The Kings of Monday night


How about those so-called Kings of Monday night?

On a night the Raiders used to dominate, they made history in reverse. Never in the history of the series had a team been shut out twice in one year on Monday night.

The Raiders, 16-0 losers to the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field, did it with relative ease. They had 24 possessions in two Monday night games and never so much as attempted a field goal. They made it to the red zone once _ in the waning  moments of a 27-0 loss to San Diego.

In eight quarters of football before a national television audience, the Raiders gained 304 yards, gave up 18 sacks, punted the ball 19 times, were 5-for-27 on third-down conversions and were outscored 43-0.

Then they tied a nice bow on the whole stinking package when Tyler Brayton was ejected for kneeing tight end Jerramy Stevens in the groin, a replay which will only be shown about a thousand times this week and cost Brayton some serious coin, if not a suspension.

Some topics of discussion for a short week leading up to a three-game swing against the AFC West (Denver, at Kansas City, at San Diego), where the Raiders have won two of their last 20 games:

— Take a look at Seattle’s defensive stats coming into the game and you can almost see how it happened. Opposing receivers and quarterbacks had shredded the Seahawks all season, posting a quarterback rating of 99.8.

So the Raiders, accused of being too conservative, opened things up. They came out with a roll out on the first play, and continually threw the ball on first down. The results were disasterous. Walter was sacked seven times in the first half alone.

On one series, Walter was sacked on three consecutive plays. First down, second down, third down. A whole new way to execute a three-and-out.

Not all were the fault of the line. Walter held the ball too long, and the Raiders seem incapable of quick timing passes in which the quarterback gets the ball out quickly.

Considering the Raiders actually made some headway running the ball in the second half with LaMont Jordan, the first-half pass-first strategy looked even worse.

— With 44 sacks in eight games, the Raiders are one shy of the record number of 45 through eight games suffered by David Carr of the Houston Texans in 2002.

— You watch Randy Moss and wonder if that’s all there is. He can’t hold on to the tough ones any more and also drops easy ones.

— Jerry Porter, meanwhile, is apparently back in the doghouse, if not the inactive list. You wonder if Shell somehow got wind of the fact that Porter told ESPN that nothing had changed, he was still unhappy and still wanted a trade.

— You saw it right. The Raiders used the shotgun formation on a handful of plays The first time they broke it out, on third-and-21, it resulted in a sack.

— When the Raiders run a screen pass, it’s almost as if it develops in stages. A screen done correctly is one of football’s most beautiful plays. When the Raiders do it, it’s hideous.

— To twist the old baseball cliche, every time you watch the Raiders play, then commit a penalty in a way you’ve never seen it done before. This time it was Terdell Sands, bluffing a count over center, getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

— If the NFL doesn’t suspend Brayton, then Shell should. A game and a game check would be suffiicent, considering Stevens appeared unhurt.

— The Raiders defense, while not nearly as good as they were the last two weeks, still managed to keep the Seahawks within striking distance. After giving up a touchdown and two field goals on Seattle’s first three possessions, Oakland forced eight consecutive punts before the final field goal.

There were no takeaways, however, and Seattle ended up rushing for 207 yards _ the most Oakland has given up this season.

— At least Warren Sapp knows how to shine when the lights go on. Sapp had a sack, two hurries and one pass defensed.

— Cornerback Fabian Washington did well to finish the game with what had to be two sprained ankles after falling victim to a 22-yard touchdown pass from Seneca Wallace to Deion Branch.

— Wallace did an excellent job managing the game, avoided mistakes and rushed for 49 yards. There’s a marked difference in how a Mike Holmgren-coached team prepares a quarterback and how the Raiders prepare a quarterback.

Walter looks like a lost soul. If Aaron Brooks begins to put some zip on his passes, you wonder if Shell will consider shutting him down and giving it another go next year when hopefully a new quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator with experience can give him a chance to succeed.

— If Shell has as much faith in Tom Walsh as he continues to profess, then he’d better find him a right-hand man next year _ much like a baseball manager needs a good bench coach.

— Analyst Tony Kornheiser had seen all he needed to see on Oakland’s second possession, by which time Walter had already absorbed two sacks and the Raiders had opened with a pair of three-and-outs and minus-6 net yards.

“I’m going to say this now because I may be proven wrong later in the game,” Kornheiser said. “Their offense is unspeakably bad.”

Five sacks into the first quarter, Kornheiser said, “In Little League, they end this. It’s called the 10-run rule.”

Early in the third quarter, Kornheiser chipped in with, “Playing the Raiders is like a homecoming game. Everything becomes easier.”

Especially on Monday night.




Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer