Oakland, CA – In his first home opener Oakland Raider, QB Jason Campbell got his first taste of the infamous politics of the organization. He was benched to start the third quarter and replaced by Bruce Gradkwoski.
A move that surprised everyone including the entire team, led backup QB Gradkowski to turn things around in the second half leading the Raiders to their first victory of the season over the St. Louis Rams 16-14.
“I was surprised I was taken out,” Campbell said. “I don’t want to take away anything from our win today, everything takes time and there are some things I need to get used too.” “It was a decision that was made and I’m OK with it.”
Becoming familiar with a challenging offensive line is going to take more than training camp to get used too. Gradkowski plays like he is fighting for his life, something he got prepared for backing up QB JaMarcus Russell last season. Campbell will continue to learn the offense and find his own comfort but in the meantime, winning is our only option even if it means drastic changes.
“It was a good win but not very pretty,” coach Tom Cable said. “The second half was better, our quarterback was not in sync so we needed a change.” “My job is to win games and do whatever it takes to do that.”
The first period didn’t start off great for either team when both kickers missed field goals. But it didn’t take long for Rams rookie QB Sam Bradford to pass short to the middle for the 7-yard touchdown to WR Mark Clayton. Oakland responded with a 38-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski to end second period.
By second half the Raiders controlled the game, Janikowski kicked another field goal this time for 41-yards to bring the Oakland within one. The defense came out more aggressive and forced St. Louis to punt. After completing seven plays Gradkowski found Louis Murphy right for the 4-yard touchdown. Oakland takes the lead and never looked back.
“We came out and played today,” Murphy said. “There was no difference to me in the quarterback performances, Bruce threw a great pass to me for the touchdown.” “I was surprised about the switch but whatever decision is made we still need to continue to win.”
By comparison Gradkowski completed 11 of 22 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown. Campbell completed 15 passes for 87 yards, one interception and no touchdowns. This week coach Cable has a quarterback controversy on his hands in deciding who will be the starter for next weeks game on the road in Arizona.
“I want to be the starter,” said Gradkowski. “In my mind, I am the starter but that’s how you have to approach it if your the backup.” “We don’t play this game to be backups.” “We play to be starter in this league and win championships and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Written by: Malaika Bobino