The Oakland Raiders like to keep things interesting. As proof, I offer you today’s trying, turbulent and ultimately triumphant outing in Minnesota. The finals score was 27-21 which would indicate a close contest. The manner in which the Raiders dominated would tell a much different story. In the end you are what your record says you are.
On paper the Vikings had no business ever being in the contest. For the better part of three quarters that was the case as Oakland opened a 27-7 lead. That lead came despite some horrendous officiating, inconsistent offense and the occasional defensive lapse.
But before you could say “not again” it was happening all over again.
We saw this in Buffalo and it was looking like Minnesota was going to do the same.
Hue Jackson opted to get conservative. The defense decided to dial it down. The Vikings gladly accepted the open invitation to get back in the game.
Michael Bush might as well buy property in the 100-yard club. It seems like every time he gets a start in the NFL you can pen him in for over 100. That is pretty much usual. What was unusual was for Bush to cough up the rock late allowing Minnesota to make this an unnecessary nail biter.
But that mistake can be forgiven considering the Raiders are all alone atop the AFC West.
What is unforgiveable are all the yellow flags that follow the Silver and Black wherever they go. Now to be sure there was plenty of reason to wonder if the men officiating the contest had any clue as to what they were doing out there. On the first drive alone the Raiders were flagged for three personal fouls that were either phantom calls or were just made up. Those same officials also forgot how many downs there were as they nearly stripped the Vikings of a play.
Those types of mistakes are unforgiveable.
What cannot be excused or pawned off on the officials are pre-snap penalties. Say what you will of the horrendous officiating but they didn’t miss on any of the false starts or illegal formations the Raiders committed.
Coach Jackson has plenty of work to do there.
Speaking of work. The work the D-line put in today was impressive. While they did dodge a major bullet by not having to deal with Adrian Peterson all afternoon due to injury, they did plenty to make life uncomfortable for Christian Ponder.
Makes you wonder why it has been so difficult to get consistent performances out of this unit all season.
As far as consistency goes, Carson Palmer is getting there. Today Palmer was good but not great. He took a page out of Jason Campbell’s book and took what the defense gave him. Palmer didn’t force too many throws which is a big reason why he played turnover-free football for the first time this season.
When Palmer did look downfield his target was Darrius Heyward-Bey. DHB finally got back into the mix but that came at a cost. Hey-Bey took a knee to the back of his head in the fourth quarter and had to be carted off. After the game Coach Jackson confirmed that DHB endured a neck injury but there is no news on the severity as of yet.
Hopefully it was not as bad as it looked. JBB is sending out good vibes to Heyward-Bey.
This is the NFL so a win is a win. With the playoffs in sight the Raiders will take a W any way they can get it. However if you asked Hue Jackson how he would have liked his win he would most likely tell you nothing like the way it went down today.
The Raiders continue to be their own worst enemy. All those penalties cannot be passed off as an NFL bias against the Silver and Black. Yes, there were some calls made that Ray Charles would have seen weren’t penalties. But there were also enough stupid fouls committed to make any officiating gaffs a moot point.
Also, if the Vikings didn’t commit all those turnovers today there is a good chance the Raiders would be flying home tied with Tebow. Losing Peterson was bit of a gift so that too can be looked at as major reason why the Raiders prevailed.
At this point in the season there is now doubt as to who the best team is in the AFC West. Oakland stands alone and the standings reflect that. However if this team is going to have any designs on making some serious noise in the playoffs (if they get there) then all these careless mistakes must be cleaned up in a hurry. In case you haven’t noticed it has been over a month since the Raiders have scored a 4th quarter TD. How exactly is that going to be a winning recipe in the post-season?
Coach Jackson gets a lot of credit for keeping this team on track despite all the ups and downs this season. In order to take that next step he’ll have to get his men committed excellence for a full four quarters. Anything less and the Raiders would be…well…the Chargers.