Games like this have fans and analysts alike scrambling to find someone to blame. The first three and a half quarters had us celebrating the heroes, while the final seven minutes had us searching for where it all went wrong -- and how the Raiders went from being up 27-14 over the Lions to losing 28-27.
But before I get to holding the guilty parties accountable for this collapse, I am left with the uneasy task of pointing out those who played well enough to win, despite those who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
This was a difficult decision. His fumble late in the third quarter was what left me in a quandary. But in the scheme of the game, the fumble turned out not to be a deciding factor. Sure, he would have put the Raiders in scoring position had he held onto the ball, but the Lions got the ball at their own eight yard line and the Raider defense stopped them at the 20 yard line after just one first down. Then the Raiders immediately put together a drive and kicked a field goal anyway. On the Lions' next possession the Raiders forced a fumble for a touchdown.
Outside of the fumble, DHB had a fantastic game. He finished with 8 catches for 155 yards including a masterful 43 yard touchdown. He showed a bit of everything on the touchdown catch. He leapt in the air and caught the ball cleanly, took a hit and held on, broke a tackle, and sprinted to the end zone. It was arguably the best catch he has made as a pro due to all the variables involved. He also laid the key block that sprung Marcel Reece on a 26 yard run in the first quarter that set up the Raiders' first touchdown. He did have a drop in this game but it came with a few ticks left on the clock and the Raiders without a timeout. If he had caught it, he would have been tackled in the middle of the field and the Raiders would not have had time to get to the line to spike it in time to attempt a field goal.
He punted five times and three of them were stopped inside the 20 yard line. One of them was a perfect 46 yard sky shot that landed at the five yard line and bounced to the one and a half yard line where the Raider coverage team downed it. It was the perfect punt at the time the Raiders needed it most. Lechler did his part. Unfortunately the Raider defense did not, and the Lions drove 98 (and a half) yards down the field to win the game.
The Raider workhorse was pulling that plow again in this game. He touched the ball 25 times for 139 yards from scrimmage. That was 18 rushes for 77 yards and 7 catches for 62 yards. The Raiders got the ball with 1:14 left in the first half and were looking to break a 14-14 tie and they gave it to Bush. On the drive he had a 12 yard screen, a 10 yard screen, and finished it off with a 7 yard run to set up a Janikowski field goal and a 17-14 Raider lead heading into halftime.
He had two of the biggest plays in this game. The first came late in the third quarter with the Lions lining up to go for it on fourth down and one. They had tried to pick up the first down on third and one and Kelly was in amongst a mob of Raider defenders to stop the Lions for no gain. Then they tried again and Kelly and company stuffed them again. In total, the Lions were held to just 57 yards on the ground.
The play of the day for the Raiders was when Kelly came around the edge on third and 10 from the Detroit 14 yard line to strip sack Matt Stafford. He just reached out and grabbed Stafford's wrist so he was unable to move his arm forward and then yanked the ball out of his hand. Aaron Curry then picked up the ball and ran it in for the touchdown. It would give the Raiders a 27-14 lead with 7:47 left in the game. It should have been a 28-14 lead but we'll get into that later.
He led the team in tackles (7-2) including a tackle for loss and a sack. He added a hit on Stafford as well. The big Calvin Johnson catch that set up the game winner came with him in coverage but that never should have been the case. Expecting a middle linebacker to cover the best receiver in the game is asking too much. It wasn't the first time in this game he was asked to cover Megatron. He did reasonably well in those situations, all things considered.
Palmer was another difficult decision for the Baller list. His numbers were great. He completed 32 0f 40 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown. That is 80% completion with a 113.2 QB rating. On the other hand, he had three key incompletions in this game. He overthrew Denarius Moore and DHB in the end zone and overthrew Chaz Schilens on a third and three play that would have ended the game. He also held the ball too long and took a sack on the Raiders' final drive when they were trying to get into scoring position. It resulted in a two yard loss and the :08 off the clock left the Raiders with just :13 at midfield.
