Raiders Recap–Preseason 2009 Week 3

Today should be referred to as “Slamathon Sunday.”

The intramural football team I play on, Slamathon, is good. They are very good. They are ridiculously good.

I will blog about our game yesterday because blogging about the Oakland Raiders will make me ill.

For those interested in the debacle that was the game between the Raiders and the New Orleans Saints, go to Just Blog Baby.

I will get to the Raiders, but first, Slamathon.

The only thing my teammates do better than play football is drink. I am not a drinker, but I know talent when I see it. They get hammered before the game, drink some more during the game, and then go to the bar to celebrate wins over contests of flip cup and beer pong. These guys are competitors. They want to win at everything, including drinking games.

They are also very good or very bad dancers. As somebody who is not a dancer, I cannot evaluate their skills. Somehow they are able to balance their arms and legs while…yes, drinking. Perhaps that coordination makes them better football players.

They also have creative themes for their games. This week the theme was “Thug Life,” where we all dressed up like gangsta rappers. Shockingly enough, I am not hardcore. My teammates pointed out that my being a Raiders fan meant I should have no trouble with the theme.

Some of the team showed up with one sock up high and one sock down low. The best I could do was a couple pieces of fake jewelry that I think the kids call bling. I also had a baseball cap featuring a happy face with a bullet hole to the head. I have no idea where I obtained the hat.

Before the game there was a spankathon, which may or may not be a traditional football ritual. The men received pregame slaps on their hides from the women. Football is the one career where this is not actionable by a human resources department. Since the Sacramento Queen has parents who shoot guns, I kept my hands to myself.

Oh yeah, and when the drinking, dancing, and spanking was done, we actually played a football game.

We had 10 players, but only 8 take the field at once. 4 girls have to be on the field at all times, yet the entire team was 4 guys and 6 girls. Therefore, the 4 guys could not substitute out. Given the hot sun, it meant the guys would have a long day.

We only led 16-0 because we kept voluntarily giving back touchdowns. This team is so good that we score, the other team complains about something, and the top players on our team say, “Ok fine, we will do the play again. Then we score on the next play. They complain again, we do it again. Personally I would not take the points off of the board, but this team knew what it was doing before I got there.

In the third quarter we took a 24-0 lead, and then things got really interesting. The guys decided to just take the rest of the day off. After all, beer is not in infinite supply. It was me and 6 girls on the field for our team. I could not sub out because I was rushing the passer. Yet we had only 7 people instead of 8.

Now these girls are really good football players. However, a team of all girls normally does not manhandle (or womanhandle) a team of guys. They stopped the other team for most of the game.

We won the game 24-6. As for me, when the game was over, I realized that I played every single snap.

Iron man football is not my thing. I prefer to play a few plays, sit out for long stretches, and recover. So this was a strange occurrence. As exhausted as I was, I did not do that badly. My first pass rush resulted in me batting down the pass. It went right back into the quarterback’s arm. He tried to argue that this counted as a completion, but the referee was having none of it. Later in the game I even had a sack, which is not easy to do in a game where “5 Mississippi” gives plenty of time to the quarterback.

On offense, I did not do any harm.

The team we defeated was “Shake and Bake,” a tribute to the Will Ferrell movie “The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

I must really like these guys I play with, because the Raiders game was on at the time of our game. I was tivoing it. When I got to the bar and saw the disaster, I realized that Slamathon may be better than the Raiders. This is not comforting for me.

Like Slamathon, the Raiders did complete a gorgeous touchdown pass. Yet the Raiders were more like Shake and Bake. Shake and Bake scored their touchdown during garbage time when they were down 24-0. The Raiders scored theirs to turn a 45-0 deficit into a furious rally that fell just short at 45-7.

Anyway, enough about Slamathon. No matter how much I brag about them, it is only delaying the inevitable, which is that the Raiders are a silver and black mess.

Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas did not play, so the Saints had their third string running back. It did not matter. Drew Brees played pitch and catch with Jeremy Shockey, and a 10 play 80 yard drive that took 6 1/2 minutes had the Saints up 7-0.

The Raiders started out with JaMarcus Russell throwing a 12 yard pass to Darrius Heyward Bey. The Russell went deep to Zach Miller for a 36 yard gain. Only 2 plays, and the Raiders were at the New Orleans 27. On the third play Russell was belted, fumbled, and the Raiders were done.

Drew Brees tossed a 40 yard touchdown pass to a wide open Devry Henderson to make it 14-0. To add insult to injury, a defensive penalty on the play was declined. The Raiders went three and out, and the Saints got the ball back. Brees was sacked for a large loss, but the Saints quickly got the yardage back. Early in the second quarter, Brees threw another touchdown pass to put the Saints up 21-0. The Raiders had run only 6 offensive plays to that point.

