The Raiders needed to go into Kansas City and come out with a win if they hoped to stay alive in the playoff race. Both teams knew it was going to be a tough, hard fought game. It lived up to that with the teams battling it out into overtime and the Raiders holding on by the skin of their teeth for a 16-13 win.
It was a very messy game for the most part. But with the help of a few big plays by both teams, it stayed close and somewhat watchable.
The ugliness ebbed and flowed between the two teams with neither playing like they deserved to win the game. In the end, the statement of the game would probably be that someone had to win.
Seymour had a few nice plays in this game. Early on he had a run stuffing tackle to help hold the Chiefs to a field goal. He had a sack that was wiped off the board by a holding penalty of Stanford Routt. Early in the fourth quarter he had two pressures in a row resulting in an incompletion and then an interception by Routt. But none of those plays holds a candle to what he did to finish out both halves. To end the first half, the Chiefs lined up to kick a field goal that would have given them a 6-3 lead. Seymour blocked the field goal to keep the score tied at halftime. Then with the score tied again at the end of the game, the Chiefs lined up for another field goal. This time it would have won the game and kicked the Raiders out of the playoffs. But Seymour blocked his second field goal. It kept the game tied at 13 all and sent it to overtime where the Raiders won it. The first block kept the Raiders in the game, and the second block was a downright miracle. Those big mitts saved the Raiders' season and kept their postseason hopes alive.
He led the team in receiving with four catches for 94 yards. Most of that total came on one play. Early in the third quarter, with the score still tied at 3-3, he put on the afterburners and beat his man. Palmer launched the pass high and far and Moore hauled it in effortlessly in stride to take it 61 yards for the touchdown. It put the Raiders up 10-3 and was their only touchdown of the day. His other fine catch was a 20 yard catch that was thrown behind him and he had to adjust to pull in. It came on the drive in which the fake field goal was called back and Janikowski missed the 58 yard field goal.
Right off the top, he led the Raiders with ten combined tackles (9-1). He was valuable in both run defense and pass defense. His first tackle was in the run game. With the Chiefs at their own 5 yard line after a long Lechler punt, Giordano came up and stopped the runner from getting off a big run. Then after just one first down, he came up again to contain the runner on third down to allow Routt to tackle him well short of the first down and force a punt.
The next time Giordano was seen, he was making his biggest play of the day. Late in the second quarter, with the Chiefs threatening, he intercepted Kyle Orton in the end zone and returned it 61 yards to turn the tables back to the Raiders. Then on the final play of the first half, Seymour blocked the field goal attempt and Giordano picked it up and attempted to make one final play before halftime.
In the third quarter he gave up his one big play when he allowed Terrance Copper to catch a 43 yard pass in front of him. The Chiefs would get a field goal out of it to pull within four at 10-6. Late in the fourth, the Chiefs broke off a 49 yard screen play. The only reason it wasn't a 52 yard touchdown was that Giordano didn't give up on it and outran all his teammates to stop it at the three yard line. It is effort like that which results in leading the team in tackles and could earn him a spot on this team next season.
I struggled with this Baller nod. On the one hand, he had two huge throws that played a role in the Raiders winning this game. On the other hand, he had several throws that were part of the reason the Raiders were in such a precarious situation in the first place.
The Raiders got their first score with no help from Palmer. After a 91 yard opening kickoff return, the Raiders would go no farther and settled for a field goal. Then the Raiders' second drive ended with Palmer throwing his first interception. Although it wasn't entirely his fault as he was hit as he threw, it was on first down and he would have been wise to just tuck it and move to the next play.
In the second quarter, he had Denarius Moore past the first down marker but he threw short to him and the catch was made two yards behind the first down marker. That led to the fake field goal attempt that was called back and the missed 58 yard field goal to keep the Raiders with no points on the drive.
The next drive he began by throwing into triple coverage and was nearly intercepted. He ended it a few plays later by throwing into double coverage where it was intercepted. An abysmal first half by any standards. But the second half was a different story.
Palmer went 4 for 4 on the Raiders' first drive of the third quarter. The final catch was the 61 yard bomb to Moore for the touchdown. It was a great first step in recovering from his first half transgressions. However, he was back to throwing into double coverage on the Raiders' next series and was nearly intercepted again on two consecutive three and outs. His final act of regulation was a key first down throw to TJ Houshmandzadeh that set up the field goal to put the Raiders up seven at 13-6.
But when regulation ended, it was a new game. Now it was all about overtime. And in overtime, it was one play from Palmer to Darrius Heyward-Bey for 57 yards that set up Janikowski for the game winner. That moment Palmer went from goat to hero. Seymour gave this team new life, and Palmer won it.
