Yesterday, I put together a list of the 10 worst moments of the last six years of Raider football.
Not one to dwell on the negative and in attempts to send out some good vibes as another season approaches. Here are the 10 best moments of the last six years of Raider football.
10. The 2007 Draft Class – Yes, it is still pretty early for Al Davis and his scouts to take a victory lap on this one. However, if the way some of the members of this class ended 2008 continues in 2009, then we’re looking at one of the best draft classes a team has had in any decade. JaMarcus Russell’s success will likely define this class since he was the number one overall pick. Beyond Russell you’ll find a future Pro Bowl tight in second round pick Zach Miller, in round three the Raiders found emerging left tackle Mario Henderson at #91 and nabbed return ace Johnnie Lee Higgins with the 99th pick of the draft. In round four, Mr. Davis rolled the dice on Louisville running back Michael Bush with the 100th pick. Mix in defensive end Jay Richardson who was drafted in the 5th and fullback Oren O’Neal in the 6th and you’ve got a bright future.
9. Daunte Culepper’s redemption – The Raider organization has long been a landing ground for players cast off by other teams. On September 30th, 2007, Daunte Culepper etched his name into the book of Raiders who got their revenge by taking apart a Miami Dolphin team that cut him the previous year. Of course, bragging about beating a 1-15 team is a little like boasting of having been with J-LO – everybody’s done it. But none the less it was the last great moment of Daunte Culpepper’s career as he accounted for all five Raider touchdowns that day by running for three and throwing two others.
8. Tom Cable hired as head coach – Time will tell on the hiring of Tom Cable, but after a masterful cleanup job of the ’08 mess, he’s earned the respect of Raider Nation. Cable inherited a team that had a nasty Lane Kiffin hangover yet was able to get the locker room behind him as he led the team to three victories in the final six games including raining on the playoff hopes of Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If history is any indicator, then the best omen possible is that on February 4th, 2009, Cable was named head coach of the Oakland Raiders exactly 40 years to the exact date John Madden was introduced as head coach in Oakland.
7. Beating the Cowgirls with a stop on 4th and Goal – One of the best rivalries in all of football takes place on Thanksgiving Day in 2009 as the Raiders travel to Dallas. The last time these two met was on October 2nd, 2005, with the Raiders getting a hard earned 19-13 victory by stopping the Drew Bledsoe led Cowboys on 4th and goal. It was among the rarest of all rarities as both LaMont Jordan and Randy Moss eclipsed the 100-yard barrier on the same afternoon as members of the silver and black. Toss in two sacks by Derrick Burgess, a Charles Woodson interception and a Warren Sapp sack – that netted a 15-yard roughing penalty to boot – and you get one of the better team efforts of the last six years.
6. The AFC West losing steak comes to an end in Arrowhead – Things haven’t been too enjoyable in Kansas City lately. The Raiders were more than happy to add to the misery of Chief fans by snapping a 17-game losing streak against AFC West opponents with a 20-17 victory in Arrowhead on November 25th, 2007. If there was ever a sign of the apocalypse, it was Michael Huff recording the only interception of his thus far disappointing Raider career that day. Combine Huff’s crowing achievement with 139 yards on the ground from Justin Fargas and the Chiefs never stood a chance. Ok, so maybe starting Brodie Croyle was truly the first sign of impeding doom for Chief fans that afternoon, but the Raiders got the monkey off their back and I got drunk off microbrews in honor.
5. Chris Carr goes 100 yards to pay dirt – The 2006 Raiders will forever be remembered as the worst offense in NFL history. Things were so bad that when the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers came to the East Bay on October 29th, 2006, it seemed impossible that the Raiders could win without scoring a single offensive touchdown. Proof that miracles are not confined to 34th street, the Raider defense picked off Ben Roethlisberger four times, returning two for touchdowns. Nnamdi Asomugha took one back 24 yards in the first quarter and Chris Carr went the length of the field in the fourth quarter to seal a 20-13 win.
