Defensive smiles and offensive disgusts

Dissecting the Oakland Raiders offense in the same breath as their defense is an oxymoron and a shot at the defensive unit in its own right. Such is the case – week after grueling week.

Raiders Report Card:

PASSING OFFNESE: D -- The passing game was not bad in the first half, but non-existent in the second half. Quarterback Andrew Walter (18 of 33, 214 yards) spread the ball around to nine different receivers en route to a 13-7 lead in intermission. Still, the only touchdown came with the help of a Denver turnover and Oakland was forced to settle for a field goal when reaching the Broncos' 2-yard line. Walter twice fumbled away late possessions on would-be pass plays, one on a sack and another on the exchange from center.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- Lead backs LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas combined for 18 carries and 6 net yards. Oakland backs were hit behind the line of scrimmage six times for 13 yards in losses. With Chad Slaughter at left tackle, Corey Hulsey at left guard and Adam Treu playing late for Jake Grove (at center), the Raiders were operating with a makeshift line and it showed. Zack Crockett gained 40 yards on seven carries, but only had only three yards in the second half. Jordan scored on a 1-yard run, his second rushing TD of the season.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- Nnamdi Asomugha's interception set up the Raiders' only touchdown. Fabian Washington had two interceptions and nearly had a third. Asomugha was also beaten by Javon Walker for a 39-yard touchdown pass and the Raiders blew a coverage on Kyle Johnson on fourth-and-goal at the 1. Warren Sapp had two sacks, but Oakland's pressure on Jake Plummer was inconsistent in the second half. Plummer was able to hurt the Raiders with bootlegs in the second half.

RUSH DEFNESE: A -- Sixty-three yards rushing? The Raiders usually give that up to Denver in a quarter. This time it took 26 carries. There were no gains longer than 10 yards. The Broncos had just three rushing first downs and Tatum Bell had 37 yards on 14 carries. Strong safety Michael Huff was strong in run support and Oakland's defensive front, tackle Terdell Sands in particular, consistently won the point of attack.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus -- Punter Shane Lechler dropped a pair of punts at the 2-yard line and nearly had a third as Oakland consistently got the better of field position. Sebastian Janikowski had field goals of 55 and 20 yards and missed from 51, not a gimme but he's got the leg and the Raiders needed it. David Kircus had a 42-yard punt return for the Broncos. Chris Carr was bottled up on punt returns and averaged 27.3 on kickoff returns. He also was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on a controversial penalty for not returning to the field of play soon enough which negated a Raiders fumble recovery deep in Denver territory while leading 13-7.

COACHING: C-plus -- Walter's criticism of the playbook aside, he was in position to make the throws needed to put away a win and didn't do it and offensive coordinator Tom Walsh's first half was as good as he has had all season. Coach Art Shell burned Oakland's last time out with 4:06 to play on to challenge what appeared to be a Washington interception -- even though it was third down, Denver had brought on the punt team and the gain in field position was probably negligible. Defensive plan from Rob Ryan was first rate -- a confident team that knows its assignments.

Broncos Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Jake Plummer threw three interceptions, which put Denver in a hole, but he did rebound late in the game. He went 7-for-7 on a fourth-quarter drive that put Denver ahead for good, and he hit FB Kyle Johnson for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal. Javon Walker made two big plays but only had two catches. The Broncos compensated by getting the tight ends involved more.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- The Broncos didn't have a rush of more than 9 yards against the Raiders, who had the 27th-ranked run defense in the NFL coming in. Tatum Bell struggled to run effectively, one week after sitting out with turf toe injuries. Damien Nash was signed of the practice squad and was active ahead of Cedric Cobbs and Mike Bell, but he didn't have a great game either.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Broncos took Randy Moss out of the game by lining up Champ Bailey against him, and they rushed the quarterback pretty well against the Raiders' suspect offensive line. The Broncos gave up a few more catches than they wanted to against Oakland's tight ends, but no big plays that turned the momentum of the game.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Denver did a good job containing LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas. Without much of a passing game, the only way the Raiders were going to win was by putting together long drives running the ball, and they never did that.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- David Kircus had a nice punt return to set up Denver's first touchdown, but the rest of the day didn't go well for the Broncos' special teams. P Paul Ernster struggled. Kircus and KR Brian Clark both fumbled, but the Broncos recovered Clark's fumble and a Raiders penalty wiped out Kircus' fumble. The Broncos didn't allow any devastating returns to Oakland's Chris Carr, which the Raiders needed considering their poor offense.

COACHING: B -- The Broncos had to deal with some key injuries during the week and made a starting lineup change at offensive right tackle, subbing Adam Meadows for George Foster. But they held it together and survived a scare. Mike Shanahan's gamble to pass on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter worked out masterfully. The Broncos weren't great at Oakland, but they did enough to win.

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