Raiders get new coach, same game-day face

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Raiders get new coach, same game-day face

Dennis Allen is now a member of the club. He has seen the Raiders for one real game now, he has diagnosed them with pedal gunshot wounds, and he sounds like every other Raider coach who wasnt Jon Gruden.We have to eliminate self-inflicted wounds, Oaklands new game-day face said after wearing the same old Raider coachs game-day face. Those things arent supposed to happen, but the did tonight, and we have to get those things eliminated.And if it werent the same old description for every slack-jawed Raider performance of the last decade, Mondays 22-14 loss to San Diego would have some interesting facets to it.But sameness kills. Too much Darren McFadden (28 touches and five more targets in Oaklands 69 plays), and not enough of anyone else. Two grounders and a popup from backupemergencynot-going-to-be-so-tomorrow long-snapper Travis Goethel. A general but persistent blah about the game plan, its execution, and the results.Put another way, the Raiders were lucky to lose only by eight, and had no business being away from a wishful-thinking onside kick for a wishful-thinking last possession. They did too little, and what they did do was not nearly crisp or elegant enough. They did not crackle with life so much as they oozed with ordinary. Their mistakes were noticeable, but their lack of verve was more crushing still.True, without Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore they were short on players who could test the perpetually ordinary San Diego secondary. But in working McFadden like a rented mule (and thereby reviving the spectre of him not being able to play all 16 games because of the workload) and backing away from a more intrepid passing game, they safed their way right out of competition after 2 quarters.Now it is quite possible that there was no way to make this lead sparkle, that Rod Streater and Darrius Heyward-Bey didnt do enough to make themselves available to Carson Palmer. And yet Palmer didnt look to anyone much except for Streater and McFadden (28 of 46 balls were thrown their way, for a very modest 113 yards, a dreadful 2.6 yards per attempt). And their one real gadget play, a double-reverse to Taiwan Jones, turned out to lose 25 yards. In short, a team that needs creativity didnt show it, and a team that needs results even more desperately didnt get them, or come nearly close enough.And, as Comrade Gutierrez will share with you, the teams strengths last year, offense and special teams, were absolute minuses.The special teams failures, though, were caused mostly by Jon Condos injury on the Raiders first punt. His replacement, Goethel, was a linebacker who hadnt snapped in a real game in college, and whatever reps he got in practice did not translate into anything but disaster in the game.One punt was rendered dead on arrival when Goethels snap essentially barrel-rolled to Lechler. Another was blocked by San Diegos Dante Rosario when Goethels snap took on the characteristics of a Jemile Weeks grounder.And for that, and the other errors of commission, omission and false-startery, the Chargers managed only one touchdown and five Nate Kaeding field goals. In other words, the Raiders couldnt even find the solace that comes from saying they lost to a superior team.They just, well, lost. Without obvious passion or effervescence, with a hamster-wheel offense of McFadden unless otherwise notified, and a general drabness that is no way to start a new era.In fact, if you want anything weird to come from this game, consider this two-year-old gem from of all places, The Onion satirical web site, that featured Goethel: We highly recommend the last line if youre looking for that what-the-hell moment.Not that it will make you feel any better if you are Raider-centric in your outlook, mind you. But in a way that the Raiders themselves could never manage, this was a jaw-dropper on a night that desperately needed one.In the meantime, the Raiders have shown a new coach what foot bullets feel like. Call it a rite of passage, with a limp.

Raiders' Mack, Osemele honored on PFWA's All-NFL team

Raiders' Mack, Osemele honored on PFWA's All-NFL team

Honors keep piling up for a pair of star Raiders. Edge rusher Khalil Mack and left guard Kelechi Osemele were named to the All-NFL team, an all-star list created by votes from members of the Pro Football Writers of America.

The association released it’s all-league and all-conference teams on Monday.

Mack is obviously deserving. He had another excellent season, with 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown. He also had 16 tackles for loss, the NFL’s second-highest total in 2016.

Mack is among the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year awards. The PFWA will announce their DPOY on Wednesday.

Osemele signed a record contract for an offensive guard, and lived up to his five-year, $58.5 million contract with $25.4 million guaranteed.

He was one of the NFL’s best guards, and added a nastiness to the Raiders' offensive line that helped them excel running the football. He was an excellent pass protector as well. He didn’t allow a sack, and gave up just two quarterback hits and nine other pressures in 2016.

