There are no style points in the NFL. There is no BCS formula to determine winners and losers in the pro ranks. The teams on the field determine their own destiny.
Today the Raiders took another big step towards realizing their goals as a team. Now this was far from a thing of beauty. I’ve seen hung-over frat houses that look better than the football played today by the Bears and Raiders. In the end the scoreboard was as sexy as Salma Hayek in the nude pouring a celebratory drink.
Oakland out lasted Chicago in a 25-20 win that was as much about grit as it was execution.
As usual the Raiders found a way to keep things interesting late.
Early on it looked like Caleb Hanie was out of his element. Three first half picks pushed the Bears to the limit yet the Raiders couldn’t capitalize in the form of touchdowns. Thanks to a stout Chicago run defense Sebastian Janikowski became the Raiders’ scoring punch.
Sebass set a franchise record as he connected on six field goals. In keeping with the theme of the game most of Jano’s kicks were composed of equal parts doubt and relief. His attempts twisted, twirled and curved before finding their way to three points on the scoreboard.
But what is true in fantasy football holds equal weight in the world of real football. Points are points.
Oakland needed every one of Sebastian’s kicks. For the most of the first half the game was controlled by the men in the trenches. Chicago terrorized Carson Palmer while Oakland harassed Hanie.
Yet where we saw the Raiders become a playoff team was in the adjustments made during halftime.
Come the second half the Raiders resumed the dominant offensive line play that has been consistent all season. They also kept with the theme of keeping teams around late.
When Michael Bush finally struck pay dirt it ended a couple of long draughts. Oakland found the end zone for the first time all day and also put six on the board in the fourth quarter for the first time in over a month.
The drive that sealed the deal was an impressive mix of effective running and some clutch completions.
But these are the 2011 Oakland Raiders who could keep UCLA alive late in a game.
Sure enough, like clockwork, Hanie hit on a big bomb on third and long to Johnny Knox. Chicago would go on to finish the drive, eventually get the ball back after a superb Shane Lechler punt only to have Hanie butcher an attempt to stop the clock.
Not pretty. Far from perfect. But a win is a win.
This is one of those games where the boxscore won’t reflect those that played well. Shane Lechler’s booming kicks were a huge factor in taking Devin Hester out of the contest. Marcel Reece was finally unleashed proving why he is among the most underrated weapons in all of football. Oakland’s secondary made some mistakes but overall played one of their more consistent games of the year.
But the man of the hours is clearly Sebastian Janikowski. If Jano is again snubbed for the Pro Bowl it will be because of bias only. His performance this year has been nothing short of amazing. Putting three on the board is usually the sign of an offensive drive gone wrong but today it was a thing of beauty. It was almost as if Oakland’s goal was to get Sebass in field goal range.
Hue Jackson will be more than happy that his team cut down on the penalties even though the few flags that were thrown did prove costly.
Again…a win is a win.
No thanks to the San Diego Chokers, those Denver Tebows are right on the heels of the Raiders for AFC West supremacy. Nobody said this was going to be easy. How could there not be any drama in this division?
No matter the case the Raiders are rolling despite all the injuries that continue to plague the roster. But all of that is an after thought when you go out and do what Al Davis always decreed.
Just win, baby!
Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Caleb Haine Carson Palmer Chicago Bears Devin Hester Hue Jackson Marcel Reece Michael Bush Oakland Raiders Salma Hayek Sebastian Janikowski Shane Lechler