Raiders' season ends with a whimper - again

The Raiders undoubtedly made some strides this year. They were competitive in most of their games this year, but there is only one thing that really mattered on Sunday when their season came to an end.

Four wins, twelve agonizing losses.

That number was set in stone following a 30-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers at McAfee Coliseum, a game that featured many of the traits that kept the Raiders at or near the bottom of the NFL for the past five years.

Among the many miscues that Oakland committed over the course of Sunday's game were three lost fumbles in the second half, one of which gave the Chargers a touchdown while another killed a promising drive that had stretched into San Diego territory.

The Raiders were also penalized eight times for 60 yards, two of them coming of the personal-foul variety. When you add it all up, the Raiders closed out their season by losing their final four games. For head coach Lane Kiffin, one season like this is enough.

"This isn't happening again," Kiffin said. "We're not going to be 4-12. We're going to play our style of ball. We're going to attack free agency. We're going to attack the draft. We're going to do whatever it takes, every single thing to get better."

Kiffin saw some encouraging signs, however. In his first NFL start, rookie JaMarcus Russell had a much better showing than was the case the week before, completing 23 of his 31 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown - a 32-yard hookup with Jerry Porter in the third quarter - for a 91.3 rating.

"(It was) a lot better than last week," Russell said, referring to his first extended action against Jacksonville. "I had a lot more time to see everything and get a chance to really get a feel for the defense."

Russell had a shaky start to the game, as his first pass was intercepted at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Igor Olshansky at the Raiders' 47-yard line, a play which led to a Chargers touchdown nine plays later.

He was also sacked four times and lost two fumbles, including one that saw him get blind-sided in the end zone midway through the third quarter by linebacker Jyles Tucker and cough up the football. Tucker then fell on the loose ball to give the Chargers a 24-10 lead.

In the meantime, running back Dominic Rhodes was quite a busy man, carrying the ball 29 times for 122 yards - his second straight 100-yard rushing game - against a team that still had something to play for despite having long secured a playoff spot.


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