Raiders-Seahawks Game Grades

The Raiders treat their home crowd to the first two-game win streak since 2008. They win in resounding fashion over the Seahawks, 33-3. It was a dominating performance on both sides of the ball, but the win is tarnished a bit by Nnamdi Asomugha's ankle injury.

Quarterback: A

Tom Cable told reporters that Bruce Gradkowski would reclaim the starting quarterback role once he comes back from his shoulder injury. As much as we've been singing Gradkowski's praises all season long, we feel that this isn't the right move.

In our minds, and in the minds of many others in Raider Nation, Sunday's game was Jason Campbell's last chance—with Gradkowski's return imminent—to prove himself to be the starter. After a blistering performance against Denver, could he duplicate the performance and lead the Raiders to their first two-game win streak since 2008?

The answer? A resounding, "yes."

Campbell had arguably his best game as a Raider, throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns on 15 of 27 passing. On fourth-and-one in the second quarter, the Raiders were aggressive and scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass to fullback Marcel Reece on a slant route. On that play, Campbell delivered an absolute strike to Reece, hitting him in stride between two defenders. It was the type of pass and play that in years past for the Raiders would have been picked off and taken back for a crushing touchdown. Instead, Campbell fit the ball in a tight window and the Raiders turned fourth-and-one into a 9-0 lead.

Big plays were the name of the game on Sunday, and Campbell's arm was lively as ever. His 69-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey in the fourth quarter was the Raiders' longest play of this season. Although Gradkowski has a penchant for taking shots down the field, the Raiders haven't had a stretch of (explosive) offense quite like they've showcased in the past two weeks.

When Cable made the switch to Gradkowski back in Week 2, he said it was because of Gradkowski's ability to move the offense and put points on the board, and his command in the huddle. Well, since Campbell's return in Week 5 against the Chargers, the Raiders have averaged 34.0 points per game and are 3-1. After an abysmal performance against San Francisco in Week 6, Campbell has rebounded to throw for over 510 yards and four touchdowns to zero interceptions. Momentum is on Campbell's side. Unfortunately, the politics of a NFL locker room aren't.

Running Backs: A+

How great has Darren McFadden been in 2010? Despite missing two weeks to a hamstring injury, McFadden's 668 rushing yards is still the sixth highest total in the league, and just eight behind St. Louis' Steven Jackson.

McFadden's 111-rushing yards on Sunday was his fourth 100-yard rushing performance this season. He didn't score a touchdown, but nearly had one on his 49-yard run before Kennard Cox brought him down from behind.

It's truly amazing the change we've seen in McFadden. He's gone from a likely bust to a likely Pro Bowler. He's gone from being a fragile, east-west runner to a dynamic back that can sidestep a defender just as well as he can put his shoulders down and barrel forward.

With McFadden's success, Michael Bush has parlayed that into arguably his most successful stretch as a Raider. Bush has a touchdown in four of his last five games and has averaged 58.8-rushing yards during that stretch—excellent numbers for a backup running back.

On Sunday, Bush carried the ball only nine times, usually when McFadden was catching his breath on the sideline. However, Bush made the most of his sparse carries, rushing for 51 yards—an average of 5.7 yards per carry—and a touchdown. But perhaps his biggest play of the day was a 55-yard reception he made off of a deflected pass. It might have been a case when everything was going right for the Raiders, but Bush didn't give up on the play and put himself in a position to do something positive.

Of course, enough cannot be said of Marcel Reece's contributions to this team. Entering the 2010 season, fullback was a position of some concern for Oakland, but Reece has gone above and beyond to quell those worries. There might be better pure fullbacks in the league, but none are as athletic or dynamic as Reece. Against Seattle, he again proved himself to be as effective in the passing game (three receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown) as he is in the running game (a long of 31 yards).

Wide Receivers: B+

With Louis Murphy out and Jacoby Ford slowed by an injury, Darrius Heyward-Bey stepped up and had the best game of his short career. After all the offseason talk of the strides Heyward-Bey made as a receiver, the first seven weeks have been nothing short of a disappointment.

But Sunday, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson had the perfect game plan for his young receiver. Jackson got Heyward-Bey's confidence going by getting him the ball on short and intermediate comeback routes. After building him a bit, Heyward-Bey was finally let loose and that led to a 69-yard touchdown reception. On that play, Heyward-Bey made a nice dig back towards Campbell, who delivered a timely pass, and then Heyward-Bey was finally able to showcase his world-class speed on his way to the endzone.

Ford, who was making his first start in place of the injured Murphy, was the only other wide receiver to register a catch. He finished with two catches for 22 yards, but was slowed down after hurting his ankle.

