Raiders rise up to handle Houston

The Raiders did something they hadn't done all season: they scored on their first possession. That gave the team all the spark it needed and Oakland came up with one of its most complete games all year while winning for just the second time at home, beating Houston 27-16.


· Quarterback JaMarcus Russell had arguably his best game of the season but it wasn't just in the statistical way. The second-year QB looked extremely comfortable -- and confident -- in the pocket and went through his progressions better than he has all year. His two TD passes came on very different throws, one a touch pass to Chaz Schilens and the other a rifle to Johnnie Lee Higgins. Afterward, interim head coach Tom Cable and several teammates praised Russell and agreed he took a major step forward with his performance.

· After sitting on Darren McFadden and using him minimally in the loss to New England, the Raiders made him a major part of their game plan against Houston. McFadden was on the field for 30 of Oakland's 60 offensive plays, rushing for 46 yards on 12 carries while leading the team with five catches for 41 yards. His mere presence on the field was huge because it forced the Texans to divert some of their defensive focus his way, which opened the door for his teammates to make plays.

· Oakland's offensive line allowed only one sack and that came on a broken running play when Russell should have audible out. Although the entire line deserves credit, kudos go out to left tackle Mario Henderson who played head up against Houston defensive end Mario Williams most of the game and helped hold the former No. 1 overall draft pick to five tackles, no sacks and no quarterback hurries.

· Houston rookie running back Steve Slaton went into the day having rushed for more than 100 yards in three straight games but was held in check for the most part by an Oakland defense that played its best run defense since Week 2. Slaton had just 66 yards on 18 carries while the Texans were held to 90 yards on the ground overall.

· Cable told the players Saturday night that the team would try an onsides kick after its second score. Cable followed through after Sebastian Janikowski's field goal put the Raiders up 10-7, and Janikowski executed the onside kick perfectly. Rashad Baker recovered and Oakland went on to add another field goal for a 13-7 advantage.


· The Raiders had a hard time covering Houston tight end Owen Daniels, who repeatedly found huge seams in the pass coverage and caught seven passes for 111 yards. Of course, on the flip side there's Andre Johnson, who went into the game leading the NFL in catches and receiving yards, was held to two passes for 19 yards.


· 128.1: Quarterback rating for JaMarcus Russell, who completed 15 of 28 pass attempts for 236 yards and two touchdowns. The rating was Russell's second-highest of the season, as was his 72.0 completion percentage.

· 3: Punt returns for touchdown this season by Johnnie Lee Higgins, a franchise single-season record. Despite being in just his second year, Higgins _ who also scored on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Russell _ has three of the eight longest punt returns in team history.

· 1: Time the Raiders have scored on their opening drive this season. Oakland did it coming out of the blocks against the Texans, driving 64 yards on eight plays with Russell capping things off with a 20-yard TD to rookie wide receiver Chaz Schilens.


· Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was taken to the locker room early in the fourth quarter with an apparent neck injury, although it looked like team officials were concerned about a possible concussion. Asomugha, who made several big hits, was checked out on the sidelines by team trainers then was taken to the locker room. By the time the media was allowed in, Asomugha's belongings in his locker had been cleared out.


· "It was basically, ‘Have some pride in yourselves. These are the last few weeks of the season, have some pride, do things the right way and let's see where the chips fall. But do things the right way.' And everybody took it on themselves to go out and do it the right way and not worry about what the offense was doing, not worry about teams are doing to us. Just do what we do."

-- Defensive end Jay Richardson on the run defense which limited the Texans to 90 yards on the ground

· "Every win is satisfying but this comes at a good time for us as a team. We've been struggling but we know what we're capable of. It's just a matter of putting it all together on Sundays. This is the type of performance we've been looking for."

-- Running back Justin Fargas on the significance of the win over Houston

· "He grew up a lot. Lot of key passes. He was real accurate today. He really controlled our offense. We had our running game going but at the same time I think he passed for close to 300 yards. That's real big for him. JaMarcus is a (inaudible), big arm and he's going to keep growing. He read the pocket real well, stepped up in the pocket, slid outside the pocket and that's big, it's key. Gave him a little more time to find the guys when they got open. As a quarterback, that's big when you can manipulate the pocket when you want to."

-- Right tackle Cornell Green on the maturation of quarterback JaMarcus Russell

· "I feel like I'm explosive. Like, you never know what can happen. ‘It looks like he's tackled, it looks like he's down. Oh, he's gone. It looks like he can't catch it, like he can't do this . . . there he goes.' So I look at myself, I always look at myself as a playmaker."

-- Punt returner/wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins after scoring two touchdowns, one on offense and one on special teams

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