Punchless, lifeless, and apathetically going through the motions describes the Raiders season, until Sunday that is.
In a sport as brutal as football sometimes the best thing for a struggling team is a morale-boosting melee. When as players, as they put it, have had enough of getting their butts kicked and getting embarrassed, they usually lash out. Sparking this sudden rush of adrenaline was an unlikely source.
Michael Crabtree is one of the last guys you would expect to see looking for a fight. Mild-mannered, quiet and non-controversial, Crabtree has been a man who does the right thing.
So much so when Aquib Talib snatched and broke his chain on the field in Denver, Crabtree made the smart play and left it alone. Chris Harris Jr, who has been extremely talkative despite continuing to find himself on the losing end of ball games, accused Crabtree of punching him in the gut. Crabtree may be a lot of things but a dirty player or one who goes around punching his opponents isn’t one of them.
— Buckle Down!! (@IBKING46) November 27, 2017
Sunday, however, was not most days. The Broncos have brought out the best in the Raiders over the years. They have also elicited the worst, just like a good rival should. Talib felt froggy and lept. And why shouldn’t he? He had already snatched Crabtree’s chain once. From the picture, above Talib broke Crabtree’s current chain and it was precisely at that moment Talib figured out he had messed up.
Crabtree snapped, much like his chain, and proceeded to take the fight to Talib. Blocking/pushing him off the field, down the Broncos sidelines, into the cameraman, and finally taking him to the ground. And as Crabtree was getting mobbed by Broncos, the cavalry came. The rest of the offense came rushing to his aid and sparked a 21 point run.
— AFL GODFATHER (@NFLMAVERICK) November 27, 2017
Before the dust had settled, Crabtree and Talib would square up in multiple locations on the field. Both players would be ejected and in his haste to take up the cause of his brother-in-arms, “Big Smooth” Gabe Jackson crashed into an official knocking him to the ground and got ejected as well.
The defense was stellar throughout the first three quarters, shutting out the Broncos while amassing five sacks.
Breaking the season-long interception drought was midseason acquisition, NaVorro Bowman, lying flat on his back in the end zone. If you claim you had a linebacker who wasn’t on the team at the beginning of the season to be the man to record the first interception, I’m going to have to call “BS” on that one.
Overall, the defense looked much faster and seemingly far and away more aggressively complex than it has been in years past.
With all that has gone on in Alameda lately, the Raiders once again took the field half a game closer to the lead, courtesy of yet another loss by the first place Kansas City Chiefs. Squandering opportunities have been the bane of this season. Gift after gift has been shoveled the Raiders’ way and they have opened just enough of them to remain within striking distance.
In all likelihood, the Raiders’ easiest path to entering the 2017 postseason is simply to win the division. With the season ending with a showdown in the Raiders home away from home, (wherever the Chargers call home) and the rematch against the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium, the Raiders have regained control of their own destiny, someway, somehow.
Holding the same record as the Chargers and the tiebreaking advantage over the Chiefs, the Raiders need only win out and they will be the AFC West champions and most likely hosting a wildcard round playoff game at the Coliseum.
It can not be overstated how bizarre it is for the Raiders to be in this position. It is mindboggling how the last remaining undefeated team of 2017 is currently only a game ahead of two (5-6) teams coming out of week 12, but nevertheless, it is so, and for a week, the Raiders fought with everything they had.
And for no other reason than it’s funny and who knows what happened anyway, perhaps @kingcrabree15 got a motivational speech from everyone’s favorite rendition of Ray Lewis.
— #NotRayLewis (@AndreBoyd1981) November 27, 2017