This game could have been huge for the Raiders. If the Chiefs had lost early in the day, the Raiders could have kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over the Colts. But the Chiefs won, and then the Raiders lost, so in the end, it was a wash. At least for the Raiders, anyway. All the cards fell for the Chiefs on Sunday as the Raiders and Chargers both lost which gave them the AFC West crown.
The Raiders were in this game early, fighting neck and neck with the Colts just as expected. But the Raiders couldn't muster a single offensive touchdown in the first three quarters. Combined with the Colts long sustained drives eventually wore out the Raider defense and two late Colt touchdowns sealed it.
The Raider defense held together well against Peyton Manning through nearly three quarters and they kept the Raiders in the game with two interceptions. But the offense wasn't scoring any touchdowns and eventually Manning was able to have his way afterall.
It was a game full of moments where the Raiders were not quite there and the Colts did just enough. And that is how it ended.
The veteran defensive lineman showed off his run stopping skills in this game. The Colts were running at him all day in the hopes that the absense of Richard Seymour would open some holes for them. But those holes were not opening up the way the Colts had hoped they would. Big John ended the Colts second drive with a run stuff for no gain. Then he had another run stuff for a short gain on their next possession. He had two more run stuffs for minimal gain on their next drive. He came out after halftime to have another tackle for a short gain to help end a series after four plays. Two drives later he had another run stuff. He gave up his only big run of 18 yards on the next drive but he followed it up with consecutive tackles, the first for a short gain and the other a tackle for loss. The next drive he had yet another run stuff for no gain.
The Colts had just 57 yards rushing at halftime. It wasn't until later, when the defense began to wear down that the Colts were able to finish with better rushing numbers. But it wasn't John Henderson that was giving up those yards. Despite being one of the oldest players on the team, he maintained his high level of play until late in the game. He is a more than worthy substitute for Seymour.
Zach led the team in receiving with 9 catches for 66 yards. He also had the Raiders only offensive touchdown of the game. He had 39 of his 66 yards on five catches on the Raiders final drive to bring them within five points of the Colts. Earlier in the game he had a 15 yard catch to set up a field goal attempt just before halftime.
Janikowski missed a field goal in this game. Just to get that out of the way. It was a 54 yard attempt just prior to halftime that was slightly wide right. I am inclined to be forgiving of missing the occasional 54 yard field goal in a vacuum. But considering he started the game with a 59 yard field goal, which is 2nd in Raider history behind his OWN record field goal, I am even more inclined to let him off the hook. Then after that he had three more made field goals from 38, 51, and 45 yards out. All of which were no-doubters. He attempted three fields goals of 50+ in this game while hitting two of them. And it is not unusual to expect him to hit from that distance either. He is quite a weapon.
He opened this game with a bang. He has become known for that. He opened the Broncos game last week with a 71 yard reverse for a touchdown. He opened the Dolphins game with an kickoff return for a touchdown. And he opened the 2nd half of the Chiefs game with a kickoff return for a touchdown. Aside from the TD return on the opening kickoff of this game, he had a 17 yard catch early in the 4th quarter to set up a field goal. We get it Jacoby, you're good.
He had a pretty tremendous game overall. With three passes defended and an interception. He nearly had another interception early in the game.He gave up a touchdown pass in the 4th quarter when he let the receiver get behind him which kind of put a damper on things but it was a blip on an otherwise great game for him.
This seems like a case of focusing more on film study than on ones own weapons. How is it that Darren McFadden, the Raiders best weapon, gets just 11 run plays in this game? It has been proven throughout the season that the Raiders win when McFadden gets 15+ runs in a game. The even greater head scratcher is the fact that the Colts have the 28th ranked run defense. But Hue must have seen something in film study that suggested the Raiders best shot would be to pass the ball 43 times.
Sure, short dumps and screens should be part of this offense with the Colts weak and beat up linebacking corps. But the Colts are giving up an average of over 135 yards per game and he chooses to hand the ball off to McFadden just 11 times? Cable said that McFadden tweaked an ankle in the game but that doesn't explain why the Raiders there were just 17 runs called the entire game compared to 46 pass plays. Bush and Reece received just 3 carries each.
The Raiders were set up with 3rd or 4th down and short yardage eight times in this game and six of those times, Jackson dialed up a pass play. There were just two run plays called on 3rd and short and BOTH resulted in first downs. That wasn't proof enough?
Prior to the Raiders final drive that gave them their only TD of the game, the Raiders had three straight possessions without a single run called. The first was a three and out. The second drive came with a short field after an interception. It began with a catch and ended three plays later with a sack and a long field goal. The third was a four and out and a turnover on downs. By the time the Raiders had their only sustained touchdown drive of the day, it was too late.
Tyvon Branch, Mike Mitchell
Peyton Manning was picking on these two all game long. Any time he saw either of them lined up on one of his receivers, he smelled blood. And it worked quite well. Branch started his day with a missed tackle on a 12 yard run in the first quarter. Next drive Mitchell gave up a 14 yard catch and a few plays later, Branch was picked on for a 19 yard catch that set up the Colts first touchdown of the day. The very next drive, Branch gave up a 20 yard catch and two plays later Mitchell gave up a 9 yard 1st down catch. That would lead to a Colts field goal to take the lead 10-7. Two possessions later Mitchell started off by giving up an 8 yard catch. The drive ended when Branch gave up a 19 yard touchdown grab and the Colts re-took the lead 17-13 heading into halftime. During halftime the Raiders coaches must have realized that putting these two on a receivers was backfiring because they were not put in that position again for a while. Not until Mitchell gave up a 13 yard 1st down catch on 3rd and long on a drive that led to the Colts final touchdown of the game. That's gonna leave a mark.
Yes, I know he had a tough task in protecting Jason Campbell against Dwight Freeney. And when I start writing a series called "All things considered", days like this will be looked upon in a different light. The plain truth is though that Veldheer didn't have a great game. He looked like a rookie trying to hold off an All Pro defensive end. In the first quarter, he gave up a third down pressure on Campbell that resulted in an incompletion and ended a Raider possession. It would have been a sack if Robert Gallery hadn't came over to help him out on the rush. Then in the 2nd quarter, Campbell held the ball a little too long and Veldheer gave up a sack. In the 3rd quarter, he was schooled by Freeney on a spin move and gave up another sack. Late in the 4th quarter, Veldheer finished his day off with a holding penalty and then a false start with the Raiders at the 2 yard line. I have little dought he will learn from this and be better off.
Part #$@% of our ongoing series; "The Whipping Boy", starring Stanford Routt. Let's get right to the action: On the Colts first touchdown drive, he was manhandled by his receiver and acted as a pick on Asomugha to give up a 14 yard catch that set up the touchdown on the next play. Next drive he gave up an 11 yard 1st down in which instead of tackling the receiver, he just pushed him over the first down line. The drive ended with a field goal. On the Colts touchdown drive before halftime, he gave up a 16 yard catch. In the 3rd quarter, he began with a holding penalty. Then the next drive, he gave up a 9 yard catch, followed by a pass interference penalty and then three plays later he gave up the touchdown catch that put the Colts up 24-16 heading into the 4th quarter.
He had just two tackles in this game while the bulk of the tackles were going to his new neighbor, John Henderson. He had just one tackle for a short gain on a run in the 2nd quarter and it all fell apart for him late in the game. The Colts got the ball up 24-19 midway through the 4th quarter and he gave up a 9 yard run followed by a 12 yard to start off a drive for the touchdown that put the game out of reach. Then he had the final missed play when he bit on the play fake and didn't protect the back end of the line to allow Peyton Manning to take a naked bootleg 27 yards to end the game.
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