It was back home for the Raiders to face the Chicago Bears. The Bears were riding a five game winning streak coming into Oakland. However, they were to play their first game without their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler. With Caleb Hanie getting his first start, it was up to the Raiders to take advantage and come away with the win.
Even with Hanie at quarterback, the Bears were still dangerous. Their defense is among the best in the NFL and their running game with Matt Forte was also something to be reckoned with. But the Raiders matched them stride for stride in most aspects while forcing turnovers and capitalizing just enough to pull out a 25-20 victory.
The Raiders snapped the Bears' five-game winning streak and are now on a three-game winning streak of their own. It took a team effort to get this win and that will show in this week's Ballers & Busters.
Well, sooprise, sooprise, sooprise. After taking a few games to get his footing in his new digs, Curry showed the kind of potential that made him a top draft pick. What Curry has always had is energy and fire. But what he added in this game was discipline. The results speak for themselves.
He had two tackles for loss in this game, the first coming on the Bears' second possession when he came shooting in on a well-timed blitz to catch the runner for a three yard loss. It helped hold them to a second three and out to start the game. Next series, he had containment on the outside to force Matt Forte to the inside where he was tackled for a short gain. Then two plays later, he shed a block and used his great speed to close quickly on Hanie, forcing a bad pass that was intercepted by Stanford Routt. It put the Raiders in field goal position and they went up 6-0. He stopped Hanie on an attempted scramble on the next drive and it too ended in an interception—this time by Michael Huff.
Midway through the second quarter he had his second tackle for loss when he sniffed out a dumpoff pass and stuffed it three yards in the backfield. A few plays later, he was in the backfield again to slow the runner enough that he was tackled for a short gain. But his biggest play would come on the next drive.
With the Raiders up 9-7 and the Bears in scoring position, he stepped in front of a short pass to tip it and Kamerion Wimbley came down with the interception. Then he blocked the man closest to him and sprinted downfield to give Wimbley a personal escort for him to return the interception 74 yards. The result was a 12-7 Raider lead instead of the Raiders losing the lead heading into halftime. Hanie made sure he knew where Curry was the rest of the game.
It seemed when Curry tipped that ball to Wimbley for the interception, he passed on his stats as well. Because while Curry was a beast in the first half, Wimbley was in his own beast mode in the second half. But first there was that 74 yard interception return. He nearly made the endzone but was dragged down at the end of the run by a horsecollar.
Wimbley made his presence felt in the first quarter when he came flying in to hit Hanie just after he released the ball and Huff intercepted it. That hit was foreshadowing for later on. He really got things going in the third quarter. The Bears' second series was all about him. He had a run stuffing tackle for no gain on the first play, hit Hanie as he threw incomplete on the next play, and sacked Hanie on the final play. He finished the day with four tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 quarterback hurries, an interception, and a pass defended.
He kicked six field goals in this game. That broke a franchise record that had stood for 50 years. Four of those field goals were outside of 40 yards. He also had a touchback which he hasn't had many of since his hamstring injury. Johnny Knox had a 56 yard return on one of his kickoffs but that was more due to poor tackling. Otherwise, Janikowski kept Devin Hester in check with some nicely placed kicks all day.
It was the linebacker's day I guess. Sure, they were teeing off on Caleb Hanie but that is not important. McClain did what he was supposed to do. He made life for Hanie and the Bears' offense extremely difficult all day.
He ended their second possession with a three and out when he pressured Hanie into an incompletion. Later in the first quarter, he sacked Hanie for an eight yard loss which set them up in third and 15. Hanie would be forced to throw for it on the next play and it was intercepted. He had several other run stops in this game, most notably the one to end the Bears' drive to start the fourth quarter and a tackle for a loss of six late in the fourth. He finished second on the team in combined tackles (5-1) with a sack, two tackles for loss, and a quarterback hurry.
Led the Raiders in tackles again (8-0). He usually does. It's when he gets those tackles near the line of scrimmage and/or cleaning up after his teammates that he gets the most credit. He had four tackles in the first half, both were near the line (3 yards, 1 yard). Then on the Bears' first possession of the second half, he came in on a safety blitz, hit Hanie who rolled out of it, but Tyvon stayed with him to sack him for a 10 yard loss. The next play was a third and 20 and Branch tackled the receiver for a short gain to end the series. He had his one hiccup in this game when he gave up the Bears' only touchdown on a nine yard pass to the tight end. But Branch made amends when he tackled Matt Forte inbounds in the final seconds to seal the win for the Raiders. It was the second week in a row he has closed out the game for the Raider defense.
