Three years ago, the Indiananpolis Colts were much better than they are now and the Raiders were considerably worse.
And they escaped with a 21-14 win against a punchless Raiders team en route to a 13-3 finish and championship in the AFC South.
Oakland would go on to lose its last two games as well and finish 5-11.
The last meeting between the two teams has no effect on Sunday’s game at the Coliseum except to remember that that the Colts are a team built for indoors and they’ll be playing a team that looked pretty fast on a soggy field a week ago.
“Offensively we weren’t putting up any points compared to what we’re doing now, and defensively we were able to do what we do best and just press the guys and kind of get up and give them no room,” Asomugha said Friday. “We played them well until that last drive wen they went down and scored.
“It was a lot closer than a lot of people thought, them being a playoff team and we probably at that point had three wins or something. And we’re better now. So we have a lot of confidence going into it.”
The Raiders took a 14-13 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run by Justin Fargas, only to have Peyton Manning orchestrate a 91-yard, 11-play drive that took 5:40 off the clock, ending with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Gonzalez and a two-point conversion run by Joseph Addai.
The play that sticks out to Asomugha on the drive was a third-and-3 pass from Manning to Reggie Wayne for 19 yards and a first down at the Indianapolis 35, with the Indianapolis receiver making a leaping one-handed catch and somehow coming down inbounds.
“I still don’t think he caught it, he says he caught it,” Asomugha said. “I guess he said there was a Youtube debate on whether he caught it or not. He’s got great hands”
The Raiders drove the ball to the Indianapolis 16 before turning the ball over on downs when Josh McCown twice threw incomplete to Jerry Porter.
Manning then expertly killed the clock, throwing an incompletion high into the air as it ticked to zero and Indianapolis avoided the upset at his first and only visit to the Coliseum.
Asked by reporters in Indianapolis if he had found time to wander in to the Black Hole, Manning said dryly, “I didn’t get down there. It wasn’t on my itinerary.”
Manning’s numbers that day were not extraordinary. He was 22 of 39 for 276 yards, a touchdown, an interception by Thomas Howard, and a 76.4 passer rating. Oakland played the Colts fairly straight up, got three sacks all from defensive linemen _ Derrick Burgess, Chris Clemons and Gerard Warren _ and the offense did its part with a 33:46 to 26:14 time of possession advantage.
Sounds like a plan.
Asomugha’s message to his younger teammates is not to get caught up in anything but their job.
“You don’t want to get in there and start getting nervous because it’s Peyton Manning,” Asomugha said. “Cover your receivers. You’re not covering Peyton. If you can dominate the receivers you’ll make it a lot tougher on Peyton.”
Not that Manning didn’t have the Raiders buzzing afterward with his command. Asomugha described Manning as identifying some defenses at the line of scrimmages before the Raiders had committed.
“He’s a guy that sometimes seems like he’s clairvoyant and he knows what’s about to happen before every snap,” Asomugha said.
Friday injury report
P Shane Lechler (hamstring) DT Richard Seymour (hamstring) and RT Langston Walker (concussion) did not participate in practice but are listed as questionable; WR Johnnie Lee Higgins (ankle) was limited and listed as questionable; CB Chris Johnson (groin), TE Zach Miller (foot), WR Nick Miller (ankle), S Mike Mitchell (ribs) and Asomugha (ankle) had full participation and were listed as probable.
Seymour and Walker will be game-time decisions. Walker, Cable said, has completed two of the three stages needed to be cleared to play following a concussion. The Raiders have not yet determined whether Danny Baugher will be activated from the practice squad for insurance even if Lechler plays.
The Raiders and Goodwill Industries will hold a coat drive Sunday with fans asked to bring coats and drop them off in bins located at gates C and D to benefit those served by Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay.
Happy Holidays . . .