Coming into this game, the Raiders feeling was that there is no room for error. One loss the rest of the way could mean the end of their playoff hopes. They played with that level of urgency in last week's win over the Chargers and they came out in this game looking like they would continue that trend.
At halftime, it looked like the Raiders were in firm control of the game. The offense was clicking and the defense had held the Jaguars' star running back Maurice Jones-Drew to 23 yards rushing. The second half was a different story, however. The suddenly stout Raider defense seemed worn out from the first Jaguar drive of the 3rd quarter and they gave up a six play touchdown drive. The scoring drive would bring the Jaguars within 3 points at 17-14.
And though the Raiders would score two more touchowns in the game, the Raider defense couldn't seem to stop the Jaguars and by the time it was all said and done, both Jaguar running backs had over 100 yards rushing and they had scored 38 points.
I was a valiant effort on the part of the Raiders but in the end there is no moral victory to be had, if there is ever such a thing. In an uphill climb to the playoff race, every play counts and the Jaguars had a few more go their way than the Raiders did in this one.
His performance in this game was probably his best of the season. And that is saying a lot after his 3 TD performance in the lopsided Raider victory over the Broncos in week 7. In that game, the Raiders used him perfectly and the Broncos were just lost trying to contain him. In this game, he just ran right through them or right past them.
His first big play came on the Raiders second possession. What started as a simple dumpoff, turned into a 67 yard catch and run for a touchdown. He simply ran past the defense and wasn't hardly touched until he was crossing the goal line.
A few possession changes later, after a Jaguar touchdown to tie it up, he had a 16 yard catch. Two plays later he caught a dump pass and scored again from 10 yards out but Zach Miller was called for holding and it had to come back. The Raiders would get a field goal out of the drive and go up 10-7.
On the Raiders first possession of the second half, after the Jaguars scored their 2nd TD of the day to get within three of the Raiders, McFadden answered back in a big way. On the third play of the drive, he took the ball right up the middle, 51 yards for a touchdown. And, again, he got level with the defense and simply outran them to the endzone.
After that, things began to shift the Jaguars' way. The Raiders were up 24-14 after that score and before they knew it, they were down 31-24. Then in the final minutes of the game, the Raiders sustained a drive into Jaguar territory and immediately following the two minute warning, Campbell handed the ball to McFadden who he had his most impressive run of the day. Right up the middle again, he spun off the initial tackler at the line, followed a block and broke a tackle at 5 yards, then ten yards downfield he stiff armed a defender and ran 36 yards for the touchdown to tie up the game. He did everything he could to help the Raiders win this game. He finished with 209 total yards of offense, 123 on the ground with 2 rushing TD's and a receiving TD.
Last week he came out and made the necessary plays, played smart football and guided the Raiders to a win. This week, he did much more. And like McFadden, it was his best game as a Raider. He finshed the game 21 of 30 for 324 yards passing and two TDs. His passer rating was 127.6.
He moved quite well in the pocket in this game and made a lot of plays that may not have been made in weeks passed. This pocket awareness has also translated to his touch on the ball. He isn't rushing throws but rather reacting quicker to plays, which was one of his biggest criticisms throughout the season.
He threw the ball at just the right time, with perfect placement on the dumpoff to McFadden that he took for a 67 yard touchdown. On the Raiders next scoring drive, he escaped the pocket on third down, pump faked to freeze the linebackers, and completed a 16 yarder to McFadden. Then on the next play he saw Jacoby Ford break wide open and hit him for 27 yards.
Just before halftime he had his best drive of the game. He threw the ball on a rope to Zach Miller on the first play. On the next play, he escaped the pocket and connected with Marcel Reece for an 11 yard first down. A couple plays later, he set up the play action and connected with Reece again for a 13 yard catch and run. Then he finished things off when he found Louis Murphy in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to go up 17-7 heading into the half.
After halftime, he was back at it; escaping the pocket yet again, and hitting Miller on a 29 yard pass. It set up McFadden's 51 yard touchdown scamper on the next play. Funny what a little arial assault can do for your ground attack.
Thus far there is a decided offense theme to this week's Ballers. And that is expected when a team scores 31 points and gives up 38. Murphy was by far Campbell's favorite target on the day. He was thrown to 11 times and led the team with 6 catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. It is nice to see a wide receiver as the favorite target on this offense for once. Usually most the balls go to the runningbacks and tight ends. But while he was catching six passes, his biggest play was not a pass at all but a block. He showed last season that he is a great blocker, namely blocking to get Zach Miller his 86 yard touchdown. This play looked very similar to that one. But while that was a short slant, this was a simple dump pass. This one he cleared his defender to spring McFadden for 67 yards to the endzone. After that, it was all about his receiving.
His first catch of the game was a touchdown. He broke free in the back of the endzone where Campbell found him for the score. Every one of his other catches came on the Raiders last two drives. He had two catches for 22 yards en route to the Raiders tying up the game. Then after the Jaguars came right back on a big kick return to go up 38-31, he had three more catches on the final drive for 28 yards. His last catch was a 1st down and he got out of bounds to stop the clock. In the end it wasn't enough but he came through in the clutch as he has in previous games.
