Raiders shot down by Jets

A new week, a new opponent, a new way to lose. That's been the Raiders' formula this season and it played out to perfection once again Sunday afternoon when a cold and bitter crowd of nearly 52,000 saw Oakland take it on the chin for the seventh time in nine games.

Doug Brien's 38-yard field goal in overtime gave the New York Jets a 27-24 victory and sent the Raiders reeling to their fifth straight defeat. This in a game that Oakland seemingly did all it could, from Phillip Buchanon's 78-yard punt return for a touchdown to the steady grind from the Raiders' troika of running backs to the just-enough performance from third-string quarterback Rick Mirer.

Yet in a season that has become all too predictable, the Raiders' inability to find stability has only been surpassed by their ability to shoot themselves in the foot. It happened in Chicago, it happened in Cleveland, it happened in Detroit and it happened once again Sunday in Oakland.

This time it was a blown 11-point lead in the fourth quarter against a New York team that shared the same ugly 2-6 record as the Raiders had entering the game, a New York team that was slightly better than horrible through three quarters and which, by all rights, should have been blown off the field the way things were going.

Instead, the Jets -- like the Bears, Browns and Lions before them -- hung around long enough until Oakland imploded, which the Raiders did in a variety of ways.

There was running back Tyrone Wheatley's third-quarter fumble which came when the Raiders had a chance to bury New York for good in the second half.

There was linebacker Eric Barton, getting run over by Jets backup running back LaMont Jordan, who turned Barton's whiff into a 39-yard gain that set up the first of two Jets touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

There was tight end Teyo Johnson's false start penalty on a third-and-goal play which ultimately forced Oakland to settle for a field goal with 3:27 minutes left to play when a touchdown would have sealed the deal.

There was linebacker Napoleon Harris getting burned by New York fullback Jerald Sowell for a critical 44-yard pass on the Jets' first play on their final drive in regulation, a completion that quickly put New York in scoring position and set the stage for Sowell's three-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Chad Pennington.

Just like that, what had started as a surprisingly pleasant day quickly turned cold and ugly, leaving Oakland head coach Bill Callahan to ponder what exactly his team has to do to win these days.

''Yeah I do wonder,'' said Callahan. ''We're sitting on an 11-point lead, it shrinks and (the Jets) do what they have to do. I don't know what it is, I really don't.''

Unlike their previous four losses, in which they slept-walked through 16 quarters of absolutely atrocious football, the Raiders for the first time this season played with a sense of purpose.

The offense made a commitment to the ground game and stuck with it, while Mirer -- starting because of injuries to Rich Gannon and Marques Tuiasosopo -- played sufficiently enough to record a quarterback rating of 106.4 for the game.

And for one half at least, the defense matched the offense. Jets running back Curtis Martin had just 12 yards on eight carries through two quarters while Pennington, in only his second game back in the lineup, was only marginally effective.

Oakland's special teams tried to take some of the heat off Mirer and the offense early. Buchanon fielded a punt at his own 22-yard line, shook three tackles then broke free at midfield before outracing the Jets into the end zone with a 78-yard touchdown return.

That gave the Raiders their first lead since the third quarter of the Cleveland game three weeks earlier and gave the crowd their first sense of hope since ... well, since the season started. That good feeling didn't last long, however. Before the faithful could catch their breath, New York answered right back, albeit with a little help from Oakland defensive end DeLawrence Grant. It was Grant who had Jets wide receiver Santana Moss wrapped up after a short reception from Pennington but failed to bring him down. Instead Grant spun around and tried tossing Moss to the ground, but Moss stayed upright and raced untouched the rest of the way, a 65-yard touchdown that helped tie the score at 7-7.

The Raiders responded with a serious dose of the running game, driving the ball right through the heart of New York's defense. Oakland marched 80 yards in 19 plays, all of them runs, and knocked nearly 11 minutes off the clock in the process to regain the lead when Zack Crockett bulled into the end zone from a yard out.

A Brien field goal trimmed the Raider lead to 14-10 but Mirer's short two-yard pass to Jerry Porter went into the end zone and capped a 71-yard drive just before halftime, leaving Oakland with a 21-10 lead that stayed that way until the fourth quarter.

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