TiVo Time: Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders showed up at Lambeau Field on Sunday and got treated like Somali pirates in the hands Navy Seals. Here is your chance to relive all the big and best moments of the 46-16 thrashing handed out by the Green Bay Packers.
15:00, 1st quarter — Mason Crosby starts out another game with a touchback.
The Packers are in their base or some variation of their base throughout this first drive. The Raiders pick up a 3rd and 6 when Chaz Schilens runs an out from the slot on Charles Woodson. Schilens gave Woodson a little shove and was wide open when Woodson stumbled.
On the next play, the Raiders catch the Packers in run defense and Darrius Heyward-Bey catches a square in for 16 yards. The Packers are already showing that they have no intention of giving up big plays again from their base. Tramon Williams, Morgan Burnett and Charlie Peprah were all deep on that play.
12:15, 1st quarter — The Raiders make their first fatal mistake. Carson Palmer escapes pressure from Clay Matthews only to throw it right to D.J. Smith in the flat. Palmer hasn’t played for the Raiders for long; maybe he forgot that his team is in silver and black. Smith somersaults Palmer at midfield.
12:00, 1st quarter — On the Packers first official offensive play, Ryan Grants goes 47 yards to pay dirt. The play was a simple dive left. Everyone does a good job holding their blocks, but the key to the play was Grant eluding the Raiders’ middle linebacker, Rolando “Guns” McClain, and safety Michael Huff.
Grant faked the play to the right of Scott Wells. When McLain jumped to fill that gap, Grant cut to the left of Wells instead, where T.J. Lang had just come off the double team with Wells and was burying corner Mike Mitchell. Grant accelerated untouched through the hole, and seeing Huff closing hard, cut to his left. Huff tried to change his angle and slipped, ultimately diving at Grant’s feet. Grant stepped over him and took off straight up field, outrunning the defense to the end zone.
I doubt anything takes the heart out of a Packers’ opponent quicker than a long TD run. If Rodgers throws a 90-yard TD, oh well, he can do that, but no one comes into a game with the Packers thinking they’re going to be giving up big runs — 7-0, Packers.
8:00, 1st quarter — The Raiders’ second drive is reminiscent of the Detroit Lions. They get all the way to the Green Bay 37 at one point before penalties knock them back and they have to punt.
Their short-lived drive included a pass to Louis Murphy for 16 yards on 3rd and 5. The Packers were in a mix of man deep and zone short, and either Robert Francois or Smith was responsible for the middle of the field. When both blitzed, the middle of the field was wide open for Murphy.
The Raiders got nine yards on an end around to Marcel Reece and then 10 yards on a screen to Reece before a holding call and false start backed them up from the Packers’ 37 to their own 37. From there, the Raiders went absolutely no where and had to punt.
4:00, 1st quarter — The Packers’ offense finally gets to be on the field for more than one play. They go 80 yards in 10 plays and end with a 4-yard TD pass to Ryan Taylor.
Perhaps irritated by slow starts against Detroit and New York, Aaron Rodgers went hurry up for this drive. Despite the fact that Grant broke a 47-yard touchdown run on the last possession, this drive consists of nine passes and only one run. Though ultimately effective, this was a choppy drive due to two Raiders offside penalties and a couple inaccurate passes.
It might have been a three and out, except that on 3rd and 3, Rodgers stepped forward in the pocket and fired a bullet to Jordy Nelson, who weaved through traffic for 31 yards. Two plays later the Packers faced 3rd and 5. The Raiders played zone and receivers are open all over the place. Rodgers appeases me by just taking the short receiver for once. James Jones picks up eight yards.
One play after a spin move got Greg Jennings 12 yards, a swing pass to Grant got 13 down to the 4 to set up the TD. On the touchdown play, the Packers lined up with Jermichael Finley on the left and three tight ends in a bunch on the right. Here’s something different. The Raiders are even more confused than normal and virtually everyone is open. Rodgers again appeases me by choosing the easiest pass in throwing the turn around to Taylor — 14-0, Packers.
13:00, 2nd quarter — After a Raiders four and out, the Packers go 58 yards in eight plays and get a 34-yard field goal to make it 17-0.
The Packers actually went 59 yards in their first four plays. On the first, Jones shrugged off Stanford Routt and went up the right sideline for 21 yards. Then Grant and Brandon Saine rattled off 19 yards in two runs, followed by a 19-yard jaunt by Randall Cobb after he got loose on a square in.
A brainless clipping penalty on Evan Dietrich-Smith backed the Packers up and they made some, but not all of it back up.
9:15, 2nd quarter — The Packers go 84 yards in five plays to make it 24-0 and the Raiders make the call to warm up the jet.
Before the Packers put the game away, the Raiders went three and out. On first down, they tried deep to Heyward-Bey against Williams. Williams had the pick until the ground had something to say about it. On second down, Bush went for four yards. On 3rd and 6, the Raiders tried the short cross to Heyward-Bey, a play that’s burned the Packers on third down all year. Not this time — Burnett comes swooping in and tackles Heyward-Bey short of the first down. This is an exotic coverage by Dom Capers. After the snap, Woodson rotates into the cover 2 with Peprah, which frees Burnett to jump the cross.
