Raiders offense falters again

The Oakland Raiders were feeling good about a home game against a team with a struggling offense but could not generate anything for themselves, losing 17-6 on Sunday.


The day started off so well, with Josh McCown taking the first snap from scrimmage and rambling his way 24 yards downfield, making an emphatic first-down signal as he stood up. It was all downhill after that. He completed just 14 of 27 passes for 108 yards and committed turnovers on the Raiders final two possessions. He didn't get much help from his receivers but McCown's decision-making and throws left a lot to be desired, which pretty much sums up his season thus far. Grade: D-


Justin Fargas held up well in his second straight start despite taking a couple of big hits from Chicago's defense. Fargas finished with 81 yards rushing and added another 23 yards on five receptions. His fumble in the second half was critical but the Raiders should have looked c loser at challenging it. Dominic Rhodes made a rare appearance in the backfield and actually got to run the ball, which made LaMont Jordan's presence on the sidelines -- in sweats, no less -- all the more unusual. The team continues to split time at fullback with Justin Griffith and rookie Oren O'Neal. Grade: C+


As bad an afternoon as McCown had, it wouldn't have been nearly that bad had he gotten more out of the receivers. On one of McCown's desperation heaves late in the game, two receivers stood around and did nothing to get open while McCown scrambled around for his life. Ronald Curry caught three passes but was called for a pair of false starts. Jerry Porter caught both of his passes in the first half then disappeared after halftime. Rookie TE Zach Miller made a pair of nice catches and finished with four, but he's still being forced to stay in and help block far too often to help the passing game. Grade: D


First the good news: the running game had a decent outing and Barry Sims and Robert Gallery didn't pick up their usual allotment of penalties. Now the bad news: Jeremy Newberry and Cornell Green picked up the penalty pace, both with drive-killing calls. The line as a whole struggled to keep Chicago's offensive line off McCown, who was sacked four times and scrambled on three other occasions. Grade: C-


Bears RB Cedric Benson put up 76 yards on the ground but he had to fight for every inch. The Raiders never let him break the big play like they had against their previous five opponents, holding him to 2.6 yards a carry. And after a slow start, the pass rush also picked up considerably in the second half, with Derrick Burgess and Chris Clemons both picking up Sands. Interestingly, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan alternated between a normal four-man front and a five-man line that included Clemons and Burgess at the ends with Warren Sapp, Terdell Sands and Gerard Warren inside. Grade: B


Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard were both very active, particularly early in the game. Howard made two great plays stopping short passes to the flat while Morrison made the sack that knocked Chicago QB Brian Griese out of the game in the second quarter. Morrison finished with a game-high nine tackles, as did Robert Thomas who has played very well in Sam Williams' absence. Howard had eight tackles but whiffed on one key play when the Bears were backed up against their own goal line. Grade: B


With starter Nnamdi Asomugha and backup Fabian Washington on the bench, the Raiders had to turn to Chris Carr and seldom-used Chris Johnson to fill in. Both played well but Carr bit on slight move by Chicago WR Bernard Berrian and it turned out to be the game-breaking play. It was one of the few mistakes the secondary made. Michael Huff (six tackles) let an interception slip through his hands but also played well in run support, while Stuart Schweigert (seven tackles) made two big hits to break up passes. Grade: B-


The Raiders challenged Devin Hester the way few teams do and had a lot of success, turning the NFL's best kick returner into a non-factor. Oakland's coverage units were on Hester all day and never allowed him to find a seam to sneak through. Credit Shane Lechler's punting for playing a big part of that, too. Sebastian Janikowski's two field goals and a solid afternoon on kickoffs also helped. On the downside, Oakland managed little on its own returns and rookie Johnnie Lee Higgins got replaced on punt returns by Tim Dwight after fumbling. Grade: B


A great day by the defense and special teams goes to waste because the offense can't move the ball. It's been pretty much the same formula all season, and nothing changed against Chicago. The fans are growing tired of it, the players are growing tired of it, and you know Al Davis is growing tired of it. Most frustrating is that had Oakland been able to beat both Houston and Chicago -- games the Raiders very easily could have won -- they'd be right in the thick of things in the AFC West. Instead they're 2-7 and spiraling down the same path they went a year ago. Grade: C

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