Sunday, September 21, 2008

Raiders Celebrate Too Early

By Rick Richardson

The latest punch in the stomach to the Oakland Raider organization and fans was a fourth quarter meltdown by the Raiders to let the Buffalo Bills back into the game. After a Johnny Lee Higgins 84-yard touchdown explosion and subsequent taunting penalty, the wheels came off. This was an all too familiar ending for beleaguered Raider players and fans alike.

After Higgins’ romp, alarm bells rang in my head. Call it a case of deja vu. I shouted at the screen, "this is no time for a celebration; you have a lot of football to play". Somewhere I had witnessed the ending of this game before. Maybe it was in a past life, or maybe just last season, but this was eerily familiar. In fact, in coaching there is a term for this display of endless humility. It is called, “finding a way to lose”, and although the Raiders have discovered fresh and exciting ways to give a game away, this time around they employed a popular method practiced by all floundering teams. It is called playing not to lose. The tried and true formula calls for a team to play their backsides off for say, three and one half quarters. Sometimes all the way up to the two minute warning, and then just when the opposition least expects it, stop bringing the heat on defense and fall into a loose zone that gives up chunks of yardage. Calling it a prevent defense is a misnomer, as it should really be called the permit defense, as it allows a team that hasn’t moved the ball well to begin racing down the field like bat out of the black hole. It also turns struggling mediocre quarterbacks into the second coming of Joe Montana, and equally sends announcers into the front seat of the bandwagon for the previously mentioned and suddenly unstoppable quarterback. The Cardinals and Saints were masters at it for years and only recently have they lost their talent for finding the L column in the daily standings. The Bengals seemingly have been threatened by the Raiders recent knack for futility and have ratcheted it up a notch to show the upstart Raiders how “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” is done. Whether we are tucked out of a game in New England, or laying down for an inferior opponent, the Raiders seem to be cursed. Make no mistake; Buffalo was not inferior, as they seem to be finding football players lately, as opposed to speedsters.

After the latest calamity to befall the Raiders, I sat there telling myself that I would not lament until Wednesday what went wrong. Therefore, I decided to try to put my finger on the problem to find a solution, and what I ended up with was the realization that I needed at least ten fingers to address this franchise’s problems. Yet here I am ready for the next dose of demystified Raider football. The “Mystique of the Raiders” has been gone so long it is mummified. Nevertheless, Monday morning will come and I will find myself chasing the ghost of season’s past. Hoping in the return of the “commitment to excellence”.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just win, Baby!" Al Davis

September 22, 2008 at 9:28 AM  

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