(Note: This post has musical accompaniment, so download this first. If anyone were to mash up the highlights from the Denver-Oakland game and put them to this particular track, it would be highly appropriate.)
Broncos 41, Raiders 14 –Your musical accompaniment provides the complete encapsulation of Mike Shanahan’s attitude whenever he leads his team against the Oakland Raiders and Al Davis, whom he still believes owes him money from his short and acrimonious tenure as Raiders head coach. Last year, I applauded the Rat Fink’s obvious douchebaggery in Week 2 by pulling the last-second time out trick on Sebastian Janikowski, and the other side of Shanny’s nasty nature towards anything in the East Bay was unleashed when the Broncos quickly jumped out to 27 unanswered points in the first three quarters. The Broncos then added two more touchdowns, and I’m sure they would have been happy to go for half a hundred, Belichick-style, if time would have permitted.
You could almost imagine Shanahan singing “I will have my vengeance; I will never end this mayhem,” as rookie wideout Eddie Royal more than made up for the absence of Brandon Marshall by catching one touchdown and racking up 146 yards receiving. Royal victimized fellow Hokie DeAngelo Hall, who clearly made All-Pro twice with his mouth rather than actual skill at cornerback. Hall chucked Royal twice for 15-yard personal foul penalties on the same drive. Jay Cutler threw with an accurate recklessness that is this close to making me give him the name “Son of Favraro,” completing 2/3 of his passes for 299 yards, and handed off to a tandem of Selvin Young and Michael Pittman, who had three sixes between them while running all over and around a supposedly revamped Oakland D (that Tommy Kelly $18 million dollar guarantee already looks like a waste.)
JaMarcus Russell will be a good quarterback someday, but just not in Oakland, where the offensive line couldn’t keep him upright (and also couldn’t block that well for Darren McFadden, although Justin Fargas grabbed his share of yardage.) Russell lost a fumble early and got knocked around until the 4th quarter, when Denver’s scrubs got some play) and it didn’t help that Javon Walker was out with a gimpy hamstring, forcing him to rely on the likes of Ronald Curry and Ashley Lelie. I have to admit feeling slightly bad for Lane Kiffin; Coach Lunch Money (TM Hater Nation) seems to have resigned himself his lack of control over any picks, staff, or philosophy.
Broncos fans have become accustomed to the fact that Shanahan will never be fired; he will leave only when he wants to, never before that — and there is a frustration with the underachieving. However, it’s a comfort to know that the coach is a man who hates the Raiders as much as we do, and lets it show on the field.
Packers 24, Vikings 19 – If you want to script a nice start for a first-year starter in the context that Aaron Rodgers has had to go through, you don’t get much better ones than what he got hosting the Vikings. Rodgers threw for 178 yards, but only had four incompletions and rushed for some crucial first downs and a score, after which he did his first Lambeau Leap (pictured above.)
Rodgers got help from a 76-yard Will Blackmon punt return for a score, along with an Atari Bigby pick late of Tavaris Jackson, who had trouble getting in a passing game rhythm early, but started feeling it a little in the second half until the interception derailed the comeback attempt, and that’s what happens with someone getting used to starting in the NFL and having to go away from Adrian Peterson late to get back into the game.
Photos: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP (Eddie Royal); Mike Roemer/AP (Aaron Rodgers)