Raiders notebook

There was hope for the Raiders in their closing two games after Sunday's win over Baltimore.

INSIDE SLANT

They didn't stop the Ravens' Jamal Lewis. But they did what they wanted to. They kept him from dominating the game.

Sunday's game was supposed to be an all-out infantry parade. The Ravens would run because it was what they did. The Raiders would run because they had no choice.

It didn't turn out that way. Each team ran 31 times. The Ravens passed 30 times, the Raiders 35. It was because the Ravens had to and the Raiders wanted to.

"We've been a run-oriented team recently," quarterback Rick Mirer said. "Taking a few extra shots probably caught those guys off-guard a little bit."

If it didn't, it should have. Mirer hadn't thrown 35 passes in any of his six previous appearances this year (five starts).

Mirer said trying to control the football against the league's No. 4 defense would have been futile with a one-dimensional attack.

While that may make sense, what Baltimore did with its star running back did not. Baltimore had 12 third down plays but not once did they get the ball to Lewis.

Ten times, they passed including one third-and-1, two third-and-2s, one third-and-three and one third-and-4. Since Lewis equaled his season average of 5.2 yards a carry Sunday, one wonders why they chose to pass on 10 of those plays.

Their only two running plays on third down were keepers by quarterback Anthony Wright. The Ravens converted just two of their 12 third-down efforts. It led to the Raiders' best defensive performance on third down defense all year.

"(Brian) Billick is a smart coach," Raider safety Derrick Gibson said. "His tendency is to run the ball, but he gets away from it every now and then. He will surprise you like that."

At least containment of Lewis (125 yards) will give the Raiders confidence this week to deal with Green Bay's Ahman Green.

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--WR Tim Brown has been stuck on 99 career touchdown passes for 10 games now. His last scoring reception was in Week 4 against San Diego. He has two for the year.

--DT Dana Stubblefield was inactive but not due to injury. An emergency, the nature of which the team would not reveal, forced him to leave town.

--DT Terdell Sands was not only active for the first time in his four weeks with the team but started.

--DT Chris Cooper started at LE in place of Lorenzo Bromell and had five tackles playing both inside and out.

--C Barret Robbins (knee) was inactive for the second game in a row.

--QB Rick Mirer (arm) complained of spasms possibly caused by a pinched nerve after the game. He played all 66 snaps on offense.

--DT Sean Gilbert (groin) was inactive and deemed not ready to play by the medical staff.

--DT Rod Coleman doubled his season sack total with two totaling 16 yards in losses.

--WR Jerry Rice, who did not have a touchdown catch for the season's first 10 games, made his second touchdown in three games. He now has 194 for his career.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Baltimore likes to talk and likes to dance and all that stuff. That just gives us another edge -- (to) stop that dancing and all that talking and just put a smack on them. I think we did." -- DE Chris Cooper.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. RAVENS

PASSING OFFENSE: B minus -- Nothing fancy, just enough passing to keep the Ravens guessing. Three passes went for more than 20 yards as the Ravens stacked to stop the run. Mirer had good protection (no sacks) and would have completed more than half his passes (he was 16-for-35) had at least five passes been thrown erratically. The touchdown pass to Jerry Rice was a classic post and beat two defenders.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- It was the Raiders' lowest rushing output in 11 weeks as they only gained 79 yards at 2.5 yards a try. Tyrone Wheatley had one good 16-yard run, otherwise he averaged less than two yards. Zack Crockett was 2-for-3 on short yardage -- one for a touchdown, one on a fourth-and-1 that led to the game-clinching field goal.

PASS DEFENSE: B plus -- Phillip Buchanon's interception to open the game was the difference maker. Three sacks equaled the team's season high, two by Rod Coleman. Selective blitzing kept Ravens quarterback Anthony Wright off-balance. Charles Woodson held Marcus Robinson without a catch.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- You don't usually get pats on the back for "holding" a running back to 125 yards but Jamal Lewis is no ordinary back. The Raiders were delighted they were able to keep him in check for most of the game even as he was averaging 5.2 yards a carry.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A minus -- Doug Gabriel's 71-yard kickoff return was the first sign of life in that department since the preseason. Sebastian Janikowski remains perfect at field goals inside 40 yards. Shane Lechler did not have a particularly good day. He got off a 65-yard punt but his other eight averaged barely 40. Coverage, except for one 28-yard punt return, was adequate. The team got away with two plays in which officials botched penalty calls.

COACHING: B plus -- Somehow, after eight losses in nine games, the Raiders remained a businesslike operation and avoided a meltdown. The coaches have been in for lots of criticism this year, even from players, but they have plugged along without losing focus. Electing to pass more than run surprised the Ravens. The three-safety strategy on defense worked although its goal was to negate tight end Todd Heap (he had six catches for 93 yards). You don't argue with success.


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