There was a moment towards the middle of the 4th quarter yesterday - maybe after Gradkowski threw that bone-headed deep throw that Clemons intercepted (!!!) - where I was actually able to sit back, lend an eye towards other games happening and drink a Jameson on the rocks with complete calm and relaxation. I can't imagine that's happened more than once this season. Finally, whether it's too late or not, the Dolphins put together a complete game against an opponent that not two weeks ago was a resurgent franchise looking at the very real possibility of winning their division. Then the Raiders decided to start Bruce Gradkowski and we decided to start The Robot.
Amidst all the belly-aching this season about whether or not Henne should be the starter, I think yesterday proved that he's the man (errr, umm, organism) for the balance of the season and certainly going into training camp next year. He was decisive with his throws, took chances, looked for big plays, had several of the 'big chunk' plays we've been yelling about for some time - all without a certain 6'4" receiver with a recent penchant for on-field tomfoolery. In his place, Davone Bess went all fucking BEASTMODE in his return home with 6 catches for 111 yards, Brian Hartline made big, mousey-faced plays that got him some good cheese post-game, Marlon Fucking Moore came out of goddamn nowhere to nab a Henne pass and take that shit to the house after his DB went for the INT and missed and Patrick Cobbs even got in on the action, catching a gorgeous Henne touch pass for a 29 yard TD. I swear that pass looked like a rainbow dipping into a pot o' gold, lassie!
It also helped that there is no good birdwatching in Oakland so Dan Henning put together a very well-focused gameplan that featured a cornucopia of personnel packages, complimentary protections, a heavy dose of EFFECTIVE old school Wildcat and FINALLY the kind of commitment to the running game that has been missing for some time. Seemed every time I was about to yell 'Run the fucking ball!' we'd get a couple run plays in. Good stuff! Maybe he's not ALWAYS senile and pissing himself silly. This allowed Ronnie to run with purpose and Ricky to blast through a hole for a 4th quarter 45-yd TD.
And how about that defense?? Yeremiah 'Muthafucka!' Bell with the biggest game I can remember him having in some time (of course, it helps when Gradkowski is practically giving balls away) as he actually CATCHED an interception and was right there for a Dobbins forced fumble. Then, to really make me contemplate whether I was awake watching the game or if I had taken way too many Lunestas unknowingly, Clemons actually MADE A PLAY ON A BALL IN THE AIR THAT DIDN'T RESULT IN THE OTHER TEAM WALTZING INTO THE ENDZONE! Holy shit!
Yes, the corner back play was very spotty at times yesterday. Yes, Channing Crowder is still the biggest cheerleader in professional football and what he actually does on the field continues to completely elude me. Yes, special teams coverage was absolutely shitty again and only mildly acceptable in general because of two very good Bess returns.
Look, it's likely given the tough competition ahead of us and the boinkers NFL season that this has been that 10-6 might not get us into the playoffs. The AFC is armed to the teeth with good teams and good records so we need to pray for a little help in order to make the playoffs happen. Regardless, it was great watching our team play a complete, solid game yesterday in some pretty hostile environs and maybe we've finally seen The Robot - through the benchings and the injuries and the poor playcalling - mature a little bit out there. TITANIUM BALLS!
Enjoy the Victory Monday, Nation!