The Raiders face the Colts in Oakland for the first time since 2007. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders host the Indianapolis Colts in their final regular season home game of the 2010 season. Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot and must win in order to stay alive in the race. The Raiders are excited to be part of the playoff hunt in December and are ready for the challenge presented by the Colts offense and defense.
"Everyone's excited; we know we still have a good shot at this thing," said TE Zach Miller. "We just need a little help from some other teams, but we're excited about that and we know we have to take care of our business this Sunday."
S Tyvon Branch and many of his teammates are experiencing their first push for the playoffs. "Although we need help from some other teams, it's great to be in the race," said Branch. "It's great to have something to play for this late in the season. Since I've been here we've just been playing for pride so now to have a chance at the playoffs, it's a great feeling."
In order to reach the playoffs, the Raiders will need help from the Tennessee Titans when they play the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday. However, the Raiders are not paying attention to the other games. They are focused only on the one outcome they can control, spending the week focused on the upcoming game against Indy. "Our focus has to be to win this football game and if we get some help then it just becomes a bigger game and the week after is even bigger," said Head Coach Tom Cable. "So if we worry about anything other than Indianapolis, it'll cost us."
The Raiders defense has paid close attention to the play of Colts QB Peyton Manning. "Probably one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live, Peyton Manning, you know he's going to be on top of his game," said DT Tommy Kelly. "With the quick counts and no huddle, they try to keep you off balance, so we can't panic. [He's] a leader, takes control of his team at the right time, never lets his team panic. He always is in control; he's just probably what you want as a quarterback."
QB Jason Campbell has a lot of respect for his counterpart on the Colts. "He's the elite. He's probably as good as it gets in the National Football League," said Campbell. "He's like another coach on the field because when you know something that long and been in it for so long and been in such a surrounding cast for so long it always helps, but he's definitely a unique quarterback. He's very accurate, he's a smart guy and I have much respect for him."
Branch and his defensive teammates are looking forward to facing Manning and the rest of the Colts offense. "It's a great challenge and that's what this game is all about; having great games, having teams challenge you," said Branch. "It's going to be a good game, it's going to be a fight, and we both need it so it's going to be a good game for us."
CB Stanford Routt will square off with the receivers who have had success with Manning at the helm. "One thing about him that makes him such a Hall of Famer is that he makes his receivers better," said Routt. "It seems like no matter who you put in there, he can still keep the car moving. Whether it's [WR] Reggie Wayne, [WR Austin] Collie, [WR] Blair [White], [WR Pierre] Garcon, or [TE Jacob] Tamme…they definitely have a system going out there, but Peyton, he's the real deal."
Coach Cable understands that Manning will be a tough match up, but knows his defense is prepared to take him on. "It is a challenge but we are a challenge for him too and we have to look at it that way," said Coach Cable. "As long as we can play the way we are capable of playing then its going to be a heck of a game."
Defensive Coordinator John Marshall echoed Coach Cable's sentiments about playing Manning. "I think when you play Peyton Manning you've got to do what you do best," said Coach Marshall. "Once you go through a series with him you're not going to trick him anymore. He's wired into you. You've got to go out and play."
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders offense will face DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. "They're two of the most premier ends in the National Football League," said Campbell. "They do a great job of their spin moves and the way they use their technique to get to the quarterbacks and as a quarterback you've always have to hold that ball tight. They do a good job of swiping at it. So it's going to be a great challenge for us offensively."
The two defensive ends will require a lot of the attention from the Raiders offensive line. "Well that's the real key to their defense; they're both really good players," said Coach Cable. "They get after the ball. So you have to have a plan for both of them, and we'll do that. But you can't just put your attention to one side and not the other; you have to deal with both of them."
The Raiders offense is ready to play at a high level in order to beat the Colts. "As an offense we've got to put some points on the board and be ready to play against a fast defense," said Miller.
If the Raiders beat the Colts, they will have the opportunity to have their first winning season since 2002. With a Titans victory, the Raiders will remain in the hunt for a playoff berth. In a must-win game for both the Raiders and the Colts, the Silver and Black is eager for Sunday's match up.