TSX: Oakland Raiders Report
Darrius Heyward-Bey isn't prone to temper tantrums or waging a personal campaign to have passes thrown his way. In that way, he's breaks the diva stereotype of his position.
Heyward-Bey, at 6-2, 220, is also a willing and able downfield blocker. However, that's not why the Raiders made Heyward-Bey the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL draft in 2009, and he's taken a lot of criticism as every wide receiver who was a first-round pick selected after him and both first-rounders in 2010 have more receptions and yards this season.
So when Heyward-Bey caught five passes for 105 yards and came up with his first deep strike -- a 69-yard touchdown reception from Jason Campbell -- he could have been excused for taking a moment to gloat in front of the critics.
Except that's not his style. Never has been.
"My approach was the same as it was every week," Heyward-Bey said. "Do my job, and if the ball comes my way, make a play."
Since his arrival, Heyward-Bey has been out-produced by Louis Murphy, selected in the fourth round of the same draft. When Murphy was declared out after suffering a bruised lung against the Broncos, coach Tom Cable told the media he would need more from Heyward-Bey, a message he never relayed directly to the wide receiver.
"I really didn't think I needed to," Cable said. "I probably got the message out through you guys (the media), and he really responded like you'd expect him to. I didn't think it was necessary to put more pressure on him."
The only player who said anything was Campbell, who like Heyward-Bey, is prone to being low key and keeping feelings to himself.
"You would never know anything is wrong with him because he doesn't show his emotions," Campbell said. "He keeps everything within and if you talk to him you know where he's coming from."
Heyward-Bey, surrounded by reporters at his locker the day after the game, talked of simply doing his part.
"It feels good to be part of a big win like that, to make plays out there for your teammates and the organization," Heyward-Bey said. "I just had to do my job out there."
-- Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha's status is not clear for the immediate future, but Raiders coach Tom Cable said there is no fracture to his right ankle. Tight end Zach Miller was on crutches Monday, nursing a sore arch.
Strictly precautionary, Cable said.
For the most part, Cable said, the surging Raiders appear to be getting healthier, and that includes starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, as they prepare for their most significant game since 2002 when they host the Kansas City Chiefs.
"If you ask me, this is a playoff game this week," quarterback Jason Campbell said.
In getting back to .500, the Raiders are beginning to validate the faith defensive tackle Richard Seymour had since being traded from the New England Patriots the week of the 2009 season opener.
"This is what I saw in our team when I came over here last year," Seymour said. "This is the kind of thing me and Mr. (Al) Davis talked about. This is one of the reasons I came to camp early, to develop chemistry with my teammates."
Things are going the Raiders' way. They're overcoming penalties instead of worrying about them, and even getting lucky bounces. In a 33-3 win over Seattle, a nearly sensational catch by Deon Butler after a Stanford Routt deflection instead bounced straight into the arms of Tyvon Branch for an interception. A short time later, Campbell threw a low quick slant to Darrius Heyward-Bey, with the ball hitting the receiver's knee and ricocheting forward to Michael Bush, who plucked it out of the air and raced 55 yards.
Cable felt the plays came because the Raiders had put themselves in position to make them rather than wait for something to happen. "Good teams get breaks. They get them because of how hard they're playing," Cable said.
Cable said the Raiders are more concerned with the process than with the magnitude of playing the Chiefs, but at the same time they want to enjoy the fact they've played well enough to make it matter.
"We just finished a team meeting and talked about the things that weren't good enough that were on tape, and we talked about the goal for every man and coach on this team being to get better this week," Cable said. "We'll stick to the process and come Sunday we'll be ready to go. It will be exciting, for the community, the organization and the fans, but you've got to keep it in perspective. It's all about the team getting better."
-- Even with QB Jason Campbell coming off one of his best games (15 of 27, 310 yards, two touchdowns), coach Tom Cable made it clear that when Bruce Gradkowski is healthy, he goes back in as the starter. Campbell also played well against Denver, with the Raiders gaining 1,045 yards in his two games at quarterback.
"It's clear cut. There is no issue in my mind," Cable said. "What we've done is some nice things in the last two weeks. You've got to take your hat off to Jason ... it's a nice job on his part as well as the rest of the offensive players, but we know who our quarterback is."
Gradkowski threw during warm-ups before the Seattle game and told Cable it was the best he'd felt. "I think he's well on his way to recovery," Cable said. "I think we're really making progress with it and we'll see where we're at come Wednesday."
-- The Raiders hit the midway point of the season with 22 sacks, with defensive end Matt Shaughnessy and nickel end Kamerion Wimbley with five each, Richard Seymour with 4.5 and Tommy Kelly 3.5.
"It's like a snowball effect," Kelly said. "If I get one, he gets one, everybody wants to get one. It's like, can't let them have all the fun. Everybody wants one."
