Raiders trying to overcome negatives

Art Shell insists the Raiders are making progress, but after two straight losses in which the team blew halftime leads, the positives are getting lost amidst the growing list of negatives.

Oakland is 0-4 this season and has lost 10 consecutive games dating back to last year. Heading into Denver for a Sunday night game, the Raiders have a plethora of problems to contend with. Offensively, the team ranks last in eight different offensive categories and is 31st in another. Oakland has scored just four offensive touchdowns this season while committing 13 turnovers, second-most in the NFL.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the Raiders are playing a Denver team that is off to one of its best starts defensively. The Broncos have given up just 34 points total and have allowed just one touchdown, the second team in league history to accomplish the feat in four games.

Defensively the Raiders are trying to shore up a defense that is 29th against the run while playing against Denver without starting cornerback Fabian Washington.

There's also the matter of the blown leads against Cleveland and San Francisco, which have only added to Oakland's misery.

''We've got to be aggressive on both sides of the ball and we've got to be aggressive in our play-calling, aggressive in our play and how we play the game,'' Shell said Friday. ''Those things have to happen ... handling prosperity. The last two weeks we were ahead at halftime, then came back out and didn't finish the game. We have to be able to handle those situations and finish the game.''

The Raiders have won just two times in their last 11 trips to Denver. One of those wins came on Nov. 28, 2004 when Langston Walker's blocked field goal attempt with 31 seconds left preserved a 25-24 Oakland win. It was also the game in which wide receiver Ronald Curry made a brilliant, one-handed, leaping touchdown catch in the back of the end zone.

Since then, the Raiders are 0-9 against teams from the AFC West, a pattern that appears on course to continue this week in Denver if Oakland can't figure out how to slow down the Broncos' swarming defense.

''They're just an incredible defense (so) obviously we have our work cut out for us this week,'' Oakland quarterback Andrew Walter said. ''We're desperate for a win. We really have to just sell out, do whatever we can to go out there and execute, do things properly, and to get a win.''

That may be easier said than done because the Broncos have won 12 straight games at home. On Monday, Denver knocked off Baltimore at Mile High Stadium where conditions were definitely on the wintery side of things. The Raiders could be in for much of the same thing.

''We need a win right now,'' Shell said. ''I understand that. The players understand that. We want to win bad. And we want to try and do everything we can to win this football game. We understand it's not going to be easy. We know they're a very good football team. We know that. So we have to meet their intensity level and we can't make the mistakes that we've made.''

NOTES: Quarterback Aaron Brooks and linebacker Grant Irons joined Washington on the list of players who did not practice Friday.


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