Raiders key matchup No. 3: Dennis Allen vs. Joe Vitt

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Raiders key matchup No. 3: Dennis Allen vs. Joe Vitt

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Saints matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (Fox), at O.co Coliseum.Raiders rookie head coach Dennis Allen vs. Saints interim coach Joe VittTale of the tape
Allen: rookie head coach, 11th NFL season, Texas A&M
Vitt: interim coach, 34th NFL season, Towson StateALAMEDA -- Dennis Allen's three-team reunion tour makes its next stop against the team with which he won a Super Bowl ring, the New Orleans Saints winning it all for the 2009 season.It was in the Big Easy that Allen cut his teeth as a secondary coach."I started coaching in the NFL in Atlanta, but I grew up in the NFL in New Orleans," Allen said. "I've got a lot of good memories there, and we were able to win a championship. So it was a big part of my development as a coach."It's also where Allen crossed paths with Saints interim coach Joe Vitt. And where, apparently, Allen made a fan. Because while Vitt is more a caretaker in New Orleans with Sean Payton serving a year-long suspension, Allen is blazing his own trail with the blessing of general manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis.
"Theres not a more qualified guy to be coaching a team than Dennis Allen right now," Vitt told Bay Area reporters on a conference call this week. "I say that because Dennis Allen was here with us in 2006. Dennis Allen is smart. Dennis Allen has great people skills. Dennis Allen knows how to teach, motivate, and inspire. Dennis Allen is not going to go off the cuff or off the reservation by saying or doing dumb things."Hes going to have his football team focused, and hes going to have them get better."Vitt, who had to serve a seven-week suspension for his role in the Saints' "BountyGate" scandal, has obviously noticed the rising wave of criticism coming at Allen in the wake of the Raiders' 55-20 loss at Baltimore last week and Oakland surrendering a combined 97 points the last two games.So the former colleague offered some history."When someone allows 50 points or more to be scored on them, and they come home the next week and play, that team is 5-1," Vitt said. "Defensively they give up less than 300 yards of total offense. They give up 20 points; they get four sacks, and force three turnovers. On the offensive side of the ball, they average rushing the ball 46 times a game and score 26 points. (Allen) is going to stay the course. Hes going to get people healthy. Hes going to circle the wagons, and were going to get the Raiders best game of the year. We are well-versed in that."Said Allen: "Joes got a stat for everything."But told the specifics of Vitt's stats, Allen relented."Hopefully hes right," Allen said."He had stats all the time. I think he does a great job with that stuff and hell do a heck of a job getting that (team) ready to play, getting that team motivated, and hell be ready to play."With each team offense-heavy, and defense-light, a shootout figures to ensue, making this matchup between first-time head coaches all the more intriguing, even if Vitt has been an interim head guy before, in 2005 with St. Louis.
Vitt, though, said he saw early in Allen's career he was destined to be a head coach."There are some people, some coaches, that are not only extremely well-versed in coaching their position, but they have the people skills and game day awareness and knowledge of the game, that you know that they have that 'It Factor,'" Vitt said. "He has always had that 'It Factor.' When he left here and became the (defensive)coordinator in Denver, we knew he was going to thrive."Listen, the only reason that (Dennis Allen) was hired at the Raiders is because they wanted to go in a different direction, and improve their football team. Everyone knows that youre going to go through hard times in your rookie season as a head coach. That head coach and Reggie McKenzie are going to get the right people in there to fit the scheme that theyre playing, and its going to take a little bit of time. You talk about two highly-qualified guys that have won big-time at this level, and know what theyre doing, and thats a good combination."Even if it does not necessarily play out this weekend.

Notes: In-game adjustments help Raiders slow Bills run game late

Notes: In-game adjustments help Raiders slow Bills run game late

OAKLAND – It’s impossible to say the Raiders stopped LeSean McCoy. The Buffalo Bills running back had 130 yards on just 17 carries, averaging 7.6 yards per rush.

He was shifty as advertised, hard to bring down especially in open space. He killed the Raiders early on, suffocating them with a steady dose of his rushing style.

They couldn’t stop him at all. Until they made some changes that put more bodies around the ball, dared the Bills to throw deep and came at McCoy in waves.

“We saw how they were trying to attack us,” linebacker Malcolm Smith said. “We found a way to protect ourselves and be in better position to make plays.”

It took some time to figure out, but McCoy started slowing down late in the third quarter. He had 14 carries for 127 yards until he cramped up later in the third quarter, and didn’t do much on the ground after that.

“He’s one of the best in the business,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He made life difficult for us, but we settled in and got the stops we needed to get a nice victory.”

Stopping the run was key to it. Stopping, of course, remains a relative term. Buffalo ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns and, at times didn’t need to pass to move downfield and score.

The Bills offense got bottled up in the third quarter, with three straight three-and-outs that put Buffalo into passing situations where they struggle and the Raiders pass rush can make a profound effect.

