If you are a Raiders fan, and you missed the team’s first game after Al Davis’ death, you missed something very special.
Everything clicked for the Raiders in the second half, and they staved off a two minute drill by the Texans to win 25-20 just one day after Davis died in his Oakland home.
The Texans were 5.5-point favorites, and they looked it for the entire first half. I’ve criticized Hue Jackson in this space for not making halftime adjustments this season, but whatever he said at halftime must have caused goosebumps.
Of course, nothing Jackson said caused star Texans pass rusher Mario Williams to get hurt and miss the second half, but the Raiders took advantage.
Sebastian Janikowski, the team’s all-time leading scorer and a kicker Mr. Davis selected in the first round of the 2000 draft, hit three field goals from over 50 yards. He’s a classic Davis pick — tons of raw talent and a police record. Janikowski likes to drink and get rowdy, but today he just kicked the hell out of the ball.
This is probably the most emotional I’ve been over a Raiders game … since the loss to the Bucs in the Super Bowl.
The first half was a struggle, and the offense had a very hard time getting things going. There were numerous calls that went against the Raiders, some merited, some not so much. But the team just kept going.
Jason Campbell made more than one curious decision, including a pass on the team’s last possession with less than three minutes, and the secondary was very much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For most of the game, it was hard to notice that the Texans were missing their best wide receiver, Andre Johnson.
But Schaub was rattled by the end of the game because the Raiders were playing the kind of football celebrated by Mr. Davis. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly were clearly in Schaub’s head, and you could tell he feared for his safety a bit. Seymour threw caution to the wind and drilled Schaub below the knees during the Texans last possession, but it all contributed to Schaub lacking the swagger he had for the first three quarters.
Regardless of that, Schaub quickly threw a pass over 40 yards to put the Texans on the Raiders’ 5-yard line with less than 10 seconds on the clock. They got one play off, and for a split second it seemed that Schaub would run the ball into the end zone and deny the Raiders a win they desperately needed for posterity.
But he pulled up and fired a pass into the end zone that landed in Huff’s hands, and Huff gathered the ball up and dropped into the fetal position, securing the Raiders’ win as time expired.
After Huff’s interception. Hue Jackson immediately dropped to his knees on the sideline and cried into his hands. His whole body shuddered, and there was nothing contrived about it.
He had to win this game.
For the first three quarters, it looked like this would be another sad memory to throw on the fire that’s burned since that Super Bowl loss to the Bucs and Jon Gruden.
It wasn’t to be.
Darren McFadden only had 51 yards on the ground, and Schaub passed for over 400 yards.
But Rock Cartwright had 35 yards rushing on one carry that came on a 4th quarter fake punt, Taiwan Jones made a big special teams tackle in the fourth quarter, and Davis’s 1st-Round kicker with an affinity for booze and fights made like the future Hall of Famer he is and the Raiders tied up a critical win.
No matter what the Raiders’ final record is this season, they had to win this one. For Mr. Davis.
And they did.
The Raiders Sports Guy, Francis Mayer, has extensive experience in radio as a producer and former morning show host at 106.1 KRAB in Bakersfield, and now works producing a morning news show. He’s also a freelance writer and huge Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Twins fan. And yes, he knows that’s an odd combination.