Raiders notes: The scourge of penalties returns


Raiders notes: The scourge of penalties returns

ATLANTA -- A familiar, and just as unwelcome, guest returned to roost with the Raiders in their 23-20 loss to the Falcons -- penalties.The Raiders were flagged a season-high 12 times for 110 yards on the day, while the Falcons had just two penalties for 25 yards."Obviously, penalties affected us," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen, "and we have got to tip our hats to Atlanta. They came to play and they did just enough to win the game. That was a good football team. A good challenge for us. We just came up on the short end of the stick."The Raiders, who entered the game with a combined 19 penalties for 143 yards, were actually called for 13 penalties, though a holding on right tackle Willie Smith was declined.Instant Replay: Falcons 23, Raiders 20
The Raiders were called for offensive holding seven times, with Smith getting flagged three times (with the one declined). Left tackle Jared Veldheer also had a holding as well as a false start.Call it the John Abraham Effect. Abraham had three sacks for 28 yards.Falcons coach Mike Smith, on the Raiders' effort: "We're very fortunate guys, and my hat's off to the Oakland Raiders football team and their coaching staff. They did a great job in having their guys prepared. They were humming today."After not having a single interception in four games, the Raiders picked off Matt Ryan three times in the first half.Joselio Hanson, Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch had the picks."We know when they come, they come in bunches," Huff said.With 104 yards receiving, on five catches, Denarius Moore became the Raiders' first 100-yard receiver this season."The game is never over until the clock strikes zero and you have to fight until the end," Moore said. "If you haven't noticed, it seems that every time we lose, we come back twice as hard."RELATED: Palmer: 'I let the team down; I let our fans down'
Carson Palmer acknowledged the chemistry between him and Moore has been rekindled."It's time," he said.Darren McFadden averaged just 2.6 yards per carry on 27 attempts, with a long run of 14 yards.Mike Goodson usher for 59 yards on four carries, including a 43-yard burst.And according to Goodson, it was all behind the zone-blocking scheme."Same scheme," he said.So why the positive results for him?"Probably just execution," he said.A pair of decisions that perhaps haunted the Raiders -- Allen's decision to punt, rather than attempt a 5758-yard field goal in the first quarter, despite Sebastian Janikowski hitting from 64 yards in warmups and nailing a 52-yarder later in the quarter (though, he has been on the injury report with a groin issue). And, as seemingly always, going into a prevent defense with 40 seconds to play that allowed the Falcons to move into range for Matt Bryant's game-winning 55-yard field goal. Tony Gonzalez had catches of 10 and 13 yards in the middle of the field during the drive.
The last time the Raiders won a game in the Eastern Time Zone was in Week 13 of the 2009 season, at Pittsburgh in the Bruce Gradkowski game. The Raiders are 0-7 in such games since that day. And since the 2002 Super Bowl season, they are 5-23 in the Eastern Time Zone. Also, the Raiders have lost 10 straight post-bye week games.

Patriots pummel Pittsburgh, return to Super Bowl to face Falcons

Patriots pummel Pittsburgh, return to Super Bowl to face Falcons


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Tom Brady redemption tour is headed to the Super Bowl.

After beginning the 2016 season suspended for four games for his role in the "Deflategate" scandal, the New England quarterback relentlessly carried the Patriots to an unprecedented ninth appearance in the title game, and his seventh. Brady threw for a franchise playoff-best 384 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-17 rout of the helpless Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in New England's seventh consecutive AFC championship game.

The Patriots are early 3-point favorites heading to face Atlanta in two weeks in Houston, seeking their fifth NFL title with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach. Belichick's seventh appearance in a Super Bowl will be a record for a head coach.

Brady was banned by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when New England (16-2) went 3-1 to open the schedule.

Since his return in Week 5, the only defeat came at home to Seattle, and Brady, 39, had one of the best seasons of a Hall of Fame-caliber career. He punctuated that in dreary weather similar to the 2014 conference title game that precipitated the deflated footballs investigation by flattening Pittsburgh's secondary.

Chris Hogan was his main weapon. The previously unheralded receiver found open spaces everywhere on the field against a leaky secondary. Hogan caught nine balls for 180 yards and two scores.

Top wideout Julian Edelman added eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown as Brady tied Joe Montana's playoff record with nine three-TD passing performances. Brady also had his 11th 300-yard postseason game, extending his NFL record, completing 32 of 42 throws.

Pittsburgh (13-6) lost star running back Le'Veon Bell late in the first quarter to a groin injury. It didn't seem to matter much in a record 16th conference title match for the Steelers, who made mistakes in every facet of the game. The franchise that has won the most Super Bowls, six, and the most postseason games, 36, never seemed likely to challenge in the misty rain.

Hogan's second touchdown came on a flea-flicker and he easily beat safety Mike Mitchell to the corner of the end zone. At that point, Hogan had seven catches for 117 yards and the first multi-touchdown game of his four-year career.

His first score made it 10-0 and came after Brady could have taken a nap before throwing, a common occurrence against a nonexistent pass rush. Hogan was all alone in the back of the end zone for the 16-yard score.

Pittsburgh had drawn to 10-6 on DeAngelo Williams' 5-yard run to cap an 84-yard drive. Veteran Williams is a nice security blanket in the backfield, though he's no Bell these days.

Still, he contributed on a 70-yard drive toward the end of the second quarter that appeared to be capped by Jesse James' TD reception. But video review showed James down at the 1, and the Steelers couldn't get into the end zone, Chris Boswell connecting for a 23-yard field goal.

The Steelers never threatened to get back into it.LeGarrette Blount punctuated the romp with a bruising 18-yard run on which he carried nearly the entire Pittsburgh defense with him. He then scored from the 1.

By the end, the crowd was chanting "Where is Roger?" and celebrating yet another Super Bowl trip for the Patriots.


Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to open the scoring set a franchise record with 27, surpassing Adam Vinatieri's 26. Gostkowski is fourth all-time. He made a 47-yarder in the third quarter, a 26-yarder in the fourth, but he missed an extra point.

Boswell, who set an NFL mark with six field goals in the Steelers' 18-16 win at Kansas City last week, missed an extra point wide left and made a 23-yard kick.


Steelers: Bell's early departure left him with 20 yards on six carries and no receptions.

Patriots: DB Nate Ebner left with a head injury.


After winning the AFC East with the conference's top record, New England defeated the Texans 34-16 and the Steelers to reach the Super Bowl. They will take on Atlanta, which beat Green Bay 44-21 for the NFC crown. Super Bowl 51 will be in Houston on Feb. 5; New England won the 2002 and 2005 Super Bowls after beating Pittsburgh for the AFC championship.

Reports: Former Raiders QB expected to join Cal's coaching staff


Reports: Former Raiders QB expected to join Cal's coaching staff

It looks as though Marques Tuiasosopo is heading back to the Pac-12, again. The former Rose Bowl MVP and Washington quarterback has reportedly been added to the coaching staff at Cal under new head coach Justin Wilcox.

The news was first reported by Bruin Sports Online and later followed up by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, via Twitter.

Tuiasosopo is no stranger to coaching in the Pac-12. After spending 12 seasons in the NFL, Tuiasosopo returned to his alma mater to take on a role as assistant strength coach for the Washington Huskies in 2009.

After two years in that role, he joined the UCLA coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 2011 and took on a role as tight ends coach in 2012 under Jim Mora. The following year, in 2013, Tuiasosopo returned to Washington to be the quarterback coach to work for Steve Sarkisian.