Tuesday, 18 December 2007



The term is one that has rarely been used in the present tense recently.Both were in evidence on Sunday at the Coliseum.

Pride was certainly one of the emotions I felt at full time, yes disappointment too, because we had come so close to knocking off the reigning Superbowl Champions.After last week in Green Bay there was little if nothing to take from that game, but there is plenty to be positive about here.There will be those who say that a loss is a loss, and the RAIDERS sit at 4-10 and fighting it out with KC to not be bottom of the division again, and they would be right.Don't you feel that something is changing though?Something is stirring in Alameda?To me this 4-10 team and the 2-14 team of last year, despite some familiar faces, are as different as night and day

The RAIDERS of the last few years had collectively thrown in the towel at this point, but the present team are showing that a quitting mentality is not acceptable for Lane Kiffin and his staff.

Consider too the fact that this is not a team that is exactly overflowing with talent at all positions, yet they stood toe to toe with the Superbowl winners and but for a couple of debatable calls in the fourth quarter may have come out on top, that to me says that these coaches are on the right track.

We have some players at the moment who believe in the system, who give it all for the cause, but are just a little short on pure talent.Josh McCown typifies that description, and the much maligned QB after starting the game underthrowing receivers, took the helm of the RAIDERS offense on two of the best drives of the season, covering 99 and 60 yards respectively which saw the Silver and Black hold the ball for over 18 minutes on 33 plays against a quick talented Defense.

With those stats in mind, it could be argued that the decision to continue the slow introduction of JaMarcus Russell into the Offense on three series, was actually detrimental to the RAIDERS case considering the nature of the ultra-conservative play calling while he was in the game.We all wanted to see the big man again, especially in a home game, but those three possessions may have cost us dearly in respect of a win.

The real focus of the RAIDERS Offense though was again the ground game, with surely the fans choice for team MVP Justin Fargas adding another 89 yards to take him through the 1,000 mark for the season.Huggy was all action as he has been every week, and the fact that his knee injury occurred before he crashed in for his TD, continuing to play because he "could smell the endzone" sums up the man, a man that would be pro-bowl bound if there were any justice in the world.

On the other side of the ball the usually porous RAIDER run defense kept Joseph Addai in check all night, with Gerrard Warren especially seemingly everywhere, the D- line too generating consistent pressure on Manning- how often do you see him completing less than 50% of his passes ( definitely less often than you see his face during the ad breaks ), as was the case prior to the Colts go ahead TD drive, which lets face it could or should have stalled on a third and three play which saw Reggie Wayne's sideline catch called inbounds when it was questionable to say the least ( credit I suppose to Manning for running a quick play before the RAIDERS could get a good look at it ).The Colts QB was 15 of 31 as that drive began to give them their only offensive TD, due to a couple of monster goal line stands from the RAIDERS Defense - Pride and Poise indeed.

The real disappointment was giving up another TD on a punt return with terrible down field pursuit on the play.It seems no co-incidence that the RAIDERS have given up big Special Teams plays since losing Jarrod Cooper for the season.Again when two phases of the game are going well for us, the other lets us down, it's that old familiar problem of all three units not putting it together on the same day.

It is definitely not a co-incidence that an NFL official once again chooses to ignore ( that's the polite version ) blatant penalties committed against the RAIDERS.The pass interference on Jerry Porter was as obvious as was the officials turning of a blind eye, the penalty would have given us 1st and goal with just under two minutes to play with three timeouts remaining.Porter, although asked by Lane Kiffin to say nothing, has said that the official in question told him "he grabbed you, but didn't turn you around".Oh well that's ok then, obviously being grabbed prior to the ball arriving had no bearing on Porter not making the catch.Sorry I forgot, we are the OAKLAND RAIDERS, of course that is the rule unless a guy in a black shirt happens to do it, THEN its pass interference.I didn't want to get into the whole we got dicked again thing, BUT WE GOT DICKED AGAIN.

