Raiders make forward progress in Allen's first win

Raiders make forward progress in Allen's first win
September 24, 2012, 1:55 am
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It took one play for the Oakland Raiders to be doomed Denarius Moore to slip on a route and Carson Palmer to hit Pittsburghs Ryan Clark directly in the chest. At that moment, the Coliseum audience, and the nation as a whole, knew this was one more Raider game about to be inflicted upon a weary nation.Four hours later, Dennis Allen walked out of his office, a suit, a tie, and a perceptible smile leading him into a happier night. A night that frankly he and the New Boys needed very very badly.We felt like we were the only ones who really believed we could win, Palmer said later, basking in his own way in the glow of Oaklands 34-31 win over Pittsburgh. We felt like wed already been written off.And he was right. They had been. And based on all the available evidence from all the placed where evidence can be gathered, they should have been. They are the Raiders, and no good comes of that.Except that they are members of the National Football League, where the difference between yes and no, right and wrong, mirth and misery becomes increasingly narrow. They beat the Steelers because the Steelers arent the Steelers of old, true, but they beat the Steelers because they are just learning how not to be the Raiders of old, either.They fought off two 10-point deficits in the second half. They scored each of the last five times they had the ball. They kept a purportedly superior team from scoring for the entire fourth quarter. They committed only three penalties, their lowest number in 30 games, and none of them game-changing. And they overcame the temptation to lose heart and focus after Darrius Heyward-Bey was carted off the field with what provide to be a concussion.Not only that, Palmer, their overly maligned quarterback, showed himself in the best possible light, especially once the Raiders went to a no-huddle offense. Darren McFadden validated the much loathed zone blocking scheme by breaking out a 64-yard touchdown run the first time he touched the ball. The defense forced two second-half fumbles to stop the Steelers seemingly relentless momentum.And in the end, Dennis Allen won the right to stand up in front of his team and say, straight-faced and with facts to back it up, Trust us, guys. We know what were doing.Say what you will, but that matters. This is a franchise that has known only coaching chaos since Jon Gruden left more than a decade ago, and front office shambles through the last decade of Al Davis stewardship. Players, fans, media and just plain disinterested observers had come to believe the worst in this team, and this team had rarely disabused them of the notion.And lets be frank, the woods have not yet revealed the spacious green lawns behind them yet. This was one game, played well by a team that started so skittishly. This was not the proof of the brand new day.But it was, and this is just as important for the moment, the first time the AllenReggie McKenzie regime could say that the job was not too big for them, that they know what they want and have a firm idea of how to get it.Palmer being the master of his huddle was a start. McFadden breaking out was a start. A team that didnt give in to Heyward-Beys loss or the circumstances surrounding it (a helmet-to-helmet blow from Ryan Mundy that wasnt flagged). A team that kept its composure and a grasp of the rules that neither the Steelers nor the officiating crew could approached, let alone match.It was all a start. There will have to be more, obviously, and a league with three unbeaten teams and two winless teams means that there is much more chaos to come.But these Raiders are no longer going in blind. They have something more than faith, hope, or wishful thinking, to speed them on their way to work Monday. Thats what Sunday meant. Its not the beginning of the end, or even the end of the beginning, to steal from Winston Churchill. But its a light bulb that may lead eventually to the end of a very long, damp, dark and cold tunnel.