OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: Tyvon Branch #33 is congratulated by Thomas Howard #52 of the Oakland Raiders after Branch sacked Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 19, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tyvon Branch;Thomas Howard
The Raiders benched their big money starter and handed the reins to backup Bruce Gradkowski again Sunday, and the Polish Cannon delivered for a 16-14 Raiders win.
Welcome to another quarterback controversy, Oakland Raiders style.
The first half veered from boring to ugly and back again. Sebastian Janikowski missing a 46-yard field goal was really the only play of consequence in the entire first quarter.
Hearts sunk at the Coliseum and among Raiders fans glued to their radios when the Rams actually took a 7-0 lead. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford hit Mark Clayton for a seven-yard touchdown three minutes into the second quarter.
The Raiders got their first points more or less off Rams penalties. A chop block call against St. Louis on a punt return and an unnecessary roughness call positioned Sebastian Janikowski for a 38-yard field goal.
The penalties were key. The Raiders' offense accumulated minus-three yards on the drive otherwise.
The Raiders' offensive line woes were particularly woeful in the first half, and Campbell didn't help matters by holding onto the ball for seeming eternities. He also fumbled twice in the first half, and tossed a pick just before halftime.
It would be Campbell's last throw of the game.
Coach Tom Cable threw the crowd, the Rams, and his owner a curveball by starting the second half with Bruce Gradkowski. Grads promptly ran a nice nine-play, 59 yard drive that resulted in a Janikowski field goal.
The Raiders were within a point with the game at 7-6, the Coliseum was ringing with chants of "Bruuuuuuce", and the Raiders' quarterback controversy was officially on.
Gradkowski would not squander the opportunity. The Raiders would go up 13-7 for their first lead on the very next possession, with Gradkowski hitting Louis Murphy for a four-yard touchdown.
It wasn't all Gradkowski. The Raiders defense held the mighty Steven Jackson to 75 yards, and Stanford Routt picked off Sam Bradford on a critical fourth quarter drive.
Darren McFadden was sensational with 145 yards rushing. It was his first 100-yard game since Sept. 14, 2008, and only the second 100-yard game of his NFL career.
And Louis Murphy owners in fantasy football are justifiably talking terrific amounts of smack. Murphy had six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer and one those Louis Murphy owners in fantasy football who will not shut up about this for three days.