Raiders

Vigil held for four New Jersey teen football players

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Vigil held for four New Jersey teen football players

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 22, 2011
LINWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- As Chris Hickey thought about what she could say to comfort her daughter on the death of her schoolmates, she opened her mouth once, then twice, unable at first to put sound to words. She tried a third time, standing on the track of Mainland Regional High School Sunday night, a day after a crash on the Garden State Parkway killed four of the school's football players and injured four more. "I don't even know what to tell her," Hickey said about her daughter Lauren, a junior at the school, who was friends with two of the teens killed. "I don't even know how to make sense of it." Hickey was among more than 3,000 students, parents, teammates and community members who shared their communal grief Sunday at a vigil at the Linwood school. Standing in the mist under the same lights that typically illuminate Friday night games, mourners lit candles, hugged each other and laid flowers on the field. The eight boys, who ranged in age from 15 to 17, had been in an SUV Saturday morning on their way to meet other players at a favorite brunch spot in Mays Landing, when the driver, 17-year-old Casey Brenner of Northfield, apparently lost control as he turned a corner and approached heavy traffic. Sgt. Julian Castellanos, a state police spokesman, said the SUV overturned multiple times, ejecting two passengers. A passing car then struck one of the passengers. The four who survived had non-life-threatening injuries. At least three of the crash survivors were present at the vigil to mourn their friends, said Northfield Police Chief Robert James. Grief took many forms as students consoled each other and waited their turn to speak with the victims' families. One male student pulled off his shirt, revealing a freshly inked tattoo which said "Dean," a reference to 15-year-old Dean Khoury of Linwood, one of the players who died in the crash. Others wore white homemade T-shirts reading "my boys" and "see you on the other side." And a few sat silently on the grass of the football field, their heads bowed into their hands, seemingly oblivious to the thousands of people milling about around them. "Right when it happened, I was in total shock, I was just praying it wasn't true," said Joey Geiger, 16, a member of the football team who was not involved in the accident. "Every single play (this season) is now for them." Team members could be seen huddling with each other in their green jerseys or crying alongside fellow students. Most declined to talk to reporters. "I wish we could take it all back -- all of it," said another team member who declined to elaborate or to provide his name out of sensitivity for the other players. State police said Sunday the investigation was ongoing. They did not release details about the speed of the SUV before the crash or whether the students were wearing seatbelts. Under New Jersey law, drivers under 18 generally are not allowed to carry more than one passenger unless a parent or guardian is in the vehicle. At the center of the mass that swarmed the field after brief comments by school leaders was a set of photographs of the four who died in the crash: Khoury, Brenner, and 16-year-olds Edgar Bozzi of Somers Point and Nicholas Conner of Northfield. In the photos, the players stand against a white wall in team jerseys, with overlapped hands resting at their waist and determined looks on their faces. Earlier Sunday, school superintendent Thomas Baruffi said the four players who died were good students, good athletes and well-liked. He said he has had students die before, but never multiple deaths at the same time. "They're always tragic," he said. "You know there's nothing you can say or do that's enough." The injured students included Linwood residents Jacob Smith and Kenneth Randall, both 15, and Northfield residents Kyle Beattie and Alex Denafo, both 16. The first game of the season for the Mustangs, who have won six state championships, is scheduled for Sept. 9 -- three days before the start of the school year for Mainland's 1,600 students.

Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots

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USATSI

Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots

MEXICO CITY – Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City:

1. So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Raiders aren’t stacking wins as they’d like. Nobody in the AFC West is, either. The Chiefs lost another one, meaning the AFC West crown remains within reach. They’re two games back in the division and one back in the wild card race.

That, above all else, will keep the Raiders motivated after a disastrous loss to New England.

“We're professionals and to me, so long as you have hope, you keep your hope, you keep hope alive,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So, we'll continue to scratch and claw and fight for everything we can.”

The Raiders can harken Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber.” So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Raiders will only stay in it if they start a prolonged winning streak. There’s a chance do that on an upcoming two-game home stand. They play Denver and the New York Giants, respectively, in Oakland over the next fortnight. Those teams have five wins between them.

