When the Oakland Raiders made first-round draft picks out of Sebastian Janikowski and Darrius Heyward-Bey, a lot of people shook their heads and said, “That’s Al Davis for you.”
So it’s fitting that on the day after Davis died, the Raiders won a big AFC road game, playing just the kind of football Davis loved, with Janikowski and Heyward-Bey leading the way.
Janikowski went 4-for-4 on field goals, connecting from 54, 55, 50 and 42 yards, showing off the strong leg that Davis loved. And Heyward-Bey was the Raiders’ leading receiving, catching seven passes for 99 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown, showing off the speed in the vertical passing game that Davis loved. Throw in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Jason Campbell to Chaz Schilens, and it was enough for the Raiders to hold on for a 25-20 lead over the Texans in Houston.
The game was a thriller to the very end, and when Texans quarterback Matt Schaub hit Joel Dreessen for 34 yards and got Houston inside the 5-yard line with seven seconds to play, it appeared that the Raiders were on the brink of losing it. But Michael Huff intercepted Schaub in the end zone on the game’s final play, and the Raiders celebrated an emotional victory.
One of the sad aspects of the Raiders’ recent failures is that in the eyes of some, those failures tainted Davis’s half-century career. But there can be no question that Davis was a brilliant football mind. And even though he’s no longer with us, he can still put his stamp on a Raiders victory.