OAKLAND — It was herky-jerky, a bit messy, perhaps even boring at times. But it was a thing of beauty to the success-starved Raiders. They got a 19-9 victory in their home opener at O.co Coliseum, and who cares if it came against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that many consider the worst in the National Football League?
"Listen, we won a football game, and that's all we can go out and try and do in a week-in and week-out basis," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen, who improved to .500 for the first time as an NFL head coach at 1-1. "So I was proud of our football team for winning the game."
And to be fair, there was a lot for Allen to be pleased with, starting with a defense that harried and battered Jacksonville. The Jaguars, who didn't score a point in a loss to Kansas City last week, had just 120 total yards after three quarters Sunday. They finished with 248 against an Oakland defense that largely went to a bend-but-don't-break scheme in the later stages.
The Jags rushed for just 34 yards on 19 carries, a paltry 1.8-yard average that wasn't helped when lead running back Maurice Jones-Drew left the game with an ankle injury. And when the visitors fell behind and Chad Henne was forced to the air, the Raiders brought the sort of pressure they hadn't displayed in a while. They finished with five sacks, more than they had in any game last season.
The attack came from a variety of angles, too; three of the five sacks were recorded by defensive backs, including 1? by safety Usama Young.
"With our defense, we move around a lot, we've got a lot of pressures," said Young, who came to Oakland as a free agent this year. "We've got some guys that rush a lot, some guys back out in the zone, and people moving around. That often keeps them confused, so as a defense we like to have those moving pieces, and then once the ball snaps they don't know where we're coming from."
After in the early portions of preseason games and falling behind Indianapolis 14-0 last week, the Raiders managed to get the Jaguars back on their heels quickly in this one. Jacksonville went three-and-out to open the game, and Phillip Adams' 30-yard punt return set up the Raiders at the Jaguars' 38. Helped by a personal foul on defensive end Jason Babin, they cashed in on a run by fullback Marcel Reece, who spun off a defender and dove over the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown just 4:08 into the game.
"I thought that was huge," Allen said. "I think our defense going out there and stepping up and forcing the three-and-out on the first series of the game, then we come out and get the punt return to set us up in good field position, and then for our offense to go right down the field and convert it into points, I think was a big momentum builder, a big confidence builder for our football team."
Alas, that would be the Raiders' only touchdown. They moved the ball better than Jacksonville for most of the game, but had only four Sebastian Janikowski field goals to show for it.</CS>