Lechler had five punts on the day. Three of those punts were stopped inside the twenty yard line. The first was a masterfully placed coffin corner kick to pin the Bears at the three yard line. The second was a towering 51 yarder that was downed by the Raiders at the four yard line. All World return man Devin Hester had no chance on the day. He had two returns—one for seven yards and the other for zero yards. All that is enough to get Lechler a Baller nod. But I haven't even gotten to his biggest punt of the day. Make that the biggest punt of his career. Better yet, the biggest punt in Raider franchise history. It came in the fourth quarter with the Raiders at their own 20 yard line after a three and out. Hester stood 55 yards downfield ready to receive the punt. Lechler launched the ball 80 yards downfield for a touchback. It took Hester a moment to realize what he was seeing, at which point he started sprinting toward his own goal line but was never able to catch up with it as it landed near the goal line and bounced into the endzone. It was the longest punt in Raider franchise history and was glorious to behold.
Myers is a Baller for the second time this season. Last time I mentioned that he had never been on the list before due to the fact that he just doesn't see much playing time. That hasn't really changed since then. But what also hasn't changed since then is Myers' making plays. First he did it with his hands when he caught a 25 yard pass on the Raiders' first drive that ended with a field goal. He also did it in the run game, blocking for Michael Bush including laying the key block that opened the hole for Bush to score the Raiders' only touchdown from three yards out. But where Myers really made his presence felt was on special teams. He stopped Devin Hester three times in this game. All three times, Hester didn't make it back to the 20 yard line. The first was a kickoff return stopped at the 18 yard line, the second a punt return of 7 yards stopped at the 12 yard lined, and the third a kick return to the 16 yard line.
Completed 21 of 37 passes for 301 yards and one interception, despite having almost constant pressure in his face from the relentless Bears defense. His nicest pass was a 47 yarder dropped in perfectly to Louis Murphy to set the Raiders up at the three yard line. It led to a touchdown run on the next play which gave the Raiders their first fourth quarter touchdown in two months. Not since the week five win over the Texans had the Raiders scored in the fourth quarter. Palmer was still unemployed at that time, with no clue he would become a Raider.
The Raiders were without Palmer's top two receivers for this game so it was up to Reece to fill the void. He stepped up to the challenge and caught five passes for 92 yards to lead the team in receiving. Palmer targeted him early and often, and Reece started off with an uncharacteristic drop in the endzone to start the game. But he got the call again in the second quarter and took a screen pass 47 yards. It led to a field goal, and the Raiders retook the lead 9-7. Reece had two more catches to start out the second half—one for 11 yards and two plays later a 29 yarder. That too set up a field goal as the Raiders extended their lead 15-7.
Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, Samson Satele
Otherwise known as the left side of the Raiders' offensive line. These three have had many great games this season. There have even been times in which I have lumped them together as Ballers. But as a group, they were manhandled by the Bears' defense. That's not to take anything away from the Bears' defense. But if you want to point to the reason the Raiders had so much trouble getting into the endzone in this game, you need look no farther than these three and the battles they lost at the line of scrimmage on Sunday.
Satele got things started off on the Raiders' second possession when he gave up a run stuff tackle for no gain, which led to a three and out. Next drive it was Veldheer's turn. He ended the Raiders' next drive when Julius Peppers beat him for a sack. Just last week I along with a few others in the media were heaping praise on Veldheer for holding Jared Allen to a sackless game. The prospect of holding Peppers without a sack ended early for Veldheer in this one.
Next drive was brutal for the Raiders Oline. On the second play, Wisniewski gave up a run stuff at the line, next play Veldheer was blown up by Peppers to give up a hit on Palmer. Two plays later, Veldheer gave up another sack.
Things didn't get much better for Veldheer in the second half. With the Raiders at the Bears' nine yard line, he was called for holding. Two plays later, they would settle for yet another field goal. Next Raider possession began with Wisniewski losing his block and giving up a tackle for a loss of two.
