For the first time in many years (Their last winning season was in 2002), the Oakland Raiders made news for reasons other than being the worst team in the NFL. Unfortunately, their success came at the hands of one of the league's worst teams currently - the Pittsburgh Steelers (We all know the worst team is Jacksonville.) With Sunday's 21-18 victory over the Steelers, the Raiders are now 3-4 on the season and have a better record than 11 other teams.
Sunday was a great day for the Raiders, starting with the first play from scrimmage. Terrelle Pryor, a quarterback known for his running ability, ran a zone-read option fake to his running-back, Darren McFadden, going left. As the play suggests, Pryor read that the linebacker was biting left on the play, so he pulled the ball down and ran right...for a total of 93 yards. Thanks to sealing right-end blocks by right tackle Matt McCants and wide receiver Rod Streater, Pryor was able to set an NFL-quarterback record run with his 93 yard touchdown. Not only was it the longest run ever by an NFL quarterback, it was also the longest play from scrimmage in Raiders's history, surpassing a 92 yard run by Bo Jackson against Cincinnati in 1989.
Aided by Pryor's amazing run, the Raiders were able to push themselves to a 21-3 lead over the Steelers at the half. However, in true Raiders fashion, the team would squander the lead in the second half. Perhaps the rally from Pittsburgh was due to bad karma flowing to the Raiders due to the actions of their defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver.
While still leading 21-3 with 8+ minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, the referees threw a flag against Raiders cornerback, Mike Jenkins, for his hit against the Steelers's runningback, Le'Veon Bell. As everyone at O.co Stadium could see, there should have been no penalty against Jenkins for an illegal hit to the head - something the referees agreed to when they rescinded the call. Before the officials could fix their mistake, though, Tarver expressed his own opinions regarding the call by giving the refs not one, but two middle fingers:
Tarver was ratted out after the game by former NFL Vice President of Officiating and current FOX analyst, Mike Pereira. After seeing Tarver use "the bird" so flippantly, Pereira decided to give the league office a call: "Seriously, though, a play took place in the Pittsburgh-Oakland game that was absolutely unacceptable and unprofessional. It actually happened on the sideline and it wasn't by a player, but rather by a coach. And I was so angry, I called the league office about it," stated Pereira in his FoxSports.com post.
The last time the league saw such an incident came in 2010, when Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator, Chuck Cecil, was fined $40,000 for a similar gesture. Following Sunday's incident, Tarver released the following statement: ''I apologize for my action on the sideline of yesterday's game. It was in the heat of the moment, and I regret drawing attention away from the Raiders players and what they accomplished.''
With the way the Raiders's luck has been going over the past 10+ years, the organization should view any attention as positive for the continued success of the franchise. While many of us would love for the Raiders to be gaining positive attention, one cannot blame Tarver for his genuine reaction to the blatantly atrocious call during Sunday's game. As Tarver himself stated, it was in the heat of the moment; He couldn't have possibly expected the cameras to be on him at that precise instant. Which leads one to question the role of the media in the exposure of this incident. It has become more and more frequent that coaches and players are caught shouting expletives or making obscene gestures. Doesn't some of the onus have to be placed upon the network, the camera operators, and editors? The media should know what to expect when it cuts to coaches and players following emotionally-laden plays and calls. Tarver had great cause to be upset at the call, especially since his Raiders were winning...for once.
Football is a testosterone-driven, highly competitive sport. As such, do coaches and players have the responsibility to answer for any actions deemed inappropriate by certain moral codes? Let us know in the comment section below.
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