Monday, January 27, 2020

Ten Highlights From the Oakland Raiders’ Sucky Years (2003-2015)

Yes, we even managed to find a highlight from JAMARCUS freakin’ RUSSELL, somehow


By: Jimbo X

From 2002 until 2016, the Oakland Raiders didn’t have a single winning season. For 14 painful years, the Silver and Black wallowed and mired in a commitment to excrement, to the point back-to-back seasons at a mere .500 in 2010 and 2011 were relative highwater marks for the franchise. 

When people say the Raiders have the most committed fans in pro football, that’s not puffery, that’s goddamn objective fact. Can you imagine how the allegedly “hardcore” Steelers, Packers, Patriots or Cowboys fans would act if THEIR team went a decade and a half without chalking up a single winning season? They’d probably burn all of their gear, threaten to set the stadium on fire and give up on spectator sports altogether. Meanwhile, the true blue Raider Nation had nothing but various shades of horse shit taco to eat for FOURTEEN seasons, and they STILL sold out home games galore and moved more merchandise on a per capita scale than any other team in the NFL. Even the fucking Taliban has to be kicking back watching footage from the 2006 season and go “Wow, those guys are LOYAL, ain’t they?” Let’s face it — if al Qaeda had the jihadist equivlanet of Aaron Brooks under center for them, they’d be eating hot dogs and reading the Torah the very next weekend.

Literally half of my life was filled by the Raiders’ horrific 14-year playoffs drought, and let me tell you, when the times were bad, they were fucking atrocious. Watching the dried-up, withered corpse of Daunte Culpepper’s career attempt to play quarterback even though he was old enough to qualify for AARP discounts. Having to actually watch Marques Tuiasasopa and Rick goddamn Mirer take snapes in a regular season game that actually counted. And just when you think the torrent of sheer suck couldn’t possibly get any worse, the cosmological anus spread wide open over the Oakland Coliseum and shat out JAMARCUS RUSSELL, a player universally regarded as the worst first overall pick in NFL history, whose only claim to contemporary cultural relevance is that he was so fat he literally sacked himself trying to carry the weight of all those jelly rolls and the nearly 100 percent guarantee that he played at least one or two games while high on Purple Drank

Thankfully, those days appear to be long behind us. After posting a 12-4 record in ‘16, the Raiders have gone 29-35 over the last four years, which certainly isn’t anything to be terribly proud about, but hell, at least it’s almost close to .500 average. And with so many young, talented players on the team, there’s no reason for the recently rechristened Las Vegas Raiders to at least get nine wins in their inaugural season of the Strip —that is, unless they plan on tanking for Trevor Lawrence, which, let’s face it, is a possibility considering the managerial Cerebus that is Mark Davis and Jon Gruden. 

Alas, while the bright, neon Nevada lights await us all this autumn, how about we spend this Super Bowl week reflecting on the dark, dismal epoch in Raiders’ history where victories were about as frequent as leftovers at John Madden’s house? Aye, 2003-2015 were tough, tough times indeed for the Raiders — consider these the most glaring glimmers of hope amidst what was otherwise 14 years of abject hopelessness

Oakland Raiders 34, San Diego Chargers 31 (Sept. 28, 2003)

For me, this was the last game where Rich Gannon really played like the Rich Gannon I want to remember. The 2002 League MVP went 26 for 43 in the win, ultimately collecting 348 yards and three TD passes on the day, including a MARVELOUS 36-yard TD toss to Tim Brown on the team’s first possession that REALLY makes me want to fire up my old copy of ESPN NFL Football on the Xbox again. Down 31-17 with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth, Charlie Garner broke off a MAD 24-yard TD run to make tie it up with barely 90 seconds on the clock. The Raiders made good in overtime, with Gannon controlling the tempo en route to Sebastian Janikowski’s 46-yard game winning field goal at the 8:15 mark of O.T.

