In a game in which only the special teams were special, it’s fitting that Sebastian Janikowski’s NFL-record-tying 63-yard field goal was the difference as the Raiders beat the Broncos in the sloppiest affair of Week 1.
What’s amazing is that the Raiders won despite making the same mistakes that have killed them for years. The team that led the NFL in penalties in 2010 was supposed to clean things up with Hue Jackson as head coach, but Oakland took a ridiculous 15 penalties against Denver.
They kept giving the Broncos life, but Denver was suicidal. The offensive line couldn’t stop anyone and the running game was non-existent.
Ultimately, the Raiders deserved the victory. Jason Campbell, who clearly lacks quality options, struggled to do anything, but the Oakland running game was fantastic. Darren McFadden has immediately become the league’s leading rusher following a 150-yard opening effort, while Michael Bush contributed with some big runs down the stretch.
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding this Broncos’ defense with Elvis Dumervil back and Von Miller joining him. But until Dumervil and Miller can find a groove, the pass rush won’t be good enough to compensate for a bad run defense that was terrorized twice by this same Raiders team in 2010.
The fans in Denver are calling for Tim Tebow, but the quarterback situation isn’t the problem — Kyle Orton’s just the easiest man to blame and sports fans aren’t always known for their deep thinking. Orton was crushed time and again Monday night; he had no time and room to work with, and his options are also quite limited. His running backs did nothing to support him, either. And yet Orton still battled to hit the 300-yard mark in a losing effort.
Janikowski makes history: His 63-yard field goal with the clock running out on the first half puts the erratic but cannon-legged Janikowski in the history books. He becomes the third kicker in NFL history to hit a 63-yard field goal. (Isn’t it odd that there’s only been one 61-yarder and one 62-yarder but there have now been three 63-yarders? And why have we never seen a 64-yarder?)
It was the longest field goal we’ve seen in the NFL since Jason Elam hit his 63-yarder, also in Denver, back in 1998. The thin air surely helped Janikowski and Elam, but it was probably only a matter of time before Janikowski hit one from that distance. He’s now the only kicker in NFL history with two 60-yarders (he made one from 61 in 2009). Oh, and he nailed a 59-yard attempt last year. Pretty phenomenal.
And that was all that was phenomenal about a game that kept me up far later than necessary.