Dissecting Raiders' blown coverage on winning play

September 20, 2011, 1:56 am
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ALAMEDA -- The film is getting the Zapruder Treatment, so to speak.Which Raiders defensive player blew the coverage on Buffalo's game-winning touchdown, on which receiver David Nelson found himself more open than 711 in the middle of the end zone on 4th and 1 from the Oakland 6-yard line? Heck, Ricky, Ozzie, Harriet and the whole mop-haired Nelson band would have been open in the end zone on the blown coverage.The Raiders were in a somewhat unusual 5-2 defensive alignment, with John Henderson joining Lamarr Houston, Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour and Matt Shaughnessy on the defensive line and linebackers Rolando McClain and Kamerion Wimbley filling in behind. Plus, Michael Huff was not on the field, instead replaced by Matt Giordano, who joined Tyvon Branch and cornerbacks Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt in the secondary.

The Bills had no timeouts remaining and there were 18 seconds left in the game. So by being in a 5-2 defense, did the Raiders expect the Bills to run for the first down and then spike the ball?"You never know," offered Raiders rookie coach Hue Jackson. "We wanted to make sure we were covering every base. Whether they ran it, we felt like we were going to be in a great position to stop the run, or whether they threw it, we felt we were in a good enough coverage to get that stop. We didn't get it done."Not to pick the scab off the game-winning play, Raiders fans, but it went down like this:Going right to left from the offensive side of the ball, Routt was on the receiver at the top of the field, cheating on Stevie Johnson, who was in the slot and covered by Branch. Giordano was the deep safety ready to help Branch. So that basically has the Raiders with three players on Johnson.On the other side of the ball, Wimbley, was on the tight end. McClain was manning the middle and Johnson was following Nelson, who went into motion toward the center.But after the ball was hiked to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was in the shotgun, Johnson left Nelson to go with running back C.J. Spiller into the left flat. So too did McClain, leaving the middle of the field wide open."It was," Johnson said, "an easy pitch and catch."Still, Henderson nearly tipped the pass from the line of scrimmage.So, who, exactly, blew their assignment again?"Coach Jackson left the guy wide open," Jackson said, attempting to take the bullet. "That's it. I mean, guys, look, look. Like I told you before: we're going to win as a team, lose as a team. I'm not putting that on (one) player."I'm the head coach of this football team and we lost. End of story, OK? I'm not pinning anything on one player because it starts with me. I left the guy wide open, in the end zone and we lost. Fourth down, end of discussion. They won the game, that's it. We move on from there."Jackson, a college quarterback at Pacific, did however acknowledge that the Raiders were in a man-to-man defense, not zone. Meaning Nelson was Johnsons man. Unless the Raiders were in a man-scheme that passed the coverage off. Which would mean Nelson was McClains man.So the mystery is solved. Unless its not.