But the single best thing to come out of the Raiders win? Oakland has wide receivers again. True-blue silver and black wide receivers. Louis Murphy and Derrius Heyward-Bey combined for 12 catches and 171 yards. Are you kidding me?
Most Raider players want to celebrate in the “Black Hole.” Last season, Heyward-Bey was the Black Hole. He would run a route, and then disappear. Greg Papa could be heard, on more than one occasion, saying, “Russell back to pass. Throws to Heyward-Bey who… a) Drops it. b) Drops it. or c) Drops it.” The odds of Russell and Bey hooking up were about the same as me hooking up. Come to think of it, 9 times for me and the wife would be a good year, but that’s not the point.
The 2009 first-round pick had 9 receptions last year. Nine! In 11 games he caught 9 balls. I want that to sink in. Betty White had more catches in a Snickers commercial. It’s virtually impossible to catch only 9 balls in 11 games and play as much as he did, but yesterday, we saw signs.
Six catches for Bey (enough with the hyphenated names, okay, Mom and Dad? Pick a name, any name, and go with it. Do you know what a pain it is to write Heyward-Bey when I could just write Bay?), and some of them in traffic. The Raiders actually looked like they knew how to throw the forward pass. Now don’t get them confused with Stabler to Branch, but still.
Murphy showed signs last year that he could be a viable receiver in the NFL if someone can get him the damn ball—thank you, Keyshawn—and that someone was Bruuuuce Gradkowski on Sunday. After a rookie season in which the former Gator had 34 receptions, he has 10 thru 2 games, and looks like the kind of guy a QB could look for on 3rd downs in particular. When the Raiders finally sewed up the win over the Rams, it was on a 3rd and 7, when Bruuuuce hit Murphy for the game sealer.
Prior to Sunday, neither Murphy nor Bey seemed ready to taking that next step to relevance. Who cares if they hyphenate their names or not? The more important question was: Are “dropped-passes” hyphenated?
But by the looks of Sunday, writing Heyward-Bey just became a little more relevant.