Week 3: Fourth Quarter Heroics Shows Resiliency
All units overcome poor play to lead team to win.
by Steve Saslow
Here are our position by position grades:
Trent Edwards struggled mightily like everyone else on the team for almost three quarters. His passes were inaccurate and he showed less poise in the pocket as he struggled against the blitz. He turned the ball over twice with a fumble and an interception although Lee Evans should have prevented the pick by holding on to the ball. Edwards got time to throw late in the game and had three fantastic drives in a row to lead the team to 17 points in the final quarter and the win. He finished 24 of 39 for 279 yards and a score Grade B: Showing that he is a winner.
Marshawn Lynch had an up and down day as well. He ran for two more touchdowns including a beautiful 14 yard run where he had the sense to keep the ball inside the pylon. He may say he wants to catch more passes but he didn't show it by dropping two in the first half. He made a lot out of a little averaging 3.6 yards a carry which was good considering the lack of holes. His best run may have been a fourth and two run where he broke tackles to get the first down. Fred Jackson had a bit more success on his five carries gaining 24 yards. He only caught one pass in this game while Lynch caught four for 31 yards. Darian Barnes made two catches for 34 yards including a 25 yarder on the last play of the first quarter. Grade B: Made a lot out of a little.
Lee Evans really struggled as he caught one pass in the first half and fumbled the ball back to the Raiders. He was then out-wrestled for the ball on an interception that led to the Raiders first touchdown. He got called for an offensive pass interference penalty. He then caught fire in the fourth quarter and caught four balls for 65 yards. Roscoe Parrish finally got used on offense and caught the 16 yard touchdown pass and finished with three catches for 42 yards. Josh Reed spent a good part of the day open but Edwards struggled connecting with him until late in the game. Reed would play a big part in the comeback as he caught six balls for a team high 72 yards. James Hardy dropped one pass. Robert Royal had four catches and Derek Schouman dropped a pass but had a key block on Lynch's first TD. Grade B: A very slow start but very hot finish.
Derrick Dockery was called for a costly holding penalty that wiped out a long completion to Evans. Langston Walker was beaten for a sack against his former team on the opening offensive series. Jason Peters for the second week in a row gave up a sack that resulted in a fumble by Edwards. They averaged a respectable 3.9 yards a carry but that was more about the running and less about the blocking. Edwards was sacked three times but pressured constantly. Grade D: Run blocking is now a serious concern with this unit.
Aaron Schobel got some pressure early but just couldn't get to Russell before he released the ball. He did have two tackles behind the line of scrimmage as he was active and did get some pressure. Chris Kelsay forced a fumble in the 2nd quarter than knocked down a pass on the next series. Marcus Stroud had a good game there weren't big holes up the middle for the run game and he had six tackles. Kyle Williams shot the gap for a tackle for loss and had four tackles in the game. Ryan Denney and Spencer Johnson along with John McCargo finished out the rotation but didn't do too much. Grade B+: Kept the opponent under 100 yards rushing for a third straight week.
Paul Posluszny was very active he recovered a fumble and had a big stop on a screen pass and deflected a pass all in the first half. He slowed up Bush on a third down play to allow Schobel to get the tackle for loss and force a third quarter punt. Posluszny just couldn't get to the slant in time to stop the long touchdown pass. Kawika Mitchell was called for an offsides penalty on the first play from scrimmage and had four tackles with some penetration. Keith Ellison was quiet before getting banged up in the second half. Grade A-: Did a solid job keeping the play in front of them.
Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer did a nice job in pass coverage all day as the Raiders completed just nine passes. Ashton Youboty had a big third down stop for a loss late in the first half to hold the Raiders to a field goal. Donte Whitner was active with five tackles including one for a loss. Ko Simpson had a nice shoe string tackle stopping McFadden before he would have got a huge gain. Grade B+: The long touchdown keeps this from being an A.
Lost in the euphoria of the first two weeks was the concern about the kick coverage unit. They gave up a 69 yard kick return on the opening kickoff to Higgins that setup a Raiders field goal. He would only get 29 more yards on two other kick returns. He also averaged 12 yards on three punt returns. Brian Moorman averaged 47.6 yards per punt but is net was 10 yards less than is counterpart Lechler. Rian Lindell missed a 46 yard field goal but hit the winner. Roscoe Parrish made a mistake fielding a punt in the end zone. He only returned it to the 17 and a holding penalty made the Bills start inside the one in the third quarter. He averaged just nine yards on two punts. Leodis McKelvin averaged a healthy 27.4 yards on five kickoff returns including a 56 yarder. Grade C: Outplayed but had the biggest play to win it.
Dick Jauron may have to take a bit of a hit for the sluggish play for three quarters but the poise and character he instills in this team showed up in time to pull out the win. The gameplan was not as imaginative as they were the first two weeks. May be getting too fancy on special teams by lining out Lindell and Moorman wide. Grade C: Need to learn from the win.
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