Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders

Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne drops back to pass. © Matt Cohen 2010

Just like in real life, you never know when something important is going
to happen in sports. Most photographers get to the stadium for football
games between 90 minutes and 2 hours before kickoff. Between traffic,
parking, credential pickup, and security, you never know exactly how long
it will take. Add some more time to get set up in the photo room, connect
to wi-fi and get some pre-game pictures, and at game time, everything
changes, mostly it speeds up a lot.

On Sunday, Raiders kick returner Jacoby Ford took the opening kickoff a
yard deep in his own end zone and zig-zagged his way 101 yards downfield
for a touchdown. I was set up at the Miami 30 with a 400mm+1.7x
converter for 680mm, mostly getting ready for long shots of the Raiders'
first offensive series. But Ford had other plans, making Dolphins miss and
then just outrunning them. He ended with a dive into the Black Hole.
Slamming that Red Bull before the game paid off as I was able to get
decent pictures of both.

© Matt Cohen 2010

© Matt Cohen 2010

On the next possession, Miami running back Patrick Cobbs caught a
pass over the middle and took it all the way, running so close to me that
I thought he was going to hand me the ball.
© Matt Cohen 2010

Journalistic impartiality aside, I find myself rooting for guys from
Pittsburgh and guys who played at Alabama. Bruce Gradkowski has
been the Raiders on-again off-again starter since last season. He's a
Pittsburgh dude and a good guy. Here he proves it by turning into the
sun and giving me a picture of him calling an audible.

© Matt Cohen 2010

Rolando McClain starred at Alabama, and has been steadily improving
along with the Raiders defense. With the Dolphins threatening, McClain
got up higher than any big man should and picked off a Chad Henne
pass. Roll Tide!

© Matt Cohen 2010

Shortly after, Jacoby Ford made a fingertip catch and turned it into a
44 yard touchdown.

© Matt Cohen 2010

© Matt Cohen 2010

Since I watched the ESPN 30-for-30 on Ricky Williams,
I was looking forward to shooting him on the comeback trail. Williams
isn't the Dolphins' feature back anymore, but he can still run over defenders
and pick up chunks of yards at a time.

© Matt Cohen 2010

If you only watch football on TV, you have no idea how many extraneous
people clog the sidelines of and NFL game. The most glaring absurdity
are the chain gangs, the guys who carry the sticks that measure first downs
and throw new footballs to the officials. There are seven guys on each
side, blocking the view for about 12 yards. They couldn't care less about
ruining pictures so most photographers either move downfield or trail the
play by enough that they aren't in the way. But sometimes even that isn't
enough. Somehow the ball boy who stepped in front of me on this Williams
run managed to do me a favor by helping me illustrate either a dolphin
swimming through the sea or Williams point of view back when he was
smoking the chronic. Either way, I'll take it.

© Matt Cohen 2010

On a crucial third-and-long, the Dolphins brought in backup quarterback
Tyler Thigpen who took the ball on a draw and ran up the middle. He picked
up eight yards and the Dolphins had to kick it away. I still can't figure out
why this happened.

© Matt Cohen 2010

In the second half, the Dolphins began to pull away, largely because the
Raiders couldn't stop running back Ronnie Brown, here just pushing All-Pro
Nnamdi Asomugha out of his way.

© Matt Cohen 2010

Brown's running set up the Dolphins' passing game, here wide receiver
Brian Hartline gets away from Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt.

© Matt Cohen 2010

And Marlon Moore does the same to Tyvon Branch and then dives for
even more yardage.

© Matt Cohen 2010

© Matt Cohen 2010

Finally, I wanted to be sure to get a portrait of Raiders' defensive end
Richard Seymour who made news last week in Pittsburgh by punching
Steelers QB and all-around ass Ben Roethlisberger. Seymour was fined
$25,000 but not suspended. Even Steeler fans secretly applauded the
punch.
© Matt Cohen 2010

The Raiders are away for a couple of weeks, opening up my schedule for
working trips to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, before coming back in time
for the Raiders next home game vs the Denver Broncos.