As most of you are well aware of at this point, to witness the incident in New York (or rather New Jersey but whatever) last Sunday was to witness complete destruction. And the meadowlands was ground zero. Yeah, the Raiders showed up. But If they hadn't, it sure would have been less embarrassing.
Each week we say "How could it get any worse" and each week we find ourselves saying "Oh, that's how."
There was a question before the game about how much Eli Manning was going to play with his plantar fascitis in his heel. The general consensus being that he would play as long as the Giants needed him. I would guess the Giants were thinking they would play him in the first half at least and then re-evaluate the situation. But a few minutes into the second quarter, they didn't need to see any more from him. Afterall, the Giants had four straight drives go for a touchdown to go along with five straight three and outs by the Raiders. The game was already over before the Raiders had their very first first down which came a few minutes before halftime.
New York replaced Eli Manning with David Carr with Giants up 28-7. Still the Giants added another 16 points under Carr while the Raiders couldn't get out of their own way to score again the rest of the game. The final score was 44-7.
Well, now that the shock has worn off a little bit, we can get down to the business of breaking down some of the individual performances by the Raiders on Sunday.
He is hands down the best punter in the NFL. The Raiders haven't been able to make much use of his great punts of late but he keeps trying. He certainly has enough practice in games to get it right. He had seven punts in this game. He would have had more but many Raider drives ended in turnovers. Of those seven, 3 were downed inside the 20 yard line. His first punt was a booming 59 yarder that was only returned for 2 yards. His second punt was another launch of 59 yards. This time to the Giants 12 yard line. The Giants would start on their own 6 yard line after a penalty. Next punt was a 54 yarder. Then he put so much air under the next one that the returner muffed it and the Raiders recovered to set up their only touchdown of the day. In the third quarter he had another 59 yarder which was followed up by a towering 46 yarder that pinned the Giants inside their own 10 yard line again.
He has been double teamed much of this season and thus hasn't been able to get open that often. Opposing teams figured out last seaon that Miller was Russell's favorite and most reliable target. But he was able to get free a few times in this game. He caught 4 passes for 69 yards. His 29 yard catch in the fourth quarter was the longest play from scrimmage for the Raiders in this game. His 21 yard catch in the second quarter was the first first down of the game for the Raiders. He was a small bright spot on a vey dark day for the Raiders.
While the defense overall was being torched by the Giants offense, Branch played pretty well. He was second on the team in tackles with 7 solo tackles and 3 assists. Of those tackles, three were run stuffs for little or no gain. One other time, he cut off the outside, forcing the Giants runner inside where he was tackled for no gain. He also had a couple of passes defended.
We heard his name one time in the game. That was when he came up gimpy on a play. But he came back in the game a short time later. He didn't give up any sacks on a day that saw the Giants get six sacks on the Raiders. The Giants have long had a potent pass rush but Henderson has been holding down the left side of the Raiders line just as well for the past two seasons.
Outside of Henderson, he is the only guy who is really pulling his weight along the offensive line. Hopefully Khalif Barnes and Robert Gallery will be back soon to help him out.
This topping of the Buster list is long overdue. Sometimes it just take a few games to find where the smell is coming from. And, no, I don't mean that old man smell. I mean that foul stench that's emanating from the Raider headquarters. It smells like the Broncos throwback uniforms look. This team is assembled by Al Davis and this game plan has his meddling fingers all up in it. I pointed out last week that Al Davis needs to have a few of his untouchable toys tacken away from him for this team to win. That fact becomes more and more painfully obvious every week. JaMarcus Russell is the biggest (pun intended) problem on this team. He is starting because Al Davis insists he does. Darrius Heyward-Bey drops more balls in each game than he has caught all season long (2) and yet he continues to get the start. This team lacks discipline and it has spread like a cancer. It only takes one bad apple (JaMarcus) to spoil the bunch and that is exactly what is happening. Until every player is forced to be equally accountable for their actions, this team will be defeated before it even steps on the field.
