Oakland, CA – Keeping his word cost the Oakland Raiders a quarterback and a win. Coach Tom Cable kept his promise to Bruce Gradkowski to return as the starting quarterback once he became healthy. That start came unexpectedly for Jason Campbell and the rest of the team.
“I’ve always said that if Bruce was 100% he would be the starter,” said Cable. “He came to me and said he was 100% so I started him, I did not think to replace him during the game.”
The Raiders were defeated by the Miami Dolphins 33-17. Two interceptions from Gradkowski led to 21 points for the Dolphins and a collapsed offense despite one offensive touchdown. He completed 17 of 32 passes for 25 yards while re-injuring his shoulder on his final throw of the game to possibly end his season.
Rookie Jacoby Ford was the entire offense, starting the game with a 101-yard punt return for Oakland’s first touchdown. Ford’s punt return was the third longest in Raiders history. Early in the fourth, he also got a chance to display his talents on defense when he beat out his former Clemson teammate to prevent Gradkowsi’s third interception.
Ford leaped high for a 52-yard pass that went directly in the hands of Chris Clemons. While air bound the rookie snatched the ball right out of Clemons hands for the first down. But Oakland failed to connect in the end zone setting up Sebastian Janikowski’s 30-yard field goal to cut Miami’s lead 23-17.
“It was really exciting to start the game off like that,” Ford said. “We tried to feed off that momentum, unfortunately we didn’t execute like we should’ve which led to the loss today.”
The Raiders never scored again after that play and Chad Henne led his team to their fifth win. Henne also got the nod to start after beating the odds from getting benched to injured. He threw for 307-yards and got 4 field goals from kicker Patrick Cobbs to dominate Oakland’s defense. The nail in the coffin came with 3:38 seconds left in the game when Ricky Williams rushed for a 45-yard touchdown to secure the win.
‘I knew my day would come again,” said Henne. “The biggest thing is just staying confident in myself, I knew I can get it done out there.” “For me it’s just staying confident, fixing mistakes and just keep on improving as a quarterback.”
For the Raiders they go back to Campbell who also needs to focus on his confidence despite being benched again. Next week they head down south to face the Chargers who they beat earlier in the season. Jason lead Oakland to three wins before the loss against the Steelers and was very surprised by his coach’s decision.
“I didn’t understand the whole thing with the 100% being healthy,” Campbell said. “Bruce was healthy for the Pittsburgh game? As a player I will continue to work on myself to get better.”
Right now every game is a must win for the Raiders to stay alive in the AFC West. They have gone to having two available quarterbacks to one so the obstacle now is to regain the focus prior to the bye-week. We’ve seen the “eye of the tiger” in this team before and await what they bring to San Diego.
Written by: Malaika Bobino