Watching the Oakland Raiders during the first two games of the season was rough. A team filled with potential and optimism looked about as awake as Jamarcus Russell at a team meeting. Losing the home opener in prime time was bad enough, and then to travel to Miami only to slap Reggie Bush on the arm once or twice as he made his way through the secondary was scary to say the least. Between the horrid execution of the new offense and a pile of injuries on top of an already thin roster this team was in a must win situation this afternoon.
Suddenly in week 3 Darren McFadden came sweeping in like an autumn wind. The threat of McFadden on the ground (and a healthy Denarius Moore) gave Palmer total control of the game. The field general of the silver and black drove down the field repeatedly in this skirmish between foes. The game was a classic western shootout. The last shot was of course fired by The Polish Cannon, Seabastian Janikowski, who has yet to miss a field goal this season.
Despite a scary concussion given out to Darius Heyward-Bey late in the game the Raiders managed to show extreme progress under Greg Knap’s new scheme. The offense still lacks that spark Hue Jackson contributed, however the players showed that they are not giving up on this season yet no matter who the coaches are. Raider Nation rejoiced as Oakland scored more points against the Steelers then both of the first two games combined. Knapp is still in question for even committing to this new scheme to begin with, but we can finally lay that issue to rest for now as the players have proven their ability to overcome.
Now that the offense has elevated their level of play it is up to the defense to decide if this team will continue to build off of the victory. Allowing 3o plus points is simply unacceptable. Allen must do what he can with this makeshift secondary to stay competitive. Had it not been for the numerous Pittsburgh fumbles and penalties this game would have most likely been lost. Great teams don’t rely on the other team to make mistakes and neither can Oakland.
Next week the Raiders will have another opportunity to beat a squad from the AFC West. A trip to Mile High will give Palmer a chance to match wits with Peyton Manning and Dennis Allen’s former defense. As of now San Diego sits atop the AFC West at 2-1. The Raiders are more then capable of getting their mojo back with a win against the Broncos putting them that much closer to winning the west and sealing the ever elusive playoff bid.