By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, December 19th, 2010 at 7:45 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes, quotes and observations from the Raiders’ 39-23 win over the Denver Broncos Sunday at the Coliseum:
— After turning the ball over three times and finding themselves in a 17-17 tie with an inferior Denver team, coach Tom Cable thought it was no time for calm, rational analysis.
“There’s no reason to be calm or rational at that point,’’ Cable said. “That’s just not us. That’s not who we’ve become or what we’re trying to get to. And ultimately if we can get some help and have a chance at this thing at the end, we’ve got to be better than that.
“I’m proud of the way we responded in the second half, in all three phases. I thought our team really came forward and showed up.”
Oakland outscored Denver 22-6, outgained them 243-73, crushed the Broncos running game, giving up 17 yards on 15 carries, and even got a safety when Quentin Groves dumped Correll Buckhalter in the end zone one play after Lance Ball was stuffed for a 4-yard loss by Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston.
The Raiders finished the game with 11 tackles for losses.
What exactly did Cable say to spur this kind of play?
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was in the training room.
“I knew he was going crazy,’’ Asomugha said. “I just didn’t know what he was saying.’’
“You don’t want to know,’’ quarterback Jason Campbell said.
“We got chewed out at halftime,’’ Kelly said. “We let them stay in the game. He was like, `Man, don’t give nobody no hope. Let’s not come in here after the game and talk about how we missed this chance. He wanted us to go out there in the second half and step on their necks.’’
Asked to be more specific with regard to Cable’s halftime talk, Kelly said they were told, “Get off your ass and play. Take advantage of what you got. You know this team. They’re going to give you an opportunity to put them away. Put them away. Step on their throat. He just kept saying it over and over again. Step on their throat.’’
— Cable is right in that the Raiders can’t afford a half of football against Indianapolis like they had Sunday against the Broncos.
But the good sign is this _ the Raiders went into a game as a prohibitive favorite and flexed their muscle. In past years, they’ve been the 3-10 team coming in. After seven years, they’ve upgraded to at least the point where they put 3-10 teams away.
— The AFC West land rush continues.
After years of watching the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Priest Holmes and the Denver running back of the month run them over while doing little damage on the ground, the Raiders have stunningly turned the tables.
The Raiders rushed for 264 yards on 41 carries against the Broncos, and got off to a rousing start when Jacoby Ford exploded for a 71-yard touchdown run on the first snap of the game on an end-around.
In five division games, not coincidentally all wins, Oakland has 1,066 yards on 201 carries, averaged 5.3 yards per attempt and scored 12 touchdowns. The opponents have gained 397 yards on 118 carries, averaged 3.4 per try and scored two touchdowns.
Running back Darren McFadden, with 119 yards on 20 carries, is up to 1,112 yards rushing and he’s missed two games. He added four catches for 39 yards, with the highlight coming when he snuck uncovered out of the backfield and raced 21 yards to the 1-yard line.
Even before Campbell threw the pass, a Denver assisted saw McFadden all by his lonesome and could clearly be heard from the press box saying, “Oh, (bleep)!, Oh, (bleep)!, Oh, (bleep)!, Oh, (bleep)!’’ as the play unfolded.
Bush took it in from the 1-yard line a play later, his second touchdown of the game.
McFadden had 856 yards rushing and a single 100-yard game in his first two seasons. This year he has 1,112 yards and six games of 100-yards or more. The No. 4 overall pick in 2008, McFadden thought he’d get to 1,000 yards sooner but he’ll take it.
“It’s a surprise to me but it’s well worth the wait,’’ McFadden said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to do that. I have to commend the offensive line for doing a great job all year and the receivers are doing a great job of blocking.’’
With two games to play, McFadden is 182 yards shy of Napoleon Kaufman’s 1,294 yards in 1997 as the second best rushing season in NFL history. Marcus Allen holds the team record with 1,759 yards in 1985.
McFadden is the 10th different running back to have 1,000 yards rushing as a Raider and the first since Lamont Jordan (1,025 yards in 2005). There have been 14 1,000-yard seasons by Raiders running backs.
— Concerns for next week’s game against Indianapolis include the ankle of cornerback Asomugha, hamstring issues for Richard Seymour and Shane Lechler and a concussion for Langston Walker.
Asomugha was in and out of the game and said his ankle “just wasn’t holding up’’ although he did enter the game in the third quarter and promptly make a nice solo stop on quarterback Tim Tebow short of a first down.
“My ankle has been a pain,’’ Asomugha said. “I come out and it feels like it’s good, feels like it’s fine. Then you make a couple of movements and it reverts back.’’
Seymour did not finish the game, and usually available to talk afterward, wasn’t around for comment.
Lechler had to leave the game in the first half, with Sebastian Janikowski coming in and lining a 33-yard punt to Syd’Quan Thompson that was fumbled and recovered by Hiram Eugene, a play which eventually turned into a 49-yard field goal for Janikowski to tie the score.
Campbell left briefly after being hit and having his stinger act up but returned.
In the second half, Campbell was 8 of 12 for 180 yards and a 73-yard touchdown on a circle route to fullback Marcel Reece.
Walker needed to be helped from the field, with Mario Henderson replacing him at right tackle.
– Linebacker Rolando McClain started at middle linebacker after missing the Jacksonville game and the last two weeks of practice with a soft tissue problem in his left foot and played well with seven tackles and one tackle for loss.
Defensive end Matt Shaughnesy had one of the best games of his young career with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss two quarterback hits.
—The touchdown pass to Reece came on a simple circle route out of the backfield, with Campbell crediting the fullback for making a good bluff before getting into his route.
What ordinarily would be a 7- or 8-yard gain became much more when Reece found wide open speaces. The only defender with a good shot was safety David Bruton, and Reece went around him as if he were a cardboard cutout.
“I don’t think we have any plays designed to be a 7- or 8-yard play. We’re trying to score on every play,’’ Reece said with a laugh. Jason threw me a great ball. The line picked up everybody. Darren got a good cut on the play. I just tried to finish off the play and get to the black hole.’’
— Denver, a pass-first team under Josh McDaniels, has attempted to balance things out under Eric Studesville and went even more in that direction in Tebow’s starting debut.
Tebow surprised the Raiders with a 40-yard touchdown run up the middle to tie the score 7-7. He wasn’t trusted with a wide open passing game, completing 8 of 16 passes for 133 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd.
There was an element of luck on that play, as Stanford Routt let the ball go right through his hands to Lloyd, who was originally ruled out of bounds. However, Lloyd caught the ball, with his backside on the ground inbounds, and the touchdown was awarded to Denver.
“He’s a better play than I thought he was,’’ Kelly said. “I think he caught some people off guard with that run and then we kind of settled down.’’
Groves kept a running conversation with Tebow going regarding the fates of his school (Auburn) and Tebow’s school (Florida) in the SEC.
“It’s all friendly fun,’’ Groves said. “I asked him what bowl game y’all going to? I told him we were going to the national championship . . . people said he couldn’t be an NFL quarterback but he made some good throws. He had some good runs. He does what suits him best.’’
Groves said his safety came at least partially as a result of the Raiders realizing the Broncos had no intention of letting Tebow throw out of his own end zone. Kelly said the Broncos linemen were in a stance that tipped run.
– In-game posts became impossible when I lost all Internet connection for the fourth quarter. Managed to get a line going through my cell phone following the game.