The Oakland Raiders returned home late Sunday night victorious against the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs. The victor would be one game out of first place in the AFC West behind the Denver Broncos and the loser would start the 2009 NFL season 0-2. For the Raiders, Sunday would be theirs as they defeated the Chiefs 13-10.
The victory showcased the heart and tenacity of a team that found a way to win.
Head Coach Tom Cable, who met with the media Monday, summarized the win as simply, "it's just a matter of when you get in the fourth quarter in this league, to have a chance to win you better take your opportunity. And yesterday we were fortunate to do that."
Game balls were given to six players on Sunday. CB Nnamdi Asomugha, S Michael Huff, DE Greg Ellis, LS/LB Jon Condo, K Sebastian Janikowski, and P Shane Lechler did their part to ensure the Raiders would not come home empty handed.
Two Raiders defenders in particular are among the NFL league leaders in their respective categories.
Twelfth-year veteran Ellis leads the team with three sacks and is currently ranked third in the NFL. Fourth-year safety Michael Huff currently leads the team and is tied for tthe NFL lead in interceptions with three.
Both players came through with huge plays during pivotal parts of the game.
Huff's two interceptions were impressive but the play that helped the Raiders seal the win was his defense on 4th and 5 in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs' last offensive play of the game ended with the safety crashing into the intended receiver causing the ball to hit the ground and giving the ball back to the Raiders to run out the clock.
"[Huff's] doing a tremendous job of getting us lined up in the back end and communicating," Cable said. "When you're playing with that sort of confidence and you understand what exactly you need to do in certain situations, you can go for it. You can take those chances he's taken and he's come up big."
Additionally, Ellis' presence was felt throughout the game putting pressure on Cassel and forcing the quarterback to scramble around the pocket. His second sack of the day came during the Chiefs' final possession and set the stage for Huff.
Janikowski hit two field goals on Sunday, the longer of the two being 54 yards. Since the 2002 season, the 10-year veteran has hit 17 consecutive field goals at Arrowhead Stadium.
Lechler, on the other hand, single-handedly put the field position in favor of the Raiders throughout the game booming kicks into Chiefs' territory. Lechler had seven punts averaging 45.9 yards, with the longest being a 70-yarder that forced the Chiefs' to start at their own 21- yard line.
"That's the guy that's in the Pro Bowl and one of the best punters to play the game. Think about the first two punts and how he absolutely changed the game," Cable said. The coverage was great, but not only did he hit it deep but he hit it high and gave everybody a chance to get down there. You got take your hat off to [Lechler]."
The Oakland Raiders next opponent is another AFC West rival, the Denver Broncos.
"Much improved team. Pressure team, remind you of Baltimore with Mike Nolan there in terms of defensive coordinator. Try to overload pressure you. They got some confidence, they're 2-0," Cable said.
On Sunday, the Raiders will also celebrate Hispanic Heritage by putting on the team's eighth annual Fiesta Latina game. Come to the game early and enjoy pregame entertainment in Raiderville.