It's the first game of the Bruce Gradkowski era and expectations are up in Oakland, while attendance is down. It must have been the easiest entrance into the coliseum I've had since seeing an A's game during one of their lost seasons.
The Raiders (2-7) will attempt to pull off the upset over the Cincinnati Bengals (7-2) today after putting their 'franchise' quarterback on the bench. The following is the list of INACTIVES/LINEUP CHANGES for the game:
- Charlie Frye - 3rd QB
- Todd Watkins - WR
- Jon Alston - LB
- Khalif Barnes - OT
- Erik Pears - OG/OT
- Javon Walker - WR
- Nick Miller - WR
- William Joseph - DT
RAIDERS LINEUP CHANGES
- Sam Williams (LB) starting at SLB in place of Jon Alston
- Ricky Brown (LB) placed on IR
- David Nixon (LB) added to active roster
- Jordan Palmer - 3rd QB
- Cedric Benson - HB
- Fui Vakapuna - FB
- Keith Rivers - LB
- Evan Mathis - OG
- Andre Smith - OT
- Chase Coffman - TE
- Jerome Simpson - WR
BENGALS LINEUP CHANGES
- Brandon Johnson starting at WLB in place of Keith Rivers
- Nate Livings starting in place of Evan Mathis
- Bernard Scott starting in place of Cedric Benson
- 1st Quarter -
The Bengals won the toss and elected to receive. The Raiders will begin the game going North to South.
The Raiders' defense starts the game putting Cincinnati into a second and 22 situation, only to allow a screen pass to get the first down. If it hadn't been for Tyvon Branch getting to Bernard Scott, it may have gone for a touchdown. Cincinnati then got themselves into a third and twenty situation and the Raiders again let them out of it when Carson Palmer hooked up with Chad Ochocinco for 32 yards. The Bengals didn't seem to have much trouble moving the ball from that point on and completed the drive with a Palmer touchdown from the one.
Richard Seymour came out of the game with a lower back injury, but his return is probable. The drive lasted 14 plays and spanned 78 yards and 9:28. If you didn't already know, it's drives like these that explain why the Raiders are 2-7 and not 7-2.
On Bruce Gradkowski's first play as the starter, he handed off to Michael Bush for again of five yards. On his second play, he utilized the Raiders' best receiver by throwing short to Zach Miller for eight yards and the Raiders' first, first down of the game. The drive ended on third and five at the Raiders' 40, when Gradkowski through into double coverage to Louis Murphy. Like the guy he replaced, Gradkowski's pass was off-target and uncatchable.
The first quarter ends with the Bengals up on the Raiders 7-0, and driving for another score with a first and 10 at the Raiders' 31-yard line.
- 2nd Quarter -
On third and seven from the Raiders' 33, Palmer stepped back to pass, but before he could get his arm moving forward, Tyvon Branch was able to grab his arm and sack him to force the fumble. Kirk Morrison picked up the fumble and began running to the end zone--then he fumbled and the ball rolled towards the Cincinnati side of the field. Before a Bengals player could recover, Chris Johnson pushed him in the back, allowing Greg Ellis to fall on it at the Bengals' 32. As with anything Raiders, the excitement was short-lived when Gradkowski fumbled the snap on second and nine and the Bengals recovered.
Cincinnati has a first and 10 at the Raiders' 41 after a 15-yard run. Tommy Kelly is injured on the field and walked off on his own. I don't see Richard Seymour, who must be in the locker room getting worked on.
After four consecutive first downs by the Bengals, and driving to the Raiders' 20, Kelly comes back in the game to end the streak--the Bengals gained only nine yards on the play to get to the Raiders' 11. On the next play, Brian Leonard ran for six to give the Bengals a first and goal at the five. The Raiders forced the Bengals to use two plays for the Touchdown. Carson Palmer dove in from the half-yard line for the score. Cincinnati 14 - Oakland 0.