Oakland Raiders 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 (Sept. 26, 2004)

A game that’s probably more famous for the Sunday Night Football intro than the game itself — but that’s pretty understandable, considering how fuckin’ boss THIS intro is, was and always will be. Of course, this was the Raiders first meeting with the Buccaneers since that Super Bowl we dare not speak of, so the Nation faithful clearly wanted sweet, sweet vengeance in this one. Of course, it’s also a bittersweet game to watch, considering it contains Derek Brooks’ hit on Rich Gannon that pretty much ended his career, but that still doesn’t dampen the ecstasy of watching Kerry Collins and company clobber Tampa Bay (and turncoat Jon Gruden) en route to a 30-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Especially satisfying was watching Phillip Buchanan go downfield 32 yards on a Brad Johnson pick six — yeah, that shit don’t feel so good when it’s on the other foot, does it? Of course, the Raiders being the Raiders, they did let the Bucs battle back in there with two touchdown passes (including one lobbed from Johnson to Tim Brown, who I’m pretty sure you TOTALLY forgot got traded to TB), but thankfully, the Raiders’ D managed to hold steady and cap off the 10-point win, regardless.

Oakland Raiders 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 13 (Oct. 29, 2006)

The 2006 season was probably the single worst in Raiders history, as the team went 2-14 and, even worse, set themselves up to draft Jamarcus fuckin’ Russell with the first overall pick. Still, amidst the relentless sucktitude of the season, the Raiders STILL managed to triumph over the reigning, defending Super Bowl Champions in a pre-Halloween shocker that I really wish I would’ve put some money on in hindsight. Believe it or not, the Raiders didn’t score a SINGLE offensive touchdown in the game, as Andre Walter led the team in passing yards with 51 and one INT on just five completions. Rather, Oakland’s D absolutely EXPLODED against probable rapist Ben Roethlisberger, ultimately intercepting him FOUR times on the day, with both Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Carr recording pick-sixes. Oh, and by the way, Carr’s INT just so happened to be for a mere 100 yards, an obvious franchise record for an INT return.

Oakland Raiders 26, Cleveland Browns 24 (Sept. 23, 2007)

It was a quarterback duel for the ages that balmy September afternoon in the East Bay, as WAY past his prime Daunte Culpepper led the Raiders past the reanimated corpse of Derek Anderson en route to a 26-24 victory that was sealed by Tommy Kelly blocking a 23-yard field goal attempt by Phil Dawson with about half a minute left in the fourth quarter — an especially satisfying denouement, considering the fact the Raiders lost in a nearly identical fashion just one week earlier to this loathsome, loathsome Broncos. Come for the wackadoodle final stretch that saw the Raiders almost blow a 16-0 lead heading into halftime, but stay for the sheer surreality of Josh McCown hitting Ronald Curry for a 41-yard TD and Lamont Jordan outrunning Jamal freakin’ Lewis 121 yards to 56.

Oakland Raiders 13, Philadelphia Eagles 9 (Oct. 18, 2009)

Yep, the game that will forever be remembered for one thing, and one thing only. Jamarcus Russell’s 86-yard TD pass to Zach Miller? Nope. Justin “Son of Huggy Bear” Fargas notching up 87 yards on 23 carries? Not even. The Raiders’ historically shitty defense SOMEHOW finding a way to hold Donovan McNabb to just 269 passing yards and the rest of the team to just three field goals? Get real. What this game is TRULY famous for is that bizarre moment in the fourth quarter, when the Raiders lined up for a punt, only to have a pigeon — whose coat looked suspiciously similar to the silver and black uniform — seemingly join the special teams unit and literally fly after the ball and look for all the rubles in Russia that it was genuinely trying to play containment defense on the landing. Adding an equally touching/terrifying touch of mega-irony to the situation, the pigeon appeared to line up where special teamer Marquis Cooper would’ve been on the kickoff. By the way, Cooper is believed to have perished in a boating accident in the 2009 offseason; to this day, his body has yet to be recovered.

Oakland Raiders 59, Denver Broncos 14 (Oct. 24, 2010)

After seven seasons of undiluted, ceaseless suck, the Raiders partially turned the corner in 2010, going a relatively fantastic 8-8 on the year and, amazingly, going 6-0 in AFC West matchups. And while there were plenty of nominees for game of the season —  I came *this close* to picking week 2’s 16-14 win over the St. Louis Rams, which saw the all too short-lived ascension of Bruce Gradkowksi as backup QB savior AND Rolando McClain’s meme-tactic WWE slam of Danny Amendola for a 15-yard penalty — but come the fuck on, like I’m going to pick ANYTHING other than Week 7’s 45-point ass-massacring of the Broncos for 2010’s highlight. Indeed, in the absolute MOGGING, the Raiders outpaced the Broncos 508 yards to 240, with Darren McFadden having a career day with 165 yards and three scores on 16 carries — which, naturally, gave us THIS immortal macro image, which Raider Nation shall treasure forever and ever, amen.

