Friday, November 04, 2005

Kansas City or Bust

Before the Kansas City Chiefs came to town and rode blind zebras to victory, Raider Take dodged several arrows for calling their defense overrated. They’d beaten up the Jets during week one, and suddenly the media were flush with hype about the “new” Chiefs defense. Today, the Chiefs total defense ranks 29th in the NFL. Their pass defense ranks 31st.

I have a suggestion for a Chiefs team slogan: New but not improved!

Sunday's primary challenge for the Raiders, then, will not be scoring points, but rather stopping them. Moss is listed as "questionable" as of this writing, but Jordan, Porter and Gabriel should provide ample voltage for lighting up this “new” Chiefs defense.

On the other side of the ball, however, questions remain. Stopping the run was an issue against the Titans, as was stopping the tight ends. That’s a recipe for disaster against the Chiefs, specifically the tandem of Holmes and Gonzales. After Ms. Pac Man tore the Raiders up on kick returns last week, the idea of Dante Hall isn’t terribly appetizing, either.

There is probably no need to remind you that there is a lot on the line this Sunday...A step backward at this point could be lethal in terms of playoff hopes. That means no more complacent playcalling when possessing a lead. That means no more sure tackles missed. That means no more special teams breakdowns. The Raiders secondary may be relatively inexperienced, but the NFL doesn’t grade on a curve.

I predict that the Raiders will rise to the occasion. The offense will stay the course. The defense will tighten up. And they will smite and silence 79,000 cocky midwesterners to the tune of 31 to 20.


Blogger js said...

Deep hurting..Deep hurting...

6:06 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Sorry it took me so long to reply. I had a hard time pulling my head out of the toilet.

Is there someone out there who can crunch some data and tell me how many losses the Raiders have suffered over the past 10 years after taking or holding a lead within the last three minutes of the game? I feel like I've seen it a thousand times.

9:12 PM  
Blogger js said...

It haven't crunched the numbers. I'm too depressed. But it has happened a lot, both in regulation and in overtime contests. Back in '99 my girlfriend and I decided that Raider games had become like Greek tragedy. The epic 4th quarter collapses that would afflict the Raiders every other week would bring us to a state of pity and fear, leading to a catharsis.

But even in that weird, strange, tragic year, we beat the Chiefs!

4:34 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Hah! Greek tragedy, indeed.

Remember the Dolphins' Jay Fiedler in 2001, completing passes of 20 and 27 yards on the last drive, converting on 4th down, and finally diving into the end zone with five seconds left?

That's one I remember. Many of the others I've blocked out like an alien abduction. I can't recall all the details, but I've got the scars.

5:02 PM  
Blogger js said...

I do remember that. Let's leave this subject on a positive note, though.

Remember the last game of the 1999 season--Raiders vs. Chiefs? The Chiefs were playing for the AFC West Championship and a playoff spot. Only the week before we'd lost our hope of a post-season in San Diego in...well... eye-gougingly tragic fashion.

With seconds to go, and the Raiders down by three, Gannon lofts a pass to Tim Brown that takes us inside the Chiefs 30. Joe Nedney-- a.k.a. the reason Sebastian Janikowski was taken in the first round-- miraculously fails to choke, kicking a 38 yard field go as time expires to send the game into overtime.

Three minutes into overtime, the Raiders drive into field goal range. Nedney kicks the game winner, and the Chiefs have to watch the playoffs on TV with the rest of us.

Rich Gannon's performance in that game foreshadowed the great things he and the Raiders would do in the AFC West for the next three seasons. Even though we were in for some grief in those years--the 2000 AFC Title Game, the Tuck Rule, and the 2002 Game After the AFC Title Game I Can't Quite Remember-- there was more triumph than pain.

(Oh, for those Chiefs fans feeling smug, over that stretch we beat the your boys five out of six times; and, unlike any iteration of the Chiefs since men first walked on the moon, the Raiders earned a spot in a Super Bowl.)

So, as this last grim Sunday recedes, maybe the best thing to say is sometimes that's the way it goes; but sometimes, once in a while, it goes the other way too.

1:41 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

A good reminder and great memories. Onward to thumping the Broncos!

7:49 AM  

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