Campbell's first half play was not very good. For a brief moment, you could hear the collective drone from the pessimists of "here we go again." After two very strong weeks of football, Campbell came out and stunk it up in the first half. He completed only four of ten passes for 18 yards and an interception.
But Tom Cable's halftime speech obviously had an effect on Campbell, as well as the rest of the team. Truth be told, as bad as Campbell's play was in the first half, he wasn't off by much. But what made his second half performance so special was how he was able to take on the necessary identity his team desperately needed to pull out the victory.
He took plenty of shots down the field, but it wasn't until the second half (after the rain let up a bit) that his passes started to connect. His final drive of regulation to set up the game-tying field goal was exactly what he needed to do to assert himself as a leader in the huddle. The same goes for his game-winning drive in overtime.
Kudos to Campbell for finishing strong in what was a difficult and ugly game. He finished with 229 yards and a touchdown and interception apiece on 19-for-33 passing.
RUNNING BACKS: B+
It's definitely a good thing that we've gotten to the point when we can say Darren McFadden's Sunday performance was a bit of a let down.
McFadden finished with 89 yards on 17 carries and four catches for 25 yards. But the two numbers that will stand out the most are his two fumbles, his second and third of the year and first since Week 3 in Arizona.
Still, despite the miscues, you can argue that this game was the most telling performance in McFadden's revitalized career. Instead of sulking away and disappearing from the game, McFadden continued to run hard and with as much tenacity as he has all season. He was stopped behind the line on Sunday more than he has in any other game this year, but that credit goes to Kansas City's stout run defense.
Michael Bush carried the ball five times for 17 yards. Marcel Reece had somewhat of a letdown performance after two consecutive weeks of at least 30-yards rushing and a touchdown, but again, give credit where credit is due: the Chiefs defensive front made it a challenge for Oakland's backfield trio.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A
As it was a rivalry game with early playoff implications, Jacoby Ford has easily etched himself in Raider lore. Ford finished with 148 yards on six receptions, but his play in the waning minutes of regulation and in the overtime period is what stands out most.
Ford's 29-yard catch on 1st and 20 with 0:16 left in the fourth quarter is what set Oakland up for Sebastian Janikowski's 41-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. What at first looked like an interception turned out to be a case of head's up play and sheer tenacity—Ford plucked the ball out from the defender's arms and had the focus to bring it in for the huge gain. It's easily the catch-of-the-year for Oakland and one of the finest this year in the NFL.
On Oakland's first offensive play in overtime, Ford laid out for a huge, 47-yard grab that set up Janikowski's game-winning 33-yard field goal. It was the type of play you don't expect rookie wide receivers to make, especially fourth round picks, but in a big moment, the smallest guy on the field stepped up.
Johnnie Lee Higgins matched his season total in receptions with three for 26 yards. Brandon Myers made three grabs for 20 yards in place of the injured Zach Miller, and Khalif Barnes, playing as an eligible receiver, caught his first career touchdown in the third quarter to help put the Raiders up, 14-13. With the team's top three receivers out (Zach Miller, Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens) it was a huge, step-up performance by the youngsters. But also, keep in mind that Darrius Heyward-Bey, presumably Oakland's top receiver coming into the game, was held without a catch and had a numbers of grabs he should have made. A disappointing game for Heyward-Bey, whose situation is getting progressively desperate.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C-
Goodness gracious. The penalties. This was as ugly of a game that you will ever see in the NFL and it's truly amazing the Raiders were able to pull out the victory despite all the flags.
Jacoby Ford and the three-game win streak will make the headlines, but on any other day, the penalties would be the story. At this point in the season, it's hard to believe the Raiders will ever completely rid themselves of their penalty problem, but at the very least, you have to hope that they will curb it to some degree. The in-game broadcast said it best, "for the Raiders to win this game, they have to play the Chiefs and themselves."
The run blocking had its moments when they were able to sustain the edge long enough for McFadden to break outside. At other times, when the Chiefs overloaded one side or brought the blitz, they were often overwhelmed and allowed easy penetration. The pass rush was obviously an issue as indicated by the numbers holding calls. Campbell had to do some creative things with his legs to get the ball off. He finished the game with four sacks.
