Raider Nation! Welcome back to the Ramble, one of our earliest contributors, Ray Aspuria. His work has been featured on several platforms, including Silver and Black Pride and Raiders Snake Pit. In his first piece back, he brings back Aspuria’s Assertions.
Not gonna lie, Josh Jacobs’ ball security was hella wishy washy when he held the ball like a loaf of bread and his own knee knocked it free for the turnover.Â
Not gonna lie, Derek Carr grabbing at a body part after he’s lost the ball on a strip-sack is kinda peculiar, especially when he returns quickly like he’s got Wolverine’s or Deadpool’s healing ability.
Not gonna lie, the Raiders rampantly giving the ball to the Denver Broncos on Sunday felt like the Undertaker slamming the wooden lid down on an opponent in a casket match.Â
Only, none of the series of unfortunate events resulted in a Raider norm: A face plant of a loss. And by all rights, it should have. Bradley Chubbs’ impressive tip-drill almost-pick-six would’ve been enough to scuttle most Raiders teams.Â
But is this one different?Â
In two straight games, Vegas didn’t fold desperado style. The team actually rose to the occasion and found ways to win. The habitual hapless humanoids were game.Â
â€œWe’re seeing a team that is responding to adversity,” interim coach Rich Bisaccia noted in the postgame press conference. â€œAnd we’re learning how to respond to prosperity.”
Oh snap! Can the Raiders actually do it?Â
â€œIt” would, of course, be winning the next two games and firmly plant themselves in the playoff chase. Win out is the only way Las Vegas gets into the postseason conversation and the back-to-back wins have a downtrodden fan base glimmering with — gulp — hope. Yeah, you know why that gulp is in there. The Raiders tradition of letting down Raider Nation is a well-documented affair.Â
But, will this go-around be different? Rail on how the Broncos and Cleveland Browns were undermanned when they both fell to the Raiders all you want. I’m not going to argue the odds were tilted in Vegas’ favor on both occasions. And you can even rip the Silver & Black for not putting forth dominant victories in both of those contests, and I wouldn’t blink with any disagreement.Â
Win big, win convincingly, win barely, win ugly. The NFL standings don’t give a f*** how it happened. A win is a win.
â€œWe’re finishing stronger than we have,” Carr said after Sunday’s win. â€œWe still have two games left against two really difficult teams and it’s going to take everything we have. â€¦ But we’re doing what we want to do right now: We’re winning football games. â€¦ I’ve been praying for moments like this. We find ways to win at the end of the year so we can just get in the tournament. That’s all we’re trying to do.”
Fuss About Gus
Ah, I see. For Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to actually send some heat at the opposing quarterback, the team’s season has to be on the line. Extra pass rushers only comes when the Raiders season is near-death. Fair enough, I suppose.Â
That’s not to discount what Bradley’s unit did against the Broncos. That performance was akin to a Brock Lesnar squash match. Yeah, yeah, point the finger at ineffective Drew Lock all you want, but smothering Denver’s run game and yielding only 18 yards was impressive AF. Even the Big Dubowski (that’d be Josh Dubow for the uninitiated) was impressed.Â
#Raiders allowed 18 yards rushing (including 8 on 14 carries by Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon). That's fewest they've allowed since giving up 13 to Bills 12/21/14. It's fewest Raiders have allowed to Broncos since giving up 13 on 10/22/72
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 27, 2021
In total, the Raiders defense limited the Broncos to 158 total yards and 13 points.
â€œOur defense, I really haven’t come up with a word yet to describe it,” Bisaccia said. â€œFirst and foremost, I’d say it was outstanding. It was phenomenal, it was awesome. It was a relentless, competitive effort down in and down in and down in. I can’t say enough about how excited we are about the way our defense played. â€¦ They kept us in it the whole day.”
How do you like them apples, â€œWhat About The Defense” truthers?Â
(Hey, who knows, you truthers may get to scream on the mountaintop once more if the Raiders get torn up by Jonathan Taylor — again).Â
Horse Shoes Again
Sure, the Raiders defense gets to walk with a bit of swagger right now. Nah, it’s not the â€œNature Boy” Ric Flair strut. It’s more the â€œDouble J” Jeff Jarrett version of the same strut. But, it’s swag nonetheless.Â
Bradley’s dudes get one hell of an opportunity to prove its worth this coming Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts and running back Taylor. Indy’s thoroughbred tailback has topped 100 yards in 10 of the 16 games he’s started and he eviscerated the Raiders defense last season to the tune of 150 yards, two touchdowns on 20 carries. Indy won that game 44-27.Â
The Raiders must lasso another group of horsemen or kiss their playoff chances goodbye.
*Top Photo: Courtesy of Know Your Meme