By Ryan Leong
The Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos are two teams going in completely opposite directions. From the Raiders point of view, this game was excruciatingly painful to watch because it was another loss despite a hard fought effort. Oakland was in the game but mistakes would doom the Raiders to a sixth straight loss, giving the Silver and Black their first season of double digit losses since 2009. The Broncos, led by Peyton Manning and a strong supporting cast, are the NFL’s hottest team having won eight in a row. Denver is among the best teams in the AFC, improving to 10-3. Final score: Denver Broncos 26, Oakland Raiders 13
You have to feel for head coach Dennis Allen. In less than a week, his team has lost two games. But more importantly, his father died from a sudden heart attack and Allen left the team after the loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday to be with his family.
“I went home on Sunday and took my father off life support and that’s not easy to do. So, was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team. And I wanted to be here with this football team. I’m sure you can imagine that it wasn’t an easy situation.”
While it would have been nice to see the team rally around its coach to end the losing streak, it just wasn’t to be. It seems like Allen is getting his team prepared for each game but the outcome is the same each week. It’s time to change the game plan. Grade: D
Carson Palmer has been described as the new Jeff George. Sure, he throws for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns practically every game, but he also commits costly turnovers. Last week, down 13-10 and going for the win against the Cleveland Browns, Palmer threw a terrible pass and was intercepted. The Raiders fought on but would lose 20-17. This week, Palmer was sacked and fumbled the ball. The Broncos recover the ball on the Oakland 2-yard line, setting up a Knowshon Moreno scoring run and putting the game out of reach. It was a real positive to see running back Darren McFadden back on the field, and he had some nice plays including a six-yard touchdown reception, but the bad news is he may have tweaked his right ankle again. Grade: C
The good news is that for a second straight game, the Raiders defense allowed fewer than 30 points. The bad news is that they still allowed 428 yards of total offense and the Broncos were 7-of-14 on third down conversions. Granted, it’s a tough assignment to try and to stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos, who are the hottest team in the league right now. Still, Thursday night’s performance was an improvement, and given that the team continues to lose, any silver lining is better than nothing. Grade: C
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski didn’t kick any field goals in this game. He had one extra point. As the offense continues to struggle, it gives punter Shane Lechler plenty of opportunities and this game was no different. He had five punts averaging 43.4 yards. His longest was 58 yards. Mike Goodson, in his first game back, had two kick returns for 34 yards. It was good to see him on the field after missing four games with a high ankle sprain. Overall, though, it was an ordinary night for the special teams. Grade: B-
This team is practically unwatchable except for the die-hard fans, who are becoming fewer and fewer. Even though this game was a “sellout,” it’s obvious with all the empty seats that tickets were either given away or purchased en masse in order to allow the game to be shown locally without a blackout. With the Raiders hosting the rival Kansas City Chiefs in 10 days for the home finale, that might be the team’s best chance for one more victory. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem likely this Raiders team will win again. Playing hard but lacking talent is why the Raiders are 3-10. Maybe Raider fans will enjoy doing something else this Sunday, like going Christmas shopping or watching some good football matchups by the other teams in action.
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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.