Raiders travel to Denver looking to bounce back after home loss

Photo credit: @Raiders

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — After a very poor showing at home against the Los Angeles Rams, the Raiders travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in an AFC West matchup Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PT. The two teams will meet each other later this year on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Christmas Eve in Oakland.

Last season, the two teams split their two-game series winning on their home turf.

The Raiders (0-1) fell flat on their faces to the Rams 33-13 in front of a sold out Raider Nation crowd of 53,857 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on ESPN’s Monday Night Football to closeout Week 1. Oakland held a 13-10 lead at halftime in head coach Jon Gruden’s return to the sidelines after a nine-year hiatus, before the wheels fell off for the Silver and Black in the second half as the Rams scored 23 unanswered points to claim the victory.

In the battle of franchise quarterbacks, Rams signal-caller Jared Goff clearly outplayed Derek Carr in front of a nationally televised audience. Both quarterbacks played a handful of snaps in the preseason and there was bound to be some rust in the first game.

For Goff, he completed 18 of 33 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions picking up right where he left off engineering the NFL’s top scoring offense from a season ago. The Rams averaged 29.9 points per game last year.

Oakland’s defense couldn’t generate a consistent pass rush against Goff, only sacking him once in the game by Bruce Irvin.

Neither could they stop last year’s NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley. The Rams running back looked in midseason form, carrying the ball 20 times for 108 yards. Gurley also hauled in three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.

After a hot start to the game where he completed 20 of 24 passes for 199 yards, Carr played pedestrian finishing 29 of 40 for 303 yards and three interceptions. Carr did have good chemistry with tight end Jared Cook, who caught a game-high nine balls or a league-high 180 yards.

Seven of Cook’s catches went for first downs, which tied for the most in Week 1.

Cook’s 45-yard catch-and-run down the middle of the field in the first quarter on the Raiders’ opening drive did set up Oakland’s first touchdown of the season, a 10-yard powerful run by running back Marshawn Lynch that gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead, but those were the only real highlights for the Raiders offensively as Oakland settled for two Mike Nugent field goals.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, who Gruden said would be a “focal point” to the offense this season, was missing in action as he caught just one pass for nine yards.

Cooper looked out of place on opening night, matched up with cornerback and Oakland native Marcus Peters for most of the night. If you go back and look at the game film, Cooper appeared open down the field on occasions but for some strange reason, Carr couldn’t get him the ball.

Peters would take Carr’s third interception 50 yards for a touchdown that punctuated a night to forget for Carr.

Oakland could find it difficult to get back on track against Denver (1-0), who prevailed over the visiting Seattle Seahawks 27-24 last Sunday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

Broncos starting quarterback Case Keenum completed 25 of 39 passes for 329 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions in his first game with the team.

Keenum enjoyed a career-year last season in Minnesota, throwing for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns to just seven interceptions while leading the Vikings to a 13-3 regular season record, an NFC North title, and appearance in the NFC Championship Game before signing a two-year, $36 million (with $25 million guaranteed) with Denver in the offseason.

Wide receiver Emmauel Sanders led the Broncos with 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown (fellow wide out Demaryius Thomas chipped in with six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown), while Denver’s ground game anchored by rookie running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay (15 carries for 71 each), found holes to run through in Seattle’s defense. Lindsay also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Keenum.

Denver’s defense had a huge day against Seattle forcing three turnovers and sacking Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson six times, three by linebacker Von Miller, who finished with six tackles (one assisted).

Miller also forced two fumbles, one of which where he ripped the ball away from running back Chris Carson for a Broncos takeaway.

Linebacker Todd Davis led Denver with eight tackles.

Following Sunday’s game, both teams head east as the Broncos travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens, while Oakland invades Miami for a matchup with the Dolphins.

Sacramento Kings Friday night game wrap: Kings second half come back falls short

by Michael Martinez

picture credit USA Today

SACRAMENTO- The Kings had a horrendous defensive first half, giving up 39 first quarter points and 66 in the half. 66 points for the Heat in the first half was their season high and Sacramento looked doomed. The game looked very out of reach for the Kings when they were down by 24 points a little over halfway through the third quarter.

