Raiders rise up to clip Eagles

Just when it seemed time to count the Raiders out, Tom Cable and company came up with easily the biggest upset in the NFL this season. They did it with just enough from the offense, good special teams and a defense that absolutely hammered Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb.

For weeks Tom Cable has stressed his faith and belief in the Raiders, even as the losses and embarrassing plays piled up by the handful. Six games into the season, Oakland's players finally rewarded their head coach for his confidence.

Sunday's 13-9 win over the Philadelphia Eagles shouldn't inspire any talk about the playoffs but it was enough to stop the Raiders' three-game losing streak and remove the dark cloud that had been hanging overhead.

A week after being blown out on the road by the New York Giants, Oakland returned to the Coliseum and, in the words of The Rock, laid the smack down on the Eagles, specifically quarterback Donovan McNabb.

McNabb was sacked six times by a Raiders defense that was in face of the Eagles' QB all afternoon. Defensive coordinator John Marshall broke from owner Al Davis' preferred four-man rush and called a steady series of blitzes that confused Philadelphia and never let McNabb get into any kind of rhythm.

The six sacks – two apiece by Richard Seymour and Trevor Scott, and one each for Thomas Howard and Jay Richardson – were the most by the Raiders since Oct. 30, 2005 when they had six against the Tennessee Titans. In addition, Oakland had eight quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.

"What a game to come out and put it together on, the Philadelphia Eagles," defensive tackle Gerard Warren said. "We had a few blitz packages, but once again, Oakland Raiders football, we're counting on the front four to get pressure and bring it. More importantly, when we did blitz those backers really brought it today."

Linebackers Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison were especially active as the centerpieces of most of the blitz packages, but Marshall was creative when he did bring the heat. He had the safeties coming, the linebackers, and on a key third-down play in the fourth quarter, brought the house and forced McNabb to throw the ball away.

"John called a good game and guys just executed it," defensive end Greg Ellis said. "The biggest thing is we just have to consider this is what is supposed to happen. We're not a bad football team. We're not the Bad News Bears. If we prepare properly, we can be in any game we play in."

The defense overcame not getting much help from the offense in terms of scoring and losing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to an eye injury early in the first quarter.

Asomugha was poked in his right eye by Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson and spent most of the rest of his day on the sideline.

"It's killing me right now," Asomugha said. "They kept putting numbing drops in, but that would go away after about five minutes. The cornea was damaged on the third play of the game. I got hit in the eye by DeSean, so we'll check it out tomorrow."

While the offense didn't put up big numbers on the scoreboard, quarte



rback JaMarcus Russell was effective enough and got enough support from the running game to pull out the win.

Russell, who was booed off the field his last time in Oakland, completed 17 of 28 throws for a season-high 224 yards, including an 86-yard touchdown to tight end Zach Miller. Russell only had a 68.2 rating but was far more comfortable managing the offense than in previous weeks. He moved around well in the pocket to avoid the Eagles pass rush, made a few questionable throws, but kept the chains moving.

With Justin Fargas sparking the running game with 87 yards on 23 carries – not to mention some much-needed key pass blocking in the backfield – the offense did just enough to get the win.

The Raiders also got a boost from their special teams, with Sebastian Janikowski staying perfect on the season with a pair of field goals from 29 and 46 yards out. Punter Shane Lechler also repeatedly bailed out the offense with a 51.1-yard average on seven punts.

Now the issue facing Cable and company is how to carry the momentum over into next week's game against the New York Jets.

"That's the golden question," Cable said. "That's all we really talked about in there. We're happy we won. We stuck it in there, as you're supposed to. Played the game, like you're supposed to. Competed all the way through. But the biggest issue in that locker room right now is, how do we handle this? How do you grow from this?

"I talked earlier about the process, when everybody wants to write you off and all that, you've got to be strong enough to get through it. But now you've got to be even stronger, to handle success. It's a good football team, Philadelphia's got. And we played good ball and won today. But how do we turn that around and make it something consistent? Don't just feel so good about it and then let it go tomorrow when you show up. Go to work tomorrow with a purpose and look at that film and say, ‘How do we get better?' Because there's certainly a lot we still got to get better on."


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