Raiders @ Saints: Breaking It Down - The First Half

Back by popular demand, its "Breaking It Down." To be honest, the last few games never got recorded by my TiVo or got deleted from my TiVo before I ever did anything about it. So without further ado here is what I saw after re-watching the game on television.

First Quarter

 

Raiders First Drive - (9 plays, 33 yards, 3:28, Field Goal)

  • On the second play of Oaklands drive, Russell throws short right to Ronald Curry on a corner route. Bullocks is man to man and when Curry makes his right turn toward the sideline. Bullocks turns clockwise, his back to the receiver and turns all the way around (much like making a left turn in New Orleans) before taking the longest route possible toward the sideline. It would have been much more efficient to keep his body facing the receiver and to simply pivot to change direction. It's the little things.
  • On the next play Russell overthrows a wide open Zach Miller. Bullocks and Gay are on the goal line. Miller is on the five. Perfect example of how another team with another quarterback would have done more damage.
  • Roman Harper drops a sure and easy interception in the end zone.

Saints Second Drive - (8 plays, 67 yards, 5:33, Missed FG)

  • The first play is a nice completion to Reggie Bush on the right side. Shockey is right there on the sideline clapping and enouraging.
  • This drive was the Billy Miller show. He caught 3 passes for 25 yards. 
  • Unfortunately, this was also the Jammal Brown show. Brown got called for two holding penalties for a total of 20 yards and single handedly killed this drive.
  • Mehlhaff pulls the kick and it looks like it misses by just a foot. \
  • After two penalties and a missed field goal, this drive and this game look  like they are heading down the same old path the team followed on Monday night. Someone must have said something on the sideline because that was the last we would see of the "old" Saints.

Raiders Second Drive - (9 plays, 24 yards, 4:27, Punt)

  • Saints have great coverage downfield on the first play and force Russell to throw it away. Yeah that's right...I said great coverage. Get used to it.
  • Randall Gay makes a nice pass breakup that could have been an interception. I'll take it.
  • On third down Russell again goes deep to a receiver and agian overthrows. David appears to have good coverage. Looks like he might have actually made a play on the ball if the throw was accurate. 

Second Quarter

 

Saints Third Drive - (18 plays, 86 yards, 10:59, Touchdown)

  • Okay, this is where I get confused and frustrated. First play of the drive and Deuce gets a nice run up the middle for 9 yards. He then checks out and the next play is a pitch to Reggie who winds up gaining nothing. Why not leave Deuce in and let him finish off his work in progress? 2nd and 1 is the perfect time for a guy like Deuce! Why not keep pounding up the middle? That is not a Reggie situation! Am I wrong?
  • To be fair, on that 2nd down run by Reggie Mike Karney is out as the lead blocker and releases his man way too early. That Raider winds up forcing Reggie to cut up the middle instead of continuing outside as designed. 
  • Lance Moore starts getting in on the action with this drive. On his first catch he actually makes a little run after the catch, not something he is known for. On his second catch it looks like a possible horse collar that goes uncalled.
  • Great job by the offensive line giving Drew forever to make his passes.
  • Much to my delight they stick with Deuce and he puts together a couple of good runs. Then McAllister checks out and Reggie runs one. That's followed by a play action pass to Moore for 19 yards and is capped off by a Reggie run up the left side for the score. Karney makes the deciding block on the TD run. Good play calling and nice balance on this drive. This drive was pretty close to ideal with the exception of maybe just a bit more Deuce. We know what this offense is capable of and we can all point to this drive as our model.

Raiders Third Drive - (6 plays, 21 yards, 1:57, Missed FG)

  • The Raiders take over from the 40 after a Mehlhaff kick out of bounds. 
  • Russell overthrows again to Javon Walker. Jason David is tight on him though. I'll give this battle to JD because I'm not sure what would have happened had the pass been better. 
  • The defense looked good on this drive. Great job stopping McFadden on the run and good coverage.

Saints Fourth Drive - (6 plays, 28 yards, 0:58, Field Goal)

  • Drew Brees continues to slice and dice the Oakland secondary. First a 17 yarder to Lance Moore then to Devery for 18 yards on the very next play.  
  • After going 16/16, Drew's next two passes, one to Reggie and one a throw away, go incomplete.
  • Mehlhaff kicks his first NFL field goal. His confidence meter starts to rise.

Raiders Fourth Drive - (5 plays, 34 yards, 0:44, Missed FG)

  • The Saints only have 6 guys in the box so Russell exploits it by throwing underneath to a wide open Higgins. 
  • Roman Harper takes a JaMarcus Russell pass in the nuts that he should have intercepted.
  • Vilma makes an awesome read on a pass and nails Fargas as he gets the pass on a screen.

We all know that the half ends on a sour note. It appears like Drew Brees probably signaled for time out before the clock ran out but in the end it winds up being negligible. The other thing I noticed both at the game and watching the game on television is the relationship between Payton and Shockey. J. Shock is always hovering around Payton on the sideline like a lonely puppy including the conversation with the referees at the end of the half. Just something I noticed.

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