Last year, it was all about competing. This year, it’s all about finishing.
Jack Del Rio preached that message to his Oakland Raiders players throughout the offseason and preseason. And in Sunday’s 35-34, come-from-behind victory at New Orleans, they demonstrated that they received it loud and clear.
‘It was a gotta-have-it situation’
One of the “finishers” was wide receiver Seth Roberts, whose catch of a 10-yard touchdown throw from Derek Carr set up the quarterback’s winning two-point conversion pass to Michael Crabtree with 47 seconds left.
“It was just a gotta-have-it situation and they trusted in me,” Roberts said of his scoring reception while appearing on Movin’ The Chains with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan. “That was a very intense game, it was back and forth. You would think that that would be it and then something else comes and you say, ‘Ah, man, we got to go back out there, convert and make something happen.’
‘So proud of the Raiders, my teammates’
“And I’m so proud of the Raiders, my teammates, because we never gave up. We were down 14 points and we just kept fighting. Jack was saying how we need to finish. That’s the biggest thing. Last year, we knew how to play with people, but this year, our main thing is finishing. And I feel like we finished really well (Sunday).”
Kubiak on Siemian: ‘Good first start for the young man’
As NFL quarterbacking debuts go, the one Trevor Siemian had for the Denver Broncos qualified as a major success.
He showed tremendous poise and made just enough plays to complement the engine that still drives the Broncos, their defense, on the way to a 21-20 victory against the Carolina Panthers.
“I thought he did a fine job,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin’ The Chains. “That’s a big test to go out in your first pro start against a football team like that, a great defense like that. But we moved the ball well. We just had some turnovers that held us back.
‘We got down by 10 and he never panicked’
“And then we got down by 10, and he never panicked. He just kept playing. We had a turnover early in the third quarter, but he comes right back, takes us down the field a couple times and gets us in position to be successful. So I think it’s a good first start for the young man and we’ll keep trying to get better and get better around him also.”
Kubiak didn’t feel the need to give any particularly powerful speech to Siemian at halftime.
‘Let’s stay the course’
“Well, we really said, ‘Hey, we’re doing fine. We just had possessions down there where we came away with no points,'” Kubiak said. “So that was the big thing, just let’s stay the course, let’s not get away from running the football. We ran the ball well that night. And our defense will come back and play better in the second half. And that’s kind of exactly what happened.
“We got off the field defensively, kept moving the ball offensively and capitalized on a big Chris Harris turnover.”
Michael Bennett: Seahawks know how to handle pressure
Some teams know how to handle pressure-packed situations, some don’t.
Some teams have experience in being in tight, competitive games with so much riding on them. Others have watched them and try to apply what they have seen rather than what they actually know.
The Seattle Seahawks have been there and done that often enough at pivotal junctures on the field that they usually do exactly what they did in Sunday’s 12-10 victory against the Miami Dolphins.
‘A lot of teams don’t have that experience’
“I think as a player, I think as a team, we’ve been in so many great moments, so there’s not any moment that’s greater than our adversity that we’ve been through over the last couple of seasons,” Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin’ The Chains. “And to be able to have that experience in tight games, I think a lot of teams don’t have (similar) experience. You know, it’s like a lot of coaches. They talk about winning championships, but where have they really won or where have ever been a part of being a championship team? Players, too. So when you’re part of a championship team and a championship organization and you’ve been through great situations, you’re ready for them. And those moments define you as a team and what’s better than to be in those moments when you know how it feels already?
“It becomes a habit. We’ve become comfortable in those hostile environments and hostile situations. It’s like we know what to do. We know, when this happens, you do this. And a lot of times, players don’t pay attention and then when those moments come, they’re not ready for their opportunity. And that’s why you see the same teams in the playoffs every year, it’s because those are the teams that are ready for their opportunities.”
‘We’ve become comfortable in hostile environments’
There are clubs, Bennett pointed out, that have a false sense of confidence when faced with circumstances like the Seahawks faced Sunday. That’s because, he said, they are looking to something other than practical experience.
“A lot of teams feel like, because they get better players or better things like this, but it’s the philosophy and the competitive edge of that organization which keeps those organizations at the top and which keep organizations at the bottom,” Bennett said. “Because you can change the coach out as many times as you want, you can change the quarterback, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the philosophy and the motivation of your team and your organization.
‘We all understanding about how to play this game’
“That’s why you see the Broncos and the Patriots every year in the AFC playoffs and you see somebody from the NFC West because we all understand about how to play this game.”
Kirwan: Browns should ‘complete fire sale’ and trade Thomas
Pat Kirwan doesn’t see the point in the Cleveland Browns sticking to whatever long-term plan they had for building upon what was left of their roster before Sunday’s season-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now that they’ve lost Robert Griffin III to a lengthy — if not season-ending — shoulder injury he suffered in that game, Kirwan thinks the Browns should just finish up the last bit of the housecleaning they did with their roster and say goodbye to their lone highly decorated player.
‘Robert’s a frail guy, he’s got a track body’
“As I watch what’s going on, I’d go find out if someone wants Joe Thomas,” Kirwan told co-host Jim Miller on Movin’ The Chains. “I might complete the fire sale now. That’d be my first reaction to this.”
Kirwan thought the Browns took too large of a risk by putting their fortunes in the hands of a quarterback who has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.
‘Cleveland can ill afford this setback’
“First off, Robert’s a frail guy,” Kirwan said. “He’s got a track body and you bet on a guy with a medical history. We see it all the time. I did it. It’s a mistake. You take a look at the medical history and you go forward, crossing your fingers that this won’t happen when we get ’em. Well, it has happened and Cleveland can ill afford this setback, although they may function better and there will be certain players that will produce more because we know Josh (McCown).
“But at the end of the day, they are in nowhere land when it comes to figuring out how to build this team. Now, if they have to draft (a quarterback) next year, that’s 2017, maybe 2018 before the guy can go out there.”
Kirwan pointed out that the Browns owned the No. 2 overall pick of the draft and could have kept it to select Carson Wentz rather than trading it to the Eagles, who started their rookie in their victory over the Browns Sunday.
‘Reality is Cleveland never gets it right’
“They have to be devastated,” Kirwan said of the Browns’ fan base. “When you think about the quarterbacks that they’ve picked in drafts … the reality is Cleveland never gets it right. It goes back to passing on Ben Roethlisberger. Now you’ve passed on Carson Wentz.
“You’ve been sold a bill a goods about ‘Moneyball’ and that they’re going to acquire all these picks. Do you think you like them picking players?”