“They showed what type of team they are,” McCoy said. “They got stops when they needed stops and scored when they needed to. …I just felt like this is a game we had in our hands that we let slip away.

Carr’s pinky is fine, thank you: Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was taken off the injury report after this practice week. He wasn’t questionable or doubtful after dislocating his pinky in two spots last week versus Carolina. He was going to play.

He didn’t wear a glove on his ailing digit, though he sported a splint of some sort during the game. He had his throwing hand’s pinky and ring fingers taped together in a postgame press conference – it’s that way much of the time – but insisted it caused zero issues during Sunday’s game. The Raiders played all but one snap from the shotgun and pistol, but Carr bristled at questions whether his finger limited the offense in any way.

Proof is in a 97.3 passer rating, 260 yards passing, two touchdown and no picks. He was rarely inaccurate, and played well throughout the game.

Carr had his left hand examined after a planned run, but never missed a snap and came out of the game just fine.

“It really didn’t (impact me),” Carr said. “If I missed a throw it was just because of me to be honest. They took me off the injury report for a reason. It was not affecting me at all. Just leaving it taped for precautionary, just to be safe.”

Marquette gets flagged: Raiders punt Marquette King feels so good after a punt goes well that he just has to dance. That’s why he busted out the Pee Wee Herman “Tequila” dance after pinning Buffalo at their 4-yard line.

A rusher hit him in the leg and was called for roughing the kicker, and King went a smidge too far. He picked up the flag – you can’t do that – did a jig as he waved it in the air, and then spiked it to the ground.

It was entertaining, sure. But it also drew another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“It’s definitely a teachable moment,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s not mean spirit in what he’s doing. He’s having fun. He enjoys himself. He had the Pee Wee Herman out there today. I saw that. I got a giggle.

“He’s enjoying himself. Now, right there, he just didn’t realize you can’t do that. He was like, ‘Really? I couldn’t do that? Oh man. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Mr. Ref.’ It really was innocent and obviously, we’ll make sure we don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to teaching to make sure we understand what we need to do there. That should never happen again.”

Cowser’s first sack: Undrafted free agent James Cowser is popular among his teammates. The edge rusher was well liked during his time in the preseason, and was welcomed back when signed to the practice squad near midseason.

He was added to the active roster last week, made his professional debut on special teams against Carolina and made a big impact on defense Sunday afternoon.

He sacked Tyrod Taylor for a 10-yard loss in the second quarter to help force the Bills’ first punt. It was his first as a pro, though the action is old hat for the all-time FCS leader in sacks.

It was a big moment for Cowser and those around him.

“Cowser stepped up and got a big sack at an important time,” fellow edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “We knew he could step in and play well and do some things. It’s key for us that the young guys step up.”

This ‘n that: RB Latavius Murray scored his 10th and 11th rushing touchdowns of the season on Sunday night, the largest total since Marcus Allen had 12 in 1990. That’s the fifth-highest total in franchise history. … S Karl Joseph suffered a foot/toe injury and did not return. … The Raiders have won six straight games, and haven't allowed a 100 passer rating in that stretch. …Khalil Mack has had a sack in seven straight games. Bruce Irvin has had a sack in three straight.

Raiders 'continue to fight,' score 29 unanswered points in latest comeback

Raiders 'continue to fight,' score 29 unanswered points in latest comeback

ALAMEDA – The Buffalo Bills were in firm control of the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. That was the case well into the third quarter.

Then this game turned upside down.

The Raiders scored 29 unanswered points in just over 15 minutes. They erased a two-score Buffalo lead in the second half by doing everything they couldn’t do at the start.

The 34-28 victory was the Raiders’ sixth fourth-quarter comeback of the season, but this one was special. They went from 0 to 60 in a snap.

The Raiders were down 24-9 before that big surge, but the mood was hardly somber.

“We don’t dwell too much on the score,” receiver Michael Crabtree said. “We don’t say, ‘We’re down 15 and we need this.’ We don’t panic. We don’t sweat. We just go out and play ball.”

The Raiders played some of their best ball this season during that stretch.

They consistently halted drives on defense, including three straight three-and-outs to start the surge. They created turnovers in key moments. Special teams tightened up. And, of course, the offense got rolling after playing with pace.

“It felt like everything was smooth and working out,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “The confidence keeps building on this team.”

During that blitzkrieg, the Raiders out-gained Buffalo 212-8. It was all out dominance, the Raiders have been looking to play for four full quarters. That’s been largely elusive, but they’ve learned to clamp down and execute when it matters most.

Several Raiders were asked what was more impressive: The 29, or the 0.

Picking wasn’t a common response. Most focused on why this team is able to rally, and why they did so against Buffalo.

“We just continue to fight, continue to believe,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “29 unanswered is hard to do in this league. Buffalo has an explosive offense. Hats off to us and to Derek Carr for continuing to believe in us, continuing to battle and put points on the board.”