But the Kings found their stride and played tough defense in the second half. The Kings turned things on, especially in the fourth quarter with big offensive production from Darren Collison who had 11 fourth quarter points. Seth Curry was big as well with nine points in the quarter.

Sacramento was able to cut the lead to one with a minute and a half remaining as the crowd got louder. A surprising turn of events made a blow out into an incredible come back. As the Kings played tough defense and worked on double teaming and trapping Heat players, they left Luol Deng wide open for a corner three. Deng sunk the three with 45 second left to go and put the Heat up by six. Ultimately, the three would be the dagger as the Kings were unable to complete their valiant effort of trying to win their third straight at home.

Once again, the Kings lose a game with DeMarcus Cousins not playing in the game as he was suspended by the NBA for his 16 technical of the season. The Kings first half mishap cost them the game as they gave up 20 first half points to Gerald Green who started in place of Dwayne Wade. Green finished the game with a game high 30 points.

Collison scored 26 points for the Kings as he played while Rajon Rondo sat out for most of the second half. Curry matched his career high with 21 points as he continues to play well for Sacramento. The Kings defense forced ten second half turnovers, but the Heat’s first half was too much.

The Kings will head to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Nuggets tomorrow. Sacramento will be without Cousins in tomorrow night’s game as he will not play in road games for the rest of the season. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.

Careless with the ball, Kings still nab victory

by Michael Martinez

picture credit: Associated Press

SACRAMENTO- Flashback Friday took place at Sleep Train Arena with the old school court on display. The Kings took the fans back in time as well by playing a lot more competitive basketball and picking up a victory. The win came in big part to tremendous play from DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay. Darren Collison was a huge spark off the bench. After a ton of talks of firings and trades prior and during the All Star break, the Kings pulled out an important win.

In the first quarter of play, the Kings and Nuggets went back and forth for the majority of the quarter. Sacramento played better defensively, but both teams were very careless with the ball. Sacramento’s five first quarter turnovers hurt them as they lead to nine points for Denver.

Luckily, the Kings played some better defense and their All Star center DeMarcus Cousins picked up right where he left off. Cousins got to the line six times in the quarter and nailed all six shots from the charity stripe. Rudy Gay showed some confidence in his game by totaling eight first quarter points, 2-3 from the field, with both coming from beyond the arc.

Rajon Rondo also sunk two three pointers. The Kings shot uncharacteristically well beyond the three-point line, 5-7, in the first quarter.

Rondo and Denver center Jusuf Nurkic each picked up a technical after a little shoving match and trash talk coming off a Ben McLemore offensive foul.

Sacramento capped off the quarter with a three-point buzzer beater from Darren Collison off a Rondo assist. Through one quarter, the Kings led Denver, 31-24. The Kings held the Nuggets to less than 30 points, for the first time in Sacramento’s last ten games.

After a nice first quarter, the Kings scored five points in the first minute of the second quarter to go up, 36-24. But soon after, the Nuggets found some offense of there own for a 10-2 run in a minute and 20 seconds.


The Kings took a timeout to slow down the Nuggets. Out of the timeout, the Kings went out scored Denver 17-8 with 5:54, which put them up 55-42 with 5:54 left in the half. The run was capped off by a monstrous slam by Cousins who was fouled. Cousins was fouled on the dunk and made the free throw for a three-point play.

Collison made a technical free throw after Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone picked up a technical. Malone chirped at the refs and his frustration led to the tech.

The Kings were careless with the ball yet again with eight turnovers leading to 11 Denver points, but they did capitalize off Denver’s six turnovers. The Kings scored 11 points as well and their hot shooting kept them up on the Nuggets. Sacramento shot 59.5% from the field and went 10-13 from behind the arc in the first half. Although they kept shooting well from three-point range, the Kings got back into the paint, adding 20 points in the paint in the second quarter and a total of 26 in the first half. The Kings led the Nuggets 70-57 through the first half of play.

A dominant offensive performance came from Cousins, who scored 24 points, 8-11, and grabbed eight boards in the half. Gay also shot the ball well, 5-9 from the field, 4-4 from beyond the three-point line, for 16 points. Rondo and Collison, who came off the bench, each totaled 12 points, while Rondo added 6 assists. Denver’s Danillo Gallinari had the team high for the Nuggets with 17 points in the half and Joffrey Lauvergne had 13.

