By Ryan Leong
If the Oakland Raiders got graded based on heart and desire, they’d get an A. But this is the National Football League and with the exception of Sunday’s tie game by the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers, you either win or lose. Overall, this game rates an F for the Raiders who are spiraling downward quickly. This is by far the low point of the season. The Raiders were missing too many players, and with a mediocre running game missing Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, the Silver and Black were a predictable, one-dimension team. Playing the physically tough Baltimore Ravens in their stadium, the Raiders had a 99.99 percent chance of losing, and unfortunately that’s exactly what happened.
Final score: Baltimore Ravens 55, Oakland Raiders 20
Everyone has been patient toward head coach Dennis Allen and his coaching staff while they do their best to guide the team through its growing pains, but collectively, they seem to be sailing a ship without a rudder. They’re giving it their best effort, spending countless hours watching game video, inspecting their playbooks and drawing up new schemes on offense and defense. But the late owner Al Davis said it best: “Just win, baby.” That’s not even close to happening, and they’re not even competing; at least they didn’t this week. The Raiders were simply embarrassed in all facets of their game — and yes, there is such a thing as finger pointing, and it starts with the head coach. It’s back to the drawing board and they need to get their act together or the SS Raiders’ ship will sink even faster. Grade: F
The Raiders almost deserve an incomplete given the injuries to their two main running backs, but the other 31 teams in the NFL have to play with injuries, so the Raiders are no different. Without McFadden or Goodson, the Raiders running game, already second-worst in the NFL, was going to struggle even more. Credit goes to fullback Marcel Reece who led Oakland with 13 carries for 48 yards. Not great, but his 3.7 yards per carry is on par with what McFadden has been doing with the so-called zone blocking scheme, which has provided few holes for a running back to gain any yardage. Reece also had a team-high seven catches for 56 yards showing how versatile he is, and that’s a credit to him. Quarterback Carson Palmer had another fantastic game, going 29-of-45 for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw an interception and that resulted in a Baltimore field goal. But again, when you’re throwing the football as many times as Palmer is, you’re bound to miss on a few throws — that’s reality. He also helped engineer another scoring drive inside the final two minutes of the first half. This time, Darrius Heyward-Bey scored on a 55-yard reception. Grade: B
There’s a show on ESPN called Numbers Don’t Lie. Same holds true here. The Raiders came into this game ranked 23rd on defense. They outdid themselves on Sunday and in the process, added to the long injury list. Free safety Matt Giordano suffered a concussion, linebacker Travis Goethel suffered a serious knee injury, and cornerback Michael Huff injured his calf. On top of all that, the Raiders allowed the Ravens to tie their franchise record with 55 points scored. Joe Flacco passed at will, going 21-of-33 for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those were deep balls as the Raiders secondary was just torched. A major fail here. Grade: F
It can’t get any worse can it? Oh yes, it can….on one punt return, Philip Adams, dropped the ball then kicked it, Taiwan Jones tried to land on it only to allow it to bounce around some more, and then about four Ravens players surrounded it. If that weren’t enough to make you laugh, or cry, the Ravens kicked the Raiders while they were already down. Head coach John Harbaugh took a page from his younger brother Jim by dekeing the Raiders, scoring a touchdown with a 7-yard run on a fake field goal. For the nail in the coffin, Jacoby Jones ran back a kickoff for 105 yards to cap the scoring on the day. While the Ravens could be accused of poor sportsmanship by running up the score, the Raiders need to make plays on defense to stop them. Grade: An emphatic F
The Raiders had 10 penalties for 105 yards, committed three turnovers and were 0-for-3 in the red zone. So after this game, this video clip pretty much sums up how much of Raider Nation feels about the team. For those of the younger generation who have never seen the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it’s an 80’s classic, so go see it!
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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.