At least Oakland has the NFL Draft

As the losses continue to pile up in Oakland, it is hard to look at the rest of the season with satisfaction. The real season for the Raiders begins in January with the Senior Bowl and it would seem their Super Bowl will be the NFL Draft.

Three competitive games against the solid opposition in the AFC West gave way to a 23-14 loss to the Houston Texans, which makes the Oakland Raiders look as if they are worthy contenders for the top pick of the NFL Draft.

The Raiders, 2-10, have demonstrated a fairly stout defense all year while at the same time fielding an offensive team so abysmal, the 1970s vintage Pittsburgh Steelers could have overcome it.

Oakland took that modus operandi to a ridiculous extreme against Houston, becoming the first team in 25 years to lose a game in which the opposition had minus-yards passing the ball.

Texans quarterback David Carr completed seven of 14 passes for 32 yards with a long gain of nine yards. Factoring in five Oakland sacks for 37 yards in losses, Houston ended up with minus-five yards passing.

It got so bad, the Texans stopped trying. Carr tried only three passes in the second half, missing them all. Oakland's previous best game in terms of pass defense was in 1967, when they held the Denver Broncos to seven yards passing.

They won that day, 51-0.

Houston, 4-8, finished with 125 yards in total offense.

The Texans got a 58-yard fumble return by Demarcus Faggins, had an 87-yard kickoff return from Jerome Mathis which set up a three-yard plunge by Wali Lundy, and had a 42-yard field goal by Kris Brown set up by a 58-yard punt return by Dexter Wynn.

The Raiders, meanwhile, lost three fumbles and quarterback Aaron Brooks threw two interceptions. Despite spending most of the afternoon on Houston's side of the field, Oakland got one offensive touchdown -- a three-yard run by Justin Fargas set up by Chris Carr's 34-yard punt return.

"This is probably the lowest I've felt all year long," coach Art Shell said. "But when I walk out of here, I'm not going to walk out dead, I'm still proud of the effort that we have, the fight that we have. But we've got to make the plays. We didn't do that."

It was Oakland's first game with John Shoop replacing Tom Walsh as offensive coordinator. In the first half, in particular, the Raiders seemed to have a better tempo. Quarterback Aaron Brooks got the ball out faster and Randy Moss even got into the act -- catching a 21-yard slant on the first play.

But as the game progressed, the same errors that helped end Walsh's tenure doomed the play-calling by Shoop.

Brooks seemed embarrassed to even share the same locker room with his defensive teammates. He confined his comments to a single statement.

"I'd like to commend the defense. You can't ask any more from the guys," Brooks said. "I appreciate what they do for us. And I know they're just doing their job. Offensively, I don't have any words.

"I was taught that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. So I'm not going to say anything at all."


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