Re-Focused – Raiders @ Chiefs, Week 16
Re-Focused – Raiders @ Chiefs, Week 16
Things often get ugly when these teams get together—okay, in any game in which the Raiders are involved this season—but the Raiders and Chiefs apparently took that trend as a challenge in this game. This season’s most penalized team (Oakland) playing the team with the NFL record for penalties in a season (Kansas City) kept Mike Carey and crew extra alert and perhaps a little less judicious in letting the laundry fly at Arrowhead. The officials had a bit of difficulty spotting the first flag thrown, but it was probably easier when the 26th flag hit the grass.
Mistakes and missed opportunities were the theme of the game, although the quality of play did improve after a first half that included 18 of the 26 penalties. Each team had one particularly painful penalty in the first half. After finding success with a bold trick play on special teams earlier in the year against Houston, the Raiders had a touchdown wiped out by a delay of game penalty on a fake field goal in which Brandon Myers took a quick toss from Shane Lechler (+2.8) 36 yards to the end zone. Javier Arenas picked off a pass and returned it deep into Oakland territory late in the first quarter, but only managed to do so because he pulled T.J. Houshmandzadeh to the ground.
Ultimately, though, the Raiders prevailed and eliminated the Chiefs from playoff contention. Perhaps the overtime victory is the momentum the Raiders need to do their part towards securing a playoff berth themselves this week. One week removed from surrendering a double-digit lead to the Lions in the fourth quarter at home, it looked like more of the same after the Raiders coughed up a 13-6 lead late in the game with the Chiefs’ two minute, 80-yard drive. Instead, they got the big play when it mattered most and got the win they needed.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
Big Plays from Starting Wideouts Spark Victory
First off, I should point out that if not for the fact that I adhere to a personal policy of discussing two positive performances and one negative for the winning team and vice versa for the losing team, I would probably go with negative performances straight through. That’s how sloppy the game was. Instead, I’ll acknowledge the big plays made by the starting wide receivers despite a wildly inconsistent quarterbacking display from Carson Palmer (-1.1). In his second game back from an ankle injury, Denarius Moore (+1.4) looked a lot better than he did against Detroit and had his third-highest career receiving yardage output with 94.
Of those yards, 61 came on the Raiders’ sole touchdown at 9:00 third quarter. Rashard Langford (-1.7) was late recognizing the deep ball and didn’t turn out of his backpedal in time to make a play on the ball as a wide-open Moore caught a perfectly-placed pass in stride and ran the last 10 yards to the end zone. Darrius Heyward-Bey (+1.0) made an equally significant contribution on the first play of overtime, making a 53-yard reception to put the Raiders in position to give Sebastian Janikowski a short field goal. In a game with 26 drive-killing penalties, those two big plays were enough for Oakland to eke out the win.
Protecting Hue’s Investment
Carson Palmer may not have had one of his better games, but with what Hue Jackson gave up to get him the Raiders’ offensive line better make keeping him upright a priority. He didn’t always make the best decisions with the protection he was afforded, but that shouldn’t detract from the solid pass-blocking the line displayed in earning the fourth highest Pass Blocking Efficiency rating in Week 16. Jared Veldheer (-2.0) was penalized twice and Khalif Barnes (-1.4) continued his trend of substandard run-blocking, but the interior played well. Both guards and center Samson Satele (+1.4) graded in the green and yielded only a single pressure between them. Right guard Cooper Carlisle (+2.2) stood out amongst the group with some good blocks in the run game as well. It hasn’t been a good season on the whole for Carlisle, but he’s allowed only one pressure in the last three games. Oakland won this game largely because of those two deep balls and the offensive line should be acknowledged for giving the deep routes time to develop.
