Thursday, 15 November 2007

THE POND OVER THE POND


Across the silver and black pond were across the silver and black pond, literally, over the past ten days.This was the third trip of its kind, and once again beer was drunk, friends were made, sights were seen.The only downside to the whole time in California was the football.
The games against Houston and Chicago were a painful continuation of the 2007 season.This time for us the pain and frustration were right in front of our eyes, in our seats at McAfee Coliseum.
The sight of the home field and those first chimes of 'Hells Bells' never fail to raise the hairs on the back of the neck especially after a year away, and surely our pre-game optimism for a win was not without substance.After all, this was a Texans team we were facing without Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, who had lost five of their last six games.
That optimism was evaporated into a 17-0 halftime deficit, with the only excitement being a Stuart Schweigert interception and an NFL record attempt FG by Seabass, which was good for distance but foiled by the width of an upright.The decision to go for the FG also allowed Houston to get into range to tag on three points of their own before the half.
Things did improve in the second half with a Jay Richardson FG block and two sustained scoring drives from the RAIDERS bringing it to 17-10.
When the stop was needed from the Defense, Andre Davis' 42yd TD all but killed us off.
The memories of the game late into the night at Ricky's would be critical offensive line penalties and Josh McCown interceptions, and of a pretty terrible game all round, the RAIDERS managed to be worse than their bad opponents.
McCown did nothing to improve matters in the Bears game either.He was slow to make decisions and the lack of zip on the ball on each pass attempt was all too visible from section 318.The fact that the RAIDERS had only been able to muster a FG through three quarters only made the lack of an appearance by Daunte Culpepper on fourth quarter drives more bewildering.
There were better showings by the Defense, producing a pass rush all day and a Kirk Morrison sack putting an end to Brian Griese's day (the guy behind us giving the called upon Grossman a hard time must have wished he had kept his mouth shut), and by the Special Teams who kept Devin Hester in check while kicking right at him all but once.
In a game of hard yards on both sides, the big chance for the RAIDERS came locked at 3-3.After consecutive sacks of Grossman by Clemons and Burgess the ensuing Bears punt was fielded at the 50yd line.Fifty yards to probably put the game away = Punt.When the next drive put us up 6-3, I actually felt like we could do it, we had jokingly prayed for a safety for a 5-3 win before then.
The reaction the to the Berrian 59yd TD was one of almost resigned expectation from the RAIDER NATION,Chris Carr ruining a good days work as a starter and that elusive win disappearing once again..The ability of the 2007 RAIDERS to grasp defeat from the clutches of victory is the teams most consistent trait.
In our six seats inside the Coliseum we didn't boo, and we didn't join in with the calls for Russell because we felt that neither was particularly productive, but we did share the pain of fans who want to see a team win one for a change.
After the Houston game, the Monday edition of the Oakland Tribune carried a number of quotes by players relating to the booing of McCown and the teams performance in general.No-one should be surprised by Jerry Porter once again having his say - "Tell them to shut the heck up, and I mean it, write it", heck being the polite version, but the comment that was as shocking as it was mis-guided was from a popular player, a player who has been a rare bright spark over the last couple of years.Thomas Howard should be careful when he states "This is our team, but they feel like it is their team".Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, the reason that the RAIDER NATION feels like it is their team is BECAUSE IT IS THEIR TEAM.
So three visits to Oakland since 2004, and the song remains the same."Knowing our luck they will win in Minnesota" was the prophecy as again we drowned our sorrows in a pint of Guinness (thanks Ricky), and putting aside our wish to see a win on our trip, I will take that right now. With the Vikings injury list it may well happen, and a win is a win.But one day we will share in that experience of leaving the Coliseum with the elation of victory.In the meantime we will have to console ourselves with the fact that the RAIDER NATION is as welcoming as ever, and a full mention will go to those who made our visit to California a time to remember in the coming days.

1 comment:

dax said...

Behind every BLACK cloud there's a SILVER lining.