Moral victory? What moral victory?


Moral victory? What moral victory?


ATLANTA -- First things first-- there is no such thing as a moral victory.Just wins and losses, and the Raiders to a man in their downcast locker room, uttered it over and over again in the wake of their heartbreaking last-second 23-20 defeat to Atlanta on Sunday.But also as true as that tried maxim is this -- the Raiders may have lost the game, but they also won some respect around the league with the way they played and, probably, gained some self-confidence amongst themselves.The Falcons were undefeated at 5-0 and 9 12-point favorites in the din of the Georgia Dome. The Raiders, coming in at 1-3 off their bye week, did not blink. Until there was literally no time left on the clock, or, one second after Matt Bryant drilled a 55-yard field goal for the victory."We competed against them but we don't take solace in the loss," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "At the end of the day our job is to go out there and win football games and that's what we intend to do. So there will be no moral victories, but I am proud of the guys for the way that they competed."And there it is.
The Raiders, by virtue of their earlier road meltdowns at Miami and Denver, had no business being in this game, let alone leading at the half, 13-7. But they were, and they were doing it with their most complete team effort of Allen's rookie tenure.Entering the game, the Raiders had yet to get an interception. They picked off Matt Ryan three times in the first half.Oakland also had only three sacks in four games with even less pressure on opposing passers. Against the Falcons, they sacked Ryan once, hit him numerous times and put him off balance for a good spell.Hustle plays? Yeah, there were a few, like quarterback Carson Palmer taking down Robert McClain as he returned Darren McFadden's first-quarter fumble, as well as McFadden chasing down Ray Edwards and saving a touchdown at the 2-yard line when Palmer was strip-sacked in the third.The defense responded and kept the Falcons out of the end zone, forcing a field goal. Even Rolando McClain got in on the action with a big run-stuffing tackle on third down."It gives you some reassurance that you can play with anybody," he said.In fact, McClain was an observer for most of the game, when the Raiders went into nickel and dime defenses and the unit responded. Oakland's defense seemed faster, quicker to the ball and offered more food for thought for the immediate future.On the other side of the ball, the Raiders run game showed signs of getting on track behind the zone-blocking scheme. Mike Goodson broke off a 43-yard run."We definitely can play with anybody," he said. "We see that."You want to see stats to back it up?Marinate in these: the Raiders had 22 first downs, to the Falcons' 16; the Raiders' limited the Falcons' third-down efficiency to a mere two of nine; the Raiders had 474 total yards to the Falcons' 286; the Raiders held the ball for 36:26 and the Falcons, 23:34. Even Palmer outperformed his younger, more-hyped counterpart with a passer rating of 102.2 to Ryan's 59.4.Alas"I'm not a stats guy," said defensive tackle Richard Seymour. "Stats are for losers."This hurts. I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting. We took one on the chin."True, but perhaps most reassuring for the Raiders was the way Palmer and the Raiders responded after his potentially crushing 79-yard pick-six by Asante Samuel late in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 20-13 lead.Palmer calmly guided the Raiders 80 yards down the field in two minutes, McFadden plunging in from two yards out and Sebastian Janikowski converting the extra point to tie the game at 20-all with 40 seconds to play.Seymour said Palmer showed "the heart of a champion" in that drive after the Samuel interception and score."At the end of the day," Seymour said, "I want to play with guys like that."Check that: Seymour wants to win games with guys like that. As do the rest of the Raiders, moral victories be damned. After all, there's no such thingright?

Donald Penn yet to report as Raiders return home


Donald Penn yet to report as Raiders return home

ALAMEDA – Raiders left tackle Donald Penn missed training camp holding out for a new, more lucrative contract. He missed Tuesday’s practice, the first back at the team’s training facility.

His protest began 26 days ago. The regular season is 19 days away.

Penn has worked out with top trainers and private offensive line coaches while away from the team, but still needs time to get back in the flow.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that Penn is expected back this week. He wasn’t there for the first of three sessions when the Raiders will focus on the third preseason game at Dallas. It’s the last meaningful exhibition, with players down on the depth chart expected to populate the preseason finale versus Seattle.

Penn doesn’t necessarily need to play in a preseason game to prep for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener at Tennessee, but it could help.

Head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t address Penn’s status, or whether there’s a deadline for him to report and be ready for the regular season.

The Raiders have managed with Marshall Newhouse on the left and Vadal Alexander on the right. The pair has fared well, though the line will be significantly stronger with Penn back and a Newhouse/Alexander competition on the right.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie made it clear weeks ago that the Raiders wouldn’t talk contract until a player reports. Penn preferred a contract get done before showing up. Weeks were lost to that impasse.

Quarterback Derek Carr hopes it will end soon, and that Penn will come back to the team.

“It would obviously mean a lot, if that’s what he chooses to do,” Carr said. “He’s our teammate. We want all our teammates here. We want to work hard together. We want to be together and joke together. It’s more than just football. We want to be there in his life, with him.

"It would mean a lot. Obviously, I would love it.”

If McGregor beats Mayweather, Raiders may move to Dublin


If McGregor beats Mayweather, Raiders may move to Dublin

So Las Vegas’ army of legal books are in a moderate panic because they are so overexposed with Conor McGregor bets. Apparently, other than the Maloof brothers, they can’t scare up any Mayweather money at all.

Maybe this is the secret reason Mark Davis has declared publicly that the Raiders intend to colonize Los Angeles.

The latest evidence of the books’ distress is this Big Lead headline, which subtly hints, “Vegas Sportsbooks Are Exposed Like Never Before, Will Be Decimated if Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather.”

Well, if McGregor wins (and you’ll have to tell me about it because I’d rather watch feet sweat in the noonday sun than this), gambling in Vegas apparently will not exist any longer because the sporting apocalypse will finally be upon us. And if there is no gambling in Vegas, there is no Vegas, and all of a sudden the Raiders are moving to a town whose mayor is an iguana and whose chamber of commerce is tumbleweeds.

Hence, Davis’ answer to a question from Los Angeles Daily News writer Vincent Bonsignore about how L.A. has always been a Raiders’ town and that the team will get lots of its fans from the basin – fans who apparently cannot stomach either the Rams or the Chargers.

Ignoring Davis’ folly of answering that question that way at this time, when the NFL itself is wondering if, for its financial purposes, the mayor of L.A. is an iguana and the chamber of commerce is tumbleweeds, this news reminds us that the league has managed in less than two years to ruin the second-largest market in the United States by dithering, by backroom deals, by aversion of money spent by “the wrong kind of people” (see “brown”). That level of chaos is to be appreciated and enjoyed for what it is – nature’s way of telling rich people who’s boss.

Now, if nature doubles down and figures a way to make McGregor win and break Vegas, maybe the entire down isn’t destroyed but instead becomes a colony of Ireland, where the prime minister is not an iguana but a human, and the closest thing to tumbleweeds is a Guinness brewery.

Maybe if that happens, the Raiders end up playing in Dublin instead (a delightful little asterisk since there was a perfectly good Dublin not far from Oakland to begin with) – and they spend their entire time complaining that they have to share Croke Park and that there are too many markings on the field from all those damned hurling matches.

Of course this isn’t likely to happen, and Vegas keeps taking all the McGregor money you can throw at it. But one of these times, and sooner than we think, the apocalypse is not going to take no for an answer, and you will see Mark Davis with a pipe stuck bowl downward in his mouth standing next to a pot of gold.

Which of course will belong to the Bank Of America, because there are some things even the apocalypse can’t beat.