Raiders sloppy play blows big lead

There was a point where the Oakland Raiders were up 21-3. The ship had been righted. How wrong that thinking would prove to be.

It's not just the fault of the offense any more.

The Oakland Raiders are 0-3, and in getting that way, all three components of the team were at fault in a 24-21 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sunday at McAfee Coliseum.

The Raiders, who next face the 49ers across the bay at Monster Park, blew fuses in every area to short circuit a 21-3 lead in the second quarter.

Special teams, a point of pride through training camp and the first two games of the season, surrendered kick returns of 65 and 53 yards to Joshua Cribbs and a 58-yard punt return to Dennis Northcutt, contributing to 17 Browns points.

On defense, the Raiders allowed Cleveland to impose their will on a 69-yard, 14-play drive to open the second half, cutting a 21-10 margin to 21-17.

Offensively, the Raiders got their first two touchdowns of the season in the first half, but were shut out in the second, gaining only 59 yards on 19 snaps.

Through Weeks 1 and 2, it was easy to look at Oakland's 32nd-rated offense and figure if it got any better, the Raiders ought to be able to compete with teams that weren't as formidable as San Diego and Baltimore.

Instead, with the 1-3 49ers coming up, the Raiders are looking every which way for help -- and for assessing blame.

"I don't want to (see the locker room) to get divided," free safety Stuart Schweigert said. "I think there were some instances out there where people were getting mad at the wrong people. We have to focus our energy toward the opponent rather than playing the who's who game and pointing fingers. We're 0-3 and we've got a long way to go. We've got to win and get this thing going a little bit."

Running back LaMont Jordan gained 128 yards on 20 carries and had a 59-yard scoring run, his longest run as a Raider. The Raiders rushed for 194 yards in all. Although he did it as diplomatically as possible, Jordan pointed a subtle finger at second-year quarterback Andrew Walter.

"We have to have balance," Jordan said. "We had 40-something yards passing. We didn't finish. We played better today. Our quarterback definitely wasn't under a lot of pressure like he had been the previous two weeks. We just have to play better football."

Walter, in his first start, completed just nine of 23 passes for 68 yards with a long gain of 15 yards. He had his first touchdown pass, a five-yard toss to Randy Moss, but also threw an interception after forcing the ball into coverage and a finished with a quarterback rating of 43.6.

Starting quarterback Aaron Brooks was out with a strained pectoral muscle and his status for the 49ers game is not known.

"We were shut out in the second half, and that's unacceptable," Walter said. "We have to keep it going and keep up the pressure. We can't let that happen."


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