While the rest of the NFL plays today, nobody will be a bigger winner in Week 10 then the Oakland Raiders. The Jets could beat the Pats, the Bengals could beat the Steelers, the Vikings could beat the Packers. Doesn’t matter. None of them would equal the Raiders win Thursday night over the San Diego Chargers, 24-17.
That’s because not only did Oakland win, they also got a quarterback – and a running back – and a receiver – and a pass rush. Four elements that have been missing in recent weeks.
Let’s be honest, even the most die-hard Raiders fan was throwing up in their mouth after the Carson Palmer trade. And if not then, certainly in his first appearance against the Chiefs whereupon he threw three picks in one half of football. I know, it was his first action of the year. Well, he played like a virgin, that’s for sure, giving it up at will.
Against Denver, he had moments, good and bad. A couple of his throws that were touchdowns were scary, but ended well. That game turned quickly, and the defense was atrocious. Tim Tebow made them look like Vanderbilt. But against the Bolts, Palmer looked relaxed. His throws were accurate and purposeful. Until then, every time he threw a ball, it had this certain, “ I hope this ends up where I want it” feel to it. On Thursday, he was authoritative. Like he was leading the team to a divisional win. Like he belonged. Like Palmer circa 2005.
Now, it hasn’t helped that Palmer has yet to hand the ball off to Darren McFadden which has hurt him, the running game and the team. Enter Michael Bush. Bush has been a well kept secret in Oakland but that secret was blown open on Thursday. He was a monster. Power, speed, catching the ball. Other than the missed block on the Palmer pick, he was all one could ask for, with a Raiders record 242 all-purpose yards.
And a running game always helps the vertical game. Do you know who Denarius Moore is? If you didn’t prior to Thursday, you do know. 5 catches, 123 yards, 2 td’s and the deep threat the Raiders just love. The rookie receiver has hands, speed, and moxie – everything you need to be a big-time wideout in the NFL.
When you put up points like the Raiders did, it forces the other team to throw. And that means you need pressure. Kamerion Wimbley was a one-man barometric pressure system. Four sacks of Philip Rivers, as he just beat Brandyn Dombrowski time and time again. Speed rush, powerrush, going high, going low, the backup left tackle had no chance. It was almost sad to watch. Almost.
About the only thing more sad would be a Raiders loss next week in Minnesota. But for now, nothing but happy tears.