The Oakland Raiders. That proud franchise that once intimidated opponents with their rough and tumble style of play. Their fans have suffered through many a season of late with little to look forward to come each new season. If today's final home game for 2008 is any indication, maybe the dark cloud of seasons past is moving on and we're about to embark on those winning days of old.
In today's game against the streaking hot Houston Texans, the boys in Black returned to glory, showing pride and poise on their way to a 27-16 win. The Texans were on a four game winning streak which included wins over AFC top seeded Tennessee Titans, the tough hitting Jacksonville Jags and at Lambeau Field over the the Packers. The Raiders outplayed the Texans in all phases of the game today. The offense, with JaMarcus Russell courageously leading the way, consistently executed well. They had two long drives that ended in touchdowns and were 7 of 14 on 3rd down conversions. The defense looked terrible on the first Texans drive that went the length of the field for a touchdown. After that adjustments were made and the Defense stood tall the rest of the day, limiting Houston to three field-goals. The Coaching staff deserves a game ball.
Meanwhile, special teams did their part with a successfully executed on-side kick, some hard hits on Texans return men that kept them in check and an 86 yard punt return by the man of the day Johnnie-Lee Higgins. Johnnie-Lee also scored on a long pass from JaMarcus where he jumped high over the Texan defender in the end-zone and came down with the ball secured for a touchdown. I believe it was called the "Carlton Dance" which Johnnie-Lee executed to perfection in his end-zone celebration. His punt return ignited the Coliseum fans to a celebratory scream so high you'd thought it was a sell-out crowd. The silver and black clad fans were experiencing flashbacks to a time when the Raiders dominated opponents. A time not too long ago when legends were making plays for the Raiders.
Talk about poise. Two penalties for fourteen yards, one being a questionable call. Poise.
I'm not sure what the future holds for the Oakland Raiders Football Team, but if today's final home game was any indication, I foresee a team able to compete and win against some of the best teams in the league. A youth movement is underfoot in Oakland and it might only cost Al Davis some pride to allow it to grow into a winning franchise again.
Win, Lose or Tie