Regardless of another NFL official dicking, and regardless of the 21-14 deficit, the tide is turning in Oakland.The cry-babies in SD have wrapped up the AFC West title again this year, but they should make the most of how it feels, because the Silver and Black are definitely coming back.We have shown Denver and KC that already this year by winning our return matches against both convincingly, where Lane Kiffin learned from the first meetings to then out-coach his opposite number.We have a nice little warm up game in Jacksonville next week to get ready to do the same to the Chargers.To me that is still a significant game for the RAIDERS, to complete a sweep of wins against the rest of the west, and to send a message for next year that says you may be top for now but we will be coming for you, plus it would be nice to send the Powder Puffs into the post season with a loss, they may as well get used to it because losses do tend to happen to them in the playoffs, as we know.
"I'm sick of losing" - Nnamdi Asomugha entering the locker room post game.Good.
We all are, but at least players still care at this stage of the season, losing is still pissing this organisation off, and it doesn't seem to be an isolated view either.
Well we've got another two games boy's and 6-10, although not great, is progress all the same.Two more games to play with RAIDER Pride and a little bit more poise.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

It was a strange sensation watching the game on Sunday, it felt like for the first time this year, the team had shrugged its collective shoulders and thought who the hell are we kidding?

We kept it close at the half, thanks to a tremendous Jerry Porter TD grab, and despite some truly bizarre officiating ( Ed Hochuli loves to get on that screen to throw some shapes, looking buff Ed).But the writing was definitely on the wall, the Packers came into the game ranked 30th in the league running the ball, yet the all too predictable RAIDERS run defence on the first drive alone gave up gains of 12,7,19, and 6 yards to Ryan Grant and there were missed tackles in the open field, and the RAIDERS coaching staff missed a foot out of bounds on Blackmon's punt return TD, which I am sure Shane Lechler is absoloutely thrilled about, considering he had never had one returned for a score before, but that sort of summed up the day.

Once Justin Fargas had been taken out of the game after a hit from A.J. Hawk, there was little else to look forward to.McCown was back to his former self, making rash decisions, Jordan was back in, and it was obvious that Russell was not going to be risked at all.It was while watching the return of Andrew Walter, and stupid un-necessary penalties, that my mind wandered.This had become a waste of a game, Huggy Jnr couldn't make his 1000 yards, and we were watching a QB who hadn't touched the ball all year, while listening to the CBS/Favre love-in.It just had a pointless-ness to it, and we were pointless in the second half, literally.

I was already thinking about next week at home, waiting for JaMarcus Russell to enter the game, and I think that some of the players were there too, thinking of a better place.It's hard to be too critical of Sunday's performance, because simply, we played a bad game, a good Packers team played well, and with the injury to Fargas went our only prayer.Hopefully a home game and the possibility of #2 stepping onto the field will get the players back up for next week, they will have to be up, or Manning will do all manner of terrible things to us, just ask Ray Lewis.

Let us hope that Huggy is back for next week, the signs are good, and let us get back to playing some, as sean over at Raidertake put it, grown-up football too.The Colts are better than the Packers, which is a frightening prospect, but I will settle for some pride and another glimpse at the future under centre.

Saturday, 8 December 2007


The Black Flag Network enthusiastically raises an ice cold Guinness to welcome the addition of "Across the Silver and Black Pond" as a new commentator to the Oakland Raiders experience.

"Across the Silver and Black Pond" brings a unique perspective to the life of a Raider fan. Blogging passionately about his viewpoints on the Raiders by way of the United Kingdom, LeighRaider wittily shows that the Raider Nation has no geographical boundaries.