If the first three quarters of this game in which Calvin Johnson put up season best numbers was the concerto, the final 2:14 of this game may just have been Bresnahan's swan song. The Lions were able to move the ball downfield thanks to some of the most ridiculous defensive scheming I can ever remember seeing. The Raiders were seen running a cover 2 style defense at times. That scheme in itself has been very successful. But first off, the Raiders don't have the right personnel for it. And second off, when a middle linebacker and a third string safety/special teamer are covering the best receiver in the NFL, you will have problems. Matt Stafford saw this matchup and threw an ugly rainbow to his All Pro receiver, knowing that he had a tremendous mismatch in his favor. The completion went 48 yards and set the Lions up at the Raider 13 yard line. They would score a touchdown a few plays later to win the game. And of course, on the touchdown catch the Raider defense again looked confused and Calvin Johnson was in single coverage.
That was the story all day, though other teams who have played the Lions discovered long ago that you double team Calvin Johnson, PERIOD. None of this single coverage, zone, or cover 2 crap. In the previous five games, Johnson was held to under 100 yards receiving with just one touchdown. The Lions went 2-3 in that time and one of those was a squeaker against the Vikings. The recipe is an easy one. But apparently being in the UFL the last few years, Bresnahan wasn't familiar with ole Megatron. This season his best game was 125 yards receiving. He blew that out of the water with 214 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including the game winner. The Raiders have been the NFL cure-for-what-ails-you for the better part of this decade. The first year of that opposing offense slump buster defense came with Bresnahan at the helm. And likely the last.
Here we go again. Last week's Buster list was headed up the same way. The two main criticisms of this game were the aforementioned 48 yard catch on the Lions' game winning drive and the Raiders not going for two on their final touchdown. It was past midway through the fourth quarter and the Raiders had scored a defensive touchdown to go up by 12 points. Hue Jackson opted to kick the extra point and go up 13 points. If you go for two, you go up by 14 points and when/if the Lions score two touchdowns, it is tied and we go to overtime.
Hue defended his decision after the game saying that he didn't think it was time to go for two. That statement makes zero sense. That was the ideal time to go for two points. He simply made the wrong call. He also said he didn't expect them to be able to go 98 yards to score. But you plan ahead for these possibilities by going for two, especially with a defensive coordinator who has given away games several times already this season and was bailed out a couple of other times. If they miss the two point conversion, they would have been in the exact same situation. No risk, high reward.
Then there was the call for Palmer to throw long on third and three on what could have been the Raiders' final drive. Sure, if he had completed the pass, we wouldn't be talking about it. But he didn't. Hence the reason why such a decision is a risky one. He gambled and lost. If the Raiders had picked up the first down, they could have run out the clock as the Lions had no timeouts left. Hue likes to say he "lives on the edge." Well, he has fallen over that edge the last few games and the Raiders have followed him over.
I realize Routt had a difficult task on Sunday. He was guarding the best receiver in the NFL much of the time. But if he were to have held him, I would be giving him all the credit in the world so I have to be fair. Routt did have three passes defended in this game. However, he also helped allow Calvin Johnson to have his 214 yard, two touchdown day. Routt was called for holding on the Lions' first touchdown drive before Megatron finished it off by getting behind the entire Raider defense for a 51 yard score. He later gave up a first down catch the play just prior to the Lions getting their second touchdown on a 39 yard catch and run. He was called for pass interference to start the Lions' third touchdown drive. Then on the Lions' big game winning drive he gave up an eight yard catch, was called for pass interference to give the Lions an automatic first and goal at the six yard line, and then was beaten by Johnson for the touchdown.
Too many times it has occurred that the opposing team gets a big catch with Boyd in the vicinity but making no play on the ball. When Calvin Johnson pulled down the 48 yard bomb, Boyd was charged with covering him deep. The pass hung up and was well short. If Boyd had just turned to play the ball, he could have knocked it down or likely intercepted it. Instead he just watched it land in the receiver's arms where he touched him down. That is not what safeties do. Yeah, it's a big job keeping Calvin Johnson in front of you. But when given a reprieve with an ugly ball that hangs in the air, that's why safeties exist.
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i'm so disgusted with that lost. i thought they would lose this game going into the weekend but i'm really pissed at the fact after they gave me a slight glimmer of hope they might pull this one out, they choked. again. it's like they're not even professionals out there. wait i take that back they are professionals. professional choke artists. and it's games like these that have asking these quetions every season, #1 is why when the opposing team has several glaring weaknesses to exploit the raiders make them look like strengths? and #2 is when the raiders draft a super star or pick up a free agent super star they suck balls andthen when they get traded they pick up right where they left off before coming to oakland. another thing is hue jack and the rest of the team needs to take notes on jim harbaugh and the niners to see how a real team should play and compete for an entire game. damn busters,they either get blown out or barely scrape by. i'm amazed how they even got some of those 7 w's. they don't deserve to get into the playoffs and if they do they'll get blown out by teams that do belong.