Next drive the Raiders would get back to the nine yard line—this time in first and goal. But the offensive line collapsed big time. On three consecutive plays the Raiders moved backward. Veldheer started out by giving up a tackle for a loss of three. Then Wisniewski was called for holding, wiping out a touchdown on a screen to Bush. Finally, Satele gave up a sack. The Raiders went from first and goal at the nine yard line to fourth and goal at the 26 yard line. And again—wait for it—a field goal.
The Raiders were finally able to score a touchdown on their next drive but not without having to overcome a holding penalty on Satele. Anyone still doubt the strength of the Bears' defensive line and linebackers? I can tell you the Raider offensive line has no doubts.
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someone on the DL needs some credit for stopping Forte too, I think ... and Myers is really helping now that he can catch - in previous seasons, when he came in teams knew he was going to bock .. its not so simple for them now ...
good game for HJ too I think ... He seems to have settled down now ... and the lack of penalties REALLY helped this week ...
I'm really glad that CJ is coming back soon rather than later. Curry seems to really be coming along. Even though he was on your buster list for awhile; I really liked the plays that Curry has been making. With him it is just limiting the bad plays. Even though Palmer didn't throw a td, I was very happy with his play. Theyre D was just really good. Another person I have liked is lito sheppard. He seems to be in the right spot for a pick every game so far. His issue has been he just hasnt made the play. Hopefully we can ride this momentum n beat the dolphins. Our oline was bad this game but thats a credit to the bears. Also I will say that the holding penalty on veldheer off the pitch to bush was bs. The d lineman fell he wasnt taken to the ground. Otherwise, our line didnt do much. If they had, then we would have converted some of those redzone fgs to tds. Hopefully we fry some fish this week. I bet they test our run d n run some wild cat.
Good Ballers list - LBs were strong and ready, key part of the win!
The O-line was horrible - Carlisle could have been mentioned as a buster as well, he was manhandled and blown back by Melton and especially Okoye numerous times! Barnes imo did ok! Not spectacular but pretty solid all day, at least in comparison to the four other guys out there!
Murphy to me was a dissapointment! He has been walking around looking dissatisfied on the sidelines for weeks, seeming he'd been frustrated and angry he haven't gotten more playing time (which he naturally hasn't gotten because of the injury that sidelined him and made him fall behind) - then when you get the chance you better well make sure you give it your all and fight for every inch to prove you should play! But he didn't! He gave up on several plays and wasn't very aggressive when blocking! Had it not been for the long catch he had, he would have been a complete buster imo!
Sidenote: Gaither has just been dropped by the Chiefs - apparently he has had some false start issues they didn't like too much! We passed on him when he didn't make the physical, but now he has been healthy all season Hue might kick the tires again - it's a long way to the superbowl!
A random tidbit of info I saw on NFL.com that I thought some may find interesting:
Seabass and Urlacher are the only two first round selections from 2000 that still remain on the team that drafted them.
DHB did play very well considering what he went through the prior week. I still thought it was very risky of the Raiders playing him, as I am a huge believer that any degree of a concussion should mandate a minimum of (2) weeks rest. Luckily for DHB, he did not suffer any nasty hits, though he did appear woosy at the end of the game...
The Raiders are proving themselves to be a legitimate playoff contender, and right now they are without question the odds on favorite to win the AFC West, and are my dark horse to make it to the AFC Championship game if and when they win the division.
I also give the offensive line a break on this game.
The Bears D line is nasty. Peppers is the most unblockable defensive player I've seen in my era. He'll collapse an entire side of the line on his own.
The way I see it, guys like Peppers get paid record money, as nobody can block them. All you can do is limit these guys to maybe 1-2 sacks
I agree with all of your ballers. When I was watching the game, I thought the Raiders linebackers were really outstanding. They were in full on beast mode. Especially Curry. He was bullying the Bears.
You know, I like him as a player in general. I haven't been as down on him as others over his first 2 games. Yes, he's been beaten on a few pass plays, but tell me a linebacker who doesn't, almost every game. You know, they're big 255 pound guys. They're not going to be able to play the pass every down, and win.
What I like about him, is he's just a nasty linebacker. He wants to hurt people, and make big hits. You know, he's a Raider. His intensity levels are the best on the roster. He's a maniac................You know, if McClain is the brains of the D, then Curry's the brawn. It's a nice dynamic to have.
