Raider defense making like thieves

Football coaches are as likely to preach the importance of turnovers as they are likely to say, "Hi, how are you?" The fact that the Oakland Raiders rank first in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-seven is another key reason for an impressive 4-0 start heading into Sunday's game at St. Louis.

 

Football coaches are as likely to preach the importance of turnovers as they are likely to say, "Hi, how are you?" The fact that the Oakland Raiders rank first in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-seven is another key reason for an impressive 4-0 start heading into Sunday's game at St. Louis.

Since the Rams are going to start an inexperienced quarterback, whether it's Jamie Martin or Marc Bulger in place of the injured Kurt Warner (hand), takeaways figure to keep coming. Martin has a knee injury but is listed as probable.

Last season, Oakland finished at plus-one in the takeaway-giveaway department. In 2002, the Raiders have converted 12 takeaways into 45 points but even that stat is misleading. Three of those turnovers came on the opponent's last drive of the game when pressing for more points was not an issue since Oakland had the game well in hand. Conversely, opponents have turned five Raider turnovers into 20 points.

Many stats can often be misleading but there's no diminishing the importance of winning the turnover battle. Through five weeks in the 2002 season, teams that win that battle are 45-6. In addition, teams that score either a special teams or defensive touchdown are 28-5.


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