The Raiders finally force a three and out for Cincinnati. On third and five, Palmer couldn't handle a low snap from the shotgun formation and had to pounce on the fumble at his own 17. So the Raiders needed help from the Bengals, but they still held them to three and out.
The Raiders just got their second first down of the game when Gradkowski hit Chaz Schilens over the middle for a nice grab and 25 yards to get the Raiders to Cincinnati's 46.
Isaiah Ekejiuba is out with a knee injury. His return is questionable.
At the two-minute warning, the Raiders are finally driving on the Bengals. It's second and four at the Cincinnati 29 after Gradkowski hit Luke Lawton on a short, out-pattern for six yards.
With 59-seconds left in the half, Gradkowski hits Zach Miller in the end zone for the Raiders' first score of the day. It was second and goal from the 10. On first and goal, the Raiders set up in the shotgun with Schilens, Louis Murphy, and Darrius Heyward-Bey in a three-receiver set. Gradkowski tried to get the ball to Murphy in the back of the end zone and was nearly picked. Then, Schilens was pulled in favor of DHB and Murphy, but the questionable move turned out to be moot when the Raiders went to their trusty tight end. Bengals 14 - Raiders 7.
Cincinnati will have 53-seconds to go 75 yards for a late-half touchdown.
The Raiders are able to force a three and out, while keeping time on the clock. After the punt to Johnnie Lee Higgins, the Raiders get the ball back at their own 36 with 26-seconds to go and no timeouts.
Gradkowski hits Miller over the middle for 18 yards and then spikes the ball, leaving only nine seconds from the Bengals' 47. On the next play, Gradkowski threw short to McFadden, who was able to get to the 40 and go out of bounds--leaving four seconds for a Janikowski field goal attempt. Before the Raiders could snap the ball, Marvin Lewis called a timeout, ala Mike Shanahan, which was good because Jano kicked the ball wide right. On his second opportunity to put it through the uprights for a 57-yard field goal, Seabass missed wide left by about three feet.
At the end of the half, the Raiders are down 14-7.
- 3rd Quarter -
The Raiders receive the kickoff and will begin their first drive of the half at their own 28. This just in, Richard Seymour won't return from his lower back injury. We'll get more information on that after the game.
The Raiders were able to drive to Cincinnati's 34-yard line before being stopped. Darrius Heyward-Bey made a nice sideline grab on the drive and then defended a pass in the end zone that was nearly picked. Janikowski came on for the field goal attempt and kicked the 52-yarder straight through the uprights. Cincinnati 14 - Oakland 10.
Pure Raiders moment. After getting back into the game, the crowd cheering the defense on, and just seeing a big hit by Gerard Warren on Palmer to redirect one of his passes incomplete, Oakland allows backup runner Bernard Scott to go 61 yards and put the Bengals on the Raiders' 19. Cincinnati would get to the Raiders' six. On third and goal, Palmer's pass fell incomplete, but Stanford Routt was called for roughing the passer.
The penalty gave the Bengals a first and goal from the three. Thomas Howard broke through the line for a stop of Scott for minus two yards, before Brian Leonard would rush for four to get them back to the one. On third and goal, Palmer was sacked for a 18-yard loss by Routt. Shayne Graham came in for the field goal and missed the kick so the Raiders got the ball on their own 27.
Advantage, Raiders...right? DHB pulls down a Bengals defender and draws the pass interference against the Bengals. Advantage...still the Raiders. Then Michael Bush carried for four yards and fumbled, which the Bengals recovered and advanced to the Raiders' 13. Three plays later, Graham hit a 25-yard field goal and the Bengals moved up on the Raiders 17-10. Advantage? Like I said...pure Raiders. Instead of one step back and two steps forward, it's one step forward and two steps back.
At the end of the third, Cincinnati still leads the Raiders by seven. Nnamdi Asomugha was actually called for a pass interference on the latest Bengals drive and then Chris Johnson was victimized for a 40-yard pass to Laveranues Coles on the sideline--great throw and catch on the play. At the start of the fourth, the Bengals will have a first and 10 at the Raiders' 36.
