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Raiders overcome overconfidence to pull out win
Oct 10, 2010; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders safeties Hiram Eugene (31) and Mike Mitchell (34) celebrate with fans after Eugene scored on a 5-yard blocked punt return in the first quater against the San Diego Chargers at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 35-27. Photo via Newscom

Just a week after giving up 38 points to the Jaguars, the Raider defense doesn’t seem to have lost any of their confidence. If anything, it appears they have somehow gained some. They came out in this game with a lot of fire, but that fire seemed to be put out in the first half by the rain.

With the rain going away in the second half, the play improved, as did the sloppy play of the offense. The Raiders did win the game but neither the offense nor the defense should be crowing about how great they played versus a terrible Bronco team starting a rookie quarterback.

The offense had two turnovers in the first half on an interception at the line and a fumbled lateral attempt by McFadden. Both of those turnovers were converted to touchdowns by the Broncos. One of those was a 40 yard run by Tebow and the other was on a ball that Tebow threw that had way too much air under it and should have been intercepted.

The Raiders won the game 39-23 but the Broncos either had the lead, were tied, or very close until the fourth quarter. That should not happen against a team like the Broncos. After all, they had double digit losses (10) coming into this game. Add the aformentioned rookie quarterback starting, and this game shouldn’t have been close from the start.

“We run the west,” said Mike Mitchell.”This is our division now, so I hope I’m not being too cocky or too forward, but that’s how our team feels. We run this now.”

How can this team run the division from third place? Sure, the Raiders are 5-0 in the division this year and have swept the Chargers and Broncos. But they are still third in the division and will need a lot of help getting into the playoffs thanks to going 2-7 against teams outside the division. I am sure either the Chargers or the Chiefs would be more than happy to lose two to the Raiders if it means they win the division anyway.

Much of the talk seemed to be about putting the Jaguars game behind them.

“This today proves that we’re not a team that’s going to harp on the losses,” said Quentin Groves. “We’re just going to come out and play ball. Once we play Raider football we’re probably the best team in the NFL.”

But if this is how they play after such a loss, perhaps they shouldn’t forget but rather use it as motivation to never let up. And let’s slow down on the “best team in the NFL” talk. Michael Huff was the only player to acknowledge what happened last week and using it as a motivational tool.

“I used it,” said Huff. “Especially that third quarter when I gave up two touchdowns. It hurts any time you give up two TD passes in a loss, but I had to use that and bounce back this week.”

The entire team, and the defense in particular, needed to get a verbal kick in the pants by Cable at halftime. According to different players, including Mitchell, he told them to “stop playing around. You gotta fight for what you want.”

“We got chewed out at halftime. Cabes came in and cussed out everybody on the team and kind of got our attention. He said we were playing well. Without the turnovers, it probably would have been a worse score than that. We let them stay in the game. He was just like, ‘Man, don’t give nobody no hope. Let’s not come in here after the game and talk about we missed this chance, we didn’t take advantage of our opportunity.’ He wanted us to go out there in the second half and step on their necks… ‘Get off your ass and play. Take advantage of the opportunity. Let’s not come in Monday meetings and be talking about how we had it, we had it, we had it. No woulda, coulda, shoulda. Take advantage of what you got. You got an opportunity. You know this team. They’re going to give you an opportunity to put them away. Put them away. Step on their throat.’ He just kept saying it over and over again. ‘Step on their throat.’ “

The Raiders came into the game overconfident, were humbled and now it appears they didn’t learn much from it because they are back to overconfidence again. Luckily, Cable was able to get them to wake up and come back out in the second half and play like they should have played from the start.

It seems like a foolish notion that the Raiders could be confident enough to underestimate the threat of Peyton Manning and the Colts coming to town next week but they have fallen into that trap before. If this team can come out sloppy in this game despite a crucial loss to the Jaguars the week prior, they can certainly come out flat after a win like this.

This game should be just as much of a learning tool to avoid any kind of letdowns in the final two weeks.

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