Raiders Recap–Preseason Week 3

The Raiders played the Rams in the third preseason game. Given that the teams were going to be leaving their starters in through some of the third quarter, this would be a better gauge of where the Raiders are.

Below is a pure vanilla recap of the game.

The Rams won the toss, and Seabass boomed a kickoff for a touchback. He needs to do that. On the first play from scrimmage, Marc Bulger completed a 40 yard bomb to Isaac Bruce. Not a good start. To the credit of the Raider defense, they stiffened and did not allow anything else on that drive.

The Raiders first play was a 30+ yard gain, but it was on a pass interference call. That is not the same thing as actually completing the pass. Culpepper had a very nice scramble when it appeared he was going to be sacked, so seeing him run healthy is a big positive. On a 3rd down and 4, one of those lovely West Coast passes I despise so much (Throw it past the marker!) failed to pick up a first down.

Sebastian Janikowski was the early star of the game. He kicked a 51 yard field goal off the dirt, not an easy thing to do. He then boomed another touchback, which was called back due to the Raiders being offsides on the kickoff. The Raiders,a s always, make dumb penalties. Neverthless, Seabass boomed another touchback anyway.

The Rams failed to move the ball on their next possession. The Raider defense is solid, and looking good. Culpepper through a 20+ yard pass to Jerry Porter that was well thrown, but incomplete. However, the defense was called for illegal use of hands. Nevertheless, Culpepper went back to Porter for another 20 yard pass, that was well thrown and well caught.

Culpepper had difficulty with a couple snaps again, but these bobbles were not fumbles. He hung onto them after a brief moment of nervousness. An end around led to another long gain by Johnny Lee Higgins. A Lamont Jordan run set up a 3rd down and 1 from the Ram 6 yard line. Culpepper was short on the quarterback sneak. This is not acceptable in the regular season. Those have to be converted. However, on 4th and 1, Lamont Jordan barreled through for the first down.

The Raiders then proved why they are coming off a 2-14 season. An 8 minute drive led to 3rd and goal at the 1 yard line. Lamont Jordan fumbled, and the Rams recovered for a touchback. There are no moral victories. Four years of pathetic football were summed up on that one play.

The Rams went nowhere, as the Raiders defense remained stout. The first quarter was dominated by the Raiders, yet they led only 3-0. This is why the defense would wear down in the fourth quarter last year, and games would be lost. However, the Raider offense was not totally inept. They did move the ball well, allowing the defense to rest. The offensive line did their jobs. They just have to finish those drives with touchdowns.

On 3rd down and 1 at midfield, Culpepper threw a gorgeous bomb to Jerry Porter. It hit Porter in the hands, and he dropped it. Porter was double covered, but it should have been caught. On 4th down and 2 from midfield, the Raiders went for it. They would not do that in the regular season, but in all fairness they would not have thrown that bomb on 3rd and 1 in the regular season either. Lamont Jordan redeemed himself at picked up the first down. Another bomb to Johnny Le Higgins was caught on the sidelines. He was ruled out of bounds, but he was interfered with, so it was another first down. I was pleased that Culpepper was being allowed to air it out on several occasions.

Culpepper then beat an all out blitz, dumped it off to Ronald Curry, who made one move, and raced to the end zone for a touchdown. JaMarcus Russell may be the future if he ever signs, but Culpepper made a veteran throw against a blitz for a 10-0 lead.

Marc Bulger threw a pass straight to a Raider defender, but it was dropped. Oh well, it is preseason. Unfortunately, those drops give offenses second chances, and Bulger then took the Rams on their first sustained drive of the game.

I rarely ever get excited in preseason, but when the Rams had 2nd and goal at the 7, Kirk Morrison leveled the running back with a hit I have not seen since Greg Biekert. The defense held the Rams to a field goal, making it 10-3.

Culpepper was done with 6 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. I was expecting him to play in the 3rd quarter, but he did play well enough to justify sitting him down. Josh McCown then came in. The starting offensive line stayed in.