After an incredible offensive first half, the Kings slowed down at an incredible rate in the third quarter. The team totaled a measly 18 points with Cousins scoring nine of those 18. Cousins continued to get to the line, 5-5 from the charity stripe in the quarter. The quarter was slow and the Kings managed to turn the ball over five more times. With the score 79-72, the Kings pulled out a 7-0 run to go up 86-72. The Nuggets only totaled 20 points with eight of those from Gallinari.

With a quiet third quarter from both teams, the Kings led 88-77 through three.

The fourth quarter showed more offense especially for the Nuggets who found their stride. Denver was able to keep things close by putting up 33 in the quarter, but Rondo came up big for the Kings. Rondo hustled really hard, added eight points and six assists in the fourth quarter. Rondo was clutch going 4-6 from the free throw line late in the ball game. The Kings were able to come out with a win after the break over the Nuggets. The final score was 116-110.

Cousins finished with 37 points,12-20 from the field and a career high 20 rebounds. Cousins also went 12-15 from the line as he got into the paint a lot and Denver’s bigs played him tough. The Kings totaled 56 points in the paint.

“[Cousins] was flat out amazing.” Collison said “They couldn’t stop him.”

Rondo had a big game and was especially important down the stretch. He finished with 24 points, 8-16 from the field, 10 assists and 9 rebounds.

“Rajon had great control of the game down the stretch” said head coach George Karl. “And understanding who were playing and what we had to do to be successful.”

Gay matched Rondo with 24 points and off the bench Collison totaled 17 points.

The Kings offensive was once again very good, except for the third quarter. The team made no three pointers in the second half, which slowed their scoring down quite a bit. The only real flaw of the game was the team’s 22 turnovers that turned into 34 points for Denver. The defense was much better and the Nugget’s high points total mostly came from carelessness as they scored 26 fast break points.

“We really didn’t go over much offense [during practice]. We basically just [practiced] a lot of defense.” Gay said “Our offense is going to be a little sloppy.”

On Tuesday, the Kings will face the Nuggets in Denver. They will need to stop Lauvergne who scored 22 and Gallinari who scored 27 points. These next stretch of games are incredibly crucial as Sacramento faces playoff caliber opponents. The next few weeks will say a lot about this team and it looks like they are ready to make a statement.

Cal dusts Denver, moves to 2-0


By Morris Phillips

Mike Montgomery’s carefully crafted non-conference schedule led to big doings on the court as the Bears blew past Denver on Monday, 77-50.

Cal improved to 2-0 on the season and they’ve won 35 of 41 non-conference games under Montgomery in the veteran coaches’ five-plus seasons in Berkeley.

The Bears started fast against the smaller, outmanned Pioneers, establishing a 24-5 lead twelve minutes into the first half.  David Kravish ignited the offense early and finished with 15 points.  Tyrone Wallace led with 16 points and Richard Solomon grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds.

Cal’s 40-20 advantage on the glass and the Pioneers 20 percent shooting in the first half jump off the stat sheet, but both appeared to be a byproduct of the Bears’ coaches’ familiarity with Denver’s sneaky backdoor cuts after playing the Pioneers in each of the last two seasons.

“The main thing you have to do against Denver is maintain your concentration,” Montgomery warned.  “They kind of lull you to sleep.”

The Bears beat Denver by 21 at Haas in 20011.  Last year’s game was competitive for a half in Denver then the Bears pulled away in the second half behind the Crabbe-Cobbs duo.  Because of the experience in Denver, Montgomery knew his defense had to disrupt Chris Udofia and Brett Olson, the Pioneers’ leading scorers.  And his Bears adhered, holding the duo to 16 combined after they got 33 in 2012.

“We didn’t get off to a good start, our shooting, obviously was non-existent, I mean for all intents and purposes.  I mean in general obviously it was a very tough assignment right out of the gate, against a veteran older team,” Denver coach Joe Scott said, touching on the fact that Cal had a game under their belt while the Pioneers were playing their opener.

The Bears shot 59 percent in the opening half, led by 17 at the break, and were actually outshot (50 percent to 44 percent) in the second half, but still outscored Denver by 10.  But Scott’s group was more than obliging in their lack of desire to shoot inside the arc—more than half their shot attempts came from three—rebound at either end, or take care of the ball (committing 14 turnovers).

