Finding inspiration in Brooks

Can a quarterback who led his team to 13 points and fired an interception into the end zone with the game on the line inspire his teammates?

He can if it's Aaron Brooks and that team is the Raiders.

Such is the state of the Oakland offense that all Brooks had to do is use his mobility to avoid sacks, stake his team to a 13-7 halftime lead and then nearly lead them to a last-second victory to bring a sense of hope to a team that is grasping for a life preserver.

"Aaron Brooks played lights out," Raiders free safety Stuart Schweigert said. "I don't know if I've seen a quarterback break that many tackles in the pocket. He had defensive linemen falling off him. It was promising to see."

In the end, Brooks did what critics say he did as starter for the Saints -- make a few good plays then make a bad one when his team needed it most.

With first-and-goal and 32 seconds remaining, Brooks tried to hit Randy Moss along the back line of the end zone. Brooks said he thought Moss would break in front of the safety.

Moss didn't. He didn't have much of a chance to, really. Chiefs rookie Jarrad Page intercepted the pass, and the Raiders lost 17-13.

Still, Schweigert's sentiments were echoed throughout the locker room. Instead of being subjected to another sack-a-thon with second-year quarterback Andrew Walter playing the pinata, Brooks was vibrant and mobile, making plays, escaping pressure.

He looked nothing like the quarterback who absorbed seven sacks in Week 1 against San Diego (a 27-0 loss) and then injured his pectoral muscle falling on the second of two consecutive fumbled snaps against Baltimore in Week 2.

"It was nice to hear," Brooks said of the compliments coming his way. "They've never seen me very emotional when it comes to a game. We didn't have that opportunity against the Chargers in the opening week, and it was kind of sporadic in the preseason.

"Any doubts whether I can lead this team or any doubts about me going in there and trying to motivate the guys, that all went out the window and everybody was very pleased how I carry myself and how I try to get the guys pumped."

After being out for so long, Brooks had to play through severe cramps. His throwing hand even began to cramp around his thumb and one of his fingers, forcing Walter off the bench for four plays. Brooks returned to hit Ronald Curry on a 39-yard strike to the Chiefs 8-yard line the play before Page's interception.

"His escapability definitely helps. It makes the approach of the defense leery of an all-out attack on him and just rushing in lanes," coach Art Shell said. "You have to make sure you've got him in the pocket or he'll get out and hurt you."

One thing Brooks was unable to do was get Randy Moss involved. Moss went without a reception for the first time in 16 games and the fourth time in 143 career games.

Brooks cited the coverage on Moss, often Cover 2 with safety help over the top. Shell said distribution was the call of the quarterback.

Moss, who Friday on his Fox Sports network radio show said he thought it might be time for a new team at the end of the season, had no comment.


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