In a surprising role reversal, the Raiders were quite disciplined penalty wise, while the Rams were called for their 4th defensive penalty, and their 3rd pass interference. Josh McCown then rolled out and threw a gorgeous pass on the run to wide receiver Madsen, looking quite Culpepperlike. McCown then threw another gorgeous pass to Madsen, setting up 1st and goal at the 10. McCown looked awful the first 2 games, but these 2 passes were very solid.

The Raiders then again reverted back to their 2-14 bumbling mode. 3 more plays, negative 7 yards, and a missed 33 yard field goal. The Raiders were dominating the game, and led only 10-3. Again, I will keep beating into the ground that the Raiders lost many games that they were winning in the 4th quarter. They should have been up 20-3, but should have means nothing.

The defense bailed out the offense, as they did all last year until wearing down late in games. The Rams 2 minute drill went nowhere as the Raiders stuffed a run of the middle on 3rd and 1. As heartbreaking as the offense is, the defense is almost as thrilling.

With 1:10 on the clock and the Raiders on their own 35, McCown completed a screen pass to Lamont Jordan, who took it 51 yards. The blocking was perfect, and Jordan smartly got out of bounds at the end of the play. McCown through for the end zone, and the Rmas had their 5th defensive penalty, and their 4th pass interference.

I am not sure if the Rams defense really is that bad, but all 5 of the defensive penalties were blatant, so it is hard to gauge if these passes would have been complete. Jerry Porter is a speedster, and perhaps he does deserve credit for drawing the penalties. On 1st and goal at the 1, Jordan was stuffed. This is worrisome because every additional play increases the chance for a mistake. However, not this time. On the next play Jordan went wide and easily scored, making it 17-3 at the half. The Raiders led in time of possession 18 minutes to 12. This can only help them when the season begins.

At the start of the 2nd half, the Raiders received the kickoff, and in a bizarre circumstance, on 1st down and 10, the Rams defense called time out. I have never seen that before. It is refreshing to see the other team be the disorganized mess. However, the drive stalled when on 4th and 2 from the Ram 37, a perfectly thrown pass by McCown was dropped.

With 12 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Gus Frerotte entered the game, replacing Marc Bulger. It was officially garbage time. While there is much improvement needed, there has also been much improvement as well. The Raiders starters defeated the Rams starters 17-3, and that is a positive.

Gus Frerotte, still playing well in his 14th season, got to the Raider 40, but the Rams turned it over on downs. In what bordered on ridiculous, McCown threw a 40 yard bomb that was incomplete, but again the Rams were called for their 6th defensive penalty, and 5th pass interference. Again, it was blatant. Either the Raider receivers are that fast, or the Rams secondary is that slow. It felt bizarre listening to commentators talking about penalties, and not be talking about the Raiders.

The Raiders suffered another dropped pass on 3rd down, and again it was a well thrown ball. Seabass made a 42 yard field goal after his inexplicable earlier miss, to make it 20-3.

Frerotte drove the Rams to first and goal at the Raider three, but came up with no points. A false startand a couple plays later, the Rams inexplicably went for it on 4th and goal at the 3. In preseason, that would most likely be a field goal attempt. Nevertheless, the defense held.

From 1st down at their own 3, McCown rolled out and threw a perfect sideline strike to Taylor for 22 yards. Hey, it was not Plunkett to Branch for 99 yards, but I liked the aggressiveness. In the regular season, that beats runs up the middle that go nowhere, set up 3rd down and long, forced punts, and good field position for the opponents. Also, those passes set up running plays that are more effective.

McCown got leveled and fumbled at his own 30, with the Rams recovering. Normally I would jump on the Raiders and McCown, but he got nailed, and it was more a great defensive blitz rather than an offensive screwup. The Raiders led 20-3 after 3 quarters, and the Rams started the 4th quarter with 3rd down and goal at the Raider 6 yard line. Frerotte threw a touchdown pass on the next play. The Raiders wisely challenged it, but the touchdown was upheld to make it 20-10.

