Raiders riding high with perseverance

The Raiders have a week off to ponder life with their new quarterback and deal with the loss of their leading rusher before getting back into action with a big AFC West road matchup with the San Diego Chargers.

A 12-game road losing streak fell under the collective strength of an Oakland offensive line which powered its way to a 35-17 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday as the Raiders rushed for 299 yards on 49 carries.

All three rushing touchdowns came on short runs by quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who subbed for a injured starter Josh McCown and ended up scoring three times and passing for two more.

Fifth-year running back Justin Fargas, who never had more than 90 yards in a game in his career, subbed for an injured LaMont Jordan and gained 179 yards on 22 carries. He had just four carries for seven yards when Jordan went out just before halftime.

Jordan, who has been nursing a back injury, had to be helped from the field and afterward needed the help of crutches to walk. He declined comment as he painfully lowered himself into a chair.

There was no definitive diagnosis or prognosis, but it didn't look good.

Jordan, who had 74 yards on 15 carries at the time of his injury, has 424 yards last season -- just 10 yards shy of what he gained in nine games last season before going down with a knee injury.

The game against Miami marked the end of a four-game suspension for running back Dominic Rhodes, who was found in violation of the NFL's policy on substance abuse.

Raiders coach Lane Kiffin thought the ability to carry on without Jordan spoke well of the system the club has instituted.

"I think when you get a team going, you can plug people in, and it doesn't necessarily matter who," Kiffin said. "When you believe in a system, and you start rolling, if someone goes down, that next guy goes in. That's what you need, a team that prepares that way, just in case."

Culpepper completed 5 of 12 passes for 70 yards. His touchdown passes were of seven and 27 yards to Jerry Porter. He was sacked just once and threw no interceptions.

Kiffin stuck with McCown as his starting quarterback through the first two games, one of which McCown was serviceable against Detroit and one in which he was awful against Denver.

Culpepper took over at halftime of a Week 3 win over Cleveland, and Kiffin still wouldn't name him the starter against Miami until Friday.

Following the win over the Dolphins, Kiffin said Culpepper was the starter "today," but wouldn't commit any further.

When asked if there would be a quarterback controversy, he joked, "I'm sure there will be."

With McCown nursing a broken toe, it seems likely Culpepper will retain the job -- health permitting -- for the foreseeable future.

And Culpepper said his health is just fine.

"I think it's been about 22 or 23 months since I had my first major surgery and I feel good," Culpepper said. "Every day I am working out twice a week on that leg and I'm getting stronger and stronger."


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