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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Game Notes | Week 14: Raiders @ Chargers

Pre-game notes:

- In all of the games I've seen Philip Rivers play during the regular season, he's never had an impressive performance. I've seen great post-season games out of Philip, but he lays an egg every time I cover him.

- It will interesting to see if the Raiders get Darren McFadden more involved this week. I thought he looked great in the first-half passing game last week, but NFL Network's Mike Mayock thinks he looks like crap.

- What's going on with Antonio Gates? He has to be injured again, right? Is LT2 really on the steep down slope?

- The Chargers' performance against tight ends this season is nothing short of amazing. Opposing tight ends are treating the Bolts like Tony Gonzalez treats the whole league. Look for Zach Miller to continue his breakout season tonight.

Why don't the Chargers just throw it deep to their receivers more often? They're so big and athletic. V-Jax just made a great catch even after getting interfered with by the "unbeatable corner" Nnamdi Asomougha. Good thing I benched V-Jax in the SOFA Auction league playoffs for Domenik Hixon. LT2 is stopped twice at the goal-line before Rivers throws it away on third down. I'm playing against Kaeding in a Full Contact League clash of the titans -- this is no good. No good at all.

Swing pass to McFadden at the Raiders own 12-yard line. Is that a good idea when you're throwing the ball backwards (fumble?) at your own 12? Sure doesn't seem like it. That's OK. Russell just got sacked and fumbled to the ball over to the Chargers anyway. Justin Fargas got abused by Shaun Phillips. Fargas! Chargers take over at about the 13-yard line, and Tomlinson drives it down to the five. LT owners are getting a dream scenario early with all of these red zone carries. Let's see if he can take advantage. Yep. He skates in on 3rd & one, and the Chargers are up 10-0. This game is set up to lead a lot of LT owners to a Week 14 playoff win.

Big money Tommy Kelly just bailed out the Chargers backed up in their territory, and now they have a first down out at the twenty. Rivers to V-Jax again, of course. Guy had bupkes last week and draws the best CB in the league, and he's already up to 63 yards. When Phil Rivers scrambles on your defense for 11 yards, you have some slow linebackers. Chargers start out with a 19-to-3 run/pass ratio. Sproles is seeing plenty of red zone work on this drive with LT looking on from the sidelines. Screen pass to Sproles for the TD . . . lost opportunity for Tomlinson.

Russell throws an absolute pea to Zach Miller. Nobody ever said Russell couldn't fit a fastball in there. Miller is up to three catches for 28 on a Chargers defense that couldn't stop James Thrash if he lined up at tight end. Collinsworth says Raiders will never win unless they replace their two bookend tackles. Russell tries to fit another fastball into a tight spot, but this time it's picked by Stephen Cooper.

You gotta be kidding me. V-Jax just streaked wide open without a defender within 10 yards of him, and Rivers hits him for a 59-yard TD. Chris Johnson got burned, and V-Jax is up to three catches for 122 yards and one TD . . . on my bench.

Jesus, Russell just has no touch on short passes. That was awful. And another personal foul on the Raiders, this one on the usual suspect Kwame Harris. That's two in a row for the Raiders and three for the first half. It's now 3rd & 32 after the Raiders were set to enter scoring position. They call a crappy swing pass to Fargas and get nothing on the play. What a dysfunctional team this is. The offense is a joke.

Russell hit as he throws again and picked off by Stephen Cooper again. Does JaMarcus ever feel the rush coming from his blind side? Collinsworth is blaming the tackles, but Russell just seems to have no sense of the pass rush. Zach Miller is down on the field. Russell being carted off with a right leg injury.

Another field goal for Nate Kaeding, of course. Chargers up 27-0. Justin Miller answers with a kickoff return TD, the fourth of his young career.

Russell's X-Rays are negative. He won't return tonight, but he has a shot to play next week. Andrew Walter is an awful QB, but he shows much better touch than Russell does. The Raiders have to see some improvement out of Russell the rest of the way, or else they're screwed at quarterback going into next season (and beyond). Zach Miller is back in to start the second half.

OK, so maybe Collinsworth was right. Kwame Harris is just a brutal left tackle. He held Jyles Tucker the whole way back to the QB, and Walter still got sacked. Is Kwame Harris the worst starter in the NFL? If he's not getting burnt, he's commiting penalties.

LT sitting out quite a bit in this game in favor of Sproles. He may have missed his chance early for that "monster" game tonight.

Hey, Chambers finally gets a target on the sideline, but it goes through his hands. Another friggin' V-Jax reception, so he's up to 5 for 148 tonight. LT turns the corner for a big gainer, but he pulls up once he realizes Gates got called for the hold. That would have been about 25-30 yards there. Collinsworth brings up the timely Bernie Kosar comparison for Rivers. I like it. Rivers is more of a loud mouthed whiner, but similar throwing styles certainly.

McFadden looks to me like a guy who needs the ball in space to do much with it. As I type that, he just gave a piss poor effort on a ball slightly over his head on 4th & 2. Collinsworth said he just didn't want to risk a shot in the ribs. Walter walked away disgusted with McFadden's effort, and McFadden walked away disgusted that it wasn't a better pass. Suck it up, McFadden. Go get the ball for a first down.

Rivers gets another first down scrambling. That's embarrassing. Another screen pass touchdown to Sproles, and it's 34-7. Rivers has three TDs, two of them on screens to Sproles and the other on a play where V-Jax toasted his cover man. Not the most impressive 3-TD performance you'll see out of a QB.

Sproles takes a punt back about 90 yards, but there's a flag on the field. Called back on a very iffy block in the back penalty. Have a game, Sproles.

Raiders right now have the same number of first downs (9) as they do penalties and turnovers combined. Walter deep to Curry, but it's a bit high & wide. McFadden wouldn't have even tried for that ball. Sproles fumbles this punt return, but it looks like both knees may have been down at the time. Call stands, and the Raiders get the ball in great position . . . Whoops, Walter's first pass is right in the hands of Matt Wilhelm, Chargers LB.

Somebody put this game out of its misery, please.

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