We finally see our first defensive Baller. He, like many Raider defenders, put up a pretty nice first half. But unlike a lot of defenders, he didn't make mistakes in the 2nd half that outweighed those efforts.
He ended the Jaguars first possession when he pressured David Garrard to force him to throw the ball away. He had a run stuff at the line bit later. And he ended the Jaguars final drive of the first half on another QB pressure to force an incompletion. He spent a good deal of time in the Jaguars backfield in the second half. The result was a tackle for loss, tackle for no gain on a QB scramble and a run stuff for a short gain to force a field goal after the Jaguars were set up at the Raiders 2 yard line.
Houston did get a bit worn out as the second half went on but overall he had a pretty nice game. His best stat of the game was the 3 hits he got on David Garrard. He never sacked him but he pressured him a few times and got to send a few messages while he was there.
He started out with a run stuff on the first Jaguar possession. He had one of his three QB pressures and hits on the next drive. The following drive, he got after Garrard and hit him again. This time Garrard threw the ball away and was called for an intentional grounding which in some ways is better than a sack. All three of those drives ended on the very next play. He would have one more run stuff for no gain before halftime.
In the fourth quarter, he got a bit of a second wind as he stuffed a run for one yard to save a touchdown. Then after an interception gave the Jaguars the ball back, he had a tackle for loss to help force a three and out and allow the Raiders to come back and tie up the game. That would be his last chance to affect the outcome.
He had four catches in this game for 48 yards. All four of those catches were on scoring drives and all four of them went for first downs. Two came on the final touchdown drive before halftime and two came in the final Raider touchdown drive of the game.
Played mistake free football while laying a couple of key blocks on run plays up the middle. His most important block helped open the hole Darren McFadden used to go 36 yards for the late game tying touchdown.
He also played mistake free football. All the while giving up no sacks from his side of the line.
Huff was abused so badly in this game, it didn't even seem fair. The Raiders were lining Huff up as the nickel corner in this game and it seemed every time the Jaguars saw this matchup, they took full advantage. He was directly or indirectly responsible for every single one of the five Jaguar touchdowns as well as their field goal in this game.
The first touchdown came early in the 2nd quarter. The Jaguars were at the 17 yard line and Huff was late getting over which allowed the runner to get 16 yards on the play before Huff downed him at the 1 yard line. The Jags would score on the next play.
The next Jaguar touchdown came early in the 3rd quarter when Huff was burnt for a 48 yard touchdown catch. Two drives later, the Jags would score again. This time on a 74 yard run. The main blown tackle was on Stanford Routt but Huff looked to be in position to make the tackle only to be blocked as the runner went right by him all the way to the endzone.
Then after a fumble by Jacoby Ford gave the Jaguars the ball back with a short field, Huff was picked on again for a 10 yard touchdown pass. It gave the Jaguars their first lead of the game at 28-24. Next Jaguar drive, he was late getting over on an option play that David Garrard took for 24 yards. It would set up a field goal to widen the Jaguars lead. Then after the Raiders were able to tie the game again, they promptly gave up a huge kick return that set up the game winning touchdown. The return would have been stopped before midfield but Huff completely whiffed on his tackle attempt and the returner took the ball to the Raiders 30 yard line.
After sharing the top Baller spot last week, Gallery finds himself a Buster. The Jaguar defensive line seemed to have the book on him in this game because he looked confused much of the time. He started things off early when he gave up a tackle for loss on Darren McFadden on the Raiders' second possession. Later in the game he gave up a sack. Then to begin the fourth, Jason Campbell was sandwiched between two defenders to knock him out of the game for a series. One of those defenders was Gallery's assignment. Kyle Boller would enter the game and on his very first pass, he would be hit as he threw by a defender who ran right by Gallery. The ball sailed like a wounded duck and was somehow caught by Zach Miller. But the loss of Campbell proved costly, even for the short time he was out, as Boller would throw an interception a few plays later. Gallery's final act was giving up the sack on the next to last play of the game. Sure, Campbell held onto the ball a bit too long but you would hope the Raiders line could give him that kind of time when he needs it. Cleary, they cannot.
Come on Kyle, you come in for one series and you throw an interception?
Boller was in for all of 5 plays. The first was the wounded duck I eluded to before that luckily fell into the hands of Zach Miller and wasn't intercepted. That I don't blame on Boller. Next play was a run for one yard, then a pass that was too high for Louis Murphy that fell incomplete, and finally a pass he threw behind Murphy that was easily picked off. Funny, just last week there were still people who were comfortable with the idea of putting in Boller if Campbell struggled. I don't think anyone is feeling comfortable about that possibility any more.
If you look at his overall game, it seemed pretty good. He had two catches for 43 yards and a couple of key blocks on McFadden TD runs. But it was that one HUGE gaff that wipes away anything else he did in this game. He fumbled a kick return. Immediately following the Jaguars scoring their third touchdown of the game to pull within 3 at 24-21, Ford fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Raiders 22 yard line. The Jaguars would start the drive already in field goal range where they could tie it up at very least. But they punched it into the endzone for a touchdown instead to go up 28-24. Just. Like. That. That fumble was arguably the most critically detrimental moment of this game.
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