Raiders running in quicksand

The Oakland Raiders were supposed to be able to run the ball. Heck, they should have been able to pass the ball all year. Neither has happened.

Raiders Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Quarterbacks Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter were a combined 25-for-39 for 229 yards, but with three interceptions. The short drops instituted by John Shoop have affected Brooks' ability to create something out of a broken play, resulting in incompletions or negligible gains. Inability to pick up a blitz continues to be a problem -- there were four sacks and constant pressure all game long.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- Against the 31st-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, the Raiders ran just 18 times for 57 yards (3.2 yards per carry) even though they theoretically in the game until midway through the fourth quarter. Justin Fargas had nine carries for 27 yards in the first quarter and did little thereafter. Zack Crockett had two carries for one yard and a costly fumble. Raiders had no gain for more than 11 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha broke up three passes, including one in the end zone. Fellow cornerback Fabian Washington, who sprained an A-C joint in his shoulder, had his second straight difficult week and was victimized by both Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Stanford Routt, inserted as the nickel back over Tyrone Poole, had a solid game. The Raiders dropped Bulger four times, including sacks by Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Raiders have been susceptible to top running backs this season and the Rams' Steven Jackson was no different. He gained 127 yards on 31 carries, a 4.1 average, plus two touchdowns. His 19-yard scoring run came immediately following an Andrew Walter interception and encountered virtually no resistance. The going wasn't always that easy for Jackson, however. The Raiders twice stiffened on first-half drives near the goal line.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-plus -- A rare muff of a punt by Chris Carr was recovered by the Rams' Chris Massey at the 24-yard line and preceded the first St. Louis score. It took a 6-0 game and made it 13-0 – nearly insurmountable, given Oakland's difficulties on offense. Carr had just 5 yards on two punt returns and averaged 23 yards on five kickoff returns. Punter Shane Lechler placed two punts inside the 20, averaged 42.8 yards and had a long of 52 yards.

COACHING: C - Coach Art Shell's decision to bench Brooks in favor of Walter with a 13-0 deficit paid no dividends as Walter was intercepted twice. There is no guarantee Brooks would have done any better had he remained in the game. Oakland's defensive plan was sound even if the execution wasn't always perfect. The coach staff made a nice decision to give a heavy rush on punts rather than lay back and hope for the big return. The Raiders did not come out with a sense of urgency and opportunity, considering they had a home game against a beatable foe.

Rams Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus -- QB Marc Bulger attempted just 22 passes, completing 11 for 137 yards and was sacked four times, making the team's net passing total just 103 yards. However, Bulger was able to get the ball to Torry Holt for a 21-yard play and Isaac Bruce for 41. Those two plays accounted for 62 of the 137 passing yards. Bulger did not throw an interception for the eighth game this season.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- It wasn't pretty, but it was effective. The Rams had 32 rushing attempts by running backs and established the ground game in the first half when RB Steven Jackson had 80 yards on 18 carries. Most of Jackson's yards came up the middle, behind the inexperienced line trio of guards Mark Setterstrom and Richie Incognito and center Brett Romberg.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- The Rams had three interceptions, limited Qbs Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter to passer ratings below 50.0 and the duo's combined 25 completions totaled 229 yards, less than 10 yards per reception. Of Walter's 131 yards, 111 came on the Raiders' final two possessions.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- It was against the Raiders' poor run offense, but the Rams still did the job. Running backs accounted for 47 yards on 16 attempts, and the defense forced a Zack Crockett fumble on a 1st-and-10 play from the Rams' 13-yard line when the score was still 13-0 in the third quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- P Matt Turk had a 74-yard punt, the third-longest in club history and the longest since 1948, as well as averaging 49.8 yards on five punts with two inside the 20. Two punts were returned for a total of five yards, and long snapper Chris Massey recovered a muff by Raiders returner Chris Carr. Turk also ran 16 yards for a first down on a fake punt. K Jeff Wilkins was 2-for-2 on field goals and kickoff coverage was solid, one week after Chicago's Devin Hester returned two for touchdowns.

COACHING: B-plus -- Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett designed a plan that capitalized on the weaknesses of Raiders QB Aaron Brooks, while offensive coordinator Greg Olson stuck with the running game even when it was getting minimal yardage at time. Coach Scott Linehan had the team ready to play on a West Coast road trip on a short week after a Monday night game.


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