- 4th Quarter -
The Bengals continued to drive further into Raider territory after fumbling on their first play of the quarter and recovering it for a four yard loss. Later in the drive, at the Raiders' 15, Jeremi Johnson fumbled and the Raiders recovered--stopping the Bengals from making it a two-score lead. The Raiders will start their first drive of the final quarter at their own 15 with 11:37 to play in the game.
The Raiders were able to get to the 49, before Tom Cable was faced with a fourth and one situation. He chose to bring in Lechler for the punt amid boo's from the sparse home crowd. Lechler boomed a high punt, forcing the fair catch at the Bengals' 10-yard line with 7:43 to play.
Three plays and seven yards lost later, the Bengals are forced to punt from their own three. On first down, Chris Johnson broke up a pass to Ochocinco, on second down, Tyvon Branch took down Scott for a loss of two on a run to the right side of the line, and on third down, Greg Ellis came up with a big sack of Palmer. After the punt and Higgins' return, the Raiders have a first and 10 from the Bengals' 44 with 6:08 remaining.
Gradkowski, on the first play of the drive, was nailed from behind while throwing to a semi-open Louis Murphy. Due to the hit, he wasn't able to get enough on the ball and under threw Murphy--however, he didn't under throw his defender who picked it off at the Bengals' 21. There was some question that the defender trapped the ball, but nothing came of it. With 6:01 left in the game, the Bengals have a first and 10 from their 21.
The Bengals were able to take four-minutes off the clock, but they were only able to get to their own 48 before having to punt. The Raiders will begin from their own 20 with 2:12 left in the game. The question remains--can Gradkowski make a difference in end-of-game situations?
Gradkowski hit McFadden over the middle for a six-yard gain before the two-minute warning. When play resumes, the Raiders will be faced with a second and four from the 26.
Gradkowski hit Zach Miller for 19 yards. The quarterback was nearly sacked, but he got the ball off to his best receiver and Miller almost made the mistake of staying in bounds. Gradkowski hit Miller over the middle on the next play for nine more yards. On second down from the Bengals' 46, Gradkowski was forced to throw out of bounds. On third and one, they gave to McFadden who gained one yard and the first down at the Bengals' 45. The Raiders called a timeout at 1:14 remaining.
Gradkowski threw three bad passes in a row to bring up fourth and 10 from the Bengals' 45 and 59-seconds remaining. On his third bad throw, it was nearly intercepted. On fourth down, Gradkowski came through with a nice pass to Chaz Schilens for 16 yards and then spiked the ball. The Raiders then had the ball on the Bengals' 29 with a second and 10 situation.
On the very next play, Gradkowski faked to his right and found Louis Murphy on his left who caught the ball at the three, turned and forced his way into the end zone for the score--but of course the officials stopped the game to review the touchdown. The play stood, Jano kicked the PAT and with 33-seconds remaining, the Raiders were tied with the Bengals for the first time since the 5:32 mark of the first quarter--Raiders 17, Cincinnati 17.
On the kickoff, Andre Caldwell received the kick from two yards in the end zone and returned it to the Bengals 17 before Brandon Myers forced the fumble and recovered it. The crowd goes wild and with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Raiders have the ball on the Bengals' 17.
Gradkowski takes the knee a couple of times, with Cincinnati calling timeouts. Janikowski comes on for the winning 33-yard field goal with 19-seconds remaining. THE KICK IS GOOD!
15-seconds left and the sparse crowd now sounds 60,000 strong. Janikowski squib kicks to the 20, where it's returned to the Bengals' 37. First and 10 with 10-seconds to go. HAIL MARY TIME.
Palmer throws to the goat, Caldwell for five yards and he goes out of bounds with five-seconds. On the last play, Palmer throws deep to the Raiders' five-yard line where Nnamdi Asomugha comes down with it to end the game.
Check back for a recap later! Raiders win 20-17.