The BFN looks forward to continually building a positive rapport with the Raider Nation. The following Q & A is a means of introducing Raider fans to "Across the Silver and Black Pond" and shedding some new light on how a Brit became a card carrying member of the Raider Nation.
Calico Jack: Tell us how an Englishman became a die hard Raiders fan? When did you begin to follow American football and how did you become a fan of the Raiders in particular?
LeighRaider: We first got the NFL broadcast in the UK in 1982, which was good timing because there was no soccer being shown at the time here due to a TV rights dispute, and we only had four TV channels at that time which gave us some terrible Sunday evening programming. So the introduction of this new sport had little competition for viewers, and it was obviously very new to us. It was fast and colourful, there was hard physical contact and there were Cheerleaders!
People picked their teams for various reasons, alot would choose the first team they saw on the TV and that’s probably why the Dolphins have had a good fan base here because they were on the first show. I think some people picked from the name of the team or location. For me it was much easier, it was the sight of some bloke flying by on a highlight segment wearing Silver and Black, how can that not seal it for you?
Raider Take: When did you begin to follow American football and how did you become a fan of the Raiders in particular?
LeighRaider: The NFL took off in quite a big way over the next few years here and as well as the following of the game on TV every week with live games and highlight shows, teams sprang up here at an amateur level. On a personal level it all coincided with meeting a group of people who are our circle of friends today, and a couple of them were Raiders fans too. In those early days of the Channel 4 coverage here, it was rare to get the Raiders games, as they would try to spread games between all of the teams, so a lot of the time we would have to resort to listening to Armed Forces Network radio. The signal was weak and sometimes intermittent but we crowded around it every week in a bedroom because that was the only part of my house where it worked.
So with a combination of Sunday live coverage, weekly highlight TV shows, the radio, and the UK's weekly NFL magazine - First Down, we became big fans pretty quickly. We got to see the Raiders play in London in 1990, only pre-season I know, but we pestered someone at Wembley Stadium to let us into the Raider practice the day before the game, so got to see some of our heroes up close like Howie Long and an un-suited Lyle Alzado. We were also watching our Britball team Manchester Spartans home and away, and when the World League kicked off with the Monarchs we were there too. Following the Raiders got easier as the TV coverage got better, but its a lot easier post internet and satellite TV where we now have multiple NFL sources to choose from.
CJ: Please share with us one of the highlights of your recent trip to Oakland.
LR: We've been to Oakland three times now and each trip has had its highlights. To be honest every time we come over the a constant highlight to us is Ricky's in San Leandro, that’s our first port of call after the 11 hour flight, and generally our last too. That's where we first got a taste for what the Raider Nation is all about, we were supposed to be calling in there on our first trip as we'd heard about it, and ended up leaving a few hours later, very drunk, so much so that Tina had to take us back to the BART. In fact people we met on that first day in Ricky's are now old friends who treat us like family when we are in the Bay Area.
The game day is the ultimate highlight, after all those years watching on TV and listening to dodgy radio feeds. Everything from the tailgate to the game and just seeing the game live. We will ignore the fact that we have still to see a win though. The tailgate is always great for us, because there is nothing like it here, if you turned up at a soccer stadium with a grill they would look at you like you had gone mad. We have always had great company on our game days. We hang out with our good friend's from Hayward and this year were welcomed into the South Shield fold. The Raider Nation is as advertised and the hospitality and camaraderie is always great.
Another big deal to us, having been fans from so far away for so long, is meeting players who we had only seen on TV or read about. On our first visit we met Jim Plunkett in a San Francisco restaurant and Kenny King and Rod Martin in Ricky's. This time around it was John Vella, Mike Davis, Derek Ramsey and Mr. Rod Martin again. The ex players always have time for you and are usually surprised that they are known by a bunch of Brits.