Oakland Raiders 25, Houston Texans 20 (Oct. 09, 2011)

Probably the most emotionally-charged game in Raiders history, having taken place just one day after the death of the inimitable Al Davis. Old A.D. probably would’ve loved this one, as it was a back-and-forth thriller that saw the Raiders come storming back from a 14-6 deficit en route to a 25-20 final score. By the way, here’s a name I totally forgot about — registering one of Jason Campbell’s two touchdown passes on the day was, of all people, Chaz friggin’ Schilens, who reeled in what was, ultimately, the game-winning score. Of course, the game will forever be remembered (and revered) for the heart-stopping final play, where the Raiders’ D held strong on a goal line stand, with Michael Huff hauling in the victory-clinching INT lobbed by a wide open Matt Schaub with just six seconds left on the clock. Go ahead, just try and watch this shit without getting a little misty-eyed hearing Greg Papa’s voice crack on the official call — especially when you remember the Raiders only had 10 men on the field for the play, which some have taken to calling “The Divine Interception” over the years.

Oakland Raiders 34, Pittsburgh Steelers 31 (Sept. 23, 2012)

Even in years where the Raiders absolutely, positively suck, they seem to always have the Pittsburgh Steelers’ number. Such was the case in 2012, when Big Ben amassed 384 yards and four touchdown passes in a week four road game — only for Oakland to STILL come out on top, 34-31. It was a 17-14 affair heading into halftime, with the Steelers quickly making it a 10-point game with a Roethlisberger-to-Wallace TD pass. And from there, it was just tit-for-tat football, with Carson Palmer responding with a one-yard pass to Richard Gordon (seriously, I don’t even remember who the fuck that guy is supposed to be) and Big Ben extending the lead again with an 11-yard TD zip to Antonio Brown. Alas, the Raiders managed to battle back valiantly in the fourth quarter, with Palmer tagging Denarius Moore with about three minutes in and Sebastian Janikowski booting three consecutive field goals to give the Raiders the upset win — including the 43-yard game winner with just three seconds left on the clock.

Oakland Raiders 24, Kansas City Chiefs 20 (Nov. 20, 2014)

Eleven games into the 2014 season, the Raiders were 0-10 and looking like they weren’t going to win A SINGLE contest that year. So when the 7-3 Chiefs rolled into Oakland for a rainy Thursday night contest, the end outcome seemed like a foregone conclusion. Alas, the expected didn’t take place that night, as Latavius Murray exploded in the first half to make it a 14-3 game heading into halftime, complete with a GLORIOUS 90-yard TD run that I vividly recall making me legit scream like a little bitch on my commute home. Alas, those damned Chiefs crawled back into it, taking their first lead of the game with about nine minutes left in regulation. From there, new kid on the block Derek Carr led the team downfield on a seven minute-plus drive, culminating with the former Fresno State Bulldog connecting with James Jones on a 9-yard pass to give Oakland their first victory of the woeful, woeful season — which the O-Town faithful, of course, couldn’t help but celebrate like a Super Bowl win.

Oakland Raiders 23, San Diego Chargers 20 (Dec. 23, 2015)

With the moderately improved Raiders already out of playoff contention, this Christmas Eve clash was, at the time, thought to be the last home game ever in Oakland, with rumors abound that the team was destined to exit the East Bay for more lucrative ground in Southern Cal. So, needless to say, there was a LOT of emotion in this one. By and large, the contest was a back-and-forth affair, with the Raiders gaining the late lead on a three-yard TD pass from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree — which was made even more exciting by the follow-up two point conversion pass from Carr to Seth Roberts. Alas, Josh Lambo would make good on a 45-yard field goal with less than a minute in regulation, in turn facilitating some hot, sudden death overtime action. Seabass hit a 31-yard field goal around the eight-minute mark of overtime, giving San Diego and opportunity to play The Grinch with a touchdown in riposte. Of course, Phil Rivers being Phil Rivers, he went four and out on the next drive, with the game-sustaining pass to Dontrelle Inman falling way short. By the way, this was also Charles Woodson’s final game in the Black Hole before retiring — feel free to rewatch his post-game speech anytime you need to weep tears of wistful nostalgia.

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