Hellish week behind him, Allen focuses on football


Hellish week behind him, Allen focuses on football


OAKLAND -- His eyes reddened and became moist.

His voice nearly cracked and, really, you could not have blamed him if it did.

Dennis Allen, the Raiders' rookie head coach, had just endured his sixth straight defeat on the football field. But it paled in comparison to what he lost on Monday night. Yeah, it's been a tough week for the 40-year-old, first-time coach.

"You know," Allen said, firmly, "I went home on Sunday and took my father off life support and that's not easy to do. So was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team.

"And I wanted to be here with this football team. I'm sure you guys can imagine that it wasn't an easy situation."

Easy? Not even close. More like hard to fathom.

Yes, we know that the bottom line in the NFL is about wins and losses, and Allen would be the first to tell you that. Especially after Thursday night's maddening 26-13 loss to Denver. Thing is, Allen would be the last person to play the woe-is-me card.

Not even with the week he's just endured.

His father Grady, who played linebacker in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons from 1968 through 1972, was just 66 years of age and the seeming picture of health back home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. But last Wednesday, he was felled by a heart attack and fell into a coma.

The younger Allen knew of his father's ailment and plowed forward at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, enduring the Rolando McClain situation and ensuing suspension before the Raiders' lackluster 20-17 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

It was after that game that a Raiders official announced that Allen would be leaving the team to be by his father's side and return in time to coach the team Thursday night.

Then came the ridiculous and irresponsible rumors that somehow turned into full-fledged stories about Jon Gruden coming back to the Raiders.

Allen returned to practice Wednesday morning.

"You can't even imagine what he's going through," Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said of Allen. "And then he's got to go back, after that game? Your heart just goes out to him. You never expect anything like that.

"I can't imagine how helpless it feels, being on the other end of the country when that's happening over there. I can't imagine what he's going through."

It has been a surreal season for the Raiders off the field. Defensive line coach Terrell Williams and his wife Tifini lost their four-year-old son Tyson to a sudden illness two days before the Baltimore game.

Allen will return to Texas Friday night and return to the Raiders in time to Wednesday's practice to prepare for the home finale against Kansas City on Dec. 16. I asked Allen about the support shown him this week.

"A ton," he said. "A ton. I received a lot of support from a lot of different people. This organization has been outstanding to me as far as that's concerned. The players, the coaches, as well as countless friends, family, even people around the league, have been very supportive in this situation."

And with that, Allen's eyes dried. After all, there was football to talk about and plans to be made. He’s a football man, like his father before him.

Del Rio gets a game ball in triumphant return to Jacksonville

Del Rio gets a game ball in triumphant return to Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jack Del Rio spent nearly nine full seasons as Jacksonville Jaguars head coach. He had three winning seasons and two playoff appearances in that time, before he was fired during the 2011 season.

He hadn’t been back to Jacksonville in a professional capacity since, but returned Sunday with a new team ready to face his old one.

The Raiders head coach publicly downplayed the impact of this return, and did so again Saturday in a speech to the team. He wanted players to locked on the game, not storylines surrounding the head coach.

“Jack said to focus on being a great teammate and having each other’s back,” Raiders cornerback David Amerson said. “With him coaching here before, we definitely wanted to have his back. We wanted to get him this ‘W,’ it was big for him and our team.”

As much as Del Rio wanted to turn attention away from his return, coming back to Jacksonville was a big deal.

His family united at EverBank Field on Sunday, a place where they had so many memories as the children grew up. He has friends in town and within the organization. He brought the Jaguars back to relevance, and it has fallen on hard times since he left.

The Jaguars are 18-57 since Del Rio left, mark set after the Raiders’ 33-16 victory on Sunday afternoon.

His players understood the moment and honored it once victory was secure. Quarterback Derek Carr gave Del Rio a game ball after his triumphant return to old stomping grounds.

Jacksonville’s a place Del Rio will remember always fondly.

“(There were) a lot of great memories here,” Del Rio said. “It was a great place to spend nine years raising the family and being blessed with the opportunity to lead the Jaguar franchise. I was very appreciative of that time. I met a lot of good folks here; a lot of good memories, a lot of good friends. It is good to come back here and get a good effort in this stadium.”

That’s as reflective as Del Rio would openly get during this process, which comes as no shock to the players who work with him every day.

“Coach is cool, calm and conservative,” edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “The motto is the same each week, even here (in Jacksonville). We want to come out and dominate. That was the whole focus for him. He didn’t worry about coming back. Everybody knew he had history here, but we were concentrated only on getting that win.”

Lambo's OT field goal pushes Chargers past Falcons


Lambo's OT field goal pushes Chargers past Falcons

ATLANTA — Josh Lambo's 42-yard field goal in overtime gave San Diego its first road win of the year as the Chargers rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 33-30 on Sunday.

The Chargers (3-4) trailed 27-10 in the second quarter. They had lost 11 of their past 12 road games.

Linebacker Denzel Perryman delivered two key plays late in the game. Perryman's interception of Matt Ryan's pass for Julio Jones set up Lambo's tying 33-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining in regulation.

Perryman's fourth-and-1 stop on running back Devonta Freeman gave San Diego the ball at Atlanta's 43 for the Chargers' winning drive. Perryman grabbed Freeman's feet behind the line for the key tackle on the Falcons' gamble.

Atlanta took the lead with three straight second-quarter touchdowns before San Diego launched its comeback.

Melvin Gordon ran for 68 yards and two touchdowns and added a 5-yard scoring catch early in the fourth quarter, cutting Atlanta's lead to 30-27.

Atlanta's Matt Bryant missed his attempt for a 58-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. The Falcons (4-3) have lost two straight.

Jones had nine catches for 174 yards.

PROTEST: Five San Diego players raised their clenched right fists as their protest during the national anthem. Standing together on the San Diego sideline, offensive linemen D.J. Fluker, Chris Hairston and Joe Barksdale and linebacker Joshua Perry held up their fists as they stood. Offensive tackle Tyreek Burwell, inactive and not in uniform, also raised his fist as part of the protest.

There were no demonstrations from Falcons players.

200 AGAIN: Ryan passed for 273 yards for his NFL-record 46th consecutive game with more than 200 yards passing. He threw a 17-yard scoring pass to tight end Jacob Tamme in the second quarter.

INJURIES: Chargers defensive tackle Caraun Reid was carted off with a left knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. Reid had a teammate fall on his leg on a Falcons completion to tight end Levine Toilolo.