Loss to New England Does
Not Define Oakland
And those challenges just keep on coming, each of them tougher than the last one. They started off with the Denver Broncos, followed by the Bills, the Jets and now; the ultimate showdown with the New England Patriots. It’s a tough road for the Oakland Raiders. The Silver and Black have more than proven that they are armed and ready for all of them!
Sunday’s game was played under absolute perfect game day conditions; a balmy 75 degrees under blues skies and yet another sell-out for Oakland. When the Patriots come to town ghosts from the past always seem to linger making for the absolute rivalry shootout.
The Raiders opening drive got them within Janikowski range after they were unable to convert on third down. A 28-yard kick sailed through the uprights and Oakland took the early lead 3-0
When Oakland had Brady and his team pinned deep in their own territory ugly Raider penalties assisted the Patriots in their first drive, a drive that relinquished seven points when Brady hit #83 wide receiver Wes Welker for a fifteen yard touchdown for the 7-3 lead. Three Raider penalties gave up 40 yards in that drive. Oakland would finish the first quarter with five penalties for 50 yards something that the Raiders have been trying to clean up. The Brady-Welker connection would prove to be a thorn in Oakland’s side throughout the entire game.
It was in the second quarter that the Raiders were able to hold New England on downs for the first time in the game. A 41 yard run by #20 Darren McFadden followed by a 17 yard keeper by quarterback Jason Campbell put the Raiders on the New England 30. A 23 yard Campbell pass to #87 Kevin Boss gave Oakland a first and goal. The Raiders made good on a 1 yard run by #29 Michael Bush for a 10-7 lead. That lead was short-lived as 7 plays later New England found the end zone on a one yard run by Green-Ellis taking back the lead 14-10.
An amazing catch in the next Raider series by #83 Heyward-Bey gave Oakland possession in New England territory. A lightning run by Jacoby Ford for 30 yards gave Oakland first and goal for the second time in the game. When the Raiders had another lead all but sewn up, Campbell threw an interception in the end zone ending that second quarter drive for Oakland. With two minutes left in the half, the Raiders needed to hold the Patriots and head into the locker room to re-group. New England while able to drive downfield had to settle for a 44 yard field goal. At the half Oakland trailed by the score of 17-10.
Once you get Tom Brady off the hook you make things awfully difficult on yourselves. Brady’s rhythm on the opening drive of the second half was one of efficiency and confidence driving his team right into the end zone and giving New England a 24-10 lead. The Raiders answered driving deep into Pat territory. An apparent pass interference call put Oakland on the one yard line, first and goal. When that call was reversed the Raiders had to settle for another Janikowski field goal for a 24-13 tally.
The first drive of the fourth quarter was another New England touchdown and a 31-13 lead. When it seemed as if Oakland was about to put some points on the board, Campbell threw his second interception of the game, a pass meant for Darren McFadden. With 28 seconds left on the clock, Denarius Moore caught a Campbell pass for 6 yards and the touchdown. The two point conversion attempt failed and the game final was 31-19.
This was a winnable game for the Oakland Raiders. Both of the games interceptions occurred when the Raiders were in great scoring position and very well might have turned into 14 points making this a very different game and possibly a different outcome. Oakland had a single penalty in the third quarter but the tide had completely changed in the second half and New England was in total command.
Head Coach Hue Jackson took the blame for his team’s loss on Sunday. “I apologize to our fans. We had our chances and we didn’t get it done,” he said. “Kudos to the Patriots. They came in here and played well enough to beat us. They did a good job and we didn’t; that’s what is comes down to,” he said. He refused to let penalties become an excuse of any kind. He feels that if his team is good enough, penalties will not be an issue and he promises that they will indeed become a better team. “We are disappointed but not discouraged. We’ll put this behind us and get ready for Houston.”
“I came out of the gate ready to play,” said quarterback Jason Campbell who unfortunately made two costly interceptions. “We’ll learn from it and bounce back and put it behind us. We’re still a really good football team and one game is not going to define us,” he said. “We got knocked down today and we’ve got to get back up. We certainly believe that we have the ability; we have what it takes to get to the next level. Today was just a setback.”
Campbell did admit to a lot of frustration particularly since the Patriots were definitely a beatable team today. “We came into this game feeling like we were going to go out and win,” he said. Campbell and the team felt that they matched up well with New England and really expected to win. “We lost our rhythm going into the halftime with the interception,” he said.
A very determined
Hue Jackson and Raider team will head out on the road taking on the
Houston Texans next week. They will be back home against the Cleveland
Browns in two weeks followed by a meeting with division rival Kansas City
also at home. We will all find out next week how this team will recover
and come out even stronger. They have all the tools to become an
extremely competitive football team, and better yet, we have Coach
Jacksons word on it—“we will get better,” he promised.
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