Chris Carr returned the next kickoff 80 yards to the Ram 16. Andrew Walter entered the game with phenomenal field position, and was promptly sacked for 10 yards. I do not care that it was garbage time in the 4th quarter of a preseason game, but there is no reason to bring in the 3rd string quarterback at that moment unless you plan to run the ball. On 4th down and 10 from the 16, the Raiders avoided the field goal and decided to go for it, for no other reason than to give Walter some practice. In the regular season it would be the field goal unit. A typical west coast pass several yards short of the marker was dropped.

The defense teed off on Frerotte, and Johnny Lee Higgins had a punt return for 55 yards and a touchdown, but it was called back by a penalty. Normally this would be a disaster, but 2 returns back to back is sill impressive, and the hold was totally unrelated to the return, while the punt was still in the air. The Raiders instead started at their own 40.

The Raiders went nowhere, and Shane Lechler came into punt. I was as shocked as anyone when it was announced that with 10:30 left in the 4th quarter, the Raiders were punting for the first time. Even the most cynical Raider fans have to be pleased about that. The score was only 20-10, but the Raiders simply played well overall for most of the game. The Rams 3rd string quarterback Patrick came in the game.

One of the more exciting plays in the game happened with 8:30 left. From the Raider 35, Quarterback Patrick scrambled, eluded virtually everybody, and practically ran it the 35 yards for the touchdown. It would have been a pthetic defensive effort, but then Raider defender Johnson came from behind, and perfectly punched it out of Patrick’s hands. It went through the endzone for a touchback. I am not sure if it evened out the Jordan fumble, because things rarely even out in football, but it was a nice effort not to give up on the play.

Rather than run the ball and run out the clock, it was obvious the Raider coaching staff wanted to see what Andrew Walter could do. Even against Ram backups, the answer was not much. However, hard running by Echimandu, including a 4th and 1 at midfield, took the clock down to one minute. Then on a very strange play, on 4th and long from the Ram 25, the Raiders brought in 4th string quarterback Otis, who ran a draw play up the middle to Echimandu to pick up the first down. The Raiders ran out the last 9 minutes on the clock, and dominated the overall time of possession.

The bottom line is that this Raider team is starting to gel. Winning 20-10 is secondary. What matters is the defense continued to play well, Culpepper seems to have settle din as the starting quarterback, the offensive line is holding up, and the penalties are coming down. We shall see, but so far, so good.

eric

7 Responses to “Raiders Recap–Preseason Week 3”

  1. Carole says:

    ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz………..

    ;->

  2. Bob Agard says:

    I’m with Carole. I cannot believe I am actually reading and enjoying a blog written by a seemingly sane member of the Raider Nation. I am a Bronco fan, but have not even got a subscription to satellite or cable t.v., so I guess I am not as rabid as I once was. I would rather blog and read blogs, then read about the Broncos in the newspapers. I hope your Raiders enjoy as much success as they did last year.

  3. J-E-T-S!!! JETS! JETS! JETS!!!

    Good luck to the Raiders, though. Gotta love ol’ crazy Al Davis! Were would the NFL be without him?

    😉 JMJ

  4. Smokin Joe says:

    Gooo Patriots.

    Adalius Thomas, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Asante is back…

    Heck, even Brady’s a new daddy!

    Drooooooooooool.

  5. Jersey McJones says:

    I can’t believe that Pats got Moss! The Pats are pure evil, I say! EEEEVILLLLL!!! 😉

    JMJ

  6. Thomas Hagen says:

    I’m liking this blog, but I have to say I am with Bob on the subject of football.

    GO BRONCOS!

  7. After almost 25 years as a Raiders fan, my town finally got an NFL franchise so I’m a Titans fan! Vince and the boys are looking good this year so far as well.

    But once a Raiders fan, always a Raiders fan and I’m a sucker for the Silver and Black.

    Thanks for the recap, E …

    It made my day!

    BCM

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