Raiders defense stutters

The Oakland Raiders face their last three games of the season insecure in the knowledge that even the most reliable part of their team managed to fail them at a crucial time.

That the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Oakland Raiders 27-10 Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium comes as no surprise, given the Bengals' status as a potential playoff team at 8-5 and the Raiders playing out the string at 2-11.

The manner in which Cincinnati handled Oakland doesn't bode well for the Raiders' final three games of the season against St. Louis, Kansas City and the New York Jets.

Any hope the Raiders had of closing respectably rested with a defense that came into the game ranked No. 3 in the NFL overall at 275.8 yards per game and ranked No. 1 in pass defense at 143.0.

The Bengals reacted to that by dicing up the Raiders defense as a chef would an onion, running up 28 first downs, 439 yards of offense and keeping punter Kyle Larson a spectator for the entire four quarters.

When it was all over, quarterback Carson Palmer was 20 of 28 for 298 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh (eight receptions, 118 yards) and Chad Johnson (five receptions, 101 yards) and Rudi Johnson (30 carries, 117 yards, two touchdowns) also reached triple figures.

It was the first time since 1989 the Bengals played an entire game without punting, and the first time in their history they had a running back and two receivers over 100 yards in the same game.

The Raiders' defense, a fairly consistent bright spot throughout a dark season, had little in the way of explanation.

"This one hurts," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "This one stings. It wasn't even close. We didn't give ourselves a chance ... they had good timing going and we didn't do anything to throw off their timing. They put up 27 on us and 400 yards. It's been a long time since we've seen numbers like that."

The 49ers scored 34 (with the help of a defensive touchdown) against the Raiders on Oct. 8. The yardage figure was the highest since Philadelphia ran up 448 yards in Week 3 of 2005.

While that Eagles game was a 23-20 heartbreaker, the Bengals breezed. They scored 27 despite being intercepted three times, including once in the end zone, and despite kneeling on the ball inside the five-yard line as the game came to a close.

Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, whose pass defense along with fellow corner Fabian Washington was supposed to make a difference, intercepted two passes and had a Pro Bowl caliber game.

Washington had one of the longest days of his career and was victimized repeatedly, most often by Houshmandzadeh.

The pass defense got no help from a pass rush that provided zero sacks, a figure that could also hold for their pressure -- there was none to be found. Derrick Burgess, among the NFL leaders with 10 sacks, was virtually invisible against the one-on-one blocking of Willie Anderson, a Pro Bowler who outweighs him by 60 pounds.

"We're a team that doesn't bring a lot of pressure from our secondary or linebackers," coach Art Shell said. "We bring some, but not a lot. We just line up and play. Our guys have done a good job of doing that all year long. Today we weren't able to bring the kind of pressure on the quarterback we needed to."

Offensively, the Raiders managed to penetrate Cincinnati territory four times in their first five possessions and come away with nothing. Quarterback Aaron Brooks had a pass intercepted at the 13-yard line by Brian Simmons, and Alvis Whitted lost a fumble in Cincinnati territory.

Their lone touchdown came while trailing 27-3 on a five yard pass from Brooks to Ronald Curry.


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