Bruce Gradkowski has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his game winning heroics in last Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pittsburgh-native returned home for the third time as an NFL quarterback. The previous two trips were while he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns; and he left town with a loss in both contests.The third time was a charm as he led the Raiders to a 27-24 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in his hometown in front of family and friends.
Gradkowski completed 20 of 33 passes for 308 yards and he became the first Raider quarterback in 30 years to throw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter when Ken Stabler did it in 1979. He also was the first Raider quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards since Dante Culpepper did it in November of 2007.
He led the Raiders off in the fourth quarter to take their first lead of the game only to see the Steelers retake the lead in just two plays. On the Raiders’ next possession, he executed a play action fake on third and 1 and threw a perfect ball to Murphy in stride for a 75-yard touchdown. Finally, after seeing the Steelers march right back down to field to take the lead back again, he trotted back out on the field to see if there was any magic left in that hat.
The result was an 88 yard drive with just under two minutes on the clock capped off when he connected with Louis Murphy for the 11 yard, game-winning touchdown pass while leaving just nine seconds left to play. All told, Gradkowski completed five passes to three different receivers for 82 yard during the game-winning drive.
Louis Murphy could join Gradkowski in being honored with a weekly award. Murphy is among the nominees for the NFL Rookie of the Week award after being the recipient of 4 of those passes for 128 yards and 2 of the 3 fourth quarter touchdowns. Murphy also became the first Raider wide receiver to have over 100 yards receiving since Ronald Curry had 120 yards in the same November 2007 game that saw Culpepper throw for over 300 yards. So yeah, it’s been a while for this team.
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The Rookie of the Week winner will be announced this Friday the 11th.