Oakland Raiders: The Greatest Win Since The 2002 AFC Championship Game. Call or Fold?
Eliott Howes – Sep 24, 2012
A game remembered for the return of the Oakland Raiders spirit… and the incompetence of the replacement officials.
Okay, it is arguable that the 34-31 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers was the greatest win since the AFC Championship victory against the Tennessee Titans in 2002, but what cannot be argued is that the victory was historic. There have only been a few memorable victories in the past 10 years, including the victory over the Houston Texans last year, (The first victory after the passing of Al Davis) but this maybe means more from a football perspective.
Prior to the game, the Oakland Raiders were 0-2 and had struggled on both Offense and Defense. With the hope and belief installed by Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen fading, not much had been expected from the Raiders coming into Sunday.
In the first half the Raiders struggled to stop the Steelers pass attack, with the Steelers moving the ball up the field with ease. If it wasn't for a run game that never got going and penalties on the Steelers offence, the Raiders would have been dead and buried at half time. On offence, we struggled to make anything happen consistently but the re-emergence of Darren McFadden put points on the board with a 64 yard touchdown.
In the second half we were poor again on defence and struggled on offence, with the game looking over at the end of the 3rd quarter after the Steelers took a 31-21 lead. But everything changed… Darrius Heyward-Bey took a hit which shocked not just every Raider but every NFL who was watching.
DHB was sandwiched between two Steelers defenders; cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Ryan Mundy. An illegal hit! Everyone saw this except for the replacement officials who somehow deemed it legal. One count of helmet to helmet contact, one count of illegal hit on a defenceless receiver and could argue that it was pass interference. The replacement officials saw nothing wrong! When Roger Goodell, the money minded monster that he is, decides to fairly pay NFL officials, these kinds of hits will be eliminated and the health of players will be protected again. Until then, who knows what may happen!
To add insult to injury, as Darrius Heyward-Bey lay unconscious on the ground, the producers at CBS felt it was a necessary time to show images of Mike Tomlin laughing and close ups of the medical team trying to stabilize Heyward-Bey. As Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts continued to talk complete ****, we all felt sick and angered by it all, so did the Raiders, the fighting spirit was back!
Maybe not on the level of Phil Villapiano and Howie Long but the Oakland Raiders finally played with passion and fire inside. Richard Seymour fought through the demons which continued to haunt him since being ejected the last time he faced Pittsburgh and got his revenge on Ben Roethlisberger by smashing him into the dirt. Denarius Moore burst back onto the scene by catching a touchdown which took the Raiders within 3 points of the Steelers.
The defence began to perform, making big stoppages and forcing a turnover. Carson Palmer stepped up to the plate moving the ball downfield and then Sebastian Janikowski did the rest by kicking to Raiders to victory.
A beautiful moment! The Raiders were back! All the negativity had been put to bed in just one quarter of football. The defence showed fight, Carson Palmer ended with 209 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception with a 70.6 completion percentage and Darren McFadden had a 100+ yard rushing game. What a turnaround!
The Oakland Raiders are now 1-2 and face the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Mile High.
Do the Raiders call? Sticking to what got them the victory against the Steelers or do they fold? Changing the offensive blocking scheme and defensive scheme?
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