Explosive plays killing Oakland

LaDainian Tomlinson's big day running the ball against the Raiders shouldn't come as much of a surprise. He's been doing that for years now, and Oakland has been having problems stopping the run all season, a task that won't get any easier this week with resurgent Kansas City and running back Larry Johnson coming to town.

Tomlinson rushed for 198 yards and four touchdowns to lead San Diego to a 28-14 win Sunday in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score indicates. That dropped the Raiders to 2-3 in the AFC West and toppled them from the top spot in the division.

It also continued a trend that has been plaguing Oakland's defense ever since its appearance in the Super Bowl during the 2002 season. That year, the Raiders allowed just 90.8 yards a game on the ground and were ranked 3rd in defending the run.

The last four-plus seasons have been an entirely different story.

Opponents have loaded up on the run against the Raiders, who in turn have done little to stop things. In 2003, they were 32nd against the run while giving up 156.9 yards a game; in ‘04, they were 22nd with a 125.8 yard average; in ‘05 they were 25th with a 128.1 yard average, while last season they were again 25th with a 134.0 yard average.

After Tomlinson's big day, Oakland sits 28th in the NFL against the run and is surrendering 144.8 yards on the ground, something Raiders coach Lane Kiffin says has to change.

"I think we can and we have to," Kiffin said Monday. "Or we're going to be in a lot of trouble, especially in this division, we're going to be in for a lot of long games. We're not pleased at all and our players know that and our staff knows that we're not pleased with the way we're playing right on defense because of the inconsistencies and the big plays. It's something you talk about all the time.

"You lose games with turnovers. You lose games with giving up explosive plays. That's what's happening right now to us. It's not a gradual hand the ball off seven yards, eight yards, seven, for instance like we did in the Miami game. That's not what it is right now. We're stopping guys at times then we're giving up explosive plays."


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