4. Beathing the Chargers – This is just sad. It has been nearly six years, five head coaches and five different starting quarterbacks since last time the Raiders beat the Chargers. One can hardly even call it a rivalry anymore – if it ever really was one to begin with. You’ve got to roll back the calendar to September 28th, 2003, to find the last victory over the Dolts. It was one of the last great games for anybody who happened to own any Raiders for fantasy football. Rich Gannon led a second half comback as he threw for 348 yards on the day and 3 touchdowns. Both Tim Brown and Jerry Rice eclipsed the 100-yard barrier while Sebastian Janikowski booted a 46-yarder to win the game. Ahhh, memories…
3. Sebastian Janikowski Stands alone – When the Raiders selected Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th pick in the 2000 draft, the collective football world laughed that an NFL team would select a kicker in the first round. While Seabass has had his issues both on and off the field, he accomplished a remarkable feat in 2008. During the fourth quarter of a boring 17-6 loss at home to the Carolina Panthers, Janikowski hit a 45-yard field goal. The kick would push Sebastian past former Raider great George Blanda as the highest scoring Raider in franchise history.
2. Ronald Curry’s one handed grab and Langston Walker’s best block ever – Before the Raiders embarked on their odyssey of dropping 17 straight to AFC West foes, they won a dramatic game in Denver. It was a Sunday Night game that was straight out of the NFL Films library. Cue John Facenda: On November 28th, 2004, as the snow blanketed the mile high field in Denver, it would be the Raiders who would emerge victorious from the depths of the blizzard. Cue The Autumn Wind: Trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter, Kerry Collins would march the Raiders through the blinding snow as he pillaged the Bronco secondary for two of his four touchdown passes that stormy night. The first of his two fourth quarter TDs was a moment that will forever live in Raider lore. Collins fired a bullet to the back of the Denver end zone and found a leaping Ronald Curry who managed to pull in the frozen pigskin with one hand. Collins again led the Raiders down field, this time hitting Jerry Porter for his third receiving touchdown of the night. Later, with the game on the line, the Broncos’ Jason Elam lined up a kick that would have been the game winner. As the ball left his feet, it was met by the mammoth 6’8” frame of Langston Walker who emerged from the pile to block the kick. Game over! Raiders win by the score of 25-24!
1. Michael Bush runs Chucky out of the NFL – On the last Sunday of the 2008 regular season, the Oakland Raiders traveled to Tampa Bay to take on the Jon Gruden led Buccaneers. Tampa was in the driver’s seat. Win and they were in the playoffs. All they had to do was beat a downtrodden Raider team that had nothing to play for. Little did Gruden know, but his years of basking in the karma that brought him to Tampa and gave him a Super Bowl ring with Tony Dungy’s roster was about to return with a vengeance. Chucky, do you know what nemesis means? A righteous infliction of retribution personified, in this case, by a running back out to prove every team wrong that passed on him in the draft because of a broken leg. Michael Bush abused the defense of lame duck coordinator Monte Kiffin with a 177-yard and two touchdown effort, the last of which was a back breaking 67-yard scamper to the end zone that signaled the end of the Chucky era and may one day be seen as the demise of Tampa Bay. Cable got the team to dig deep and in the wake of the aftermath Jon Gruden was fired, Kiffin was given a rude farewell as he was off to coach with his son in Tennessee and the man who ended Rich Gannon’s career, Derrick Brooks, could only hobble after Bush. Brooks was cut at the season’s end and Al Davis, despite not being present at the game, had the last laugh as he had a hand in getting the entire Kiffin family out of the NFL in 2008. Raider fans had their best night of sleep in six years!
Yes, we’ve suffered though the six worst years in franchise history. After 2006, I felt that the worst was behind us. Three years later, I’m still hoping the best is yet to come.
Tom Cable proved he deserves the job, now its time for him to deliver on his promise of getting our team on the field in January.
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Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Ben Roethlisberger Brodie Croyle Charles Woodson Chris Carr Daunte Culepepper Derrick Brooks Derrick Burgess Drew Bledsoe George Blanda JaMarcus Russell Jason Elam Jay Richardson Jerry Porter Jerry Rice John Madden Johnnie Lee Higgins Jon Gruden Justin Fargas Kerry Collins Lamont Jordan Lane Kiffin Langston Walker Mario Henderson Michael Bush Michael Huff Oren O'Neal Randy Moss Rich Gannon Ron Curry Sebastian Janikowski Tim Brown Tony Dungy Warren Sapp Zach Miller