RT: How easy or difficult is it to catch Raiders games on television in England? When and how are they aired, and do you have any viewing rituals?
LR: We have really good satellite TV coverage these days. We get the choice of two of the early games, two late games and the Sunday and Monday night games. We get all the playoffs live through to the Superbowl, and get NFL Total Access every day which has worked pretty well so far. We even had the Chiefs road game via a link from El Salvador TV. Yahoo run a subscription service on the net too where you can watch any of the games, so I've taken that up for the remainder of the season now. You get to watch the games as much as you like until Tuesday or Wednesday, so I think I'm on my 3rd showing of the win over the Donkey's now, it gets better each time.
Our usual viewing ritual would be all sat in front of our respective computer screens armed with beer and an instant message chatroom open to talk about the game as it unfolds, although now that I have a definite good quality NFL licensed feed through Yahoo last week involved us all stting around my screen with beer, which most likely will be repeated until the end of the season.
CJ: Who is your all time favorite Raider? Who is your favorite player on this year’s squad?
LR: Tough to name just one favourite all time Raider. There would be Vann McElroy, Howie, Lyle, The Wiz, Steve Smith. We love some of the older players too but these were the ones that we sort of grew up with football-wise.
Current squad favourites would be Kirk Morrison, Ron Curry, and I really like how Chris Clemons is progressing.
RT: Are you a novelty in your town/region as a Raiders and NFL fan, or would we be surprised at how many NFL fans there are in your neighborhood?
LR: We could definitely be classed as a novelty where we live. It's not a big town so there's only the six of us that we know of. Across the country there is still a real hardcore following for the NFL in general, which was reflected in the ticket requests for the recent Dolphins/Giants game, something like 500,000 applications which is incredible really. I wouldn't like to say what proportion of us are Raider fans but we have always been well represented.
CJ: What prompted you to start your own Raiders blog?
LR: The Blog started as a bit of a laugh really, with mates here reading it, well it's mostly still them now really! You guys should take a bow at this point .I read Sean's Blog first, sorry Chris you weren't far behind! I fancied a crack at it myself from a standpoint of being a fan over here.I used to read Deadspin quite a lot too, and a Blog falling somewhere between you guys and them would be the feel that I was going for.I got some good early feedback from a friend of mine, which was important, because if it had been really terrible he would have let me know, I think he was surprised that some of it made sense somewhere along the line.
RT: What's your take on JaMarcus Russell--should we continue to simply dip his toe in the water this season, or just dive in and give him some starts before the season is over?
LR: I think that Kiffin might be just about getting right with Russell. If this week was the blueprint for the remainder of the season, I see him getting valuable game time experience while not having any real pressure on his shoulders regarding the outcome of the game. He may get a start but I see the Coach taking it slowly for now, it worked out well against Denver, and we would all like to see a couple more wins at least. It's tempting to want to see more but he will hopefully be the Raiders QB for a long time to come.
CJ: Going forward, what are your expectations for the Raiders in 2008?
LR: My expectations for 2008 have been changing as the season has. After the last couple of weeks, and the debut of JaMarcus Russell, I think that things are looking pretty good. Lane Kiffin has kept the team "In" during that rough six week losing streak and I think that we have a good nucleus to build around next year. Free agency and the draft will have to fill some important spots on the team, as with any club, but I think that we are in capable hands for the first time since Gruden was in charge. I wouldn't like to say how much of an improvement we can make as far as making the post season is concerned but I think we are going to be competitive in the Division again, which is an important progression after the last few years.