Denver’s lack of aggression or firepower kept Solomon and Kravish on the floor for ample minutes without worry of foul trouble and the pair came up big most often on put backs and feeds from Justin Cobbs who had six assists.  After just two games, it’s apparent that the two starters will be the only real size in Cal’s nine-deep rotation making it imperative that the two not only stay on the floor, but stay on the floor together.

“When we get going we can be pretty good,” Solomon said.  “We’re long athletic, we can jump, we like to rebound, and we like to get the ball too.”

The Bears opening stretch includes Oakland (of suburban Michigan) on Friday and Southern Utah on Monday.  Of the opening quartet, the SUU Jaguars currently rank as the juggernaut of the group, ranking 212 in the current 351-team labyrinth of Division I.  So the Bears won’t garner any much-needed NCAA style points early, but they do seem to be gaining an identity as a typically-unselfish offensive team with some real potential along with depth on the wings.

Accordingly, all eyes are on 6’6” Jabari Byrd, Cal’s highest-ranking recruit.  The Richmond native seems eager to please, but hasn’t really put it together in either of the first two games.

“He’s going to be really good,” Montgomery said of Bird.  “He was probably a little bit nervous.  He wants to be good.  You just have to keep working.  He’ll be fine when he gets his feet under him and more comfortable with the offense and more comfortable with where his shots are going to come from.”

EARLY OBSERVATIONS:  All of the Pac-12 teams have a game or two under their belts and clear vision doesn’t require a prescription.  Arizona is really good, maybe even a Final Four capable team with the addition of San Jose’s Aaron Gordon and others, likely well ahead of Oregon and UCLA.  Cal is either the best of the next group of four–depending on whether you trust AP, USA Today or the conference media pre-season poll—or not in that group at all.   Cal’s lack of size and overall youth suggest they’ll need the smoothest of rides.  But if that happens, it’s possible that one or more of Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford or Washington could falter pushing the Bears into NCAA consideration in what appears to be a robust three-to-five bid league.

Stanford—picked by most to finish ahead of Cal despite the differences in recent pedigree–looked to be a prime candidate to disappoint on Monday when they fell at Maples Pavilion to BYU in a wild shootout 112-103.  The West Coast conference contender shot 53 percent against the Cardinal and incredibly missed 15 free throws while scoring 112 points.  Stanford looked ragged tactically and lacking defensively allowing the starting BYU backcourt to combine for 57 points.

Kings Start New Era with Win!

Denver Nuggets v Sacramento Kings

By Tony Renteria
Sacramento CA: The Sacramento Kings (0-0) opened the 2013-2014 NBA season by hosting the Denver Nuggets (0-0) and holding off a tough Denver squad for a 09-88 win.
This was the first regular season game with the new ownership group and new head coach, The Kings may be turning the corner after the train wreck the last owners left
The Kings Led at the half 48-45 behind some strong inside play by DeMarcus Cousins who led the team with 14 points and six rebounds. Cousins has become the team leader with new altitude and passion. Cousins finished with 30 Points and game high 14 rebounds. This may be the start of an all star run of Cousins.
The Nuggets were led by Ty Lawson’s 20 points .
The Kings next play the Los Angles Clippers at Sleep Train Arena on Friday while the Nuggets host the Portland Trailblazers on the same day.

Kaepernick better than ever since week two and three


By David Zizmor

SANTA CLARA–Nobody expected the 49ers to lose last Sunday’s game in London the betting line was 16 points for the 49ers and the Niners covered the spread by double the amount of given points against Jacksonville with something like which was far too low the Niners won this one by 32.

Jacksonville is just an awful team and let’s give credit to the 49ers a game like this is one you could sleepwalk through and make it a lot closer than it should be. Let’s face it look at what the Jaguars did against the Denver Broncos just a few weeks ago they made just a little bit of noise in that one against a very good Denver team.

The 49ers did not let Jacksonville get into this game at all they didn’t let them sniff any smell of success. The 49ers were very focused their systems were shocked after those two loses in week two and three they haven’t really looked back as they’re now on a five game win streak. They’ve been a very different team since those games.

