easily get a better HC.

    Sign Vincent Jackson to be the better WR.

    I’m still waiting for someone to say who the better QB will be? Carson Palmer is the only name I’m hearing, but he’s not really looking to good to me right now. And at the price he’d want to come here?

    I think we should stick with what we have a find a QB in the 3rd round or so. I wanted us to draft Skelton this year. Someone like him in the upcoming draft might be our best bet at finding a long term answer.

  • alex7

    I wonder if O-Lines make QBs look good, or if QBs make O-lines look good?

    Early in the year, it seemed our O-Line blocked better when Gradkowski came in and got rid of the ball quickly.

    JC has had issues with sacks and fumbles from his days in Washington, and they usually have solid O-Lines.

  • Just Fire Baby

    Football is just a game, but you insist on telling us about black QB’s only.

    Why don’t you join 2010 and realize that those guys all suck and haven’t and won’t win anything in this league for one reason.

    They aren’t pocket passers, and pocket passers win Super Bowls. Always have, always will.

  • J Hill

    Did you not see the last play? Two dudes on him, and makes a game-winning throw to James Jett


    It was a 5 yd pass man, lol.

    You’re acting like he threw a 40 yd pass with 11 seconds left in the game with no TOs.

  • alex7

    Palmer would only cost about twice what JC would make next year. Looking at Palmer’s career in the toughest D division in football, I’m impressed.

    Even this year, at his lowlight (with no running game and no O-Line) he’s putting up better numbers than Campbell.

    At least he would stretch a defense, know how to read a defense, run a two-minute drill, and not make us a dink-and-dunk team that can’t beat tough Ds.

  • RaiderDebo

    Can’t win them all, but, if they were both the same age, which of those two QBs would you rather see take the field with 1:50 remaining and the Raiders down by 6?

    Which of those two QBs would you rather see start a playoff game?

    Which of those two QBs is going to command the respect of his teammates?

    Which of those two QBs is going to be like another coach on the field?

    Gannon, Gannon, Gannon, Gannon, Gannon, Gannon all day every day over Campbell.

    The only sport Campbell is better, or ever will be better than Gannon: basketball, but only because he is taller lol.
    Six years into his career, who knew that Gannon would be doing the things he did at the end of his career? The Campbell/Gannon debate can’t be resolved today. It’s gonna take several years. I’m still kicking myself for ever believing that Scabkowski and JC were the same guys, or that he might even be better than JC. Scabkowski isn’t even in the same universe as JC. By the way, JR was pretty damn good at directing two-minute drives as well.

  • mistic1

    # alex7 Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I just want the QB to know how to pass the ball and read a defense.

    Brady, Manning, Rivers = non-mobile.
    Your list of guys were very good at passing and also more mobile.

    But the ability to pass separates top-QBs from everyone else, regardless of mobility.

    Or is mobile the same as pocket-awareness? Can’t imagine Plunkett or Montana scrambling much.

    Pocket passing is the obviously the most important attribute to playing qb. Mobility is bonus, or luxury, and it is something that everyone cant offer.

  • Just Fire Baby

    It was a 5 yd pass man, lol.


    It was one of the greatest 5 yard passes ever.

  • alex7

    JHill, is throwing a short, accurate pass into tight coverage not impressive?

    Our guys can’t do that. Look at the slant to Ford and the in to Chaz early in Sunday’s game.

    I think I remember one tight coverage throw by JC this year – to Reese on a TD slant route vs the Seahawks.

    Later on though he threw that slant to a receiver that had it bounce off his sliding knee. Not pretty.

  • alex7

    Debo, it’s six years into STARTING in the NFL that you can look at.

    All it took was Gannon starting for 4 years before he became a Pro-Bowl alternate.

    Campbell is starting year 7 next year.

    No current top QB took that long to turn it around. All impressed by their 4th year starting.

  • J Hill

    Oh no, I didn’t know Jhill was one of the “Tui” guys lol



    I’ve admitted for ever on this blog that I wasn’t a big Gannon fan. Or should I say a big fan of his noodle arm.

    Wasn’t a Tui guy, but I damn sure was happy Kerry Collins was an option. Boy was I wrong about that. Or was it Norvell?

    I also thought Walter was going to save us. Thought we should’ve drafted AP to compliment him.

  • J Hill

    alex7 Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 12:01 pm


    why didn’t we handle the Jets talent-wise last year when they didn’t have Holmes or LT, and Sanchez was a rookie?


    Jamarcus Russell at QB

    Rookie DHB at WR

    Cornell Green and Mario Henderson at OT

    Tom Cable calling plays

  • McRaider5150

    alex7 Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 12:08 pm
    Palmer would only cost about twice what JC would make next year. Looking at Palmer’s career in the toughest D division in football, I’m impressed.

    Even this year, at his lowlight (with no running game and no O-Line) he’s putting up better numbers than Campbell.

    At least he would stretch a defense, know how to read a defense, run a two-minute drill, and not make us a dink-and-dunk team that can’t beat tough Ds.
    Doesn’t he have TO and Ochocinco?
    Palmer’s YPA is 6.4, Campbell’s is 7.4
    Palmer’s rating is 78.1 and Campbell’s 84.4

  • RaiderRockstar

    Eldridge Dickey, Vince Evans, Tee Martin, Aaron Brooks, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell …

    Is Jason Campbell the best African-American Raider QB ever ???

  • J Hill

    alex7 Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I wonder if O-Lines make QBs look good, or if QBs make O-lines look good?


    It can work both ways IMO.

    I’d love to have a guy like, heck ANYONE who can get us wins. If’s he’s available next season, bring him in.

    I’m trying to be realistic here Alex. I don’t see Al Davis having an issue with Jason Campbell’s play this season. I REALLY think this offense could be something special with an addition like Vincent Jackson. Heck I even think Gardowski could run this offense with Jackson added to McFadden, Bush, Ford and Miller.

    I think our Oline could CLEARLY be better at RG and C.

    I think those improvement are realistic. Getting a QB that “can carry us”? I just don’t see that guy out there.

  • RaiderDebo

    J Hill Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 12:14 pm
    alex7 Says:
    December 13th, 2010 at 12:01 pm


    why didn’t we handle the Jets talent-wise last year when they didn’t have Holmes or LT, and Sanchez was a rookie?


    Jamarcus Russell at QB

    Rookie DHB at WR

    Cornell Green and Mario Henderson at OT

    Tom Cable calling plays

    Two things:

    Wouldn’t include Russell here. What the hell was he going to do with the supporting cast you’ve listed ( Cornell Green was hurt and replaced by Khalif Barnes and we also had a rookie Louis Murphy starting)??

    Also, you forgot to mention a defense that gave up 300 yards rushing. Last year’s team was a disaster and there isn’t a QB in football that could have saved us.

  • McRaider5150

    Doesn’t every team want to damn Brady, Manning or River’s??? Fact is, every team isn’t going to get that, some team might get the talent, but never devolope it.

    If you don’t have that Great QB, then you need a good one that you can build on. We can build on Jason C. Another year with Huejac in the same system with the same core player on offense will make a big difference. We should be sick of starter over every year with a new QB and a new system. it hasn’t worked for 7 years.