Run defense must rebound

After getting torched by St. Louis running back Marshall Faulk for 158 yards in a 28-13, the Oakland Raiders' defense gets no break the next three weeks beginning with Sunday's home game against San Diego.

 

After getting torched by St. Louis running back Marshall Faulk for 158 yards in a 28-13, the Oakland Raiders' defense gets no break the next three weeks beginning with Sunday's home game against San Diego.

            The Chargers boast the NFL's second leading rusher in LaDanian Tomlinson, who enters the contest with 632 yards on 135 carries and six touchdowns. After Tomlinson, Oakland visits Kansas City and hosts San Francisco. Kansas City has the NFL's leading rusher in Priest Holmes while the latter is second in the NFL as a team in averaging 155 yards rushing, led by Kevan Barlow and Garrison Hearst.

"Talk about not getting a break the first half of the season," Oakland defensive end Tony Bryant said. "Every time we turn around, we're facing a running back better than the one we just played. We're up for the challenge, though."

            Oakland's run defense passed their first four tests when facing Seattle's Shaun Alexander, Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis, Tennessee's Eddie George and Buffalo's Travis Henry. The Raiders held those four backs to a combined 161 yards and a 3.2 per carry average before Faulk shredded them last Sunday in St. Louis.

            The Raiders' first four opponents, however, fell behind early and had to throw to get back in the game whereas St. Louis led wire-to-wire. Tomlinson rushed for 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie a year ago but gained only 114 yards on 39 carries in two contests against Oakland.

"We've got to be sound and play good gap control," Raiders defensive end Trace Armstrong said. "Tomlinson's a special back. You don't see many guys come in and have as many tools as he has. "He's able to accelerate through the hole and very rarely do you see him falling back."


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