Oakland's offense stands idle

It was yet another story of what could have been, The Oakland Raiders defense played well but again they fought alone. The offense made a nice circle around the defense and stood by and watched their brothers.

For a half Sunday, the Oakland Raiders looked as if they had discovered the cure to what ails their offense.

Quarterback Andrew Walter was deftly spreading the ball to a variety of receivers, and while no one was confusing the Raiders with the Super Bowl vintage Rams, it was a huge upgrade in terms of offensive performance as they took a 13-7 lead into halftime at McAfee Coliseum.

Then the lights went out again, and the Denver Broncos escaped with a 17-13 victory as the Raiders fell to 2-7.

It was the 11th consecutive loss to an AFC West team, with road assignments coming in the next two weeks in Kansas City and San Diego.

The Raiders are 2-19 against division opponents since the start of the 2003 season, and what hurt the most against Denver was the Raiders had a legitimate chance to win against a rival that had beaten them by an average of 14 points in the previous three meetings.

Diversity worked wonders for Oakland in the first half as Walter hit 12 of 20 passes for 135 yards. Nine different receivers caught passes and there were 10 intended targets.

It wasn't perfect -- the Raiders were forced to settle for a 20-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal late in the first half when Walter threw over the head of Alvis Whitted in the end zone on third-and-1 from the two -- but considering the way things have gone for Oakland's offense, it was promising.

In the second half, it was all Denver. Walter was 6-for-13 for 79 yards. He lost fumbles on Oakland's last two possessions.

Denver quarterback Jake Plummer, meanwhile, recovered from a horrible start to direct a 60-yard scoring drive, which ended in a 1-yard touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Johnson -- his second touchdown of the game. He threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker in the first half in the Broncos' only moment of offensive lucidity.

What happened to the Raiders in the second half?

Oakland couldn't run the ball, a common theme in games against AFC West teams. The Raiders had seven carries for eight yards and finished with 37 yards on 17 carries.

Alternating running backs LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas combined for six net yards on 18 carries. Fargas carried eight times and lost six yards.

The Raiders also may have run out of plays. Walter said afterward, the Raiders had essentially exhausted their playbook in the first half and Denver had made proper adjustments in the second half.

It's also true that Walter missed on a few opportunities -- which could have extended drives -- and had two costly lost fumbles.

"I don't know what the problem is," coach Art Shell said. "The coverages didn't change. We had people open and could not connect."

Shell said he wasn't sure who his quarterback would be when the Raiders visit Arrowhead Stadium Sunday. Quarterback Aaron Brooks has been out since week two with a pectoral strain and has been vague about when he might be ready to return.

Shell said Brooks will have to demonstrate he can make all the throws before he regains the starting job.

Oakland's offensive struggles are weighing on its defense, which turned in another stellar effort only to come away with another loss.

Oakland held the Broncos to 63 yards on 26 carries on the ground intercepted three Plummer passes -- two from Fabian Washington and one from Nnamdi Asomugha -- and had two sacks from Warren Sapp.


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