Battle of the Bay: Follow-Up
A few days ago I wrote a preview of Sunday’s Raider 49er game. Both teams had struggled quite a bit coming into the game and needed a win. While I did not predict a winner for the game, I predicted the manner in which a team would win such a game. Both teams were at the point in their season where they needed to learn how to win. The Raiders clearly have not learned.
The beginning of the game looked promising for the Raiders. Jason Campbell marched them down the field on a 12 play 80+ yard drive that consumed the majority of the first quarter. The result? A field goal. Ok thats fine Raiders just get a stop on defense, which they did in fact do. Again Campbell takes the Raiders on a 14 play 70+ yard drive down the field and yet again Oakland’s redzone play calling and execution forced them to settle for a field goal. While disappointing, those drives would be the pinnacle or Oakland’s offense that day as the next next drive resulted in an interception and the next 3 drives ended in punts. Oakland’s offense was so bad in fact that quarterback Jason Campbell went 8/21 for 83 yards, 2 INT and a fumble. All of Campbell’s 83 yards came in the first and fourth quarters. That is right, Campbell had 0 yards passing in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. And people say Alex Smith is a bad quarterback. The Raiders need to execute once they enter the redzone, settling for field goals is not how a team wins games, touchdowns are how a team wins games. I would love to post some links showing you some Raider highlights, but there are none.
As bad as the Oakland offense was they still had the lead midway through the 3rd quarter, which is truly a testament to how bad the 49er offense was up to that point. As bad as Alex Smith has been this season, he has shown moments of brilliance in the latter half of games this year. While the majority of the time it was too late to mount a comeback, the Raiders’ inability to get in the endzone gave Smith a fighting chance. With 8:11 left in the 3rd quarter Alex Smith hit WR Michael Crabtree on a 32-yard touchdown pass to take the lead for the first time in the game. The Niners then looked like a team that knew how to play with a lead. After a Raider 3 and out, Niner RB Frank Gore broke off a 64-yard run to set up a Vernon Davis touchdown to take a 17-9 lead. The Raiders had one last chance to drive down the field and tie the game until 49er linebacker Takeo Spikes intercepted Jason Campbell to seal the game for the Niners.
The 49ers came out in the second half and looked like a new team. They did not commit a single turnover the entire game and fought back to take and preserve their lead. Like so many of the elite teams in the NFL the 49ers knew how to play with a lead. The Raiders had a 3-point lead and looked satisfied with it, the Niners took the lead and insisted on keeping it with production on offense and an opportunistic defense. Whether the Niners have finally cracked the winning code or the Raiders are just that bad, one thing is clear, Bruce Gradkowski and Darren Mcfadden need to get healthy fast.