He had five solo tackles in the game. Three of those tackles were run stuffs. One for three yards and the other two for no gain. In the waning seconds of the first half, he came flying in on a blitz to force Orton into an intentional grounding. That put them in third and 21 with a long field goal which was blocked. Branch started the second half with one of his run stuffs for no gain, helping in a three and out. He later had good coverage on an incompletion as well.
He had six combined tackles (4-2) and five of those tackles were run stuffs. His first tackle was the second of the day for the Raiders on a run stuff for a one yard gain. He then had a tackle on a three yard run and tackle for no gain. His biggest tackle of the day came in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs going for it on fourth and one. He shot in from the outside and got an arm around the running back and he was stopped for a loss. The Raiders took over on downs with a short field and drove to kick a field goal and take a seven point lead with under three minutes to play.
He was second on the team in receiving with 4 catches for 70 yards, but it was one particular catch that made him a Baller in this game. The first play of overtime, he flew downfield to put his defender on his heels and then broke outside to catch a 57 yard pass to put the Raiders in instant field goal range to win the game. The only criticism is that if he had caught it with his hands instead of cradling it, he probably could have scored on the play. But the catch was good enough to help give the Raiders the win.
He didn't do anything great in this game. But he deserves credit for continuing to be the ox that this team throws their harness around. He carried 23 times in this game for 70 yards and caught two passes for 24 yards. His biggest plays were a 17 yard screen on the Raiders' second drive and an 11 yard run late in the game to help put the Raiders in range to kick their final field goal in regulation.
He started the Raiders off on the right foot by returning the opening kickoff 91 yards. It gave the Raiders a lead right out of the gates. It is always important to get out to a fast start and McCann gave that to the Raiders. Also it is worth noting that despite being known for his fumbling problems when he arrived, he has been great about holding onto the ball. Now his speed and ability to break off a big return have shown up as well.
He had another tough task this week. Last week he faced off against Calvin "Megatron" Johnson and this week he had to defend Dwayne Bowe. Routt lost nearly every battle he had with Bowe in this game. Those lost battles included giving up the game-tying touchdown catch and then giving up a 25 yard catch to Bowe on the Chiefs' final drive. He was also called for holding three times and pass interference once.
He seemed to make up for most of his mistakes in this game. After giving up a six yard catch to start the second quarter, he had the tackle to end the drive three plays later. After two holding penalties on the next drive, he had a pass defended in the end zone and Giordano intercepted it on the next play. On the next drive he was flagged for pass interference but two plays later forced an incompletion with tight coverage. To start the fourth quarter, he was called for holding again but ended that drive with his interception.
I cut him some slack on the TD catch he gave up as well as the 25 yard catch on the following drive. He was in single coverage on both catches and was in good coverage. The TD catch was a well placed back shoulder grab and the 25 yarder, Routt was all over Bowe but couldn't come away with it. He needs to be given more help on these receivers and he is not being given that help.
As has been the case many times this season, including just last week, the Raiders were ahead in the final seconds of the game only to see the opposing offense make big plays to come back. The only real difference this week was the Raiders were up by seven points instead of six and therefore could take the game to overtime and win it. It was actually a little bit worse this time because it took a blocked field goal to send it to overtime. Bresnahan said the problem was that guys are "trying too hard." Well, maybe they wouldn't feel they needed to overcompensate if they had any faith in the defensive scheme they were trying to implement. They clearly do not trust the scheme or perhaps the lack thereof. It is not as simple as getting a guy like Michael Huff back from injury. They will need to remedy the giant holes in the defense next week or they will most certainly lose to the Chargers. If the Raiders are not up by more than one score in the final seconds, Philip Rivers and Co. will walk right through this defense just as Kyle Orton (the first time), Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, Tom Brady, Matt Schaub, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Matt Moore, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Stafford all did this season. They should all be sending Bresnahan gift baskets after the season is over.
He and Routt were both abused a bit in this game. The main difference is Sheppard didn't make up for it. Well, he also wasn't stuck defending Dwayne Bowe that often either so he has less excuses. He gave up the first catch of the game to the Chiefs. It came on third down and led to their first points of the game. He was called for illegal contact to begin the Chiefs' next scoring drive in the third quarter. On their following drive he gave up two catches for 22 yards. On their game-tying drive he gave up a 12 yard catch. He finished it off by giving up the last catch of the game for the Chiefs. There was just :09 left on the clock and the Chiefs were out of field goal range. They would need a ten yard catch and with that receiver going out of bounds to stop the clock or they would run out of time. They got exactly what they needed with an 11 yard catch and run by Terrance Copper on Lito Sheppard. It put the Chiefs in line for a 49 yard field goal try. That catch would have given the Raiders the loss if not for the Seymour block.
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