McFadden, Raiders run past Broncos in opening win

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McFadden, Raiders run past Broncos in opening win

Sept. 12, 2011
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DENVER (AP) -- Eric Decker returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown to help Denver get within 16-13 of Oakland through three quarters Monday night in a game that featured Sebastian Janikowski's NFL record-tying 63-yard field goal.Matt Prater hit a 30-yard field goal late in the third when a promising Broncos drive stalled out near the goal line.Just seconds before halftime, Janikowski kicked the ball low and watched it barely creep over the crossbar. Janikowski shares the record with Jason Elam and Tom Dempsey.His teammates ran onto the field to celebrate before heading into the locker room.It was one of three field goals Janikowski had in the second quarter, the other two being much shorter. Fullback Marcel Reece also hauled in a TD pass.The Broncos climbed back into the game early in the third quarter thanks to their special teams. Decker fielded Shane Lechler's 57-yard punt and was off to the races.Upon reaching the end zone, Decker headed for the fans and jumped into the stands, his rendition of the "Lambeau Leap."The Broncos later went on a 12-play drive that culminated with Prater's kick.It was a first half featuring big plays for the Raiders, who capitalized on a blocked punt and a Broncos fumble.Just before the end of the first quarter, Darryl Blackstock broke through the line and got a hand on Britton Colquitt's punt, setting Oakland up with excellent field position at the Denver 42.Jason Campbell found a wide open Reece for a 3-yard score.On Denver's next offensive play, Knowshon Moreno fumbled the ball away after a hit by Quentin Groves.As the Raiders were celebrating, the rain began to steadily fall. Oakland couldn't move the ball in the downpour and settled for a 37-yard field goal by Janikowski.Soon after that, the rain stopped.The Broncos were driving late in the second quarter but couldn't convert on a long third down. They elected to have Prater try a 56-yard field goal, which sailed wide right and gave the Raiders great field position.Campbell moved the Raiders down the field and Janikowski hit a 21-yarder with 1:27 remaining until halftime.With plenty of time left before intermission, Kyle Orton had the Broncos on the move but was picked off by Matt Giordano at the Oakland 24.A 15-yard facemask penalty on Broncos defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson put the ball near midfield and Campbell's throw to Reece moved the Raiders to the Denver 45 and put Janikowski within range of history.Dempsey set the record for New Orleans on Nov. 8, 1970, and Denver's Elam matched it on Oct. 25, 1998.Janikowski connected on a 61-yard field goal on Dec. 27, 2009.Oakland fumbled on its opening possession of the season when rookie linebacker Von Miller knocked the ball loose with his helmet after a catch by Jacoby Ford. Miller was the No. 2 overall pick by the Broncos.Fellow rookie Rahim Moore pounced on the loose ball. The Broncos couldn't capitalize as Orton completed just one short pass on three attempts, leading to Prater's 28-yard field goal.The much-maligned Denver defense did a formidable job early on as the unit also forced the Raiders to punt.However, Elvis Dumervil walked off the field holding his shoulder, throwing his helmet down in disgust. He later returned to the field but played sparingly.Dumervil, who led the league in sacks in 2009, missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle.This was a game featuring two new head coaches. Hue Jackson took over in Oakland after serving as offensive coordinator last season, while John Fox was in his first game in charge of the Broncos after arriving from Carolina.The Broncos are trying to get their franchise back on track a year after turning in a franchise-worst 4-12 season. They brought in Fox and turned the reins over to Hall of Famer John Elway, who's serving as chief of football operations. The organization even renamed their stadium (Colorado-based Sports Authority recently took over the naming rights from Invesco and completed its sign out front just in time for the opener).Still, it's difficult to erase all the memories from an abysmal 2010.One of the low points for the Broncos in a season full of worthy candidates was an embarrassing 59-14 thumping by the Raiders on Oct. 24. It could've been even worse but the Raiders relented in the fourth quarter, showing mercy toward one of their most bitter rivals.Darren McFadden led the way, shredding the porous Denver defense for 165 yards rushing and three scores.On Monday, facing an overhauled Denver defensive front, McFadden had another solid game going, rushing for 100 yards on 19 carries through three quarters.

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch is a Raider. He announced that fact on Twitter in his own unique way Wednesday, completing a month-long process from initial interest to final signature.

The Raiders gave him a new contract and traded Seattle for his rights, allowing the Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum to come out of retirement and play for his hometown team.

That’s good news for Raiders fans on several fronts. He fills an immediate need at running back created when Latavius Murray left for Minnesota.

It temporarily tempers, though certainly doesn’t extinguish, rage about the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

[RATTO: Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft]

Owner Mark Davis hopes to move his team when a new stadium is complete in 2020. 

Lynch won't be there. Lynch won’t represent Vegas. He’s an Oakland Raider, playing for the city he champions at every turn. Lynch regularly gives back to this community and might be its most popular native son right now.