In 3 starts Curry has hit Marcus McNeill so hard that he's taken him out of the game, defended the run better than anyone in the team, and probably played a part in 4 turnovers. As I said, he's a baller.
I think DHB deserves an Honorable Mention. Returning a week after that huge injury scare DHB could have been forgiven for being a bit hesitant and holding back. Instead he came out to show why he should still be starting. DHB, Ford and Moore should be the starters (in that order too) when they are all healthy. What a great turn around DHB has shown everyone this year.
We do not want Gaither! He has been cut AGAIN for a reason. His back is screwed. I will be surprised if he plays more than a few more games before retiring.
@ChristopherMooney But I'll disagree with you here. The O-Line was woeful in the running game. I'd have included Carlisle and KaWhiff Barnes also (another false start to the collection) on the Busters list also. It was only Bush' s exceptional vision that managed to get him back to the LOS most times.
As for players being that good they're un-blockable? If it appears that way then your O-Line aint up to the job. For every Peppers, Bruce Smith, Howie Long there's a Jon Ogden, Anthony Munoz or Walter Jones to do a job on them. Reggie White may be the exception for me here but Peppers aint that good. The limitations of the Raiders O-line were on full display IMO. If the Bears had Cutler at QB the Raiders would have lost this game.
@ChristopherMooney Will agree with you here. We upgraded the LBers and went for size and power. They're always going to be best suited either going forward or around the line of scrimmage. And Chicago is always going to be a team that if your LBers aren't involved you're in big trouble.
I agree, DHB was clutch and made a great effort on the overruled play. Chaz was hit and miss but overal was happy to see him part of the offense. Let's not forget Murphy for the clutch catch, also good to see him in the line up again. I'm not sure if DHB is a starter just yet, I prefer to have Ford, Moore and then DHB and schilens and Murphy to round out the last two spots. DHB is developing very nicely but I have yet to see him as a game changer like Moore and Ford have been. Either way I'd like to just see these kids make the play offs and frighten the rest of the league!
I'd have Moore and DHB starting. With Ford at number 3 and Schilens at 4.
Ford and Moore are too similar to start. They're both small, big play, speed, all or nothing guys.
You need DHB on the field - he's 6'2, 215, runs great routes, and can break tackles
You're right about his development though. His route running, and hands have been amongst the best on the team this season. He looks very polished.
He made a GREAT catch that was overturned after review. A real sideline, circus catch. Hue Jackson stupidly calling a timeout after it, allowed the Bears to get it overturned
@nilbymouth I'm not hooked on him either, but i wouldn't be surprised to see them check him out after his back hasn't acted up this season! We'll see what happens, but you could easily be right!
Veldheer I wanted to declare a push, too, because I thought that he improved noticeably in the second half--Dizzle's recap had me rethinking that, though...
I don't buy this "if Cutler played" talk. Sure the Bears offense maybe could have been more effective, but if that was happening maybe we would have opened by the offense more, aired more balls, gotten a long TD or 2. Who knows!
Fact is with all this talk about Cutler not playing, people seem to forget we didn't have McFadden, Ford and Moore, already had lost our starting QB a month ago not to mention having one of our starting CBs out all season, and a starting DE most the season! A win is a win no matter how you get it.
You are right that DHB is bigger than both but Ford and Moore are not all that simuliar. Moore has nice speed but Ford's is unreal. Moore isnt big but he's close to average and likes to jump and reach, Ford is outright tiny. Moore has unreal coordination and hands, Ford is close to average. Ford gets more seperation while Moore is more likely to make a tough catch. Both make good deep and breakaway threats but for different reasons. Two very different players IMO.
@nilbymouth@ChristopherMooney Yeah I know you can only beat who is in front of you, and we had weapons out and all that, but I think Cutler would have tipped the balance for them. Defensively the Raiders could key on Forte / Barber and make sure that we weren't beaten by the run. That would have been much more difficult if Cutler was back there. You could almost set your D up to say if you beat us through the air with Hanie then all credit to him.
I think my bias goes back here to my hatred of Denver QB's and the success that they seem to have against us. Tebow, Cutler cant stand the pair of them. And dont even get me started on Elway...