Gradkowski's Injuries Reopen Door for Russell in Oakland
Gradkowksi injured the knees on two seperate plays in the first half and was replaced by much-maligned backup JaMarcus Russell in the third quarter.
"It's just tough," Gradkowksi said. "It's tough because the past couple weeks I felt gave us great positive attitudes and energy, and then this happens. But you know stuff happens for a reason. We just have to battle back and we'll be all right."
Gradkowski finished the day 10 of 18 for 153 yards. Oakland trailed 17-10 when he left.
But the Raiders' fortunes turned south with Russell back at the helm -- a familiar story for the Silver and Black. Russell opened the year as Oakland's No. 1 quarterback after starting 15 games in 2008. But the Raiders flopped to a 2-7 start this season, and Russell was benched in favor of Gradkowski midway through a Week 10 loss to Kansas City. The Raiders then proceeded to go 2-1 under Gradkowski's leadership, prior to Sunday.
Russell completed 10 of 16 passes against Washington for just 74 yards. He also tossed an interception and was sacked six times.
He mostly dodged the media afterward, save for CSN Bay Area, which flagged him down briefly.
"It's kind of difficult, coming in, not starting," Russell said. "The best thing to do is just let the game come to you, don't force anything.
"We just couldn't get too much going, that's basically it."
As has become the norm in Oakland, Russell was booed heartily as the Redskins stretched their tenuous halftime lead into a comfortable margin of victory.
"I try to zone it out," Russell said of the fans' negative reaction, "and pay attention to the guys that are out on the field with me."
At 4-9 and eliminated from AFC playoff contention, the Raiders have almost no choice but to stick with Russell for their final three games -- at Denver, at Cleveland and against Baltimore. Russell has been a colossal disappointment in his three years in the league, but thanks to his hefty contract, Oakland had given him every opportunity to secure the starting quarterback spot before finally relenting and inserting Gradkowski into the lineup.
Russell now gets another shot to prove he belongs as a starter in the NFL. If Sunday's any indication, though, he won't be making much of that chance.