Two-game streak suits Raiders

Riding a two-game winning streak, the Oakland Raiders after beating division foes in successive weeks. But, the toughest part of their schedule hits over the last four weeks of the season with games against Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and San Diego.

Raiders Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Josh McCown was efficient, productive and error free, completing 14 of 21 passes for 141 yards and touchdowns to three receivers in the red zone -- Tim Dwight, Zach Miller and Jerry Porter. He made one bad decision -- forcing a pass to a double-covered Ronald Curry in the end zone -- and it fell incomplete. JaMarcus Russell made an impressive debut in two series. He was 4-for-7 for 56 yards and produced no points, but no turnovers either.

It ranked as one of the best days in the history of the McCown family.

Not only did Josh throw three touchdown passes against the Broncos, but brother Luke drew a surprise start for Tampa Bay against the New Orleans Saints and led the Bucs to a 27-23, come-from-behind win.

Luke McCown had been the No. 3 quarterback the previous week, but was chosen by coach Jon Gruden over Bruce Gradkowski to start for the injured Jeff Garcia. Luke McCown was 29-for-37 for 313 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Combined with Josh (14-for-21, 141 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) the Sunday McCown scorecard: 43-for-58 (74.1 percent), 454 yards, five touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 118.0.

"This is one of the best days for us, that's awesome," Josh said. "I'm so excited for him, and I'm glad I threw for more touchdowns than him."

Porter's Coliseum drought ended when he caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from QB Josh McCown for a touchdown.

On Dec. 19, 2004, Porter caught three touchdown passes for the Raiders in a home win against Tennessee. In the nearly three years since, Porter scored eight touchdowns -- one against the Chiefs, two against the Titans, one against the Redskins, one against the Jets, one against the Broncos and two against the Dolphins -- all on the road.

Porter was not the intended receiver, but got open in the middle of the end zone while McCown was scrambling to his left. He managed to get off an across-the-body throw without much on it, but Porter waited and made the catch for the score.

"I had a lot of time to think about that ball," Porter said. "I thought about my high school girlfriend, what I'm going to do tonight, and everything else. But it kept coming and it made it through, and I'm happy I actually got one."

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Justin Fargas had a career-high 33 carries for 146 yards as the Raiders ran for 175 yards in all. On his first carry, Fargas set the tone with a 19-yard stretch play to his right, and Oakland was able to keep the game in a manageable down and distance all day. One minor quibble -- after gaining positive yards on 21 of 22 carries the previous week against Kansas City, Fargas was stopped for no gain or a short loss eight times.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Raiders had a few breakdowns, particularly where Brandon Stokley was concerned (three catches, 102 yards) and missed some tackles on Brandon Marshall, but Oakland had two key interceptions -- one by Thomas Howard and one by Fabian Washington. Howard's pick set up a field goal. Washington's came with the Raiders holding a 27-20 lead and set up the touchdown that put the game away.

RUSH DEFENSE A-minus -- The NFL's 32nd-ranked run defense coming in, the Raiders had their best game of the season, considering the opposition. The Broncos were rolling on the ground entering the game, and they got nowhere. They gained 86 yards on 30 carries, a 3.0 average. Terdell Sands did a good job clogging the middle and enabling LBs Kirk Morrison (10 tackles) and Howard (seven stops) to clean up. Robert Thomas stripped Henry, with the Raiders recovering the fumble.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- Hard to blame Sebastian Janikowski for coming up short on a 58-yard field goal attempt, but he also missed a 35-yard attempt. He was successful from 38 and 48 yards. Shane Lechler punted once all day, a 63-yarder with a 10-yard return. KR Chris Carr had his best game of the season, averaging 28.3 yards on three returns with a long of 38. Tim Dwight fell on his own fumbled punt return. Denver's average drive start following kickoffs was the 21-yard line.

COACHING: A -- Kiffin's decision to let Janikowski attempt a 58-yard field goal enabled the Broncos to start at the 49 following the miss, but the Raiders defense saved him. For the second consecutive time, when Kiffin faced an opponent for the second time in the season, he decidedly won the coaching battle. The Raiders had a nice use of bootlegs and rollouts with McCown. The plan to use Russell produced no points, but it seemed to infuse the Raiders with energy. Kiffin took him out at the right time, with McCown immediately producing points. Rob Ryan's defense stonewalled the run, and the special teams were well-prepared.

Broncos Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Jay Cutler took a step back against Oakland. He threw two bad interceptions in the second half that helped put the Broncos in a big hole. Cutler helped pull Denver back in the game by playing well for the latter part of the third quarter, but his fourth-quarter interception ended Denver's last good hope to pull off the win.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus -- Travis Henry had two touchdowns, but that was about the only positive sign for the running game. Henry had to play more than expected because of Selvin Young's arm injury. He showed his inactivity. He fumbled twice, although one was a botched handoff that Cutler deserves a part of the blame for, and never got going running the ball. Nobody on the Broncos had a run longer than nine yards. The reason that was so disappointing for the Broncos was the matchup -- Oakland's run defense was ranked last in the NFL.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Broncos didn't give up many yards, but the Raiders were efficient. Josh McCown replaced injured Daunte Culpepper and had three touchdowns and no interceptions. Rookie JaMarcus Russell also came in and had a few nice passes. Denver also couldn't get any pressure on McCown or Russell. The Broncos had no sacks. RUSH DEFENSE: D -- After making progress for a few weeks, the Broncos run defense struggled again. The performance was reminiscent of their early-season woes. Justin Fargas got yards in big chunks and had 146 overall. The Broncos didn't change much in their scheme against the Raiders, they just didn't execute well.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The Broncos could have used a boost from the special teams but didn't get much. Kickoff returner Andre Hall and punt returner Glenn Martinez were out, which didn't help. The coverage teams didn't give up any back-breaking gains, but Oakland had a few good returns to help in the field-position battle.

COACHING: D -- Denver seemed flat a week after losing to the Bears in stunning fashion. The Broncos didn't execute well in any phase, and only a myriad of Raiders mistakes kept them in the game as long as they were. Denver is still mathematically alive with four games to go, but its playoff chances do not look good.


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