Part of the Bay Area News Group

Broncos in control of AFC West after Raiders loss

By Steve Corkran
Sunday, December 11th, 2011 at 6:27 pm in Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders lost more than a football game Sunday afternoon, when they got shellacked by the undefeated Green Bay Packers, 46-16. They also dropped out of a tie for first place with the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.
The Broncos rallied from a 10-0, fourth-quarter deficit for a 13-10 overtime victory over the Chicago Bears. The Broncos have surged from 2-5 to 8-5 and into sole possession of first place with three games to play.
The sequence of events Sunday places added emphasis on the Raiders game against the Detroit Lions next Sunday. They have to like their chances of moving back into a tie for first place if they win that game, given the Broncos host the New England Patriots.
Then again, don’t rule out anything when it comes to the Broncos as long as they are quarterbacked by Tim Tebow. Also, the Raiders have too many problems of their own to worry about without keeping tabs on the Broncos.
For one, scoring points that mean something. The Raiders fell behind 34-0 on Sunday for the second straight game before they scored.
Overall, the Raiders lost to the Miami Dolphins and Packers 80-30 the past two weeks. None of those points scored by the Raiders meant anything, given the outcomes long since had been decided.
The Raiders margin for error is gone. They can’t afford another game like the past two or else it might be time to shift the focus toward 2012.

MCCLAIN’S MIXED BAG
Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain played a pivotal role in Packers first two touchdowns, which set the tone for a day of blown assignments, undisciplined play, missed tackles, etc.
McClain ran into his own man and got out of position on a 47-yard run by Packers running back Ryan Grant for the first scoring of the game.
On the Packers’ next drive, McClain failed to spot tight end Ryan Taylor in the end zone, looking around for someone, anyone, to cover. By the time he realized Taylor was the man to cover, Rodgers had completed the pass to Taylor for his first NFL reception.
McClain finished with two sacks, including one that yielded a safety, but they came long after the game had been decided.

PENALTIES ABOUND
The Raiders committed 11 penalties for 89 yards Sunday. Guess that’s an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon, regardless what coach Jackson says about getting it corrected.
The Raiders still are on a pace for a record number of penalties and penalty years through 13 games. The Kansas City Chiefs own both records, with 158 for 1,304 in 1998.
Defensive end Lamarr Houston jumped offsides twice and committed a clip on a fumble return in a particularly forgettable performance.
At this rate, it’s safe to assume that the Raiders are going to have to find ways to win in spite of a slew of penalties. If they haven’t corrected the problem by now, there’s little hope of it happening in the final three weeks.

PALMER STRUGGLES
Carson Palmer calls Lambeau Field his favorite place to play. Not sure if he still feels that way after having four of his 42 passes intercepted and finishing with a 42.4 passer rating.
Palmer’s first interception set the tone for what was going to be one of his worst games. He eluded a sack by linebacker Clay Matthews, rolled right and threw for Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was in the middle of four defenders in a diamond shaped.
That set up the Packers first touchdown. Palmer now has 13 interceptions this season, which is cause for concern.
Things figure to get easier for Palmer in the coming weeks, if not next Sunday, with the expected return of wide receivers Jacoby Ford (foot) and Denarius Moore (foot).
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens missed most of, or part of, Sunday’s game after suffering injuries. Schilens failed to return. Murphy and Heyward-Bey played through their injuries and combined for nine receptions for 148 yards.

MORAL VICTORY OF SORTS
The Raiders intercepted Rodgers once and sacked him three times before Rodgers departed after three quarters of work.
Rodgers still passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns on a day in which he finished with a 96.7 passer rating. He previous low was 106-something.

PACKERS RUN OVER RAIDERS
Watching Grant blow through the Raiders defense on the opening drive hinted that the Packers would be able to run as much as they wanted against the Raiders defense.
Sure enough, that’s what happened. The Packers running backs amassed 138 yards on only 21 carries (6.6-yard average). They likely would have piled up even more yardage if they didn’t have such an easy time making hay through the air.
Conversely, Raiders running backs managed only 95 yards on 26 carries (3.7-yard average) against a Packers defense that allowed an average of 4.9 yards its first 12 games.
That, in part, placed the Raiders in a situation where they had to pass more often than desired. And that is when the Packers defense is at its ball-hawking best.
Hence, the results were predictable.

Follow me on Twitter: @corkonthenfl

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