In their two loses to the Seahawks and Colts the 49ers were passing a bit more than they probably wanted to ever since then they focused more on their ground game which was their bread and butter. The last two seasons and when they got away from it they weren’t quite as successful and let’s face it part of the problem is that their wide receiving core has been decimated by injuries.

When all your options are gone and your left with a couple of guys it makes that much easier for defenses to take away those options and take the passing game out entirely. You saw against Indianapolis and Seattle the Niners were just stuck they couldn’t move the ball through the air and once the defenses realized they couldn’t move the ball in the air they were able to shut them down.

The 49ers have done a great job in the last five wins of establishing the running game early and working off of it and in the last two or three weeks we’ve really seen the passing game start to blossom again. Not a lot was made of it but Kaepernick did hurt his foot several weeks ago early in the season and while he was out of the game that foot injury kept him out and it might have kept him from being as mobile as he had been.

It might have kept him from making a number of passes that he was capable of. The last two or three weeks we’ve seen him really step up his game. Kaepernick is running a lot more, his passes are right on target, he’s doing a much better job finding his guys open and just making plays and we didn’t see that earlier on and I suspect this because that foot was bothering him a bit.

David Zizmor covers the NFL for Sportstalk Radio

Raiders face tough test in Denver

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — Looking to build off the 19-9 victory in their home opener Sunday over the pathetic Jacksonville Jaguars, the Oakland Raiders head into Denver to face the Broncos on ESPN’s Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 3 in the NFL. Oakland picked up their first win of the season behind a stellar rushing attack, racking up 226 yards.

Running back Darren McFadden was a monster, rushing for 129 yards, including three runs of 20-or-more yards. Terrelle Pryor added in 50 rushing yards, while finishing 15-of-24 for 126 yards passing. Fullback Marcel Reese scored Oakland’s (1-1) only touchdown, on a 11-yard run in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.

What does that say?

Oakland will need more from Pryor and Co. but if Oakland has any chance of winning Monday night, it’s fifth-ranked defense will have to answer the bell against Denver’s third-ranked offense. Oakland leads the NFL with nine sacks on the season after sacking Jaguars quarterback, Chad Henne five times Sunday.  With the news of stellar Broncos’ All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady being lost for the season with a Lis-franc sprain, Oakland’s defensive line could be the difference.

Manning and the Broncos (2-0) return home after beating the New York Giants 41-23 at MetLife Stadium Sunday. After passing for a career-high seven touchdowns in Week 1, Manning was virtually flawless completing 30-of-43 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the road win. Denver’s offense totaled 416 yards.

Believe me after seeing that performance, Oakland will have it’s hands full against one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, but Raiders head coach welcomes the challenge.

“This will be the best team we’ve faced and they’re very talented,” Allen said Monday, “so we’re going to have to do a good job of changing things up and mixing some things up, mixing up some looks and be able to play a good, team game.”

Players to Watch for Oakland:

  • No. 2) Terrelle Pryor (QB) — Pryor picked up his first home win (and first win of his career) against Jacksonville and will look to pick up his first road win of his career on national television Monday night. Pryor leads all quarterbacks with 162 rushing yards.
  • No. 24) Charles Woodson (FS) — The Raiders’ veteran starting free safety will be the one who will have to get Oakland’s secondary in place to defend a bevy of Broncos pass-catchers. Woodson finished with six tackles against Jacksonville Sunday.
  • No. 25) D.J. Hayden (CB) — Manning loves testing rookies and Hayden will see a lot of Broncos’ sensational wide receiver, Demaryius Thomas. Good luck.

Players to Watch for Denver:

  • No. 83) Wes Welker (WR) — You think that Tom Brady wishes he had the reliable Welker now?
  • No. 80) Julian Thomas (TE) — Looks like a younger version of San Diego Chargers standout, Antonio Gates. Thomas played power forward at Portland St. In his first start, Thomas recorded five catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
  • No. 11) Trindon Holliday (KR) — The reigning AFC Player of the Week  was a blur on his 81-yard punt return for a touchdown that put the final dagger in the Giants’ hearts. The return highlighted Holliday’s day, where he saw four punts and returning them for a 30.3 yards per return. Through two weeks, Holliday is averaging a league-high 19.6 yards per return.