The last time a team from Oakland played a team from San Francisco at Candlestick park on October 17th, the earth shook…..literally. 21 years to the day since the 1989 earthquake halted the Battle of the Bay in baseball between the A’s and the Giants, the Raiders faced the Niners in 2010’s version of the cross bay battle. And at times it felt like time was standing still. The offense struggled after starting the game with a 13-play and 12-play drives. But each drive ended with a FG instead of 7-points. The Raiders couldn’t get much else going and ended up losing the battle 17-9.
For the Raiders, losing, to the previously-winless Niners….who’s own fans were booing their own starting QB Alex Smith relentlessly for the first 3 quarters….who were playing a home game in which about 40% of the fans donned Silver and Black….who had only scored 3-points until the last play of the 3rd-quarter….well you just can’t lose those types of games . Throughout the week, when I spoke with players they, to-a-man, realized this was a much better team than their 0-5 record indicated. So it wasn’t a matter of taking a team lightly. But the way the Raiders played, well they very much played like a 2-4 team they now are. Poor execution was the culprit. Whether it was the two times a wide open ‘Big Play’ Louis Murphy was missed on throws by Jason Campbell, or the missed tackle on Frank Gores big backbreaking 64-yard 4th quarter run, or even the missed assignment that led to a wide open Michael Crabtreetouchdown that put the Niners up for good, the Raiders just couldn’t make the plays they needed on this day. And the reasons are all too disgustingly familiar.
There was a spirited crowd on hand. A large number of Niner fans either brought their Raider-fan buddies, stayed at home and sold their tickets to members of the Raider Nation, or have just given up on their team and are focused on the Giants. But everybody in attendance seemed to be on good behavior and just wanted to see a close, hard-fought game from two historically successful franchises that have struggled for most of the past decade. The Raiders controlled the line of scrimmage and the game for all of the first quarter. But they just couldn’t shut the door on a Niner team playing for their lives and with a lot of pride. Instead up going up 14-0, 2 Janikowski FG’s made it 6-0 and the Niners had life. The Raider defense held the Niners in-check until 2 4th quarter touchdowns. The Jason Campbell-led offense never really got going. It was a great game, the guys never gave up, and we were oh-so- close. But hats off to the Niners and get ready to pay off those bets made to Niner fan friends, relatives and co-workers.
Here’s the good news, Raider nation: Even with 2-4 record, every other team in the AFC West lost too, so we’re 1 win out from the division lead. Our team has got to get it together. The players know this, they are professionals. We’re just that close. With a trip to Denver (where the Raiders have won 2 straight games) next week, it has to be looked at as a must win. Win in Denver and the Halloween game vs. Seattle will potentially be for the lead in the division and a .500 record. Lose and these close but no-cigar losses will sting that much more. Keep the faith, Raider Nation, and listen next Sunday on Live 105!