The PFWA honored four Raiders on the All-AFC team: Mack, Osemele, center Rodney Hudson and left tackle Donald Penn were on the all-conference roster.

Boswell boots Steelers to AFC championship with six field goals

Boswell boots Steelers to AFC championship with six field goals

BOX SCORE

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Who needs to reach the end zone when you have Le'Veon Bell chewing up yards and the clock, and Chris Boswell setting an NFL playoff record with six field goals?

Throw in a stingy Pittsburgh defense for most of Sunday night, and a multitude of mistakes by Kansas City, and the Steelers' 18-16 victory sent them into the AFC championship game.

The Steelers (13-5) needed to hold off a last-ditch threat by the Chiefs (12-5) before advancing to face New England next Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl. The Patriots won at Pittsburgh 27-16, but Ben Roethlisberger was injured and didn't play.

"I think it's going to be a showdown," Bell said. "Two great quarterbacks going head to head. Two of the best teams in the AFC. It's time to settle it next week."

Since 2001, the Patriots and Steelers have combined to win nine AFC titles.

Spencer Ware's 1-yard touchdown run took Kansas City within 18-16. The Chiefs at first converted the 2-pointer to tie it, but tackle Eric Fisher - the first overall selection in the 2013 draft - was penalized for holding. The next try failed.

With 2:43 remaining, Justin Gilbert misplayed the kick return and was tackled at the Pittsburgh 5. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 7 yards on third down and Pittsburgh then ran out the clock, securing a ninth straight victory for the Steelers. The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since 1994, losing five in a row.

The scoring started furiously in the opening minutes, then the game became a kicking exhibition by Boswell, who also had six field goals in the regular season against Cincinnati. And Bell put on a virtuoso running performance, patiently finding holes and then exploding through them. He added a team-record 170 yards rushing to the 167 he had in a win over Miami last week.

"The coaches put a lot of trust in me to get the job done," Bell said of his 30 carries. "Just run hard. Just picked my spots where I could and run hard."

The Steelers became first team to win a playoff game without a TD since eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in the 2006 AFC divisional round at Baltimore.

Using a no-huddle attack almost to perfection early on, the Steelers drove deep into Kansas City territory. But they bogged down inside the 5 and Boswell made a 22-yard field goal.

The Chiefs were just as efficient on a six-play march capped by receiver Albert Wilson lining up in the backfield, then slipping uncovered into the end zone for a 5-yard score.

Pittsburgh's answer came on a 52-yard heave to All-Pro Brown, who somehow was covered by linebacker Justin Houston. That led to Boswell's second field goal, a 38-yarder. He added a 36-yarder to cap a 14-play drive on which Pittsburgh again barely huddled.

A clean game up until then turned to, well, turnovers, on successive series. Bud Dupree pounded Alex Smith, whose pass shot high into the air and was caught by linebacker Ryan Shazier.

The Steelers got to the Kansas City 5, where Frank Zombo leaped to deflect Roethlisberger's throw, and All-Pro safety Eric Berry - burned for 26 yards on the previously play - picked it off in the end zone.

Boswell's fourth field goal, from 45 yards, made it 12-7 at the half. His 43-yarder, setting the franchise record for a postseason game and tying the league mark of five, came on Pittsburgh's first series of the second half. A 43-yarder midway in the fourth quarter gave Boswell the NFL record.

"It's just about doing my job," Boswell said. "Coming out here, put it through the yellow pipes. Don't really think too much. Don't think like I'm the guy or anything. I'm just doing my job and doing my one-eleventh for the team."

Kansas City's Cairo Santos got in on the kicking act with a 48-yarder to make it 15-10. At that point, 10 seconds from the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs were outgained 333 yards to 150.

WEATHERMAN

Switching the game from noon local time to an evening kickoff to avert an ice storm had no effect on the crowd. Fans arrived early, tailgated in the rain as the worst of the storm never hit the area. But fog rolled into Arrowhead Stadium in the second quarter, obscuring some views from on high. Not that what was going on was worth watching for Chiefs fans.

NOTES

Bell rushed for almost as many yards (101) in the first half as the Chiefs gained (106). ... Boswell's four first-half field goals tied the team record for an entire playoff game. ... Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce had a rough game, including a big drop and a 15-yard roughing penalty in the third period.

UP NEXT

Steelers: Head to New England for a shot at making the Super Bowl.