The Raiders end the streak – an instant classic

Redemption. It’s one of the reasons we love sports the way we do. Because in life, we rarely get it, or even witness it. Hollywood has made about a gazillion dollars on this premise alone.

You know, school bully beats up everyone, and then the skinny kid has enough, figures out a way to kick the bully’s butt, and along the way learns the meaning of life. They’ve been writing about this stuff since the invention of the written word because for most of us, it’s fiction.

For most of us, the teacher that has it in for us never gets her comeuppance. The cop who pulled you over because he didn’t see your blinker on never gets his payback. The boss who cost you that raise is still working there, while you’re now looking for work.

But on Sunday, we witnessed true redemption. After 13 straight losses to the Chargers, many of them in a most lopsided fashion, the Raiders and their fans got their revenge.

It started early, and it ended late, and in between was a whole lot of mess. But all that really matters is that the Raiders are now 2-3, as are the Chargers and Broncos, and a lost season has been put on hold because of some unlikely heroes.

After two blocked punts and a quick 12-0 lead, fan favorite Bruce Gradkowski took a hard hit that basically ended his day. In came Jason Campbell, who in a matter of moments was unfairly being booed by the hometown crowd. Fair or not, that was the scene, and soon enough, the Chargers had rallied to take a 24-15 lead in the 3rd quarter. But fans are fickle, and they love a good story as much as anyone. Campbell did his best Ralph Macchio impersonation and–wax on, wax off–97 yards later, Campbell to Zach Miller, and it’s 24-22.

A Chargers field goal extended their lead to 27-22 before Campbell and the Raiders got the ball with exactly 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter. 12 minutes to paint the fence. 12 minutes for Jason Campbell to turn those boos into cheers.

But 12 minutes in football is an eternity, or like watching Karate Kid 4 with Hillary Swank. But redemption doesn’t just happen in the blink of an eye. It takes time. And 8 minutes and 21 seconds later, about the time it took for us to realize that the next Karate Kid was a girl, the Raiders led 28-27. Unfortunately, Campbell left too much time on the clock, and Raider fans knew how this flick was going to end.

But, like in all good cop/bad cop movies, there was a partner. Usually they end up dead, but occasionally they show up right at the end, out of nowhere, and save the day. Enter Michael Huff. A week earlier against the Texans, Huff was the guy being run over by every running back Houston had. (I think Earl Campbell even ran over Huff, and he’s now 55 years old.) But on Sunday, there was Huff making the play of his career on a safety blitz, jarring the ball loose from the always-talking Phillip Rivers.

64 yards later, the Raiders had their first defensive touchdown in 3 years. But that would be too easy. No, we need more drama. So the officials go to the booth to check the replay.

Close up Tom Cable. Close up Norv Turner. Rivers claiming his arm was going forward. Slow-motion replay. Bill Cowher saying this was going to be reversed. Raider fans praying for once they get a call.

“After further review,” close up Mr. Miyagi, “the arm was,” close up bad guy in Karate Kid 4— doesn’t matter who played the bad guy, just go with me here– “going forward. The ruling on the field stands.”

The streak is over. After 13 straight losses to the Chargers, the Men in Silver and Black get the job done. Jason Campbell and Michael Huff star in: Redemption.

This movie is not yet rated.

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