While many things are improving for the Raiders this year, winning against playoff caliber teams is not one of them. Tonight, under the national spotlight of Monday Night Football, the Raiders were unable to keep up with Peyton Manning and the Broncos easily rolled to a 37-21 victory at Sports Authority Field. Many things went wrong for the Silver and Black but if you paid close enough attention, the Raiders showed some things that haven’t been on the field in a while.
Now, don’t think that I am going to sugar coat this loss and say this is a moral victory, it’s not. The Raiders were unable to get the run game going, looked lost on defense at times and didn’t execute when they had the ball. McFadden was not able to get going and finished with a dismal nine yards on twelve carries. The defense came out early and tried to play Three Card Monty early on to try to confuse Peyton Manning. Though this worked in spurts, it didn’t work all night. The end result was the Raiders getting throttled early on and picking up two TD’s in what essentially became garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Call me a naïve optimist but despite this beat down, I still saw some positives from the Raiders. For one, despite Terrelle Pryor’s lack of starts, he managed to not turn the ball over again for a second straight week and didn’t look flustered under the spotlight and hostile environment. He actually managed to look poised and cool under the Bronco pass rush and did finish the night going 19 for 28 with 281 respectable yards. Even Jon Gruden praised the play of Pryor. Another positive I was able to glean was the way the defense did not give up. Late in the game, I still saw the whole unit swarming to the ball and that actually contributed to their first two turnovers of the season. On both turnovers, the offense was able to turn those opportunities into two touchdowns. In previous years, these same turnovers would have more than likely ended up with three and outs or Janikowski field goals. This tells me that the offense is learning to finish. I can’t recall the last time I saw that. Lastly, I liked that Greg Olson and the coaching staff is finally recognizing the talent on the team and is playing to their strengths. The McFadden to Reece touchdown was a nice wrinkle as a play call. The coaching staff still needs to find a way to get DMC to the outside and stop trying to get him inside. Maybe it’s not the coaching staff but McFadden himself? We’ll see as the season progresses.
Let’s be honest Raider Nation, the Broncos are playing solid football on both sides of the ball and are looking like a tough team for anyone to beat. We honestly didn’t have a chance but there were some good things that lead me to believe the team is moving in the right direction. Next up, the Raiders face the struggling Redskins at home. Lets see if these few bright spots can lead to another W against a floundering defense and a sputtering offense.
I am not looking for the Raiders to make the playoffs but I am looking for them to make progress and show the fans a fighting spirit and a determination to win. After three games, I can say that the mindset is changing in Oakland. Do you agree with me?
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