JaMarcus Russell might not have any Bob Marley in his iPod but Redemption Song certainly was the tune playing as he led the game winning drive in Denver.
After a week of ridicule, shame and embarrassment, Russell relieved a concussed Charlie Frye in the fourth quarter with the Raiders trailing 16-13. Two uneventful drives and one Bronco field goal later, the Silver and Black were down 19-13 and Tom Cable was staring unemployment in the face.
The drive began in typical Russell fashion with a sack and a fumble. Luckily for JaMarcus, Cooper Carlisle fell on the rock otherwise Russell would be standing in the same bread line as Cable come the end of 2009. Three plays later, Russell was dropped to the Mile High grass and had to come out of the game.
At this point, all appeared to be lost. J.P. Losman – he of UFL infamy who arrived in the East Bay mere days ago – came on for Russell and threw an incompletion bringing up 4th and 10.
Unwilling to watch from the sideline as his career slipped away, Russell returned to the game with one final chance to prove his worth.
4th and long is a familiar song for JaMarcus.
Despite all his struggles, he has a knack for coming up big when the situation demands it. Perhaps doing the impossible is the only way Russell can be motivated.
What happened in Denver is undeniable. Not even a Cornell Green false start to keep Oakland out of the end zone.
With just over a half a minute left on the clock, Russell hit Chaz Schilens across the middle and the big receiver did the rest, extending over the goal line and drawing the game even. Sebastian Janikowski made the lead academic with his extra point and the Bronco faithful could hardly believe their eyes as the scoreboard turned from friend to foe in minutes.
Before Josh McDaniels realized it, his team was trailing and it was Kyle Orton who would now have to do the impossible.
Unfortunately for McD, this was Russell’s moment. The young head coach of the Broncos has clearly expended all his goodwill with the way his team began this season. For a second year in a row, Cable’s Raiders have rained on the Denver playoff parade.
This game wasn’t all about Russell.
For the first time all year, the Raiders dominated the ground with a powerful rushing attack. Michael Bush cracked the 100-yard barrier for the second time this year and Darren McFadden had a season high 74-yards on the ground. Langston Walker got the start at left guard and abused the Broncos all day long, opening massive holes for whichever running back lined up behind him.
After a shaky start, the defense tightened the screws stopping the Broncos time and time again whenever they entered the red zone.
As for Charlie Frye, well his job wasn’t safe even before Russell rose from the ashes. Frye showed the rust of man who has been playing with the scout team all year. In the first quarter, the Frye Guy threw an interception on quite possibly the worst thrown ball in NFL history. It was that bad.
But this Sunday was all about a team who never gave up and quarterback who refused to go quietly into the night.
This was a franchise changing win. A win that Coach Cable needed and Raider Nation longed for. A win against a bitter rival and under the most unlikely of circumstances. A win that echoed the once renowned Raider Mystique and can only be summed up with one iconic phrase.
Just win baby.
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