Raiders

Hellish week behind him, Allen focuses on football

allen_dennis_raiders_lookingup.jpg

Hellish week behind him, Allen focuses on football

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- His eyes reddened and became moist.

His voice nearly cracked and, really, you could not have blamed him if it did.

Dennis Allen, the Raiders' rookie head coach, had just endured his sixth straight defeat on the football field. But it paled in comparison to what he lost on Monday night. Yeah, it's been a tough week for the 40-year-old, first-time coach.

"You know," Allen said, firmly, "I went home on Sunday and took my father off life support and that's not easy to do. So was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team.

"And I wanted to be here with this football team. I'm sure you guys can imagine that it wasn't an easy situation."

Easy? Not even close. More like hard to fathom.

Yes, we know that the bottom line in the NFL is about wins and losses, and Allen would be the first to tell you that. Especially after Thursday night's maddening 26-13 loss to Denver. Thing is, Allen would be the last person to play the woe-is-me card.

Not even with the week he's just endured.

His father Grady, who played linebacker in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons from 1968 through 1972, was just 66 years of age and the seeming picture of health back home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. But last Wednesday, he was felled by a heart attack and fell into a coma.

The younger Allen knew of his father's ailment and plowed forward at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, enduring the Rolando McClain situation and ensuing suspension before the Raiders' lackluster 20-17 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

It was after that game that a Raiders official announced that Allen would be leaving the team to be by his father's side and return in time to coach the team Thursday night.

Then came the ridiculous and irresponsible rumors that somehow turned into full-fledged stories about Jon Gruden coming back to the Raiders.

Allen returned to practice Wednesday morning.

"You can't even imagine what he's going through," Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said of Allen. "And then he's got to go back, after that game? Your heart just goes out to him. You never expect anything like that.

"I can't imagine how helpless it feels, being on the other end of the country when that's happening over there. I can't imagine what he's going through."

It has been a surreal season for the Raiders off the field. Defensive line coach Terrell Williams and his wife Tifini lost their four-year-old son Tyson to a sudden illness two days before the Baltimore game.

Allen will return to Texas Friday night and return to the Raiders in time to Wednesday's practice to prepare for the home finale against Kansas City on Dec. 16. I asked Allen about the support shown him this week.

"A ton," he said. "A ton. I received a lot of support from a lot of different people. This organization has been outstanding to me as far as that's concerned. The players, the coaches, as well as countless friends, family, even people around the league, have been very supportive in this situation."

And with that, Allen's eyes dried. After all, there was football to talk about and plans to be made. He’s a football man, like his father before him.

Back again: Patriots rally past Jags, head to eighth Super Bowl since 2001

amendola-touchdown-patriots-jags-ap.jpg
AP

Back again: Patriots rally past Jags, head to eighth Super Bowl since 2001

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Give `em a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship Sunday.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after hurting it during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game - and possibly the season - on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

"I've had a lot worse," Brady said. "I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win."

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots (15-3), who'll play the winner of Sunday night's game between Minnesota and Philadelphia in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.

It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times - including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Jaguars (12-7) led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions.

Jacksonville - looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history - had one more shot, but Bortles' throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots then ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis' 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they did it mostly without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left the game late in the first half and didn't return.

Brady's hand was the most-scrutinized body part in Boston since the quarterback's right ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's right ankle tendon - the bloody sock - in the 2004 playoffs.

Brady was listed as questionable after he hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week. He was limited Wednesday, sat out Thursday and was limited again Friday because of the injury.

That caused some panic among the Patriots faithful.

Turns out, it was nothing to fret about.

Brady came out for warmups without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes - including a 20-yarder to Amendola on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars 30 - for 57 yards to march the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled when Brady was sacked by Dante Fowler Jr., and New England settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal.

A wide-open Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Blake Bortles, who was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on an impressive and efficient seven-play, 76-yard drive.

Leonard Fournette gave Jacksonville a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter with a 4-yard TD run, hushing the crowd at Gillette Stadium.

The Jaguars made some big mistakes that hurt them just before halftime. Bortles completed a 12-yard pass to Lewis on third-and-7 from the Patriots 44, but Jacksonville was called for delay of game - after New England called a timeout.

That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt.

With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England's offense took over and the fans chanted "Bra-dy! Bra-dy!"

And their quarterback delivered - with some help from the Jaguars on two long penalties.

On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church just as the ball was arriving. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville's 45.

A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play on an incomplete throw for Brandin Cooks. The 32-yard penalty put the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, James White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10 with 55 seconds left.

Josh Lambo gave Jacksonville a 17-10 lead 4:37 into the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal. He added a 43-yarder 8 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 10-point game.

But Brady & Co. were just getting started.

Report: Before hiring Olson as OC, Gruden interviewed ex-Texas A&M coach

kevin-sumlin-texasam-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Report: Before hiring Olson as OC, Gruden interviewed ex-Texas A&M coach

Greg Olson is back as the Raiders offensive coordinator, but he may not have been Jon Gruden's first choice.

Before hiring Olson, Gruden interviewed former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin for the OC position, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Despite not getting the Raiders' job, Sumlin was able to find work as he was announced as the new head coach of the Arizona Wildcats on Jan. 14.

Sumlin went 51-26 in six seasons with the Aggies and was 35-17 in four prior seasons with the Houston Cougars. The 53-year-old Sumlin has no NFL coaching experience.

Olson served as the OC in Oakland in 2013 and 2014. He spent this past season as the Rams quarterback coach.

“Greg Olson coached Derek Carr for a year here. His intel there will be very important. He coached with me in Tampa and he coached with Sean McVay, one of my ex-assistants, in LA. So, the system of football that we run will be a real natural flow,” Gruden said when the Raiders announced Olson's hiring on Ja. 12.