Janikowski Leads Raiders to Victory

Oakland, CA – Leading the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders continue to remain in first place.  That means no room for mistakes, penalties were reduced drastically which has been a major problem in years past.  Despite the countless number of injuries including the loss quarterback Jason Campbell, this team still finds ways to win ball games.

With six field goals and one touchdown the Raiders defeated the Chicago Bears 25-20.  Sebastian Janikowski set a franchise record with six field goals in one game.  Carson Palmer and the offense struggled to get into the red zone and the end zone.  Oakland settled for field goals on their first six trips inside the Bears 30 before Michael Bush rushed for a 3-yard touchdown.

“We got stopped,” said Raiders coach Hue Jackson.  “We had some good opportunities but lost it against a good defense.  We got the win and that’s all that matters, I’m still waiting for our 50+ lead, a blow out, I know it’s coming.  We have a good football team and the pieces are finally coming together.”

Oakland really didn’t know what team they were facing today.  After losing starter quarterback Jay Cutler who injured his thumb last week, Caleb Hanie had big shoes to fill.  In his first career start Hanie struggled, he completed 18 of 35 passes for 254 yards and three interceptions.

“I was a little antsy early on,” Hanie said.  “A little bit too amped, I feel like.  Just kind of felt a little pressure and sailed it on him.”

Caleb who nearly led a comeback in last season’s NFC title game, had thrown only 14 regular-season passes since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2008 and looked like a career backup for much of this game.  He threw two touchdown passes, including one to Kellen Davis to cut the lead to five with 2:11 left in the game.

The Raiders opened up the game with outstanding defense forcing the Bears to punt immediately.  Palmer’s back-to-back first downs moved the offense down field with ease.  But two incomplete passes to Michael Reese and Darius Heyward-Bey led to Janikowski kicking his first of six field goals.  Making field goals from 40, 47, 42, 19, 37 and 44 yards, Sebastian broke a team record he shared with Jeff Jager.

“It means a lot to have the record by myself,” Janikowski explained.  “But there’s more records to be broken.  I always think that kickers and punters are important in this league.  It’s a field changing position, you see Shane [Lechler] hit a 80-yarder today, and it flipped everything.”

Lechler was also apart of a heroic day led by his fellow teammate Sebastian.  Both kicker and punter are the only players left from the 2002 Super Bowl roster.  Shane controlled field position throughout the game with a 49.2 net average, including a record 80-yard over Devin Hester’s head which brought “oohs” and aahs” from the crowd.

Oakland’s defense continued to hold Chicago’s offense, pressure on Hanie made him throw two interceptions to Standford Routt and Matt Michael Huff.  The loss of Cutler was worse than what many expected in Caleb’s performance.  A good defense kept the Raiders kicking field goals but it wasn’t enough to stop Oakland’s victory.

The red and end zone was a big problem for Carson and his offense.  He was picked off on a throw to Chaz Schilens after going for it on 4th down.  Then Hanie got 24-yards on the QB scramble for the first down.  Next a 29-yard pass to Johnny Knox and a touchdown for the Bears which gave them a 7-6 lead for the first and last time in the game.

Caleb had a good flow with his offense until the unexpected happen, Aaron Curry tipped the ball and Kamerion Wimbley recovered it for a 74-yard return.  With seconds left in the second quarter, Oakland was still unable to make a play in the end zone, Sebastian kick a 19-yard field goal to end the half 11-7.

“It felt great, wished I could’ve took it in the end zone,” said Wimbley.  “Coach is always talking about finishing the game and today we did that and got the win.”

Finally Palmer’s 48-yard pass to Louis Murphy put the Raiders at 1st and goal.  Bush rushed 9-yards for the only touchdown.  The Bears quickly responded with Knox’s 81-yard pass from Hanie which put Chicago at 1st and goal.  A 9-yard pass to Kellen Davis for the touchdown and with 2:11 left in the game the Bears are down 25-20.

“Felt good to get back in the groove,” Murphy said.  “That’s the play we worked on in practice, he threw it good today.”

They say this is the time when the better teams separates themselves from the ordinary.  The onside kick was recovered by the Raiders and while the clock ran with no timeouts they failed to move the ball and punted to Chicago.  But Caleb did the unthinkable and intentionally grounded the ball after getting his offense in field goal range.  As time expired Oakland held on for the win.

 

Written by: Malaika Bobino