Raiders

Raiders pick Manning twice in 31-26 loss to Colts

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Raiders pick Manning twice in 31-26 loss to Colts

Dec. 26, 2010RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEO
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OAKLAND,Calif. (AP) Peyton Manning put Indianapolis in the lead with his armand sealed the game with his legs. No matter what happened against theOakland Raiders, Manning knew he'd need one more big game to get theColts back into the postseason.Manning threw three touchdown passesand iced the game with a 27-yard keeper to help the Colts beat theOakland Raiders 31-26 Sunday in a game that turned out to have littleplayoff meaning."All we did was win today," Manning said. "We have to find a way to win again next week."The Colts (9-6) allowed Jacoby Fordto return the opening kick for a touchdown, overcame a pair ofinterceptions by Manning in the second half and survived four fieldgoals from Sebastian Janikowski, including two from more than 50 yards,to move within a win of clinching the AFC South title for their ninthstraight playoff berth.But when Jacksonville lost 20-17 inovertime to Washington in the early game Sunday, the Colts knew that nomatter what happened in this game they could clinch the division with awin at home next week against the Titans or a Jaguars loss at Houston."I don't know what the coaches do orwhat everybody else does, but I didn't know who won the morning games,"Manning said. "All we knew was the time of our kickoff and the defensesand offensive plays that Oakland was going to run. That's really waswhere our focus was."The results in the early games alsorobbed this game of any real meaning for the Raiders (7-8), who wereeliminated from playoff contention when Kansas City wrapped up a 34-14win against Tennessee early in the first quarter of this game.The Chiefs had long been in controlof that game so any Oakland player who had caught wind of the score inpregame warmups knew there was only pride on the line."The guys were trying not to payattention to it," quarterback Jason Campbell said. "We were just reallytrying to focus on our game. That's the situation you're in when youhave to count on other teams. It's a tough situation to be in."The Raiders hung close with theColts for much of this game but were unable to score an offensivetouchdown until Campbell's 6-yard pass to Zach Miller with 1:51 toplay.Manning took advantage of a 31-yardpass interference call against Stanford Routt to throw a 4-yard TD passto Blair White to give the Colts a 24-16 lead late in the thirdquarter. But little came easy for Manning against Oakland's defense. Hethrew a pair of interceptions in the second half, giving him 17 for theseason, which is his most since 2002.He responded from the secondinterception by leading the Colts on a 68-yard drive that was capped bya 7-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon on third down to give Indianapolis a31-19 lead.After the Colts recovered a lateonside kick, Manning ran out the clock with a 27-yard keeper onthird-and-2. He faked the ball to Dominic Rhodes and then ran aroundthe left side before sliding down at the 4, instead of scoring, toallow the Colts to run out the clock."That was just a great call by him,"Rhodes said. "They had been biting, they were trying to stop me fromrunning the football. Even I thought I had the football, along witheverybody else. The whole defense converged on me. It was just a greatplay all around, he made it happen and we pulled out a great victory."Manning completed 16 of 30 passesfor 179 yards as he struggled at times against Oakland's aggressivecornerbacks. But the Colts managed to gain 191 yards on the ground,including 98 from Rhodes, who returned to Indianapolis earlier thismonth.Joseph Addai added a 6-yardtouchdown run in the first quarter in his first game since hurting anerve in his left shoulder Oct. 17."We went out and out-physicaled aphysical team," Rhodes said. "For the last few weeks, we've done that.We're gearing up for playoff football. And this is what you have to doin the playoffs."Indianapolis' much-maligned rundefense once again stepped up to the challenge a week after holdingMaurice Jones-Drew and Jacksonville to 67 yards in last week's key win.Oakland's second-ranked rushing attach was held to 80 yards."There's no magic to it," coach JimCaldwell said. "We're running the same plays, running the same defense.We were just playing what we do, and doing it a little better."Ford's team-record third kickoffreturn for a TD got the Raiders started. Oakland went ahead 13-10 afterJanikowski made field goals of 59 and 38 yards. The 59-yarder was thesecond longest in team history.But Manning led a late touchdowndrive helped by a personal foul on Lamarr Houston for poking Kyle DeVanin the eye and a 25-yard pass interference call on Chris Johnson.Manning found Jacob Tamme on a 14-yard pass on the next play to make it17-13 at the break."There's not a quarterback that I'veplayed against that controls the game the way that he does, and handlesevery situation and is basically the coordinator on the fly," Raiderscornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said.Notes: Manning tied former RaidersOL Gene Upshaw for the most consecutive starts to begin a career with207. ... Raiders DT Richard Seymour missed the game with a hamstringinjury.

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

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AP

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

ALAMEDA – Obi Melifonwu participated in a Raiders practice Tuesday afternoon, his first session in months.

The second-round safety has been on injured reserve all season and hasn’t done football activities of any kind since suffering a knee injury in a preseason game in Dallas.

He had arthroscopic knee surgery and was put on the shelf for the season’s first half. Melifonwu's professional career barely started and then quickly stopped. That's why Wednesday's practice was such a big deal. 

