By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, December 17th, 2012 at 3:08 pm in Oakland Raiders.
With the grand vision of a team that relies on a strong running game and a stout defense finally coming into focus, Raiders coach Dennis Allen contemplated the next step Monday.
Doing it again.
A 15-0 win in their final home game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday was nice, but a similar effort on the road against Carolina would be an important next step.
“It’s just like I’ve been saying since Day 1 _ we’ve got to be more consistent at it,’’ Allen said at his weekly press briefing. “We’ve proven we can do it at times, but we’ve got to be more consistent at it. That will be our challenge moving forward.’’
At 4-10, the Raiders finish the season at Carolina and San Diego, both currently 5-9. Not in the NFL’s upper echelon, but not the 2-12 Chiefs, either.
With the Raiders defense taking a beating this season, Allen was protective of the perception that the result wasn’t as impressive given the level of competition.
“It’s tough to shut out anybody in this league,’’ Allen said. “For us to go out there and do that _ it’s the first time it’s been done in this organization for 10 years _ I think that was critical for our defense.’’
The shutout was the first since the Raiders blanked the Chiefs 24-0 in a rainstorm to close out the 2002 season with an 11-5 record. Allen also noted the 119 yards of total offense surrendered was the least given up by the Raiders since 1975, and pointed out that they gave up 10 yards on the ground to a team that came in ranked fifth in the league in rushing.
“I think that was a good confidence-builder,’’ Allen said. “Now we have to build on that.’’
– The Raiders gave the players the day off Monday, with the team beginning preparations for Carolina on Wednesday.
– Defensive end Andre Carter had his second sack and played 32 of 44 snaps, his highest percentage of the season. He was credited with five quarterback hits by the coaching staff.
Carter joined the Raiders Sept. 26 as a free agent after a Pro Bowl season with the Patriots last season that ended with a torn quadriceps that required surgery.
“He’s a lot closer (to top form) than he was, and he’s only going to get better,’’ Allen said. “He’s been a great addition for us, not only on the field, but in the locker room, in the classroom. He’s been good to have and I expect him to continue to get better.’’
– With Denarius Moore struggling to field punts against the Chiefs and Phillip Adams undergoing the NFL concussion protocol for the second time in three weeks, it’s not known who will return punts against the Panthers.
Allen said Moore had trouble finding the ball against the left-footed Dustin Colquitt, who averaged 54.7 yards per punt with a 51.7 net.
“Hopefully he’ll learn from it and we’ll move on,’’ Allen said.
He said other options were safety Matt Giordano and cornerback and special teams player Coye Francies.
– Wide receiver Juron Criner will be evaluated Wednesday after playing eight snaps against Kansas City before injuring his hip. Same goes for safety Mike Mitchell (neck) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring), who looked on pace to play against Kansas City before a Friday setback.