Admittedly, this grade could be lower because of the one-sidedness of things. But Heyward-Bey's breakout performance, in addition to the running backs picking up the slack, help out the mark.

Tight Ends: C

Zach Miller only had one catch that went for eight yards. On Oakland's opening drive, Miller had a case of the dropsies, although, they were on some poorly thrown passes from Campbell. It's hard to call it a letdown performance only because Heyward-Bey and the backfield did such a terrific job in the passing game. However, second only to McFadden, Miller is the Raiders' best offensive weapon. One catch for eight yards isn't getting it done, but he will be back to his normal self come next Sunday.

Offensive Line: A

Give a lot of credit to this unit. All year long, they have drawn the most ire from fans. But for the past two games, they have overachieved in both the run and pass blocking games.

Jason Campbell was only sacked twice and had good protection for most of the game. A lot of Campbell's and the offense's success is thanks in large part to the offensive line's improved play.

Penalties continue to be a problem, but as a whole, this unit has improved dramatically in the past two weeks. The Raiders will go a long way if they can keep up their fine play, so it should be interesting to see how they respond after two consecutive successful games.

Defensive Line: A+

The defensive line simply dominated Seattle's offensive line. Not only did they get great pressure on Matt Hasselbeck (eight sacks) but they also limited the trio of Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington to only 47 yards—an astounding performance.

It wasn't simply a one or two man effort either. The entire two deep got into the fold. In fact, reserve tackle Desmond Bryant led the line in tackles with four. Richard Seymour had two sacks and it was evident by his play on the field and his demeanor on the sidelines that he was finally having fun. Rookie Lamarr Houston recorded his second sack of the season while Tommy Kelly has a streak of three consecutive games with a sack. Matt Shaughnessy, despite being replaced by Trevor Scott, continues to improve each week. He is tied with Seymour and Kamerion Wimbley for the team lead in sacks with five.

Like the offensive line, this unit's play will determine how far the Raiders will go. When they are able to dominate at the line, not only does Oakland win the game but also, they control it as well.

Linebackers: A+

This was perhaps the best performance from this unit this season. A lot of that has to do with the defensive line shutting things down, but that's not to take anything away from the linebackers.

Rolando McClain had one of his best games of his young career. He finished with three tackles and a pass deflection. One of the knocks on his game was his ability in coverage, but against Seattle's pass-happy offense, McClain was running stride-for-stride with John Carlson and the Seahawks slot receivers.

Kamerion Wimbley has more than justified his value to this team. Although he's still susceptible in coverage, when defensive coordinator John Marshall puts him on the line, the Raiders pass rush is an entirely different beast. Wimbley had two sacks on Sunday.

Secondary: A

Once again, Tyvon Branch led the team in tackles with five. He also added his second career interception in fourth, off of a deflected pass off the fingertips of Seattle receiver Deon Butler. It was a head's up play because Stanford Routt was in coverage and Branch did not give up on the play. Instead, he continued his pursuit, and when the ball glanced off the outstretched hands of Butler, Branch was there to pick it off.

Nnamdi Asomugha was his usual excellent self. He never ceases to amaze you when you're inclined enough to watch him closely. However, his ankle injury put a bit of a damper on the victory and it remains to be seen how serious it is. On Monday, Tom Cable ruled out that it was a fracture, but that it might be a simple rollover or a high ankle sprain.

When Asomugha was done for the day, Michael Huff moved down from free safety to play a little man-to-man corner. He was immediately tested and beat on a pass to the 6-foot-5 Mike Williams (his first and only catch of the day), but that was it.

Stanford Routt had an excellent day with two pass deflections. Jeremy Ware tallied one as well. Mike Mitchell has been getting a lot of playing time playing the hybrid safety/outside linebacker position. His physicality is definitely noticeable on the field. On one play, he put a pretty big hit on Justin Forsett and even after the play was obviously dead, Mitchell was still trying to punch the ball out of Forsett's hold.

Special Teams: A-

Shane Lechler booted five punts that averaged 54.6 yards. What more else is there to say?

Sebastian Janikowski was four of five on his field goal attempts. His one miss was from 45 yards out—definitely within his range—but he pushed it pretty badly. On the television replay, Janikowski's plant foot slipped and his follow through on his swing was heavy enough to make him fall down. Still, another solid effort from Seabass.

Jacoby Ford only had one kick return opportunity and that went for 17 yards. Nick Miller tried to make something happen all day, but Seattle's special teams unit is very good and they had him locked down. Where the Raiders suffered most was in kick coverage. Leon Washington found too many easy lanes to run through. He finished with 114 yards on four kick returns and 81 yards on punt returns.

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