Moment #2 -- One of the Best
--Shanahan vs. the raiders
"I really did think that the game was over," Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin said.
He, of course, was referring to first round wonder kicker Sebastian Janikowski's overtime FG that won the game for oakland after the raiders climbed back into what was quickly turning into a blowout by the Broncos by going on a 17 point run that tied the game and sent the action into overtime. It was a raider win on Bronco turf, and the taste was sweet.
What Kiffin was actually referring to was first round head-scratcher Sea-Bass' overtime FG that was called back after Shanahan took advantage of a 2007 rule change that allowed coaches to call a timeout from the sideline. The ensuing kick bounced harmlessly off the left upright with a happy thud, and Shanny had won again. 42 yards later, Elam had sealed the win for the Broncos and we were 2-0.
For me this was more than just a much needed home win against a division foe. In hindsight we look at the 2007 raiders games and note that we lost one and almost lost the other, but when I rewatch the week 2 game, I am reminded that we had the game well in hand for the majority of the time. Only allowing 53 yards passing is impressive no matter what criteria you select for evaluation, and what turned the game around for us wasn't the touted rushing numbers of the raiders in that game (200 yards rushing in essentially five quarters). The Denver defense was no doubt tired and getting pounded by the consistent rushing attack of the raider's was no help, but they had held the raider's out of the endzone for most of three quarters. The problem was a mistake by a young player, when Marshall committed a costly offensive pass interference penalty that negated a key touchdown. The swing in momentum that that one play produced changed what looked to be a 3rd quarter 20-3 lead into a 17 point slide that had the game tied and in overtime.
In fact, the slide didn't stop until Shanahan dug into his bag of tricks and whipped out something that could only work against the raiders. I get a real kick out of imagining Al Davis watching the game and thinking that he finally got one on the Mastermind, had finally evened out some sort of dark karmic justice, only to see the refs herding his team back to the sideline, his coach shocked and confused, and points being taken off the board. The ensuing miss probably had him crushing a tube of Brylcreme in his fist, and he was probably passed out for the game winning drive that followed. This whole moment is about so much more than just a win.
This is Shanahan vs. the raiders at its finest.
Can We Expect More of the Same?
The question isn't whether Shany will be able to call a timeout and win a game in 2008. That question was asked and answered in 2007, and not just by Shanny. The real question is whether we can expect another great raider-killer type moment from the Mastermind. Does he have a trick up his sleeve to rob Davis of yet another victory? How much longer can we expect this deep rooted sense of justice to continue to carry itself out?
I have no doubt that we will have our work cut out for us when we go up against the raiders in 2008. They spent some dough and got some real playmakers added to their offense. They could easily recapture some of the defensive mystique they were working to build in 2006. If our run defense does not come together quickly, the Monday Night Opener in oakland could be a major test of our fortitude. It is the most they can gain and the most we can lose to start 2008 off.
Which is why I am confident that Shanny has a batch of Mastermind whipped up special just for the new and improved raiders. It is definitely something we can expect, and not just this year, but happily ever after.
Shanahan lives for this.