It all goes bad against Denver

Three fumbles by Darren McFadden. Two interceptions by JaMarcus Russell. A run defense that was flat out terrible. It all added up to a 23-3 loss to Denver that has the Raiders once again reeling and wondering what happened.

How bad were things?

The crowd at the Oakland Coliseum – almost 17,000 shy of a sellout – booed the offense and specifically Russell early in the first quarter and basically didn't stop until the game ended.

Credit the fans for being more determined and committed than the Raiders themselves.

Well, that is except for the one idiot in the crowd – a guy in a Bo Jackson jersey who threw a cup of beer on a young child wearing a Denver jersey and was kicked out of the game (and got a beer thrown on him by a female Raider fan).

But I digress.

This wasn't just a bad game. This was 2006 bad. Art Shell-Tom Walsh bad. Remember, this wasn't one of the best teams the AFC has to offer. Denver may be 3-0 but the Broncos' previous two wins came on a lucky play against Baltimore and by beating an absolutely terrible Cleveland team.

Yet the Raiders could do nothing on either side of the ball. NOTHING.

Here's a synopsis of what went down:

-- JaMarcus Russell had one of the worst games of his careers and got a major earful from the faithful. The third-year QB threw a pair of interceptions, one of which can be written off because the intended receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey, fell down while running his route.

His rating of 22.6 was terrible and deserved. And the fans let him know it. Oh how did they let him know.

Russell was booed early and it only got stronger each time he trotted onto the field. At one point, the QB walked to the bench and pumped his fist in unison as the crowd chanted "Russell sucks, Russell sucks."

Head coach Tom Cable, however, said he had no intention of benching Russell and isn't making any changes in the near future.

"Really I don't feel like that right now," Cable said. "I feel like we've got to keep moving forward, trying to figure out what is going to help him be at his best."

-- The running game, which started out well early on, became a non-factor once the Broncos took a big lead. Darren McFadden's three fumbles – only one which the Broncos recovered – were huge and are a growing concern for the second-year running back.

McFadden finished with 45 yards on 12 carries while Michael Bush had six carries for 20 yards.

-- Conversely, Denver's running game looked world class against Oakland's third-world defense. Correll Buckhalter outgained the entire Raiders team by himself, 108-95 yards on the ground. Rookie Knowshon Moreno added another 90 plus a touchdown.

Oakland did make a goal line stand in the first quarter but that was only a blip. It's looking more and more as if the defense's effort against the Chargers was a fluke.

The problems are everywhere, from the defensive line getting blown apart by Denver's offensive line to the countless missed tackles that allowed Buckhalter and Moreno to gain valuable extra yards.

"They performed better than we did, that's what it all boils down to," defensive end Greg Ellis said. "They broke tackles and made runs and we didn't tackle well enough. It's pretty disappointing."

-- Penalties once again cropped up as a problem spot. Though they only got hit six of the yellow flags, one was on defensive lineman Richard Seymour for pulling the hair of Denver tackle Ryan Clady and another was on rookie Louis Murphy for offensive pass interference. Foolish plays like that are what keeps an offense from staying on the field and keeps the defense from getting off it.

-- Speaking of receivers, Darrius Heyward-Bey was shut out for the second time in three games. Russell threw his way twice and missed badly both times.

One thing I picked up watching DHB: He doesn't come off the ball immediately when the ball is snapped. He pauses, briefly, then starts into his route. That obviously can be an issue when it comes to timing with the quarterback, though clearly Russell has other things to clean up.

-- Tight end Zach Miller had only two catches for 17 yards, a week after getting shut out by Kansas City. Teams are clearly focusing on taking Miller, Russell's favorite and most reliable target, out of the mix and forcing the quarterback to look at his other options.

-- Former wide receiver-turned-defensive back-turned-kickoff returner Jonathan Holland looked very tentative for the most part and made a couple questionable decisions to bring the ball out of the end zone. Holland also suffered a dislocated elbow just before halftime but played in the second half.

-- The Raiders pass rush was non-existent all game. They tried a few blitzes but not consistently and allowed Kyle Orton to put up respectable numbers. Orton didn't get sacked and had no quarterback hurries.

Tommy Kelly and his $50.5 million contract? Three tackles. Gerard Warren? One. Greg Ellis? Two.

-- Second-year safety Tyvon Branch had a pretty good game, though he did get bowled over a couple of times while trying to make a tackle. Branch had 10 tackles, one for a loss.

Michael Huff also just missed his fourth interception of the season when he broke up a pass near the goal line.

-- Huff came out of the game with sore ribs and a quadriceps muscle contusion _ a fancy way of saying a thigh bruise. Mike Mitchell injured his right thumb and John Bowie hurt the MCL in his left knee.


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