Branch-to-Pro-Bowl train picking up speed


Branch-to-Pro-Bowl train picking up speed

The Tyvon Branch-to-the-Pro Bowl bandwagon is picking up passengersand speed."Tyvon is, in my mind, a Pro Bowl player, without a doubt," Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said this week of his strong safety. "This is a guy who, every game, he comes with his 'A' game. Effort wise, tenacity wise, playing physical and doing what you ask him to do. And we do move him around."He plays safety in base, he plays nickel in nickel, he plays in a corner position in our big package against big personnel. He does anything we ask him. He never says a word. He comes out and practices a thousand miles-an-hour every day at practice."He is the epitome of a Pro Bowl player in my mind."Apparently, fans have noticed as well, even if the fourth-year defensive back from UConn does not have the cachet of say, a Troy Polamalu. In fan voting for the Pro Bowl, Branch is third among AFC strong safeties, behind Polamalu and Buffalo's George Wilson.Branch's 88 tackles are the most by any strong safety in the NFL, nine more than Wilson, and are seventh-most of any player in the AFC. Plus, Branch has a sack, a fumble recovery, three passes defensed and an interception. He also dabbles in being the gunner on the punt team.So how does it feel to be in so many Pro Bowl conversations?"Man, I just want to get to the playoffs," Branch said. "That's what I tell people. I'm doing my part to try to get us to the playoffs. And whatever comes of that, it just happens."Sunday, he'll have an opportunity to show his skills against the unbeaten and untied defending Super Bowl champions in Green Bay.So what jumps off the film at Branch, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008?"It's crazy, because when you think about them you think they're doing something crazy, but they really just have a basic offense," Branch said. "They just line up and think that their guys are better than yours, and that Aaron Rodgers is going to put the ball on the money. And you know, he does it consistently. That's their game plan -- my guy is better than yours."It's worked for 18 straight games for the Packers.And a Pro Bowl nod might be solidified for Branch with a big game at Lambeau Field. Especially if he can pick off Rodgers. Twelve strong safeties in the NFL have more interceptions than Branch.More picks would mean more recognition."I think especially with fan voting and all that," Bresnahan said. "Just the name, the household name, you have to get it out there a little bit. But I think his peers know. The guys that watch him play or play against him every Sunday know what Tyvon Branch does. It clearly shows on film."Anybody that knows football, sees the impact that he has on a game."Besides, Branch hopes to not be in Honolulu for the Pro Bowl. Not with the two conference champion teams preparing for the Super Bowl that day."Exactly," he said.

What they're saying: NFL players speak out after Marshawn Lynch's ejection


What they're saying: NFL players speak out after Marshawn Lynch's ejection

With 6:05 left in the first half of Thursday night's Chiefs vs Raiders contest, things took a wild turn. 

The Raiders and Chiefs found themselves in a scuffle after it appeared Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters hit Raiders quarterback Derek Carr late. Marshawn Lynch then sprinted off the sidelines. 

Lynch looked to get in the middle of the situation and get his good friend and Oakland native Peters out of the way. But while doing so, Lynch pushed an offical and was ejected from the game. 

Several NFL players then took to Twitter. 

Instant Analysis: In wild fashion, Raiders end losing streak with no time left


Instant Analysis: In wild fashion, Raiders end losing streak with no time left


OAKLAND – The Raiders were desperate for a win and played like it.

The offense woke from the dead. The defense showed energy and life.

Had they played like this recently, they would’ve been far better than 2-4. But they got what they earned, as head coach Jack Del Rio likes to say, and faced a virtual must win against the AFC’s finest.

It would take a Herculean effort from quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders got that. He was nothing short of awesome.

The Chiefs don’t roll over for anyone. Some 2016 magic was required.

They got some, and plenty of it.

The Raiders beat Kansas City 31-30. Carr to Crabtree on an untimed down. And it kept their season alive.

They were so close to 2-5. They walked off the field 3-4, re-energized and in far better shape to face the rest of their season.

That result was earned with an excellent two-minute drill that featured some big moments, including a 39-yard catch and run by Amari Cooper. That was topped a short while later by a 13-yard pass to Jared Cook on 4th-and-11.

The Raiders worked it down to the 1-yard line on a 29-yard strike to Jared Cook. It was called a touchdown on the field, but ruled short of the goal line. That caused a 10-second runoff – Cook was in bounds -- that left eight seconds on the clock. Then Michael Crabtree pushed off. They the Chiefs were called for defensive holding, resulting in one untimed down. Holding gave the Raiders another.

That’s when Carr found Michael Crabtree for a game-tying touchdown. Girgio Tavecchio’s extra point won it.

The Raiders were down nine points to start the fourth quarter, but Tavecchio’s 26-yard field goal a few minutes in made it a one-score game.

The defense got a stop with six minutes left, and gave the offense a chance to win it.

The Raiders went three and out.

So did the Chiefs, courtesy of solid run defense and a Denico Autry/Khalil Mack sack.

The Silver and Black regained possession with 2:25 left and a timeout remaining.

You already know what happened next.

The Raiders offense came back to life Thursday night. Quarterback Derek Carr paced a frenzied attack, as you’d expect, sparked by deep plays missing in recent weeks.

Carr’s rare combination of zip and touch was back on display. He was nothing short of awesome, completing 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns, in his best game of the season.

Previously slumping receiver Amari Cooper was active early, with touchdown catches on his team’s first two drives.

The home team’s total was hindered by a pair of missed field goals, though yards came in bunches all night.

Even so, it proved tough to compete with Kansas City’s high-powered offense. The Raiders defense created pressure and did some nice things, but gave up too many explosive plays on the night.

Smith hit speedster Tyreek Hill on a 64-yard catch and run for touchdown to cap a three-play, 99-yard drive. Albert Wilson scored from 63 yards out, thanks to a ball tipped back by Keith McGill – it should’ve been intercepted – that went right to Wilson for an easy score.

Welcome back, Amari: Top Raiders receiver Amari Cooper broke out of a prolonged slump with a dynamite performance. He had two huge catches early in the game, and finished with 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He also drew a pass interference inside the Kansas City 5-yard line that set up another score.

Report: Penn and Crabtree argue on sideline: Raiders left tackle Donald Penn and receiver Michael Crabtree got into a shoving match on the sideline, according to CBS on-field reporter Tracy Wolfson.

Wolfson said offensive line coach Mike Tice had to break up the exchange. It’s uncertain why the incident began.

Marshawn gets ejected: Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch got ejected for making contact with an official in the second quarter. He came in from the sideline to protect Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters, who was being confronted for a late hit on quarterback Derek Carr.

Lynch tried to get in the middle of teammates and his good friend and Oakland native, and ended up pushing an official. He will get fined and possibly suspended for the act.