The Packers have been missing Nick Collins partially because Burnett hasn’t been making plays since he broke his hand. This is the Collins-type play the Packers need Burnett to make.
The Packers quickly overcome the fact that Randall Cobb fielded the punt at the goal line and only got out to the 16 because Aaron Rodgers has his best series of the game.
From the 16, Rodgers finds Jordy Nelson up the sideline for 13 on first down. The Packers then run the same play fake rollout that hasn’t worked all season, except this time they run it to the weak side where only Driver is running an out. It’s open and Driver catches it for six yards. On 2nd and 4, Grant picks up six easy yards right up the middle when Bryan Bulaga drive blocks the enormous and overpaid John Henderson six yards off the line of scrimmage.
From there, Rodgers throws perhaps his best pass of the game — a missile to Driver over the middle in tight man-to-man coverage for 22 yards. Since 11 wasn’t working, the Raiders decide to give 12 guys on defense a try. Rodgers sees this, gets the ball snapped, and throws the lob up the right sideline to Nelson. Nelson beats everyone to the ball, and he and Driver roll around in the end zone celebrating while the Raiders defensive backs stand there feeling shame.
7:10, 2nd quarter — At this mark, it was already 31-0 Packers.
The Raiders went two and out thanks to Woodson. On 2nd and 8, after a good stop by Francois, Palmer tries to throw a quick slant to Heyward-Bey. Let me tell you something. Woodson might be vulnerable downfield, but the last thing you want to do is try to throw a 5-yard pass against this guy.
Woodson predictably beat Heyward-Bey to the spot, held his ground, and made the INT. Woodson is back to being tied for the NFL lead in INTs, and you can put another Pro Bowl on his HOF resume right now, though no Packers will be playing in it anyway.
The Packers would cash in five plays later. They were helped by a pass interference call on third down where Rodgers threw behind Jennings, which caused the contact with the defender, as Jennings tried to come back for the ball.
Two plays later Ryan Grant would stroll in untouched from the 6. Again, T.J. Lang, playing his best game by far, opened the hole while working a perfect combination block with Wells. Finley blocked the defensive end so well that Newhouse was able to move off that block to take out the safety coming in. This gave Grant an easy route.
On replay you can see Finley pump his fist once he sees Grant break into the end zone. Since he’s being almost ignored in the passing game, it’s a good sign that he can still get excited about winning a block.
This would conclude the scoring for the half.
On the Raiders’ next possession they went three and out again. They comically tried a fake punt on fourth down, but their punter airmailed a pass over an open receiver to give the Packers the ball in prime position again.
The Packers would fail to take advantage. After a great pass over the middle to Driver for 19 yards, Rodgers was jumped from behind when Newhouse and John Kuhn ignored Aaron Curry. Rodgers obviously threw the ball into the ground while being hit, but not surprisingly the refs called it a fumble and let the play go on.
This is a product of the infamous Ed Hochuli call that robbed the San Diego Chargers of a fumble recovery. Now, knowing that if they blow the whistle the play is dead and non-reviewable, the refs will almost always allow a play to go even when it’s a pretty obvious incomplete pass.
The play, of course, would be reviewed. Unfortunately, the instant replay malfunctioned, leading to the longest replay challenge of all time. A full SEVEN minutes later, the referees finally gave the ball back to the Packers. Comically, because the Raiders committed a personal foul on the return, the Packers ended up with a 1st and goal from the 4.
They still didn’t score thanks mostly to a mysteriously awful sequence of plays from the league’s MVP. On first down, Nelson is open across the middle, but Rodgers throws the ball at his feet. On second down, Rodgers rolls out and has John Kuhn headed for the pylon in front of him. Rodgers throws it behind Kuhn, and Kuhn fails to make the spinning catch.
On third down, the Packers finally give Finley a red zone shot on the fade. However, the pass is more like a back shoulder toss than a fade. Finley tries to reach over and through Mitchell to catch it, but Mitchell has his hands in Finley’s face, like a defender in basketball, blocking Finley’s view. The ball bounces off Finley’s right hand and falls to his chest. Now with his arms on the inside of Finley’s, Mitchell was in the better position to catch the ball and does so for the INT.
Finley took a fair amount of heat for not coming up with this ball and giving Rodgers his second interception in the red zone in his career. Like anyone else, I also would hope the 6’5″ Finley could at least prevent the pick, but if Rodgers doesn’t want this pass picked, he needs to throw it to the outside where only Finley can catch it. The ball was thrown about four yards to the inside of where it should have been.
This the first time all season that Rodgers has thrown four incompletions in a row.
The Raiders proceeded to have their best drive of the day thus far, making it all the way to the Packers’ 14 before Francois ended it with a leaping interception in the end zone.
12:45, 3rd quarter — The Packers score on their first drive of the second half again, when they get a 38-yard Crosby field to make it 34-0.
The drive is really just a combination of Cobb’s kickoff return to midfield, followed by a play-action pass to Driver for 28 yards.