Lynch missed playing football, but he wanted to represent his hometown. That was clear in his tweet. He explained it this way: “I’m really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe…town bizness breath on me.”

He’ll celebrate joining the Raiders on Thursday with a block party and autograph signing in Oakland.

Lynch will give East Bay fans something to cheer for that won’t be shipping off to Vegas in a few years.

Nothing can cure the pain of an NFL team leaving Oakland a second time. Wins are ibuprofen, giving short-term relief to an ailing fan local base. He can certainly help the Raiders provide that.

The Silver and Black needed a big, physical primary rusher to pair with elusive, yet smaller backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

Lynch is that guy. There’s no question he’s a football fit.

Lynch is a strong interior rusher from several different formations. He could run well behind fullback Jamize Olawale, as a lone shotgun runner or in jumbo packages with quarterback Derek Carr under center and behind a hulking Raiders offensive line.

While new offensive coordinator Todd Downing will add some wrinkles to an existing scheme, the Raiders employ a versatile system that could suit Lynch’s many strengths.

Lynch ranks among the toughest, most aggressive backs of his generation and one of the best resisting tackles.

He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 2.8 yards after contact per rushing attempt in his career, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus.

Lynch led the NFL with 245 broken tackles between 2013 and 2016 – 56 more than the next guy -- and he didn’t even play last season, per PFF.

He led the league with an unreal 3.1 yards after per contact in 2014, his last year fully healthy. He played just eight times in 2015 due to an abdominal injury that required surgery.

Lynch is completely healthy after his year travelling the world, doing charity work and expanding his clothing line, but effectiveness is always questioned of running backs over 30. Lynch turned 31 last week. He heads into his 10th season without having been hit in a while, and many believe he can produce like few others his age have in the NFL.

He’ll take the lion’s share of carries in a three-man rotation with Richard and Washington. He reportedly gets an extra $2 million if he's just the second Raider since 2010 to reach 1,000 yards. There’s motivation to push for that and other incentives in the deal. If Lynch is in vintage Beast Mode and fans are happy, the Raiders will gladly pay the extra freight.

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

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AP

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

Marshawn Lynch is going to upstage the NFL Draft for a few moments by announcing his signing with the Oakland Raiders Thursday.

The problem with this is obvious. He can’t upstage it all day long.

The NFL Draft is one of those events that demeans all who come in contact with it, because it basically extols the three virtues the owners find most inspiring – dishonesty, bullying and treachery. Between everyone lying about everything they do, making players submit to the most revolting reputational indignities, and just good old-fashioned broken promises like, “If you’re there at 119, we’re taking you, oh wait, we suddenly hate you and your skill set,” the draft is largely a festival of misery.

Not universally, mind you. Some players love it, especially the ones who hit the lottery, get picked higher than they thought they would and go to the perfect team for their talents and temperaments. That’s not the usual road, but there you go.

But mostly, nah. And we’re not even getting into the cavalcade of media self-anointeds who think they know what they’re talking about but only serve to remind us that not everybody is a fun companion in a bar.

Now the disclaimer: If you like the NFL Draft, fine. Wallow in every minute of it with our blessing. It'll keep you from all level of other mischief, and it is relatively harmless fun if you can deal with the aesthetic unpleasantries to which we just referred. Just understand that you are spending 356 minutes of party prep for three days of partying and six days of cleanup. It's a hamster wheel of fun, but it is a hamster wheel.

But then there's Marshawn Lynch, who overcame being one of those draft casualties (because Buffalo didn’t work for him, and he didn’t work all that well for Buffalo, either), is coming out of retirement to be traded and then rendered a Raider in the time still allotted for them to reside in Oakland. As a distraction, this will play well enough. It sure beats DeMarcus Cousins being traded by Sacramento during the NBA All-Star Game.

I suppose this is a heart-rending tale of one man’s loyalty to his city (the right place at the right price), although there is the naggingly worrisome component that going back to football won’t be good for his overall health. It is the risk he runs, to be sure, and one can only assume that he has made a clearheaded choice, but this is not a spot that treats its recidivists well.

That’s recidivists, as in “folks who walked away happily, then found out they needed it too much for their own good.”

Frankly, there is no good reason not to want this to turn out well for Lynch (the Raiders can take of themselves with or without him, and within two years will do exactly that), but it is a case of bucking some daunting odds in what is too often a zero-sum game. That’s a level of risk that should make anyone queasy.

But it is what Marshawn Lynch wants, risks and all, and as a grown adult he should get the opportunity few are afforded – to chase and catch his dream until it stops being a dream and becomes a chore.

If it works out for the Raiders as well, fine. Lynch isn’t the one who will put them over the top in a conference dominated by three teams – New England, the Patriots and Bill Belichick – but if he finds the athletic closure he seeks, it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.

Especially if it even momentarily minimizes the rest of the hot rhetorical/gasbaggy mess that is Draft Night. If nothing else, here’s hoping Marshawn Lynch is the star of the night. That’s not the way to bet, of course, but a person can hope.