September 06, 2005
Raider Nation Still Not Over 'Tuck Game'
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
It’s been nearly five years now since that snowy January night in what is now just a parking lot next to Gillette Stadium where Foxboro Stadium used to stand.
However it’s a game that will live on in infamy in Raider Nation.
They’re not over it, far from it.
Following that play which would have sealed a 13-10 win for Oakland, Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri later knocked through what many feel may have been the greatest kick in NFL history after nailing his 45-yard field goal with just :27 left in the game.
It’s funny, to this day according to Raider Nation you would think that kick won the game for the Patriots. All it did was simply send the game to overtime.
As great as Vinatieri was that night, Sebastian Janikowski wasn’t exactly bad either. The Raiders kicker was 2-for-2 that night as well, including one of his own from 45 yards out.
The problem was Oakland fell apart after that point, and instead of rising to the occasion, they spent the remainder of the game whining about an official’s call that while it may have cost them a chance at a victory initially, had nothing to do with the final outcome of the game.
The reason why the Raiders lost the game that night was because their defense couldn’t step up in overtime and give Janikowski the chance to be the hero instead of Vinatieri. Oakland allowed New England to put together an incredible 15-play 61 yard drive that lasted nearly eight and a half minutes. They allowed the Patriots to convert three third down plays, and even a 4th and four at the Raiders 28 which would have stopped New England dead in their tracks. At that point it could have given then Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon and company a chance to get within Janikowski’s range and make the final game at Foxboro Stadium a dud for fans in New England.
But you’ll never hear about that fact. You’ll never hear that after that fourth down New England converted another 3rd and five at the Oakland 17. Three plays later Vinatier’s 23-yard field goal put the dagger in a team that simply fell apart.
Oakland fans need to stop blaming the officials and instead blame their team for what happened that night. They need to understand that Walt Coleman’s call cost them simply a chance for a victory, but it was their own team that cost them the game.
Unfortunately that’s just the way it seems to be in Raider Nation.
They seem to forget the fact their team couldn’t stop New England’s 19th ranked offense when it counted. How they ever thought their team could have somehow stopped the St. Louis Ram’s #1 ranked offense had they made it to the Super Bowl is another story.
The following season when Oakland did make it to the Super Bowl, their defense couldn’t stop Tampa Bay’s 24th ranked offense, nor could their own #1 ranked offense do much against the Buccaneers when they got blown out 48-21.
Instead it seems to be more enjoyable to for the Raiders and their fans to live in a world where they feel everyone is out to get them, including their own league. Raiders Owner Al Davis started this conspiracy back in March when he reacted to the fact the Raiders were heading into Foxboro to open the sesason.
"Payback, that's all," said Davis about his reaction to the NFL sending his team to Foxboro to open the season. "They have us playing the model franchise in pro football on a Thursday night. It's payback. But it's fine."
Raiders coach Norv Turner also complained.
"You know you're going to play them and you've got to get ready to play them when the schedule comes out, whenever it is," Turner told the Contra Costa Times. "But it's a heck of an advantage for New England to open at home on national TV to defend their Super Bowl championship.”
Just imagine Patriots head coach Bill Belichick making a quote like that.
For that matter imagine Belichick blaming the schedule or an official’s call on any loss. In fact, looking back on the “Tuck Game” had Belichick been on the opposing sideline and coaching the Raiders, you would have heard him tell reporters that his team still had just as good a chance as the Patriots to win that game and didn’t get it done.
But that’s not how it works in Oakland.
Good teams step up and make plays when it counts. Good teams don’t make excuses when they lose a game and good teams don’t whine about having to play the defending Super Bowl Champs on the road to open the season.
If they want to open at home they need to “just win” a Championship of their own.
Raider fans need to stop letting their team off the hook for losing that Divisional Playoff game, and tell their own owner and coaching staff to stop whining about the past and things that are out of their control. They need to start demanding that their team stops making excuses and gets back to being accountable for their own performances.
That’s how it works here in Foxboro.
The Patriots don’t whine. They just win.
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