Cable invokes the past and gets his first win

October, 19, 2008
10/19/08
11:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

 
 Kyle Terada/US Presswire
 Oakland coach Tom Cable celebrates during the Raiders' 16-13 overtime win over the New York Jets Sunday.

OAKLAND -- Tom Cable is assimilating well to Raiders football.

To succeed in Oakland, or to at least to be accepted here, you must embrace the past. You must enter Al Davis' world. Cable has done that and, for the next week, at least, the 1970s are alive.

In town for a team memorial for the late Gene Upshaw, former Oakland greats Ken Stabler and Raymond Chester came to the team's hotel Saturday night to try to fire up the 2008 version, a team that looks nothing like the 1970s Raiders.

At 1-4 and coming off a 34-3 loss in New Orleans to kick off the Cable era, the Raiders were in need of much more than a pep talk from the former stars. It appears to have helped.

And after a 16-13 overtime win over Brett Favre and the New York Jets, it was all about the past for the Raiders.

"The great ones took out time for us, that's a big thing," Oakland defensive tackle Gerard Warren said. "We got some good players on this team, but those are Super Bowl winners. We listened. They got us wanting to win for the organization. It was a good thing. There's a lot of history here."

There's even some revisionist history. Apparently, as far as Cable is concerned, the first six weeks of the NFL season never happened. On about 10 different occasions, the Raiders' interim coach -- the offensive line coach who replaced the fired Lane Kiffin on Sept. 30 -- announced to the world that the Raiders are 1-0.

"We're 1-0 and we're going to enjoy it," Cable said.

For the record the "1-0" Raiders are in third place in the AFC West. And, don't tell Cable, but for some odd reason, the official NFL standings have the Raiders' record at 2-4. Apparently, Cable's message is that his team must take it one game at a time.

You know what? It's exactly what the Raiders, who play at Baltimore next Sunday, need.

They need some love. Cable is there to give it to them. He gave out a couple of game balls after the win. He said he was going to give out a few more Monday.

He praised the play of quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who was largely ineffective until late in overtime. He called receiver Javon Walker "marvelous" after a game in which he caught five passes.

He admitted he nearly screwed up when he iced Jets kicker Jay Feely, giving Feely a second chance to send the game to overtime with a 52-yard field goal.

Cable, an intriguing combination of big and cuddly and intimidating and forceful, also panned himself a few times. He's a players' coach. And perhaps more important, he's a Raiders historian.

Here are a few more observations from Sunday's game:

Brett Favre seemed old: You kept waiting for Favre to make a big play and win the game. It never happened. He had his moments, but Favre was not special. Not even close. He was horribly stagnant in overtime as he completed one of four passes during three uneventful drives. He threw two bad interceptions, including one at the Oakland goal line. Favre, 39, completed 21-of-38 for 197 yards. He rarely threw deep.

"I don't think that was ever the plan," said Oakland cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who intercepted Favre once. "They dinked and dunked."

After the game, Favre was down. He said the game was one of the toughest he ever had to endure. I remember his last game as a Green Bay Packer, in the NFC title game against the Giants in which his final pass was an interception, as tougher.

But apparently Favre's memory is a lot shorter than the Raiders'.

Javon Walker is still an NFL player: Walker had by far his best game as a Raider. He caught five passes for 75 yards. He had a touchdown catch, the Raiders' only touchdown of the game, and he caught a key pass on the game-winning drive. Until Sunday, Walker was ineffective in Oakland and known more for his $55 million contract he signed in the offseason and being robbed and beaten in Las Vegas than for catching balls. Sunday, he was a factor. Walker said his dramatic production spike was a direct by product of him getting thrown the ball.

"That's what's going to happen when I get thrown the ball," Walker said. "It's going to continue to happen."

Walker has had some tough luck on and off the field and the team should be pleased with his production Sunday. But he needs to show he can continue to be a productive receiver for the Raiders before fans can believe he has turned the corner.

Janikowski has a big leg: On the Raiders' game-winning drive, Cable asked kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who missed a 40-yarder earlier in the game, how far could he kick a field goal in the situation. Janikowski said about a 57-yarder. So when the opportunity arose, Janikowski got his chance. And he nailed it, easily.

Cable's reason for allowing Janikowski to try it with 2:35 to go in overtime? Simple, said the players' coach.

"You have to believe in your players," Cable said.

Of the past and the present.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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