Sunday, November 30, 2008

Raiders' fake field goal blows up in Cable's face

So now I guess it’s official. Well, at least as official as it can be before Raiders owner Al Davis goes to the overhead projector at his next press conference and outlines the reasons why interim coach Tom Cable won’t be coaching his team next season.

Cable looked like a short-timer from the moment Davis chose him to replace the fired Lane Kiffin. But after what took place Sunday in the second quarter of the Raiders’ 20-13 loss to Kansas City, there’s probably a better chance of Kiffin coming back than of Cable surviving.

I mean, what coach in his right mind thinks Sebastian Janikowski can gain 10 yards on a fake field goal? We’re not talking Usain Bolt here. We’re talking Seabass, all 250 pounds of him.

Let’s set the scene for Cable’s big roll of the dice. The Raiders had stalled at the Chiefs’ 25. They faced fourth-and-10 and lined up for a 42-yard field goal, a chip shot for the powerful Janikowski. But after Jon Condo snapped the ball to holder Shane Lechler, all sanity left the Coliseum.

Janikowski faked the kick and kept running to his left. Lechler didn’t just try to pitch the ball to his kicker. That would have been too easy. He actually hiked it though his legs. Only the snap was low and short and wound up on the turf. Then Chiefs cornerback Maurice Leggett picked it up and raced 67 yards for a touchdown.

Instead of taking a 6-3 lead, the Raiders fell behind 10-3. That’s your basic 10-point swing in a seven-point loss.

Cable didn’t fool the Chiefs, but he stunned his own team.

“I didn’t even see it,” Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “I just saw the guy running down the other way. We do that in practice all the time, but I never knew it was a real thing we were going to attempt.

“When they told me that’s what happened, and it wasn’t a blocked field goal, I was a little surprised, but Cable owned up to that. He said that one’s on him.”

What would you pay to have videotape of Davis’ reaction as that play unfolded? We’ll start the bidding at priceless.

After the game, Cable had some explaining to do in his news conference.

“It’s something we had worked on all year,” Cable said. “(The Chiefs) were lined up exactly the way we wanted them to. We just didn’t execute. That was my decision. Obviously it was not a good one.”

Cable said that Lechler wasn’t just ad-libbing when he tried to snap the ball through his legs to Janikowski. That was part of the play. Seriously.

“We never had a problem handling it for almost two years now,” Cable said. “It’s been something we’ve worked on for really two years, and they’ve done it well. Something they’ve come up with. We just didn’t execute it.”

Unfortunately, Janikowski and Lechler didn’t stick around long enough after the game to discuss their special play.

In reality, Janikowski would have had to run about 17 yards for a first down because Lechler took the snap seven yards deep. But even if Lechler hadn’t botched the exchange, Leggett would have nailed him quickly. He wasn’t fooled.

Cable went into the game ready to take chances. He dialed up a hook-and-lateral early in the game that worked perfectly with running back Darren McFadden gaining 20 yards.

When the Raiders stalled at the Chiefs’ 25, Cable didn’t hesitate to gamble again.

“I felt like the momentum was ours, and we were really into the game on both sides of the ball,” Cable said. “So just looking for a lift there, just looking for another lift.”

Is it me, or does that statement make no sense? Just checking.

“That was a coaching decision,” Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell said. “That was out of my hands. Looking back at it, I wish we had taken the points.”

You think?

Despite having that ridiculous fake field goal blow up in his face, Cable wasn’t done gambling. Late in the half, the Raiders faced fourth-and-3 from the Chiefs’ 22. This time, the Raiders didn’t even line up for a field goal. They went for it, and Russell airmailed a pass over wide receiver Ronald Curry’s head in the end zone.

There went another three points in a game against a team the Raiders had already defeated on the road, a game they should have won.

“I felt like we had the right play called,” Cable said. “Just a little bit of an overthrow. Had it been a little bit shorter, it would have been a great play for a touchdown.”

And if Janikowski ran a 4.4 40, he’d be an NFL running back.


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