Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, center, quarterback Jason Campbell (8), and wide receiver Derek Hagan (80) pause during a moment of silence for deceased Raiders owner Al Davis. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
LOVE HIM OR loathe him, Al Davis was the living embodiment of everything the Raiders organisation stood for and, while they may improve as a football team without him, it’s unlikely they’ll ever be as interesting.
Oakland Raiders 25 @ Houston Texans 20
I blame myself for Al Davis’ death. Two weeks ago, as the Raiders hosted the Patriots, my wife asked me who “the old guy who looks like Yoda” was. I replied that it was the Raiders owner.
“He’s very old isn’t he?” she said. “Ah yeah, but he’s invincible,” was my none-too prophetic reply.
When news broke of his passing I was genuinely shocked. Like Alex Ferguson, Joe Paterno, death and taxes, Al Davis was one of the few things in life you could count on always being there.
Now, Raiders fans, like myself, are left with a massive silver and black hole in our lives.
Of course, there’s an argument – and a very good one – that the Raiders will actually be a much more competitive organisation without Davis. His obsession with out-and-out speed when drafting players has seen the Raiders spend a lot of money on first round picks that subsequently disappeared. I’m looking at you JaMarcus Russell.
But Davis had a knack for getting things right eventually. He did, afterall, oversee an organisation that reached five Super Bowls with four different head coaches and four different quarterbacks, winning three of them.
And there were signs Sunday that this current crop of Raiders could well be on the verge of turning around a franchise that’s been in the doldrums for nearly a decade.
Former first round pick Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, former first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey scored on a 34 yard reception and former first round pick Michael Huff intercepted Houston quarterback Matt Schaub in the endzone to win the game for the Raiders. Not bad for a team that drafts badly.
That said, it was a game the Raiders should never have won as they were outplayed by a Houston team that looks destined for the postseason. But they did all Al Davis ever asked of them; they just won, baby.
Watch the emotional highlights here.
Performance of the week
Last Friday, I gave the Buffalo Bills defence a hard time for being the worst in the league at getting to the quarterback. This, I thought, would ensure the Eagles and Michael Vick would have a very comfortable victory.
While they only sacked Vick once, they put the Eagles quarterback under a tremendous amount of pressure resulting in four interceptions. Of course, Vick’s receivers didn’t help, virtually handing the Bills the ball on two occasions, but credit where it’s due.
Watch highlights here.
Play of the week
I can’t begin to tell you how difficult this catch is but Dwayne Bowe can now add circus juggler to his CV after this tremendous effort to get his team back in the game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Philadelphia Eagles 24 @ Buffalo Bills 31
New Orleans Saints 30 @ Carolina Panthers 27
Oakland Raiders 25 @ Houston Texans 20
Kansas City Chiefs 28 @ Indianapolis Colts 24
Cincinnati Bengals 30 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 20
Arizona Cardinals 10 @ Minnesota Vikings 34
Seattle Seahawks 36 @ New York Giants 25
Tennessee Titans 17 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 38
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3 @ San Francisco 49ers 48
San Diego Chargers 29 @ Denver Broncos 24
New York Jets 21 @ New England Patriots 30
Green Bay Packers 25 @ Atlanta Falcons 14
Chicago Bears 13 @ Detroit Lions 24
Steven O’Rourke is the Offensive Co-ordinator of Tullamore Phoenix American Football Club, winners of the IAFL DV8s national title in 2010 and 2011. Tullamore are always recruiting new players so, if you’d like to play football and not just read about it, Steven would love to hear from you.