-- Offensive tackle Khalif Barnes, a tight end in blocking situations, drifted out to his left and caught his first NFL pass, a 6-yard gain from Campbell in the first quarter.
"I thought it was for like a yard, but I forgot the play before we had a fumble," Barnes said. "I looked and saw third-and-9, and I was like, damn, all this for a yard? But (Daniel) Loper reminded me we'd been pushed back. He said, 'Dude, you did all right, you got six yards.'"
Barnes is ready and willing to catch another pass or two given the right circumstances. "Red zone and in, I'm your man," Barnes said. "If it's third-and-15, don't look for me. I'll block it, though."
-- Middle linebacker Rolando McClain has not talked with the local press since following the season opener in Tennessee. Following the Raiders' second straight win, McClain again declined comment -- then instead sent a message to Raiders fans.
"If the fans come out and sell out a damn game, I'll talk to the media," McClain said. "Until then ... I need full fan support."
The Raiders drew 35,721 fans to their win over the Seahawks, far short of the approximately 61,000 it takes to declare a sellout. Oakland has been blacked out in its home market for 11 consecutive games, dating back to the 2009 season opener on Monday night against San Diego.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL PLAYER NOTES
-- QB Jason Campbell has passer ratings of 127.9 and 120.9, the highest rated back-to-back weeks of his career.
-- FB Marcel Reece had a career-high 122 yards from scrimmage and 82 of those came on two plays -- a 51-yard reception and a 31-yard run.
-- RB Darren McFadden leads the NFL with 111.3 yards per game and has broken 100 yards in four of six games after having only one 100-yard game coming into the season.
-- WR Darrius Heyward-Bey had 105 yards receiving against Seattle after having just 70 yards receiving in his four previous games combined.
-- WR Johnnie Lee Higgins got the most snaps he's had all season because of the absence of starter Louis Murphy but did not catch a pass for the sixth time this season.
-- TE Zach Miller, playing with an arch injury, had just one catch for eight yards but it was the 200th reception of his career.
-- DE Matt Shaughnessy had what may have been the best game of his career with four tackles, a sack, two tackles for losses and a quarterback hurry against Seattle.
-- DE Richard Seymour recorded two sacks against Seattle, and has 4.5 sacks in seven games after having four in 16 games with the Raiders last season.
-- SS Tyvon Branch had the first interception of his career in his 24th start against Seattle and also added his second sack of the season.
-- PK Sebastian Janikowski has a career-high 24 touchbacks at midseason, surpassing the 22 he had in full seasons in 2008, 2007 and 2002.
REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAWKS
PASSING OFFENSE: A
-- Quarterback Jason Campbell was over 100 in passer rating for the third time, completing 15 of 27 passes for 310 yards and touchdown passes of 30 yards to Marcel Reece on a fourth-and-1 and a 69-yard strike to Darrius Heyward-Bey, both passes threaded into tight coverage. Seven different receivers caught passes, led by Heyward-Bey's career day (five receptions, 105 yards).
RUSHING OFFENSE: A
-- The Raiders pounded the Seahawks in the first half with 21 rushes for 71 yards before breaking them in the second half with 18 carries for 168 yards. The 239-yard day was led by Darren McFadden, who finished with 19 rushes for 111 yards, with nine carries for 82 yards in the second half. McFadden's 49-yard run and runs of 31 for Marcel Reece and 30 for Michael Bush all came in the second half.
PASS DEFENSE: A
-- It was a long day for Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was sacked eight times en route to a 13-for-32, 160-yard performance. Hasselbeck never got anything remotely resembling a rhythm and had a pass intercepted by Tyvon Branch after it had been broken up by Stanford Routt. Leading receiver Mike Williams was held to one catch for 27 yards after the game was out of reach.
RUSH DEFENSE: A
-- Slow going for the Seahawks, who had a 21-yard run by Leon Washington in the second half, but nothing else to speak of. Minus that gain, Seattle ran the ball 18 times and gained 26 yards. Lead back Marshawn Lynch had nine carries for seven yards and had a seven-yard gain, which gives you an idea of his other eight attempts. Change-of-pace back Justin Forsett had 11 yards on five carries.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus
-- The stats looked better than they were, as Leon Washington had a 28.5-yard average on four kickoffs and a 27.0-yard average on three punts, although the biggest gains came when the Raiders had already taken a commanding lead. Sebastian Janikowski had touchbacks on four of eight kickoffs and kicked field goals of 31, 36, 22 and 49 yards, while missing wide left from 45. Shane Lechler had a 54.6 gross punting average but only a 34.6 net.
-- The Raiders correctly identified Seattle's strengths and weaknesses and built a game plan that forced the Seahawks into a game they couldn't win. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson kept pounding away with the run until the Seahawks broke and continued to mix in the occasional reverse. Defensively, the Raiders loaded the box, choked off the run and hounded Hasselbeck mostly with natural pressure and a few well-timed blitzes.
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