Monday, November 24, 2008

Raiders Avenge Week One Loss; Beat Broncos 31-10

A surprising thing happened during week 12 in Denver for the Oakland Raiders. Going with the trend of the weekend, away teams outscored the home teams 425-332.

The team that was expected to lose by 9.5 points appeared to wake up so to speak. The Raiders played hard and were determined to beat the Broncos.

Oakland put together a complete total team effort and beat the Broncos in all three phases of the game.

The score was knotted at three a piece when Johnnie Lee Higgins fielded a punt in the second quarter, made a few moves, danced down the sidelines and was untouched by human hands on an 89-yard touchdown return, his second in two weeks.

Despite the fact that both teams total yardage was almost identical, 318 yards for the Raiders and 319 yards for the Broncos, Oakland averaged six yards per offensive play.

The Raiders played to their strength, committed to the running game as evidenced by calling 41 running plays with Justin Fargas as the focal point.

All three of the Raider running backs were involved in this game. Fargas was able to get into a rhythm with 24 carries for 107 yards.

Darren McFadden ran for 38 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns.

The talented Michael Bush, in the doghouse for not wanting to play fullback, only had two carries that didn’t gain any yardage but his pass to Zack Miller for eight yards showed another way that he could help this team and something that other teams will have to prepare for.

It would be nice to see the team really work on this, they’ve two running backs that can be used in the triple threat position. Both McFadden and Bush can run, pass and catch the ball out of the backfield.

JaMarcus Russell had his most efficient passing day as a pro. He completed 10-of-11 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. The average yardage gained per pass play was 13 yards.

Ashley Lelie was huge for the Raiders in his return to Denver; he hauled in four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Although none was bigger than the 51 yard strike he caught in the third quarter to set up Darren McFadden’s first touchdown run of the day.

The five most surprising things besides the win; were that the team converted eight of thirteen third downs, the team was scored three-of-four times in the red zone, the Raiders didn’t turn the ball over, the offensive line didn’t give up a sack and the Raiders won the time of possession battle by holding the ball for over 32 minutes.

The Raiders defense put together a tremendous performance to hold the Broncos to 10 points. The Jay Cutler interception and Peyton Hillis fumble were two costly Bronco turnovers that definitely affected the outcome of the game.

The Broncos went after Chris Johnson and threw the ball his way at least 20 times with minimal success which was night and day different from the first meeting and a welcome sight to all Raiders fans.

The Raiders defense was able to consistently slow the Broncos offense and holding them to one touchdown was big.

This was a huge win for the young Raiders to snap their four game losing streak and could go a long way in the development of this young team. One game doesn’t erase an up and down season but it should aide in their confidence and give this team something to build upon.

This was just the third win of the season for the team but after having the worst record in football every win should be celebrated. This team should now know that when healthy and having all phases of the game performing well this could be the outcome more often then not.

The Raiders and their fans will take this win and look for the same effort and execution next Sunday.

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