By Ryan Leong
This was another must win game for the Raiders, playing at rival Kansas City against an awful Chiefs team. Coming into this game, the Chiefs had not held a lead in regulation all season long and had been plagued by poor play from quarterback Matt Cassel and replacement Brady Quinn. A lot was at stake for Oakland, including the team’s first road win of the season and first two-game winning streak of the season.
The question was how the Raiders would respond given that they had listed 20 players on the weekly injury report. The running game has been severely lacking and the team defense has been less than desirable. Quarterback Carson Palmer is on pace to pass for 4600 yards, but he is ultimately judged by wins and losses. Against the Chiefs, his personal stats were modest, but the Raiders came away with the victory.
Final score: Raiders 26, Chiefs 16
Dennis Allen had a pretty good game plan. Every aspect of the team’s play was balanced. The Raiders only had the ball for 28:58 while the Chiefs had it for 31:02. Oakland only had two penalties for 20 yards. That is phenomenal discipline for a team that everyone knows is notorious for drawing the yellow flags from the referees. The team gave up a late touchdown but had this one well in hand by then. Still, this grade is adjusted for the quality of the opponent they faced. Grade: B+
Oakland amassed 344 yards of total offense. Palmer was 14-of-28 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Denarius Moore, a favorite target of Palmer, had five catches for 96 yards including a nine-yard TD reception late in the second quarter. Darrius Heyward-Bey didn’t have quite the gaudy stats, but his one catch was a 32-yard touchdown. Palmer also got some great pass protection which he hadn’t been getting from his offensive line all season. He wasn’t sacked once and told reporters after the game, “(The protection was) phenomenal. I don’t think my jersey needs to be washed.”
More importantly, Darren McFadden had 114 of the team’s 135 rushing yards. Although he averaged only 3.9 yards per carry, McFadden had four runs of 10 yards or more, as much as he had the entire season coming into this game. He even peeled off a 28-yard run in the fourth quarter against a Chiefs defense that ranks 23rd against the run. However, kicking four field goals is an indicator that drives aren’t getting finished. A big problem all season has been scoring once the team is in the red zone. Twenty-six points isn’t a lot, but it was enough to beat this mediocre Chiefs team. Grade B
The Raiders are ranked 17th in defense, just ahead of the Chiefs. They are 20th against the pass and 11th against the run. The Chiefs are struggling so much on offense, they haven’t had a lead in regulation all season and that streak was extended in this game. The Raiders defense pressured Quinn the entire time. Quinn was only 2-of-4 passing for 1-yard and left the game with a head injury after a sack. Ironically, it was Cassel who had to leave the game on October. 7 vs. Baltimore after suffering a concussion, and at the time was sarcastically cheered by the fans when he was hurt. While it is in extremely poor taste to root for anyone to be injured, the fans this time were supported Cassel when he replaced Quinn, and he delivered. Cassel was 20-of-30 for 218 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He had a solid passer rating of 85.1 compared to Quinn’s 16.7. Grade B+
Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals and two extra points accounting for 14 of the team’s 26 points. Five of his kickoffs were touchbacks. The man is just consistent as can be week after week.
The same can be said of punter Shane Lechle,r who had six punts for 256 yards, an average of 42.7 per punt.
Philip Adams had three punt returns for 38 yards and Mike Goodson had two kick returns for 46 yards. Nothing special, but they didn’t hurt themselves in this category. Grade: B
The real test now is to see if the Raiders can make it three wins in a row. With Sunday’s win, they’re tied with the San Diego Chargers for second place in the AFC West at 3-4. Next week, they’ll play a non-conference opponent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are also 3-4.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.