The Oakland Raiders needed only 13 points to defeat a Philadelphia Eagles team that swooped into the Black Hole averaging 32 points per game. Thanks to an inspired effort on all fronts, the Silver and Black went home as 13-9 winners over the guys in green.
Andy Reid spent the week getting his offense prepared to go head-to-head with a Raider unit that had conceded 96 points in their last three games. John Marshall put together a game plan filled with exotic blitzes (not a misprint), line stunts and even mixed some zone into the traditionally man-to-man heavy secondary. When the Eagles weren’t being fooled by disguised blitzes, they were being blown off the line by a physical and athletic front four.
With the Eagles expecting a fastball across the heart of the plate, Marshall threw a knuckleball covered in Vaseline.
It was a defensive effort that would have made the late, great Jim Johnson smile were it not levied against his former team.
The pressure was relentless, sacking Donovan McNabb six times. The coverage was brilliant despite the Raiders playing the bulk of the game without the services of All-Galaxy cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
Stanford Routt played his best game as a Raider. Were it not for a pass interference penalty, Routt would have sealed the victory in the second quarter when his pick-six was called back. The controversial call yielded something truly unusual as Tom Cable was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty for his protest. One can only assume that Cable must have flexed his Crash Davis vocabulary on the official.
Brian Westbrook netted his customary 141 yards of total offense but was never much of a factor. The Eagles abandoned the run early, playing right into the trap set by Marshall.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders did just enough to win.
JaMarcus Russell was greeted with boos but walked off to cheers. His 86-yard connection with Zack Miller would be the only TD of the contest. Russell eluded the Eagles’ pass rush to hit Miller in the open field. Zack turned a couple defenders into Keystone Cops before getting a one-man entourage via Louis Murphy to escort him to the end zone.
Russell and his offense both needed a confidence booster. There still is very little chemistry between JaMarcus and his young receivers. Murphy remains wildly inconsistent. His lack of concentration – combined with some hands of stone – cost the offense a turnover while Darrius Heyward-Bey was once again kept off the stat sheet.
While the wide receivers are a wild card, newly re-signed Gary Russell was a sure bet. The Russell-to-Russell connection worked like a charm including converting a crucial 3rd and 10 to seal the victory. Starting at fullback just days after being signed, Gary Russell was second on the team in receiving on the afternoon.
Thanks to David Akers booting a couple kicks wide of their mark and Justin Fargas chewing up clock with 87-yards on the ground, the rest was academic.
Tom Cable now has one-third of his faith restored. This was an effort to be proud of. Not always pretty and at times frustrating. None the less, this team needed a pick-me-up in the worst way. The highlights might not appear on NFL films greatest moments but the result is forever in the books.
Not only was the home crowd fully behind their team, even a pigeon came to the aide of the much malinged Raiders’ special teams. The moment was fitting as prior to today the John Fassel led unit’s performance had been down right fowl (apologies for the pun).
If Al Davis is reading this: please continue to allow Marshall to do what he does. This might not be the classic Al Defense but it sure is a classic Al outcome.
Just win baby.
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Topics: Andy Reid, Brian Westbrook, Darrius Heyward-Bey, David Akers, Donovan McNabb, Gary Russell, JaMarcus Russell, Jim Johnson, John Fassel, John Marshall, Justin Fargas, Louis Murphy, Nnamdi Asomugha, Stanford Routt, Zack Miller