Again, the Raiders have to work with what they've got. Jared Veldheer has made great strides since the start of the season, but he definitely looks like a rookie out there. But the team has made an investment in their third round pick, and as such, they're living with the consequences. Robert Gallery had a poor game as he was called a couple of times for false starts.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
Kansas City came in with the top ranked rushing attack in the NFL. The speed and power combination of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones had been the NFL's best prior to Sunday. And of course, Oakland struggles (mightily) against the run.
But this was a step-up game for everyone. Not only did Jason Campbell and Jacoby step up for the offense, but Richard Seymour and company did the same on defense.
Initially, a lot of people thought this game was going to be an offensive slugfest with both running games being the dominant factor. However, the Raiders got great penetration at the point of attack and did not let Charles of Jones get to the second level often.
The difference in the run defense in the past few weeks is staggering. The Raiders are finally playing great run defense. On Sunday, they had excellent containment on the edges and made Charles and Jones take a lot of time to make their moves in the backfield.
Seymour had arguably his best performance in Silver and Black. He finished with seven tackles to lead the team. Matt Shaughnessy continues to play at high level, week in and week out. Although Trevor Scott is listed as the starter, it won't be long before the team has to make a switch due to Shaughnessy's combination of production and potential.
Rolando McClain left the game with a hip injury, but Ricky Brown did a great job in his place, finishing with two tackles. Quentin Groves and Kamerion Wimbley continue to prove themselves to be worthy investments. Groves finished with four tackles and Wimbley had three.
As the defensive line did a great job at holding their positions and containing the edge, the linebackers were able to roam relatively free to make plays in pursuit. Against a great running team like the Chiefs, step one is for the line to contain at the point of attack, but step two is on the linebackers to fill in the gaps. Defensive coordinator John Marshall has done an excellent job with this defense in what is now his second season. Over the past few weeks, the linebackers have improved tremendously in their ability to play in pursuit and fill in the gaps, and the results have shown in the win column.
Against the run, this unit did an excellent job when playing near the line. After Tyvon Branch had to leave the game with a concussion, Mike Mitchell filled in nicely. Mitchell has been a great asset this season as his physical play off the bench provides a much-needed boost. Mitchell finished right behind Richard Seymour in tackles with six.
Against the pass, Oakland did a heck of a job without their leader, Nnamdi Asomugha. Chris Johnson was picked on early in the first half, but instead of regressing, Johnson took it as a challenge and stepped up his game. The pass interference call in the first quarter to set up Kansas City's first score was one of many terrible calls in the game. But again, as it was the theme of the game, Johnson also stepped up and became a lockdown defender from the second quarter on.
The Raiders are getting plenty of mileage out of their 2010 draft class. Jeremy Ware, one of the team's two seventh round picks, had a key interception in the redzone in the closing seconds of the first half that kept the deficit at 10-0. Stevie Brown, the team's other seventh rounder, continues to flourish in his hybrid safety/linebacker role. Brown finished with three tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
We have been saying it for a few weeks now that Jacoby Ford has been on the cusp of breaking out, and he finally delivered in a big fashion.
With a 10-0 deficit coming out of halftime, the Raiders were definitely in striking distance but had to make a dent quickly. Well, they did just that with Ford's 94-yard kickoff return to open the second half. It was the best thing that could happen to the Raiders as it not only put them on the scoreboard, but it was also a much-needed momentum booster. Whatever halftime speech Tom Cable gave to his team in the locker room was immediately justified by Ford's big return.
Nick Miller's fumble in the fourth was a huge blow that eventually led to the Chiefs taking back the lead. However, thanks to Ford, Miller's fumble is simply a fact of the game.
Everyone knows Sebastian Janikowski has the leg to hit those long field goals, but after the missed game-winning field goal against Arizona, you almost have to hold your breath in pressure situations. But Janikowski answered the call and hit two of the biggest field goals in his Raider career.
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