Struggles continue in loss to Pats

It was wet, it was ugly and it was over quick. The Raiders dug a 21-point hole against the New England Patriots in the first quarter and never recovered, losing 49-26 while becoming the first team in NFL history to have 11 or more losses for six consecutive seasons.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

· QB JaMarcus Russell threw a pair of touchdown passes, hitting Johnnie Lee Higgins in stride on a crossing pattern that turned into a 56-yard touchdown and later lofting a 10-yard toss over the head of a San Diego defender and into the arms of Ronald Curry. He showed great touch on the ball to Curry, a pass which might have been his best throw of the season though he was more pleased with the pass to Higgins, and kept plays alive with his feet better than he has in the past. Russell made some of the familiar mistakes we've seen him make, like throwing high to open receivers, and he also made a poor throw on the ball that was picked off at the goal line but he's still making tangible progress that would probably be helped a bit more with better play-calling.

· Rookie Darren McFadden inexplicably stood on the sidelines wearing a rain jacket for the first 17 minutes of the game before the Raiders finally decided to use their first-round draft pick. Once he was in he showed some of the skills that made him so successful in college, getting outside on a pitch from Russell then grabbing a screen pass and scurrying downfield. All in all McFadden accounted for 114 yards of Oakland's 334 yards of offense, which makes his lack of work in the first quarter even more puzzling.

· Tight end Zach Miller was the workhorse for Russell again, catching five passes for 60 yards, most of them down the middle. That gives Miller, who suffered a stinger late in the game, 50 receptions on the season, the most by a Raiders tight end since Ethan Horton had 53 and went to the Pro Bowl in 1991.

· Justin Miller became the first player in Raiders history to return two kickoffs for a touchdown in the same season. Miller, who scored on a 92-yard return against San Diego last week, had a 91-yarder against the Patriots that briefly brought Oakland within 28-14 early in the second quarter.

· Second-year left tackle Mario Henderson has a long way to go before he can be considered a legitimate contender for the full-time starting spot but in holding New England defensive end Richard Seymour without a sack (one tackle, no hurries and, most importantly, no penalties) Henderson proved he may have some upside after all and is at least better than Kwame Harris.



WHAT WENT WRONG

· Oakland's offense went three-and-out on its first three possessions while the Patriots scored the first five times they touched the ball. That's the difference between a team headed toward the playoffs and a team headed back to the drawing board. The most concerning problem was the defense, which interim coach Tom Cable blamed on communication issues. To have that type of problem 14 games into the season isn't just ridiculous, it's inexcusable. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's troops made some good adjustments at halftime but the damage had been done by then.

· The two former Raiders that were booed every time they touched the ball or had their names announced over the loudspeaker combined for 164 yards of offense and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Randy Moss got into the end zone twice, once after beating cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, while running back Randy Jordan rushed for 97 yards and had a 49-yard TD run.

· Oakland's defensive line repeatedly was beaten off the ball, allowing New England to gouge the Raiders up the middle for big gains throughout the afternoon. It didn't seem to matter who was running the ball or what the down and distance; the Patriots rushed for a season-high 277 yards and averaged 7.1 yard a pop.

· The Raiders had issues on special teams that played a huge role. Jon Alston was hit with a holding penalty that wiped out a 36-yard kickoff return, Sebastian Janikowski had an extra point attempt blocked for only the second time in his career and the first since Nov. 28, 2004, Shane Lechler's punting was erratic and the coverage team gave up a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown to Ellis Hobbs right after Miller's long TD had swung momentum temporarily back in Oakland's favor.



BY THE NUMBERS

2: First-half touchdowns in 79 possessions scored this season by the Raiders, who got their second on the long TD from Russell to Higgins late in the first quarter.

88.4: Rating for Russell, who was 17 of 31 for 242 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also dropped a halfback pass from Michael Bush.

19 : First downs by Oakland's offense, matching its season high. The Raiders also had 19 in the overtime win against the Jets.



INJURIES

· Wide receiver Ashley Lelie was held without a catch and was unable to finish the game due to a calf injury that had him limping on the sidelines in the second half.

· Ronald Curry was suffering from turf toe after the game, though Cable didn't reveal the severity

THEY SAID IT

· "You want to know when. I've been here four runs and it hasn't been fun, definitely, because of the wins and losses aspect. It's been fun as far as my teammates and going out and playing hard and doing everything that we can to win football games. We just haven't done it. That's just where the frustration comes in at."

-- Linebacker Kirk Morrison, asked if he wonders when things will turn around for the Raiders

· "We came here together to wear the Oakland uniform and to try to turn that program around. It didn't work out and we both left on bad terms. To come back here and do what we did today. I prayed this morning to please keep me humble. ... It was a superb game."

-- Patriots running back and former Raider LaMont Jordan, commenting on the day he and another ex-Oakland player, Randy Moss, had

· "Yeah, it really is. Especially going in week in and week out, knowing how much effort we're putting in at practice. To go out there and for things not to go the way you draw them up, it's tough to tell the guys to keep fighting, just to keep pushing, that things are going to turn around. Everybody looks at each other like, ‘When?' It's really depressing."

-- QB JaMarcus Russell

·"The Dolphins showed how fast you can turn a franchise around. The Atlanta Falcons have showed how fast you can turn a franchise around. This franchise has been competitive for decades. I'm sure Mr. Davis and the Raiders are going to turn that around."

-- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell


SB Report Top Stories