0-4 at the quarter turn


SAN FRANCISCO _ LaMont Jordan is in denial.

He is in many ways the conscience of the Raiders, calling out his teammates while at the same time conceding his own culpability.

Following a 34-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Monster Park, Jordan took the podium in his familiar battle fatigues and continued his weekly tradition of pushing the bottom line one week into the future.

“It’s gut-check time for us,” Jordan said. “We’re at a crossroads.”

The guts, of course have already been spilled across football fields from Baltimore to the Bay Area in four losses.

As for the crossroads, the bus has has the Raiders well down the route to oblivion. The Raiders have been at the bottom of the AFC West for 24 consecutive weeks and look to be good for another 24.

Sorting through the rubble of another halftime lead gone bad:

— Once upon an opener the Raiders could have been a good team if weren’t for that pitiful offensive line.

Against the 49ers, the offensive line might have been the best part of the Raiders, although the opposition had something to do with it.

— The Raiders have improved their tempo, completed some short passes and look to have the complementary back they’ve desired for Jordan in Justin Fargas. Fargas gained 63 yards in eight carries.

–The Raiders have a bonafide medical miracle in Ronald Curry, who had 4 receptions for 94 yards. No one was happier for him than Norv Turner, the man who essentially pushed Tim Brown out the door so Curry could play a rule in his offense.

“I got to talk to him before the game,” Turner said before he boarded the elevator fromthe press box following the game. “It’s a great thing to see.”

— Turner got a game ball, which he spiked in the 49ers locker room. The last time the Raiders got to give a game ball, it also went to Turner. Warren Sapp awarded it to Turner last Nov. 20 after the Raiders beat the Washington Redskins 16-13 _ which just happens to be the last time they won a game.

“I just never saw the power running attack, I just didn’t see it,” Raiders owner Al Davis said when he fired Turner.

Davis got an eyeful Sunday, with Frank Gore rushing for a career-high 134 yards on 27 carries and breaking the first hit on probably 20 of those attempts. Oakland’s defense, thought to be an average to above-average unit with aspirations on being good, is instead far from it.

The defense also got suckered on a screen called by Turner in which Maurice Hicks went 33 yards for a touchdown.

— Turner wasn’t cut out to be a head coach, but he’s a heck of an offensive coordinator. If Davis had hired Shell in 2004 and insisted on Turner as the coordinator, maybe they’d have something.

— Special teams contributed mightily to the demise when ReShard Lee whiffed on  Manny Lawson, leading to a blocked Shane Lechler punt which erased the Raiders lead for the rest of the day.

— Offenisvely, the Raiders had some good moments both running and passing. They avearged 6.7 yards per rush and spread 18 completions to nine receivers good for 216 yards.

— Andrew Walter did his best Kerry Collins impersonation Sunday, looking very good until he threw back-breaking interceptions and an ill-advised lateral to help turn a 14-13 deficit into 31-13.

— Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo threw four interceptions to a team which now has four interceptions this season.

— The Raiders, who cling to their tradition like no other, reached back into the archives for one of their most painful moments. Jordan played the role of Charlie Smith, who let a Daryle Lamonica lateral bounce to the ground and then walked away from it. The Jets recovered and won the AFC championship, 27-23.

Smith, at least, was a rookie.

“As a veteran running back, that’s something I’ve got to be aware of,” Jordan said. “I made a mistake on that one. It was pretty costly.”

— Randy Moss got the 100th touchdown reception of his career with a 22-yard reception from Walter before halftime. He should have had 101. He dropped a Walter strike in the first half in a drive in which the Raiders had to settle for a field goal.

Chances are he’ll talk about it today on Fox Sports Radio with Chris Myers, and lend his own special brand of doom and gloom the proceedings as well.

— DT Warren Sapp (knee contusion), TE Randal Williams (quadriceps), TE John Madsen (quadriceps) and G Kevin Boothe (severe nose bleed) did not finish the game. Boothe was sent to the hospital, accoridng to coach Art Shell.

— Paul McQuistan, who started the season as the starting left guard, replaced Boothe. McQuistan was working in warmups at right tackle and may be challenging Langston Walker. Walker received three penalties _ two false starts and a hold _ but had no glaring blocking errors as the Oakland line had its best game.

— Shell deflected all quarterback talk with regard to the starter in Denver. Aaron Brooks said he was having a medical exam Monday to assess the condition of his pectoral strain.

— The Raiders have extended the longest losing streak in the Al Davis era to 10 games and have won just 13 of their last 52 games.

— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was supposed to address the local media Sunday, but never showed. Must have been anticipating all the questions about Monster Park and the chances of either of the Bay Area teams moving to Los Angeles.











Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer