Dennis Allen is learning on the job so we all have to be patient. At least we didn’t have to wait for more than three weeks for Coach Allen to open his account in the NFL.
Today the new Oakland Raiders played like the vintage Oakland Raiders.
Was the 34-31 come from behind win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and thing of beauty? Not even.
Are there still more questions than answers about this team? Not even Alex Trebek has as many questions staring him in the face as Coach Allen still does.
The secondary is in shambles. The injuries keep piling up. The doubting still outweighs the believing.
So nothing has inherently changed. However there will never be an apology necessary whenever a Raiders team just wins, baby.
First things first.
Our thoughts are with Darrius Heyward-Bey who was carted off the field after suffering a horrendous helmet-to-helmet hit (that went unflagged, mind you) in the fourth quarter. We saw something similar in Minnesota last season and DHB was able to play the next week. This time something feels much different. Let’s hope there are no long term ramifications. As much as I want to see DHB in Silver and Black I’d sleep much better just knowing he’s healthy, able-bodied and has all his faculties.
As for the game…
Darren McFadden must read JBB because he heard our call to arms. The Raiders needed a lift and he did just that with a 64-yard TD run in the first quarter. That one play was good for more yards than he’s run for in the first two games combined.
Run DMC racked up 113 rushing yards this afternoon, giving Greg Knapp’s zone scheme a momentary stay of execution. Knapp has been taking plenty of heat this week with a lot of that coming from this very blog.
With regards to Knapp, his offense looked better today than it ever has since he’s been employed by the Raiders.
Carson Palmer moved the ball with ease on a Steelers defense that was without two of its top players. No matter the injuries, Oakland’s O was pretty much unstoppable answering Pittsburgh time and time again including 13 unanswered points to close the contest.
Sebastian Janikowski’s 43-yard game-winner appeared academic but given the way the season has gone thus far it didn’t stop this Raider fan from holding his breath.
Of course the Raiders defense is still extremely suspect.
Ben Roethlisberger shredded the Raiders and their second rate secondary. Let’s be clear. Michael Huff is not the answer at corner and after Matt Girodano’s injury it could be even more confounding for Reggie McKenzie and Coach Allen to field a secondary that is only slightly better than an elite collegiate program.
Stay tuned for that.
Something else that is troubling is the Raiders lack of a pass rush. All afternoon long Big Ben stood in the pocket looking more comfortable than Brett Favre on a massage table. That has got to change. If the Raiders can’t cover anybody then they had better be able to pressure opposing QBs into careless mistakes.
Still, the Silver and Black defense was opportunistic causing a very important fumble just when it looked like the Steelers were on their way to a win. But this cannot become the norm. High scoring shootouts might be entertaining but they’re no more a recipe for winning a Super Bowl than Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are for a recipe to box office success.
After this weekend the AFC West looks just as wild and wide open as ever. The top two teams in the division lost on their home fields while the bottom two won in impressive fashion. The race is officially on and Oakland is in the mix, baby.
Much props to Coach Allen for some gutsy if not ill-advised calls. At least we know he’s unafraid to gamble. Now he just needs to know when and where an on-side kick is most appropriate.
Again, a win is a win. And in Raider country nothing else matters. Style points only matter in ice skating and gymnastics. In pro football the only stat that matters can be found on the scoreboard. Today, the Raiders showed the heart, determination and desire necessary to win against any opponent.
So, just as Marcus Allen checked his baggage to pay homage to Al Davis so too will this blogger and all his whining about the state of the franchise. After it was all said and done the Raiders paid the ultimate respect to Mr. Davis and Raider Nation by doing what they’re paid to do.
Just win, baby!
On a personal note to all the Steeler fans in my family…well…I’ll just let Shaq say it for me…