I disagree on the betweener rating for Carson Palmer. His numbers were outstanding, and with a 113.2 QB rating, he has to be recognized as a baller, regardless of the overthrown passes to Schillens and Moore. Palmer has been getting a lot of heat during the Raiders three game slide, but in the game versus the Lions, there is absolutely no way he can be blamed for that loss....
Am I shocked that we lost? No, but I am disappointed at the reluctance to change. Chuck B is just clearly a man stuck in his way. Never have I seen him make adjustments when it matters. As for me, I would have also included Khalif Barnes. The raiders o line has been putrid the last few games but they had their best game in awhile. Khalif Barnes did not disappoint in proving that he deserves to never be on an NFL football field. If you recall the sack that did us in, was given up by Barnes. I remember because I could see Barnes punk ass face looking distressed as Palmer went down. To finish my rant I will leave with this, the game was heavily affected from the beginning. What I mean by that is something that I don't see being stressed enough. Why did we pass on 4 and 1 from the 24 and not take the points in the 1st quarter! I know hindsight is 20/20 but that chipshot field goal would have won us the game. The 4 and 1 and 3 and 2 were 2 plays were ones that you usually run and we throw incomplete both times. At this point if we slip into the playoffs then we probably wont be doing ourselves a favor. As long as we have Chuck B, Hue betting everything, and Barnes then we are in trouble.
It's redundant but for me, Chuck B is the number 1 buster. He preaches this idea of having to red dot and stop certain players. He must have not gotten the memo to red dot Calvin Johnson. This game like you said earlier was a microcosm of our season. This game was really the Bills and Broncos game all over again. We were dominant for a good portion of the game but let the game get away from us. I honestly think Hue has a gambling problem. When he made the gamble to go deepon 3 and 2 (i believe it was) then he decided to gamble our season and just not the game. The smart man would have ran it. I know it's "go big or go home" but that's too much of a risk. Going back to Chuck B, though, what more could we give him? We give him a chance to stop a team who has to go 99 yds. I mean they scored on their last drive right? So what does he have us do? He puts us in a zone. Why wasn't routt not shadowing CJ on that play. I mean seriously let someone but CJ beat us. I would have been ok if Burleson or Titus Young did it because that is more of a fluke. Even if Routt got a penalty then id rather than that having McClain and Boyd in coverage. That idea was a joke. Chuck B clearly doesnt watch film because even though CJ was slumping; if you look at earlier in the season then you might remember that CJ can burn double and triple corner back coverage (let alone, a safety and linebacker).
Levi, I don't buy McClain as an honorable mention. He whiffed on Stafford in the red zone and put the Lions in a First and goal from the four. That TD was a game changer. We can talk all we want about scheming but when it comes down to it, you expect your MLB to be able to tackle a QB midfield, coming out of a lane, who is not known for his scrambling or agility. McClain owns that.
Not all of these games were blow outs but you can bet your ass that this is the best way to create a blowout. Hell GB didn't fold up Aaron Rodgers tent until they were sure the Raiders would have to score every time we touched the ball just to get half way caught up before the end of the game. That was more about saving Rodgers and giving the #2 some reps than it was about game plan. The only time I have seen that kind of merciless winning attitude from the Raiders in the last decade is in the 59 point rout we handed the Donkeys last season. Where did that attitude go?
Up-Chuck just doesn't get it. Sometimes neither does his boss. For example, "pound the rock" doesn't mean run the ball.It means wear down the defense with the run game then put their lights out. Simply put, "Let's keep hitting them in the mouth until they give and we win." By the same token, "Shut-down D" means you keep hitting them, stay in their facemask, keep contact, and keep punishing until the final whistle. Neither of these philosophies allows for backing off one iota. There is no such thing as "Letting them take short yardage." Someone posted on another blog "what happened to knocking them down and putting your foot on their throat?" The thing he left out is you keep your foot there until they stop breathing; not until they pass out. I like the strategy used by GB and NE. Let's bring a machine gun to a fist fight and not leave until we have toasted over the dead. I'm not saying they can't be beaten but they seldom if ever fall apart like the boys who play in Up-Chuck's schemes. Once you have found what works against a team you don't abandon it until they show you something completely different that demands a course correction. That is what BUF, NE, KC, DEN, MIA, GB, and DET did to us. They used what they found was working against us and stayed with it.
