Just as the Raiders took no solace in an inspired effort in a 23-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, they aren’t the least bit worried about walking away from a 26-23 overtime victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
“There’s no stealing in the NFL,” Raiders free safety Michael Huff said. “A win is a win. We’ll take it.”
They have no choice, actually. In the end, Huff is right, these are the kind of games the good teams find a way to win, and they don’t ask questions.
With the victory, the Raiders improved to 2-4 and moved within one game of the AFC West lead. The San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos are tied atop the division at 3-3 — the three other AFC West teams were idle Sunday.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he and his players have every right to feel good about beating the Jaguars, even if they aren’t pleased with the route they took to get there.
“We feel good about winning,” Allen said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do in this league, you’re supposed to win games. Am I pleased with the way we played, especially in the first half? Absolutely not. We’ve got to play better.
“Anytime you get an opportunity to win in the National Football League. you can’t take that for granted. So, I’m happy that we won the football game.”
Quarterback Carson Palmer took the Falcons loss especially hard as a result of a pass he attempted that Asante Samuel intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
On Sunday, Palmer said is thrilled by the way the Raiders persevered in the face of adversity and emerged with an improbable victory.
“An ugly win’s better than a pretty loss, I know that,” Palmer said. “I’ve played this game long enough to know that just getting a win, finding any way to get a win… against a desperate team, a team that’s kicking onside kicks with a 14 point lead and changing things up.
“I’m just proud of the way we fought, because it wasn’t pretty. We did not play up to our standard and play the way we’re coached at times. Guys hung in there, the defense played great, got us the ball back. It’s just good to get out of here with a win.”
— The Jaguars entered the game last in the league with three sacks through five games. At times Sunday, their defensive linemen played like The Fearsome Foursome.
The Jaguars sacked Palmer twice, hit him six other times and spent most of the day keeping Palmer on the run.
Palmer and the offensive linemen said the Jaguars did a nice job of incorporating some new wrinkles into their scheme during the bye week. Those are things that didn’t show up on the video the Raiders watched of the Jaguars first five games.
“That was a desperate team,” Palmer said. “They needed a win and they did a lot of uncharacteristic things. They’re coming off a bye, they did some things that they hadn’t previously shown. We kept countering it on the sideline with the coaches and kept slowing them down.
“That front four doesn’t have a ton of sacks, but they get after the quarterback. They’re relentless and we did a good job up front in the second half especially giving us some time to get the ball to the outside and to the receivers.”
In the end, the Raiders offensive line did just enough and gave Palmer just enough time on certain downs for Palmer to get accomplished what he needed.
“We were expecting maybe some unscouted looks, but they really brought it,” Wisniewski said. “They brought the intensity, brought some different looks here and there. But there’s no excuse. We’ve got to be a lot better as an O-line and an offense.”
Allen echoed his offensive linemen when he said, there’s work to be done between now and next Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“They won the battle up front, there’s no question about it,” Allen said of the Jaguars. “We weren’t able to run the ball effectively. We had too much pressure on the quarterback. That will be something that we will have to look at. We have to get that corrected moving forward.”
— The Raiders improved to 18-18 in overtime games all-time. This was their first overtime game this season.
— A 23-yard reception by rookie wide receiver Rod Streater late in the game enabled Allen to send on Sebastian Janikowski for a 64-yard field-goal attempt.
The kick would have given the Raiders the victory in regulation and Janikowski the NFL record for longest field goal made. He is one of four kickers with a 63-yarder.
As it turned out, Janikowski’s kick came up well short, with Aaron Ross catching the ball in the middle of the end zone and returning it past the Jaguars 30.
— You hear all the time about the Raiders getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the officiating. We likely won’t be hearing about that this week.
The Raiders benfitted from several questionable calls, including a pass interference on a fourth-and-10 play that preceeded their game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
There also was a pass interference called on a Jaguars receiver that thwarted a fourth-quarter drive, as well as a few others.
As one Raiders player said, “It felt good to be on the other side of those close calls for a change.”
— This was supposed to be the game the Raiders running game got untracked. After all, the Jaguars were 31st against the run at 163 yards per game and near the bottom at 4.7 yards per carry.
Not to be. Once again. The Raiders amassed 69 yards on 26 carries, with lead back Darren McFadden held to 53 yards on 19 carries (2.8-yard average).
— Outside linebacker credited a second-half turnaround to some fiery words from players in the locker room at halftime.
“There was a lot of cursing, a lot of, ‘We got to come through, we got to make a play. If we don’t make a play, we’re not going to win,’ ” Wheeler said. “Shoot, we came out and somebody said something in the locker room that hit with everybody and we just came out in synch.”
Whatever they said, it worked. The Jaguars managed only 54 yards offense and two field goals in the second half and overtime.
Palmer said offensive coordinator Greg Knapp tore into the offensive players, as well.
“Coach Knapp was not happy at halftime, so to speak,” Palmer said. “We had a great game plan coming in and we weren’t executing those (as) individuals. It starts with me being the quarterback. You got to execute and you got to execute the game plan.
“Coach Knapp let us have it, and we took it as almost a threat. He was all over us and sometimes you need that from your coach. He picked the right time. He doesn’t always do that but he picked the right time and let us have it and we came together and found ways to move the ball and found ways to score in the second half.”
— Once again, the Raiders defense fared well against the run.
On Sunday, they held the Jaguars to 54 yards on 26 carries. Sure, it helped that Jaguars lead back Maurice Jones-Drew left the game after only one series with a foot injury.
Still, the Raiders defense did an impressive job of hitting the ballcarrier soon after he touched the ball and not allowing him to get into the secondary. The Jaguars’ longest run netted 8 yards.
— The Raiders forced only one turnover, but it came at the right time.
On third-and-20 from their own 9-yard line, in overtime, Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts hauled in a short pass from Chad Henne and headed downfield.
Shorts was met by defensive end Lamarr Houston, who separated the ball from Shorts, with cornerback Joselio Hanson falling on the ball.
“That’s the type of effort we’re looking for and those are the types of plays and type of effort we’re looking for, the guys that are going to give that type of effort on a down in and down out basis,” Allen said. “When he continues to play that way, he’ll continue to make plays.”
Houston said it’s just part of sticking with the play and finding a way to become part of the action.
“It’s guys closing to the ball,” Houston said, “and the wide receiver wasn’t paying attention to me and I was just running (to the ball) like I was coached. I ended up making a great play.”