Three fumbles. That is what Darren McFadden had in week three against the Broncos. And yet Dmac was in the starting lineup again the next week. He also only completed 8 passes through the entire game for 100 yards. 6 of those 8 passes were completed after the Gaints were up 28 to nothing and the game was already out of hand. The two passes he completed before that went for a TOTAL of SEVEN yards. Oh and did I mention he had THREE FUMBLES?! Funny thing was that none of them were forced by a defender from his blind side either. Every single one came from his right side where he should have seen it coming and either held onto the ball or escaped the pressure. He also didn't have any on-target drops in this game so Cable can't make excuses for him in that regard. Every one of his five drops were either an inaccurate throw or a pass into coverage that was knocked down.
I never thought I would want Cornell Green back. Eric Pears is just about worthless. He is a few more penalties away from being Kwame Harris the sequal. Speaking of penalties, he did have a false start on the second play of the game for the Raiders. This came right after Michael Bush ran for 8 yards to set the Raiders up in second and 2. But with a second and 7, the Raiders, of course went three and out. Russell's second fumble of the day was caused when Pears was beaten around the edge. The second play of the second half, Pears couldn't handle his man who tackled Fargas at the line for no gain. Then Russell's third fumble was forced when Pears was given the old "Ole!" on the play. So let's check the score here: Two sacks, two fumbles given up, one run stuff given up and a drive killing false start penalty. That's quite a day.
Yes, Morrison was the Raiders leading tackler on the day with 13 solo tackles. But in this case, less is more. The only reason Morrison had so many tackles is because he gave up big plays that kept the Raider defense in the field longer. A good example of this is that the Giants leading tackler had 6 solo tackles. See, less is more. Half of Kirk's tackles came in the second half when the Giants were mostly just trying to run the clock out. On the Giants first drive, he gave up an 8 yard catch to Brandon Jacobs on one play and then was out of position on the next play that set the Giants up at first and goal. Next drive he was blocked on a 17 yard run and on the next play was out of position on the 19 yard touchdwon run. On the Giants big third and 24 conversion that went for 55 yards, and set up their next score, he was no where to be found. Two drives later he was blocked on a 19 yard run. The next drive, after Russell's second fumble gave the Giants a short field, he gave up a 13 yard catch to the tight end. It was the only play on the drive and it set the Giants up with a field goal just before half time.
Chris Johnson, Hiram Eugene
I group these two together because they were both responsible for giving up two big plays in this game. The first was a 43 yard catch that set up the second Giant touchdown and the second was a 30 yard touchdown strike for the Giants third touchdown of the game. In both cases, Johnson was beaten on the route and Eugene was late getting over. The two instances looked identical. It was like the Giants saw the Eugene was in at free safety and so they called the same play twice knowing he would bite on the under route and CJ would lose a step on an inside fake. Those two scores were the back breaker for the Raiders. It put the Giants up 21-0 midway through the first quarter.
He gave up an 11 yard first down catch to the tight end on the Giants first drive. Then he got caught up in the block on the 19 yard run for the Giants second TD. He was caught up in the block again on the Giants big 55 yard screen pass on third and 24. He was blocked on the Giants first play of the second half that sprung Ahmad Bradshaw for 24 yards. All of his mistakes either went for a TD or were big plays on drives that resulted in a touchdown.
Yet again, the Giants were able to take advantage of the Raiders on third and long. The first time was the screen pass on third and 24 that went for 55 yards (that I have mentioned a few times). The Raiders get burnt on third and long every single game because he had the linebackers all drop into coverage, leaving the middle of the field wide open. In the opening game against the Chargers, Darren Sproles caught a check down pass and ran through 20 yards of open field on the biggest play of the game for the Chargers. It handed the Chargers the win. That 55 yard run gave the Giants their third consecutive score to start the game. The final Giants touchdown was much the same. This time it was David Carr escaping the pocket to find 12 yards of wide open field in front of him to run into the end zone untouched. Just too easy.
Still sitting Javon Walker? Still sitting Jonnie Lee Higgins? Still have a job? The answer all these questions: Not for long. The JaMarcus Russell situation is out of his hands. That is an Al Davis decision. Cable is doing what he is told but it won't save his job.