Rushing Raiders get a rest

"If you look statistically, we've not played some of the higher-ranked rush defenses," Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin said. "So we've got a long way to go and a lot of games to be able to prove that we're really a good running team."

Raiders Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Daunte Culpepper made the most of his five completions in 12 attempts, throwing touchdown passes of six and 27 yards to Jerry Porter, both on third-down plays. Four of his five completions were good for first downs. Ronald Curry had a rare drop of a sideline pass. Tight ends and running backs were not a factor in the passing game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus -- The Raiders took dead aim at the 29th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL and were relentless, running 49 times for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Fargas had 18 carries for 172 yards from the time LaMont Jordan (15 carries, 74 yards) left with a back injury. Culpepper had three rushing touchdowns, even beating two Miami defenders to the pylon for a five-yard run.

"That's what we want to do," right tackle Cornell Green said. "I wasn't here, but I know this team has been through a lot the last few years. To come out and just pound on them was really big."

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- Thomas Howard's 28-yard interception of a Trent Green pass set up the Raiders' first touchdown. Recently anointed starter Stanford Routt had a gift interception near the goal line on an up-for-grabs throw by Green. Tight end Justin Peelle was left uncovered for a 35-yard gain on a fourth-down play that set up a touchdown and on a three-yard touchdown reception. Ronnie Brown caught six passes for 73 yards, including one third-down conversion with Green under pressure in front of both safeties.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Brown gained 134 yards on 15 carries, including a 60-yard burst to get the Dolphins out of the shadow of their own end zone. The Raiders controlled the clock and led from the outset, which did as much to control Miami's running game as anything their defense did.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- Shane Lechler averaged 44.3 yards per punt (both net and gross) and had another kick inside the 20-yard line. Johnnie Lee Higgins lost a fumble on a punt return that set up a Miami score that put the Dolphins within 21-17. Ted Ginn got loose on a 33-yard kickoff return for Miami. Sebastian Janikowski put three of his six kickoffs in the end zone with a pair of touchbacks. He made all five of his conversions and didn't attempt a field goal.

COACHING: A -- Lane Kiffin and company saw a weakness in the Miami run defense and didn't get too clever. They seized the tempo early, taking a 14-0 lead, and patiently hammered away at the soft Dolphins middle even when the Dolphins got within 21-17. It was a game plan perfect not only for the Dolphins, but for Culpepper to thrive in his first start as a Raider.

Dolphins Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Trent Green isn't the problem, but he's also not much of a solution. Brought here to make intelligent decisions under pressure, Green committed another rookie mistake when he threw a critical interception off his back foot on first-and-20 on the Raiders' 25-yard line with the Dolphins trailing 14-7 in the second quarter. In a complete disregard for any semblance of a vertical attack, Green completed just three passes to his wide receivers Sunday while dumping off six passes to RB Ronnie Brown. He was sacked twice and, even with decent protection, isn't going downfield. After the game, Cameron said he's not considering a quarterback change.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- For the second straight week, RB Ronnie Brown has silenced the detractors that have said he wasn't worth the overall No. 2 pick of the 2005 draft as he gained more than 200 multi-purpose yards again. Brown leads all running backs who have at least 60 carries with his 5.2-yard average. He gained 134 yards on 15 carries for a career-best 8.9 yards a carry. That included a 60-yard run, and a nine-yard touchdown run in which he bowled over Raiders safety B.J. Ward on his way into the end zone.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- Tough to grade because Daunte Culpepper only threw 12 passes with just five completions for 75 yards. However, two of those were touchdown passes to WR Jerry Porter. Porter sealed off CB Andre' Goodman on the first TD, and later ran right past CB Michael Lehan to grab a 27-yard TD in which recently converted safety Travis Daniels was late arriving. Other than SS Donovin Darius (nine tackles), the secondary was horrific in run support. The pass rush was again toothless with just DE Matt Roth getting to a still stiff-legged Culpepper for one sack.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Embarrassing effort by the Dolphins front seven, which lost starting DT Vonnie Holliday and starting MLB Channing Crowder to ankle injuries in the first half. Pro Bowl MLB Zach Thomas missed his second straight game while dealing with a concussion. This 32nd-ranked unit is giving up 199.2 rushing yards per game. They folded in the second half for the fourth straight game as backup RB Justin Fargas gained 172 of his career-best 179 yards after halftime. Fargas was relieving RB LaMont Jordan, who hurt his back late in the second quarter but not before gashing the Dolphins for 74 yards on 15 carries. The 299 rushing yards given up by the Dolphins was the most surrendered at home and the third most in franchise history. Even a stiff-legged Culpepper rushed for three touchdowns -- a keeper and two bootlegs. Jason Taylor and Joey Porter were again rendered moot, this time by the Raiders front line of Robert Gallery and Barry Sims.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- This unit actually improved after two straight horrendous efforts against the Cowboys and Jets. Kicker Jay Feely remains perfect at seven of seven after nailing a 29-yard field goal. Rookie P Brandon Fields shanked one but overall was solid with a 40.3 net average on four punts. The kick coverage team, which added starters Crowder, Will Allen and returner Ted Ginn Jr., didn't allow any kick returns longer than 27 yards, and LB Derrick Pope almost made a game-turning fumble recovery on a punt return by rookie Johnnie Lee Higgins. LB Edmund Miles forced the fumble.

COACHING: C -- Once again, Dom Capers' defense gets an F, while Cameron's improving offense earned a B. Capers is not getting the most out of his stars, such as Taylor and Porter. The 32nd-ranked run defense allowed Culpepper and company to convert nine of 15 third downs and are over 50 percent on the season. Cameron continues to cash in on fourth-down gambles, making both attempts with clever play-calling. But faulty headsets cost him valuable timeouts, and he still is having trouble getting the ball deep to his wideouts.


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