“It was awesome to get back out there, finally,” Melfonwu said. “It’s been a while. It was beyond fun to just be out there and practice with the team."

He nearing a return to game action. That’s why the Raiders designated him to return off injured reserve. Wednesday marks the start of a three-week practice window where the Raiders can decide whether to put him on the 53-roster.

He’s expected to do so when eligible. Melifonwu was first able to practice this week, and can join the 53-man roster after Week 8. His NFL debut could come in Week 9 at Miami.

He can't wait, especially because he's physically ready now. 

"I feel 100 percent," Meilfonwu said. I feel fine."

The Raiders still struggle covering the aforementioned skill players, using young linebackers or an undersized safety against those guys. The Raiders have given up the most yards to tight ends and running backs in the NFL this season. Melifonwu was drafted to help cover tight ends and running backs right away in sub packages, with a long-term eye on a full-time starting spot.

"I bring versatility, and I think I’m a guy who can fit into a lot of different spots," Melifonwu said. "Wherever the coaches need me to fit and help the team win, I’m all for it."

He has missed significant development time while out. He also missed most of training camp with an apparent ankle injury. The team hopes he can be ready to contribute when eligible despite missing so much time. The downtime was difficult, but Melifonwu now hopes to hit the ground running.

"It was definitely tough," he said. "As a competitor, you always want to be out there helping your team win. As a guy who hasn’t been hurt, it was pretty tough. It comes with playing football. I’m just glad to be out there now."

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

NaVorro Bowman hasn’t been a Raider long. The inside linebacker visited the team’s training complex Monday morning, signed a one-year, $3 million contract that afternoon and was on the practice field a few hours later.

Bowman’s in something of a rush. His new team plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Bowman plans to face them.

That’ll take a crash course in Raiders defense. There’s new terminology to learn and roles to master, even if he hones on a specific package.

It won’t be easy. Even a perfect week might come up short with but one real practice in an incredibly quick turnaround.

It’s rational to think he won’t be ready, fair to give him two weeks practice before a Raiders debut.

That’s not the tack he’ll take.

“Hey,” Bowman said, with a wry smile. “I’m going to show you something.”

He understands the situation. The Raiders are 2-4, in desperate need of an AFC West win. A loss might put the Raiders too far down to rebound. The four-time All-Pro knows he’s needed, and believes he can help if he can get some scheme down.

“It’ll take a lot of hours, a lot of studying, a lot of repeating the same words and things like that,” Bowman said after Monday’s walk-through. “It’s part of being a good football player. You have to put the time in. It doesn’t come easy.

“I’m the guy to do it. I won’t let them down. I’ll put the work in that’s needed to be done.”

Immersing in brand new can be a cleansing process. Bowman left the only NFL team he’s ever known Friday when the 49ers cut him loose. He wanted to spend his career with one team. After seven-plus seasons, a switch was required. He didn’t like losing snaps. The 49ers wanted to go younger at the position. A trade was attempted. He didn’t like the suitor, and the 49ers respectfully pulled back. An outright cut was the decisive action.

It gave Bowman an opportunity to choose his next step. He didn’t go far. Bowman’s new job sits 35 miles north in Alameda, which offered plenty of advantages for a family man.

“My twin girls are five and my son is eight and they’re in school,” Bowman said. “They’re doing really well so you always want to keep that going as a parent. You don’t want to keep switching them in and out. That played a big part in what I was going to do. For the Raiders to show as much enthusiasm in wanting me to come here made my decision a lot easier.”

Enthusiasm was evident in two ways. The bottom line comes first. The Raiders offered $3 million to make this deal quick, adding a solid sum to the $6.75 million base salary guaranteed by the 49ers under his previous contract.

The second was clear in a Monday morning conversation with Jack Del Rio. The Raiders head coach spoke plainly, saying Bowman could make a major impact as a player and veteran leader of a shockingly young position group.

“It was really upfront, letting me know their position and how bad they want me,” Bowman said. “He let me know exactly what he wanted to get out of me coming here and being a presence for this defense. Being more vocal, getting guys to understand the urgency to be really good at the NFL level.”

His lessons start Tuesday morning. Starting weakside linebacker Cory James introduced himself in the locker room Monday and asked Bowman when he’ll start watching film. The answer: bright and early.

Bowman has a game to play Thursday. That’s possible because he didn’t have to relocate. He can just hit the ground running. He’s been constantly learning new systems during the 49ers coaching carousel, so he’d a quick learning. He also sees similar concepts between schemes.

“It’s not too different,” Bowman said. “The terminology is really the hard part. I’m a fast learner. I went out there today and I think I did pretty well. I’ll get in here early tomorrow and learn from my mistakes and try to keep getting better.”

That’s Bowman’s first goal. He also wants to show knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries haven’t sapped his effectiveness as many believe.

“I’m only 29 years old,” Bowman said. “I still have a lot of juice left in me.”