Wins can’t be assumed with the Raiders. With their inconsistency and mistake-prone play, they can lose to anyone.

Fight remains in this group. They’ll continue to push, especially with a 9-7 record being a legitimate playoff contender. They haven’t played worthy of such consideration, but remain hopeful a switch gets flipped.

“We are who we are, we're not going to turn on each other, we're not going to turn on anything about what we do,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Obviously, we know that our culture and everything that we do works, because we have seen it work.”

2. Receiver corps becoming a weak spot

The Raiders have a talented group of receivers lacking consistency and production. That was the case on Sunday, when pass catchers hindered offensive flow and scoring opportunities.

Seth Roberts was the biggest offender. He had a drop, a false start and lost a fumble near the goal line with the Patriots up 14-0 late in the first half. Roberts had 12 yards in his pocket but held the ball one-handed, away from his body fighting for more. Marquis Flowers knocked it free and Patrick Chung recovered.

That was the turning point, a true 10-point swing. The Raiders lost a chance to reach the end zone, and allowed New England to get a field goal as the half expired.

“That was a major turn of events,” Del Rio said.

The slot receiver wasn’t the only receiver who stalled the Raiders offense. That group had five drops, according to Pro Football Focus, including two from Michael Crabtree. Johnny Holton wasn’t credited with a drop, but he had a perfectly thrown deep ball clang off his helmet and shoulder pads.

It’s a bad night in a bad year for the Raiders receivers, who haven’t been producing.

3. Lopsided score keeps Marshawn from going Beast Mode

Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player who had a good Sunday. The bruising back ran roughshod over New England’s front seven, right from the start. He totaled 67 yards on 11 carries, and seemed primed for a big day and a higher-than-usual carry volume.

He and the Raiders run blocking was consistent, allowing him to reach the second level on several occasions.

The lopsided score, however, meant the Raiders had to abandon the ground game.

“I thought we ran the ball well early,” Del Rio said. “I would like to have ended up with 30-plus rush attempts in the ball game, but you got to stay within reasonable amount of the score in order to stick with the run.”

The Raiders were down two touchdowns in a flash, and were three scores behind at the half. That forced Derek Carr to chuck it towards an unreliable receiver corps. That method proved inefficient and never created the big moments.

Lynch has run well since returning from a one-game suspension. He has 25 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. If there’s a positive to take from Sunday’s beat down, Lynch’s efficiency might be it.

Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad

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AP

Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders have played in Mexico City the last two years, and have given up a home game to do it.

You already know head coach Jack Del Rio’s stance on the matter. He doesn’t like it. Not one bit.

The NFL announced Sunday morning that Mexico City will host games annually through 2021. The Raiders will be on the short list to return during that span.

“They’ve done a nice job for us over the last two years,” Del Rio said. “If it was a road game, I’d enjoy it. If they stop making (international contests) our home games, we’ll be fine.”

Hate to be the bearer of bad news Jack, but the Raiders will keep giving home games away. That’s expected each year until the Raiders formally move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders might not come back to Mexico for a third straight season, but could host a game in London next year. The NFL sent four games to the United Kingdom this year.

The Raiders have a massive fan base in England and Mexico, which makes them an attractive option to play abroad.

It might make financial sense for the team and the league to expand its base beyond borders, but the football people don’t find it fun.

The Raiders had more fans watching Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca, but it’s no substitute for playing in Oakland.

“I think the crowd down here is pretty excited for the Raiders, so we appreciate that,” Del Rio said. “When you travel four-and-a-half hours, you’re not at home. We appreciate the hospitality and the good people who came out and supported us, but it’s hard to call it a home game.”

This one, especially. The Raiders had overwhelming support last year’s game against Houston, but Patriots fans were a large and vocal minority. They had plenty to cheer, as the Patriots waxed the Silver and Black over four quarters.

It’s hard to say the Raiders had a home crowd this time around, with plenty of noise when they were on offense.

“You know what, traveling down here, I think it was like four hours or something like that, and getting here, I think that hospitality was great, but it really wasn't, it wasn't the Coliseum,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “It didn’t have that feel. Now, we loved playing here, we loved coming down here and playing, but it felt more neutral.”