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Even Kiffin has to admit loss could've been worse

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    October 15, 2007
    <!--- BODYTEXT ---><TABLE cellPadding=2 width=224 align=right><TBODY><TR><TD>[​IMG]
    SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune​
    Raiders punter Shane Lechler is tackled by Carlos Polk and Marques Harris.

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>“Pride and Poise,” baby. The words have been what the Oakland Raiders have lived by, the mantra of a team that never has hesitated in trumpeting that it is the only NFL team to be a party to Super Bowls in four different decades.
    Self-effacing is not a word that can be associated with this team. In the Raiders' playbook, there never has been a chapter on humility, which is what made Lane Kiffin's position following the Chargers' 28-14 triumph over his side at Qualcomm Stadium yesterday such a stunning departure from the club's customary stance.
    Said the 32-year-old Raiders coach: “What happened today is we came out and played like really bad football teams play. We turned the ball over. We gave up sacks. We didn't stop the run. We didn't run the ball, and we got penalties. You know, maybe we were lucky that it wasn't worse.”
    Indeed, the Chargers might have won more resoundingly than they did in getting to 3-3 and into a tie with Kansas City for the lead in the AFC West. Consider these points: [​IMG] The Raiders did not cross midfield in the first quarter. In the second quarter, they did not get across the 50-yard line until 1:47 was left in the period. Again in the third quarter, the East Bay team did not cross midfield.
    [​IMG] Running the football had been the Raiders' strength through their first four games. They had been the NFL's leading rushing team by more than 20 yards per game with an average rushing net of 194.3 yards. Yesterday they managed just 53 yards rushing and finished with an average gain of 2.3 yards for 23 thrusts.
    [​IMG] Daunte Culpepper is the Raiders' quarterback, but he is 30 and he doesn't move around so well in his ninth professional season. The Chargers reached him six times for 37 yards in losses. When Culpepper threw, he didn't do it accurately with any consistency, and there were times when he should have thrown and did not. Anyone putting together these factors could conclude that the Chargers could have won by open lengths. As it was, they could have been in no better than a 14-14 tie at halftime had Culpepper acted more decisively in the final seconds of the second period.
    Oakland, then behind 14-7, had first-and-goal at the 1 with 20 seconds left in the period after Ronald Curry took a Culpepper pass for a 31-yard gain. On the next play, Kiffin said the call was for Culpepper to go to a tight end in the corner or a fullback in the flat. If neither was open, the quarterback was to throw the ball away and the team would run on second down. Culpepper, though, had Shawne Merriman get to him for a 6-yard loss before he could throw the football away. Now 7 yards from the end zone, the Raiders were not in a position in which they could run. Culpepper dropped back again, and this time when Shaun Phillips hit him, the quarterback fumbled away the football at the 11. Opportunity missed for the Raiders. “For whatever reason, we came in today and we didn't play the way we had played the last two weeks as far as making really good decisions, not turning the ball over, not taking sacks and running the football,” Kiffin said. “And we didn't do that today.”Halfway through the second period, there was a suggestion that the Raiders had despaired of challenging the hosts fundamentally. From their 40, the Raiders essayed a fake punt. Translation: unconditional surrender. Kiffin explained that punter Shane Lechler was to run only if the defensive formation favored him doing so. It did not. The Raiders audibled out of the fake punt, Kiffin said, but Lechler did not hear the audible and off he went – for a 4-yard loss. Moments later, however, the Raiders were in a game they had been losing 14-0. Linebacker Thomas Howard put himself in front of a lollipop of a Philip Rivers pass and high-stepped 66 yards to a touchdown. On his return, Howard matched his gait to one Deion Sanders once exhibited, clearly relishing every stride. “It was a little Deion and a little slice of T. Howard,” the linebacker said. “It was just sweet home Alabama.” Howard is from Texas. “All we say in Texas,” he noted, “is, 'Don't mess with Texas.' ” Don't mess with LT, either. Howard said LaDainian Tomlinson has the keenest vision on a football field of any running back he has encountered. Kirk Morrison, the former San Diego State athlete who backs up the middle of the line for the Raiders, said the team had worked all week on limiting LT's big plays. “If you don't, that's what happens,” Morrison said of the running back's four touchdowns. “Today you didn't see what this team is all about. We're just excited that we have our best games ahead of us.”


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