Raiders got 70,744 messages loud and clear all day long

The Kickoff

September 18, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

The Oakland Raiders were more than capable of coming unglued without any help, but the deafening record crowd of 70,744 at M&T Bank Stadium got credit for an assist after the Ravens' 28-6 victory.

"All 53 of their guys must have been blown away," tight end Todd Heap said, "because I was blown away."

Though the Raiders did not cite the crowd noise as a major factor in their second offensive collapse of the young season, it probably was not a coincidence that they mishandled four snaps and turned the ball over six times.

Of course, they stumbled all over themselves in front of their home crowd Monday night, so who's to say?

"It has to affect the snap count and their communication," Heap said. "There are a lot of things that go down where the crowd can help out. I'd like to think the crowd had an impact on a lot of their plays and communication."

Great McReception

The crowd also made new quarterback Steve McNair feel right at home with a huge ovation during the pre-game introductions.

"That got me pumped," he said. "It was real heartwarming for me to go out and see all of the purple jerseys and for me to be a part of it. It was unique. It was something that fired me up and may have fired me up too much. But it was a great feeling to come out and see all those people give me a standing ovation."

Thundering herd

What is this, the Sumo-lympics? For the second week in a row, one of the Ravens' 300-pound linemen grabbed a turnover and lumbered more than half the length of the field to set up a score.

Kelly Gregg acknowledged being gassed after his 59-yard fumble return, which came up 1 yard short of Haloti Ngata's 60-yard interception runback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Can't blame him, considering that I've been known to suck wind just going out to get the paper in the morning.

True confession

Have to admit I enjoy watching the Raiders lose, which probably goes back to my days in California watching Al Davis scam millions playing Oakland and Los Angeles off each other.

It's also nice to imagine all those Raiders fans sitting disconsolately in their Halloween costumes, wondering how the roughest, toughest team in the NFL has been reduced to a whimpering shell of its former self.

The Bucs stop here

Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden spared no adjectives describing his team's shutout loss to the Ravens last week, so he might be at a loss for words now that Tampa Bay is averaging 1 1/2 points per game after yesterday's 14-3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

The NFC South has been turned on its head, with the Carolina Panthers and Buccaneers at 0-2 and the New Orleans Saints undefeated after a pair of victories on the road.

That sets up a showdown with the other undefeated team in the division when the Saints host the Falcons next Monday in their first game in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

Eagles or beagles?

By the way, a fan from Philadelphia wrote yesterday to complain about my reference to the Eagles as "my new favorite team."

Not to worry. After yesterday's choke job, I'm sure I'll have another new favorite team next weekend.

Miracle worker

Once again, it's time to start marveling at the coaching acumen of Paul Johnson after Navy hammered Stanford late Saturday night and spoiled the debut of the Cardinal's new stadium.

The Midshipmen ground out a 37-9 victory, which would have been even more lopsided if they hadn't fumbled away a touchdown on first-and-goal from the 3-yard line in the second quarter.

Navy is 3-0, and it won't be long before Johnson gets another round of feelers from bigger programs, but he seems to enjoy working his triple-option magic in Annapolis, so let's just enjoy it while it lasts.

Mea culpa dept.

Speaking of choke jobs, how about the follow-up to my 12-4 performance against the spread last week?

Since all the precincts have not reported (I've got the Jaguars tonight), I'll wait until Wednesday to come up with an explanation for the spanking I got from the law of averages. For now, let's just say that my rule against going with the double-digit favorite early in the season has proved to be unreliable ... as have I.

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays (2 p.m. this week).

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