Defense dominates in win; QB still undecided

Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin said after Friday night's 20-10 win over the St. Louis Rams that he isn't ready to name a starting quarterback; he implied that there is still plenty to be desired from the offense as a whole.

The defense, on the other hand, is a totally different story. Oakland's third preseason game featured a defensive unit, particularly the first string, that made big plays while shutting down one of the NFL's better offenses.

Without running back Steven Jackson in the lineup, quarterback Marc Bulger was limited to 109 first-half passing yards while completing only eight of his 21 passes, a handful of which Bulger had to throw while under intense pressure.

"We needed to establish a personality in the way we were going to play defense here," Kiffin said. "When people come in to play the Raiders, we want to let them know what they're going to be getting into."

On offense, the Raiders didn't have any trouble moving the football, and 17-3 halftime score indicated that. Of course, they did get a huge lift from the 107 penalty yards that were called on the Rams' defense in the first half.

The Raiders seemed to pick a target in cornerback Tye Hill, whom the Raiders drew two pass interference flags on attempted deep pass plays, one of which led to a touchdown.

With a little more than a minute left in the half, Josh McCown set up a screen pass for LaMont Jordan, and it turned into a huge 49-yard gain. Two plays later, McCown went for receiver Ronald Curry in the end zone, and while the pass was incomplete, safety Corey Chavous was flagged for pass interference.

That penalty, which put St. Louis over the 100-yard mark in that category, directly set up Jordan's easy 1-yard touchdown.

At the same time, there were some negative signs, such as the offensive line giving up four sacks, more than the line has surrendered in the previous two preseason games. On other occasions, quarterbacks had to escape the pocket after it had disintegrated to get a few yards.

The Raiders would have had a bigger halftime lead had it not been for a crucial fumble in the first quarter. Using a nifty end around as well as converting on a fourth down, Oakland drove all the way to the Rams' 1-yard line only to come empty when Jordan coughed up the ball at the goal line. When linebacker Will Witherspoon recovered for St. Louis, the hard-earned 68-yard drive went for naught.

"We've got to finish better than that," Kiffin said. "We left a lot of points out there, especially in the first half. That was very disappointing."

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