The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders were poised to jump back into the national spotlight this Sunday with key match ups against the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots on National TV. The Niners held up their end of the bargain following Alex Smith's historic second half comeback, while the Raiders unfortunately had to face Tom Brady, a bad thing for any team, popping their proverbial bubble after the big win over the Jets in week three.
The Niners now find themselves with a two game lead thanks to the abysmal status of the NFC West, looking to lock up a playoff spot by week 10 at this rate. Oakland sits a game behind San Diego in the AFC West, well within striking distance and still in great shape.
But let's get to the awards.....My 10 picks for outstanding performances, as well as performances I could barely stand, from the Niners and Raiders this week:
The Almost Joe Montana-esque Award goes to...Alex Smith
21/33 for 291 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 112.1 quarterback rating. Add a twenty point deficit in Philadelphia against one of the best (paid) defenses in the league, on the second week of the road trip? I'll take that. It was his best game statistically in a 49ers win in his career, even what some may call his signature victory. Oh, did I mention that he had 179 yards in the third quarter alone? Very, very respectable. Smith is no Joe Montana, but he was close this Sunday.
Alex Smith Leads 49ers Past Eagles (via ESPN)
The I'mmmmmm Bacccccckkkkkk Award goes to....Frank Gore
Lots of people (including myself) were having their doubts with Frank Gore, but he certainly shut up the critics with his performance Sunday. 127 yards on only 15 carries, including a 40 run and a game-winning 12 yard touchdown; he also caught two balls for another 12 yards. The O-line was a bit more solid which definitely helped, but considering he was limited all week with an ankle problem and didn't even start the game, Frank played on heck of a game. Coach Harbaugh said it best:
"I saw something in Frank that I've seen from the first time I met him and that is a guy with a huge heart and just a warrior out there. I know what that word means, warrior, in the context of football. But I think it applies to certain guys and Frank is one of them."
The Sticky Fingers Award goes to....Darrius Heyward-Bey
Since joining the Oakland Raiders Darrius Heyward-Bey has been known more for dropping passes than having big games, but the opposite was the case this Sunday. Heyward-Bey caught four balls fro 115 yards, including a 58 yard bomb, leading the team in receptions and yardage for the game. It was also a career high for him in the NFL, so kudos to that as well. Keep it up.
The Just What Were You Thinking Award goes to....Ronnie Brown
Technically Mr. Brown shouldn't even be eligible for a Bay Bridge Award seeing that he isn't on a Bay Area team, but these are my awards, and I just have to make an exception in this case. Ronnie tried to lateral/spike/pass/ the football while being tackled at the goal line in the second quarter, turning it over at the five yard line and keeping his Eagles from adding to their then 10-3 lead. Reviewing the tape just induces more questions, so why not take a peak for yourself...
Ronnie Brown Fumble, Tries to Throw Ball at Goal Line...49ers vs. Eagles (via BSOTube)
The Game-Saving Play Of The Day Award goes to....Justin Smith
Let me add a little preamble to this award: WOW. Up by a single point and the Eagles charging down the field, defensive lineman Justin Smith caught up with the speedy Jeremy Maclin, forcing a fumble with about two minutes left in the game, burying Philadelphia once and for all. That's why he's a two-time pro bowler, because he doesn't give up on plays downfield (pay attention kiddies).
The Between A Rock And A Hard Place Award goes to....The Raiders Secondary
With key injuries to Michael Huff and Chris Johnson the Raiders secondary was already playing at a disadvantage. Add the variables of Tom Brady and Wes Welker and you have yourself a perfect storm for a loss. Welker and Brady absolutely dismantled the Raiders back line, with Welker nabbing 158 of Brady's 226 yards on the day. Hopefully the Silver & Black can get everybody healthy and back to full strength back there.
The Memorable Milestone Award goes to....Aldon Smith
This one could have easily gone to Alex Smith as well after becoming only the 6th QB in franchise history to have 10,000 career yards, but he already won one, so I'm going with the other, other Smith. Aldon Smith. The rookie lineman got his first sack (and a half) of his NFL career Sunday, and against the slippery Michael Vick no less. Go ahead and put that feather in your cap Mr. Smith, but we all expect a few more of those sacks in the future. Go get 'em big fella.
Once again I'm adding a non-Bay Area player because it was just that bad. Both Akers and Henery missed two field goals on Sunday, though Henery missed from 39 and 33 yards, while Akers had a 45 yard attempt blocked and pushed a 44 yarder in the first quarter. Philly is notoriously known as a hard city to kick in, and Akers may have had some bad memories from last year's playoffs creep into his head. I'm sure Akers will be glad to get out of town, but unfortunately the rookie Henery is stuck there. Good luck.
The I Got Your Back Award goes to....Raiders Fans
Second week in a row that Raiders fans have impressed me. Second straight sellout at the Coliseum, second straight televised game here in the Bay Area. Hue Jackson and his Raiders had the 60,000 plus at the O.Co ready to go, unfortunately Tom Brady got in the way. Keep up the Silver and Black Pride, everyone. And remember, ain't no punks allowed in the black hole...
Welcome to the Black Hole - Dynamo Oakland Raiders (via mrwestside33)
The Following In The Footsteps Of Giants Award goes to....Jim Harbaugh
Getting out of the gates the way Jim Harbaugh has puts him on the fast-track to the 49ers history books, and the epic win he concocted over the Eagles is a testament to that. Sure I could easily be getting way ahead of myself, but I think Harbaugh is going to bring success to this franchise, with this as the first taste of it. The team got better as the game went on, and seems to be coming together as a complete team more and more each week. It'll be interesting where to see where this team is seven, eight weeks down the road, but for now Harbaugh can seemingly do no wrong.
You can follow me on Twitter @bigern22007.