Cornerbacks Collapse Late
There were a few other “worthy” candidates for the negative performance, but starting cornerbacks Stanford Routt (-2.7) and Lito Sheppard (-4.9) get the unwanted acknowledgement for committing five of the defense’s eight penalties and contributing five combined negatively-graded plays on the Chiefs’ final fourth quarter drive. Routt was actually mostly solid in coverage for the majority of the game, but Sheppard yielded 137 yards on nine catches and missed a tackle to boot on his way to his worst game of the season. With 1:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, Sheppard was swallowed up in a block from Casey Wiegmann, allowing Dexter McCluster ample room to take the screen pass 49 yards downfield. On the very next play, Routt couldn’t disrupt Dwyane Bowe’s timing on a back-shoulder throw that the receiver was able to turn and catch with ease.
Kansas City – Three Performances of Note
Orton Comes Back to Earth
Chiefs fans were wondering why the Broncos allowed Kyle Orton (-3.2) to hit the waiver wire after he helped hand the Packers their first loss last week, but he hurt his long-term appeal with this follow-up performance. Credit for leading a game-tying drive late in the game, but Orton wasn’t able to do much for the first 58 minutes. He demonstrated all the attributes that have made him the type of quarterback a team always has an eye on replacing throughout his career. At 3:06 second quarter he ruins a scoring opportunity in the red zone by failing to notice free safety Matt Giordano undercutting Bowe’s (+2.7) route and forcing the ball into the end zone anyway. He didn’t handle the little pressure he faced well and committed intentional grounding twice to add to a procedural penalty (delay of game). His poor grade is largely a result of those three penalties, but he did have more negatively-graded throws than positive. He’ll need a better performance next week for Kansas City to consider bringing him back.
Kendrick Lewis Spoils Good Game
Each safety was responsible for one of the two big pass plays Oakland produced and Rashard Langford’s role in Moore’s touchdown has been mentioned already. Kendrick Lewis (+2.7) was initially fooled into thinking Heyward-Bey was going to streak down the middle of the field and couldn’t keep up with the speedy receiver when he had to turn and break towards the sideline. Unfortunately that crucial play will be the one that sticks with Lewis and spoils an otherwise good game from the second-year safety. That catch was the only one he allowed in coverage and he made a couple impressive pass breakups. He also would have likely had an interception to pad the stat sheet had Derrick Johnson not made the safe play in deflecting a pass that appeared on course for Lewis behind him. He may have cost his team the game with that play in the end, but his good work beforehand should be appreciated all the same.
Slow and Steady Defines the Running Game
The Chiefs didn’t rip off huge gains and shred the Oakland run defense, but the offensive line more often than not won their battles in the run game and allowed the Chiefs’ running backs to pick up chunks of yardage consistently. Of the team’s 135 rushing yards, only 59 came after contact and they still averaged 4.5 yards per carry, indicating that the offensive lineman kept the ball-carrier clean through the hole on most runs. Fourth-fifths of the line did grade in the green and all four contributed positive run-blocking grades, with right tackle Barry Richardson (-1.6) being the black sheep. Wiegmann (+2.8) made the key block on the McCluster screen pass, but right guard Jon Asomoah (+4.4) was the most impressive blocker on the day. He didn’t allow any pressure in pass protection and had seven positively-graded blocks in the run game, four of which were one-on-one blocks of Tommy Kelly (-3.0).
– Dexter McCluster (+2.4) was targeted five times in 19 pass play snaps, an absurd rate for a running back. He rewarded the attention with 89 yards receiving.
– Tyson Jackson (+1.6) made five defensive stops for the second time in three games, bringing his season total to 37, the third-most among 3-4 defensive ends.
– Lito Sheppard’s 137 yards allowed was the most yards yielded by any cornerback in Week 16, though he didn’t play strictly cornerback the whole game.
PFF Game Ball
I haven’t mentioned him yet, but I didn’t forget Richard Seymour’s two blocked field goals, though the second was incorrectly attributed to Trevor Scott in the NFL’s scoring. He didn’t have much of an impact on defense, but the blocks were the difference in this game and earn him a PFF Game Ball.