As awful as this game was, Darren McFadden remains a superstar at running back. He ripped off a 22 yard run. Unfortunately, a holding penalty nullified it. On their next series after actually stopping the Saints, Russell rolled out and threw to Louis Murphy, who dropped it. On the next play, a 3rd and 7 throw to Johnny Lee Higgins was high. Higgins was open, and Russell missed him. Russell was 12 for 18, and he was not the reason the team was getting killed.

Mark Brunell came in for Drew Brees, but that did not matter. Oakland was wretched. The run defense was a disaster. Somewhere Rob Ryan was glad to be somewhere else. A sideline interview with Shane Lechler mad me sad because every time he is referred to as the greatest punter in the NFL, it reminds me how far the team has t go to find a superstar worth interviewing. Yes, Lechler is fantastic. Yet bragging about the punter is like a woman looking at a man from top to bottom before complimenting his shoes.

A pass interference penaty on Stanford Routt was followed by a second pass interference call on Routt. He does not seem to be a good football player. Chris Johnson should start opposite Nahmdi Aomugha. Routt is a weak link.

The Saints had two touchdown passes called back by penalties, and a third straight penalty had them facing 3rd and goal at the 27. 45 Year old John Carney kicked a field goal to put the Saints up 24-0. Russell came back and hit McFadden on a nice 12 yard pass, but on the next play, McFadden fumbled, and it was returned to the 6 yard line. It looked like McFadden was down by contact, but the referees were not to blame for a game being 24-0 before that play.

Yet this time the defense did its job. Brunell was intercepted n the end zone. Brees is the starter, but Brunell was not helping himself as the backup. Russell had the Raiders at 3rd and 4 before being sacked, resulting in another 3 and out and another punt.

At the 2 minute warning, Brunell threw a short swing pass. A mistackle by Stanford Routt, who at this point would not make Slamathon, led to a 71 yard gain. Chris Johnson, who should take ROutt’s job, ran down the receiver at the one yard line. The defense did stop the Saints on first down, but on second down the Saints had their 31-0 lead with 1:21 left in the half. That was enough time for Russell to get sacked again. The offensive line has not been good since the 2002 season.

The Saints actually almost caught the Hail Mary near the end of the half, but the last play of the half featured an interception by Chris Johnson, who returned it to midfield. At least one player showed up.

At halftime, the Saints led in first downs 19-3, in rushing yard 92 to 1…yes, one yard…in passing yards 252 to 59, in total yards 344 to 60, and in time of possession 20 1/2 minutes to 9 1/2 minutes. Oh, and they led in points 31-0.

Why they played the second half, I will never know. Perhaps television contracts require this. JaMarcus Russell started the 3rd quarter, and just like on the first drive of the game, he began firing, He hit Zach Miller for 27 yards. It still is frustrating that big plays are followed by big disasters. On 3rd and 12, Russell hit Higgins for what would have been a first down, except Higgins dropped it. The Raiders punted.

On the next series, Russell hit Louis Murphy on a 40 yard gain. Unfortunately, Murphy was stripped of the ball, giving it back to the Saints. The Saints faced 4th and 2 at the Oakland 44, which they converted. At that point they had run 55 plays to 27 for the Raiders. A touchdown run had them up 38-0.

Jeff Garcia came in for Russell. He threw a perfect pass that was dropped. The quarterbacks are not the problem on this team. They can’t make linemen block or receivers catch. Garcia completed passes when he had time, but he was rolling out and running for his life because there was no protection. On 4th and 3 from midfield, Garcia found Murphy for a 30 yard gain to the 20.

Critics of the Raiders say the deep ball is ancient history. The team completed big plays. The problem was not the deep ball. The problem was an inability to finish off drives after completing the long passes. On second and 6 from the 17, the Raiders had a holding penalty to kill the drive.

Joey Harrington, who apparently still plays football, came in at third string for the Saints at quarterback. On 4th and 1 from the Oakland 42, the Saints suffered a false start. Yet they decided to go for it on 4th and 6 form the 47. Of course they converted. Harrington did badly with the Detroit Lions. Then again, everybody does. Harrington played well against the Oakland Raiders. Sadly enough, in the last 6 years, everybody does. On 4th and 8 from the 11, the Saints decided to go for it rather than sit on a 38 point lead. Harrington threw a touchdown pass to make it 45-0.

A 43 yard touchdown pass from Garcia to Jonathan Holland averted the shutout.

Slamathon plays their next game September 12th. We will be ready.

The Raiders host the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football on September 14th. As of now, they are not ready.

On September 11th, 2006, the Raiders hosted the Chargers on the first night of Monday Night Football on ESPN. The Raiders lost 27-0. I hope history does not repeat itself.

There is little cause for optimism at this point.

The last time the Raiders were good, Bill Callahan took a team assembled by Jon Gruden to the Super Bowl.

The Monday Night Football game will have Jon Gruden in the broadcast booth.

If the game gets out of hand, he can always brag about Slamathon.

Saints 45, Raiders 7.


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