The Packers go three and out from there, and on second down, Jennings hurts his knee when he cut a little too sharply upfield on an out from the slot. The sack on third down that forced the field goal was really just a result of Rodgers holding onto the ball and bad luck. Grant had McClain when he blitzed up the middle, but got rubbed off the block by Tom Kelly at the same time Wells turned his back on McClain, thinking Grant had him. McClain had an open lane up the middle to Rodgers.
8:15, 3rd quarter — The Raiders drive 80 yards in nine plays for a TD to make it 34-7. The only people who care are those with Michael Bush on their fantasy team.
3:35, 3rd quarter — The Packers, of course, drive and score again. This time, the Packers get a lengthy field goal — 49 yards — from Crosby to make it 37-7.
It looked like Tim Masthay was finally going to show his face. The Packers faced 3rd and 19 right off the bat. They were in that spot after a very rough couple plays by Derek Sherrod, who after allowing his defender to go right by him and tackle Grant for a 4-yard loss, then allowed a 5-yard sack.
On 3rd and 19 the Raiders only rushed three and dropped eight. Those eight were apparently covering concessions as Rodgers took his time before stepping up and finding Cobb all alone in the middle of the field for 26 yards.
On consecutive plays immediately following that, Lang crushed the center of the Raiders line and Grant went for 16 and then Kuhn went for 12. The Packers would get just four more yards from there, forcing Crosby to kick the field goal.
This is the last drive for Rodgers. Though he ended the game with his worst passer rating this season, the Packers still scored seven times in eight possessions, with the only non-score being the interception in the end zone. Masthay would punt for the first and only time at the 3:11 mark in the fourth quarter. Jim Nance jokingly asked if Masthay still needed to shower.
3:00, 3rd quarter — On second down, Carson Palmer dumped over the middle to Reece. Francois hit Reece and knocked the football loose. A Chicago Cardinal game then commenced. Palmer tried to jump on the ball, but lost it as Tramon Williams hit him. The ball continued to bound towards the Raiders end zone. Erik Walden finally picked it up and got into the end zone to become the 19th Packer this season to score.
That made it 43-7. The PAT was blocked when a Raider got away with using the backs of two Packers linemen to jump the line and get into the backfield. No one cares, but this is the second game in a row this has happened.
It’s 43-7 with the entire fourth quarter to play. Imagine if the Packers continued to play Rodgers into the fourth like the 2007 Patriots did with Tom Brady and Randy Moss.
After another Raiders punt goes a pathetic 18 yards, Matt Flynn takes over and leads another scoring drive, mostly thanks to the great starting position and a weak roughing the passer penalty. Crosby kicks another field goal to make it 46-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter would be all runs for the Packers and slow drives for the Raiders. It mercifully ends at 46-16.
In one last positive sign for the Packers, the Raiders’ last drive ended with an interception by Sam Shields where he slid down rather than trying to return it.
It’s difficult to take too much from this game because the Raiders committed so many mistakes. No team can come to Lambeau and make that many mistakes without getting walloped.
The Packers ran the ball better than they have all year, but the Raiders rank dead last in run defense.
The Packers had much better coverage downfield and their linebackers covered the running backs much tighter, but the Raiders had no deep threat and virtually no speed on their offense to threaten with.
D.J. Smith and Robert Francois were awesome in this game, one week after disappearing against the Giants.
Dom Capers challenged the Packers defense, but again, it’s difficult to tell if they were that much better or if the Raiders were simply that much worse.
The Packers went with a rotation at left tackle, and Derek Sherrod was shaky. He run blocked pretty well, but he’s clearly still behind Marshall Newhouse.
Evan Dietrich-Smith was overpowered at times, and the Packers will clearly love to have Josh Sitton back.
Ryan Grant looked as quick as he has all year and even eluded a couple tacklers. Remember: Grant almost always plays better at the end of the season. He and Kuhn both struggled at times in blitz pick-up. That needs to be cleaned up.
In what will be great preparation for the next three games, Jennings was virtually ignored. Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson did the majority of the work, with Randall Cobb and James Jones also making a couple nice plays.
Jennings being out could actually help this team in the long run. I’ve contended that Jones and Cobb aren’t getting the ball thrown to them enough.
Finley ended up with zero receptions after a penalty nullified his one catch. He again failed to deliver with the big catch in the end zone, but it wasn’t a well thrown ball. One would also think his opportunities will rise as well.
I still wonder if Aaron Rodgers hasn’t peaked too soon, and that’s probably my chief concern with this team right now. Sure, no one could keep up the superhuman level he was performing at through the first 10 weeks, and Rodgers is still playing well enough to win. But the fact still remains that Rodgers’ completion percentage has continued to decline ever since the Tampa Bay game. His QB rating has declined the last three weeks. He broke his streak of games over 110 against the Giants, and then broke his streak of over 100 last week.
He’s simply throwing more inaccurate passes than he was earlier in the year.
Rodgers pretty much already has the MVP wrapped up, but if he wants to add another Super Bowl to that, then he might need to get back to being great. Good might not be good enough.
Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.