I would have personally put Palmer as a baller. But I see why you didn't. The only difference in opinion, is I put the missed connection all on Chaz Schilens. I thought Palmer threw the perfect ball considering the coverage. Chaz just dropped it in my opinion. Went right through his hands.
Palmer was very close to having the perfect game in my opinion. The only bad play being missing the receiver on the 4th down play. Even during the last 50 seconds, he very nearly drove Oakland into winning the game.
But again, I sort of agree with your own opinion. You could possibly argue there was a key overthrow, and the sack was unforgiveable in that situation.
Thought Seymour would have made at least honorable mention as he was on fire for the first half.
If Palmer was in betweener coz of missed plays then McClain should be also. The 4th and 2 he missed Stafford was a game changing miss. The same theory should apply to both players.
@LeviDamien Man Boyd sucks. Huff needs to stay healthy, if only to keep Giordano in Boyd's position..
@Spartacus I see what you're saying but I didn't blame him for the loss. If I was blaming him then I would have made him a Buster. He also didn't win it for the Raider though. He had just one passing TD and it was on a short pass that DHB made with a great catch and YAC. Palmer had great numbers but he didn't put the team on his back. That is what Ballers do.
@antonioswancy I think the most annoying part of that final drive was that the Lions were already a one dimensional team. They offered no rushing threat and we knew what they were going to do - pass the ball. Considering we knew what's coming we were pathetic. Last year we were in a similar position against the Chargers in the week 5 35-27 win. That time we never gave Rivers all day to throw like we did Stafford. Huff got to him caused the fumble and Branch gets the TD to seal the W. Not sure we didn't challenge Stafford more that way. Any good NFL QB will burn you if they've got all day to throw, especially with receivers like Johnson.
@SnBsn69 Agreed. That one whiff was HUGE. It was the game right there and your MLB, who should be one of your best tacklers on the team, cant stop a pedestrian QB. All the good things he did were un-done right there. That one mistake totally puts him in the same category as Palmer.
A lot of good points on Palmer, I would only disagree on Chaz. IMO Chaz has the best hands on the team, he really did try and reach out for it, if it's too hot for his hands at that lengthy of a stretch then I would think Palmer put too much on it, he admit to it himself. The other play Moore was being held and I don't see how you don't get that call, that was an automatic first down and could've changed the dynamics of the game. Overall I thought he did very well.
I've never seen a flag thrown for a blindsided block in any game. I was surprised they didn't catch the 'leading with the helmet' collision. I'm sure he'll get fined. I don't blame him for the block itself though
@DevonRaiderUK True--I didn't notice the omission until just now, but Seymour was an absolute beast in the middle.
@DevonRaiderUK completely agree on Seymour, I thought he played pretty good.
I think it is really a matter of perspective. Palmer threw for 367 yards and connected on 32 of 40 pass attempts against a playoff caliber team. We are not talking about the Indianapolis Colts here, but the Detroit Lions, who are talented enough to make a legitimate run to the NFC Championship game. If the Raider defense did not implode against Calvin Johnson, and the Raiders won that game, then from a numbers standpoint, he would have to be mentioned as a baller, with possible consideration for top....
@DevonRaiderUK@SnBsn69 Well, I guess McClain wasn't the only guy who whiffed then because I totally didn't note this missed tackle to which everyone is referring. If I had, it may have changed my prognosis. So take that into consideration I suppose. I pride myself on not missing things like that but I guess I did this time.
Yeah I sort of agree - it wasn't the perfect pass. But at the same time, it was a play a top receiver has to make. It was very catchable
@DevonRaiderUK I didn't put him as a Baller though so it won't go in the B&B records so there is that. Honorable Mention is just that.
Hey no probs- nobody gets them all. Mclain himself knew the importance of it as I watched the replay and saw the disappointment in his reaction. You just knew a TD was going to follow when the result was a first and goal at the 3.
@LDizzle@DevonRaiderUK@SnBsn69 That whiff was horrible, but the play that stands out for me was McClain absolutely dogging it on the Lions' FIRST offensive play--casually jogging toward the vicinity of the ballcarrier, rather than really going after him and trying to make a stop. I knew right then and there that he wasn't "on" and likely wouldn't be. Shades of Chester McGlockton, though not as obviously dominant at his position as the late McG.