Friday, 7 December 2007


This was a headline from the Daily Express newspaper in the United Kingdom this Friday.I know we beat them up badly but come on, it really isn't necessary for the British press to get all upset about it, Shanahan must have friends in Fleet Street.
We saw three or four of the donkeys whipped with a brush. It was an absolute disgrace,” said one woman.I never saw that, the ref's must have missed that one.
Sorry I couldn't resist this.

Monday, 3 December 2007


Last weeks victory at Arrowhead was a start.The re-taking of AFC West pride continued last night in Oakland, and it was done with a little bit of the old swagger.

The sight of old wonky eyes gritting his teeth as his team were powerless to stop the smash mouth Silver and Black was enough to bring a tear to the eye, we all know how much Shanahan hates to lose to the RAIDERS, which makes beating him so much sweeter, especially as he could also see a wild card disappearing into a BLACK HOLE.

The opening drive set the tone for the game with Coach Kiffin running right at the suspect Denver defense, Justin Fargas hitting the hole at speed, as CBS' Bill McAtee put it "he runs with a sense of violence", running with violence!Now that SOUNDS like a RAIDER running back.Special mention should go to Shane Lechler at this point for his fine piece of comedy falling over keeping that first drive alive, it's no wonder he was laughing as he left the field.The Huggy Jnr. show had only just started with 8 for 43 yards, and Josh McCown finished off the first opening drive TD of the season with a great touch pass to Tim Dwight in the corner of the endzone.

The quick reply of the Bronco's suggested that they too would be able to run the ball successfully all day, but the Defense stiffened considerably against a team built on its ground game.Rob Ryan's men were flying around from the first whistle, and they were dishing out some hits too.One beauty on that first Denver drive in particular from Chris Clemons removed Cutler's helmet as he released the ball, a couple of inches higher and he may have looked a little different in the mirror this morning, which wouldn't be an all together bad thing when you consider that at the moment he has the face of a butch dyke.

Josh McCown had his best day as a RAIDER so far, finishing with 14 of 21 and three Touchdown's, adding another 22 yards on the ground.It was a gutsy performance all round, he was nursing an injured left hand, took a few big hits and was sent back onto the field just when the RAIDER NATION thought that the JaMarcus Russell era had started for real.McCown's TD throw to Zach Miller came quickly on a short field due to a fine strip by Robert Thomas which Tyler Brayton recovered at the Denver 35, the immediate success for McCown making sure that his re-appearance would not be a contentious issue.

Russell was blooded carefully, and we only got a taster of what to expect down the line, but his first pass as an NFL QB to Jerry Porter and a later throw to Ron Curry for 16 and 20 yards respectively, delivered with the flick of a wrist, were a tantalising look into the future of the RAIDERS.What really caught my eye was his mobility, be it avoiding a couple of oncoming pass rushers, or turning a botched hand off into a bootleg, he looks good on his feet for such a big man.The remaining weeks of the season will hopefully reveal more of Russell's skills if Kiffin stays with the plan to give him one or two drive cameo's, and despite the temptation as a fan to just say put him in and lets have some fun, the Coach has decided a way to go with JaMarcus and if it ultimately reaps rewards next year then we will thank Lane Kiffin.

A lot of good things came out of last nights game, other than the sight of JaMarcus Russell.Justin Fargas was outstanding, every carry was delivered at full speed with some great cut backs and total guts, and his TD was the crowning glory of a great day's work, Huggy is now on target for a 1000 plus yard season and deserves all the plaudits he is getting at the moment.Zach Miller is starting to show that he can be a pass catching threat at the TE position, having already shown his ability as a blocker, making some nice grabs and getting some real separation against what is supposed to be a good pass defense.Barry Simms and Robert Gallery seem to have returned to their early season form, with the running game going predominantly to the left.Chris Clemons is emerging as a nice compliment to Derek Burgess, as well as being an inspirational story.The special teams deserve a mention, with the kick coverage stepping up after the loss of Jarrod Cooper, and Chris Carr benefiting from some big holes on returns.We should also thank Travis Henry for setting us up nicely for 14 points following his fumbles, he should just go home, roll a fat one and forget about it.

The RAIDER team that we saw last night was almost un-recognisable in attitude terms, to the one that went six games without a win.The win in KC seems to have given the players a new belief in themselves and the system.Lane Kiffin has said that he found out a great deal about himself and his players during that period, and props to the HC, he seems to have kept the team with him throughout which bodes well for the future.

Beating the Donkey's is always a pleasurable experience, to do it with real attitude is even better.The final piece of humble pie came for Shanahan when he watched as Cutler knelt to concede the game to the Silver and Black, that's right Cutler kneel for mercy.

On to Lambeau Field and a Favre-less Packers.Three in a row?At least we don't look silly for suggesting it all of a sudden.Speaking of silly, having just watched the post game interview's, it should be said, JaMarcus, Joseph would like his dreamcoat back.