SFGATE: (again) Running woes doom Raiders' Carson Palmer

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It wasn't the old Raiders, it was the newly revised old Raiders, unable to stop the run and thus unable to stop the bleeding; out of running backs and, when Carson Palmer missed Denarius Moore, out of luck.

You know the adage, the only stat that matters is the final score, which Sunday at O.co Coliseum was Tampa Bay 42, Oakland 32.

Yet there's another number that is painfully germane: 61. That's how many passes Palmer was forced to throw.

He had no choice, so in the end, despite a rally that had the true believers cheering before its failure had them fleeing, the Raiders dropped to a record of 3-5.

The NFL may be a passing league, but that's relative. Now and then a team has to rush the ball. Now and then it also has to stop the rush.

Oakland had an excuse on offense. With always-injured Darren McFadden and backup Mike Goodson both getting hurt, the Raiders ran only three times in the second half and finished with just 22 net yards rushing.

On defense, the only excuse was incompetence.

"We didn't tackle well," was Raiders head coach Dennis Allen's grass-is-green, water-is-wet statement of the day. In truth, they didn't even tackle poorly.

Palmer, the quarterback obtained in a trade last year, tackled his assignment as well as possible, but when you throw 61 passes, and you're behind because somebody from Tampa named Doug Martin has turned the game into a track meet - 251 yards and four touchdowns - imperfection creeps in. Well, it stomps in.

There were three Palmer interceptions, the second, the most critical, with 2 minutes and 37 seconds remaining, after he and the Raiders had closed to 35-32 from 35-17.

Palmer and Moore had a mix-up, and the Buccaneers' Ahmad Black had the football.

The roar that had filled the Coliseum - even though the fans did not, upper-deck sections completely empty - became a gasp. The seagulls, which arrived early, maybe because they forgot to reset their clocks, swooped in and the people moved out.

"All interceptions you regret," Palmer conceded. "... It was just a little bit off. Not on the same page, myself and D-Mo, and mistakes like that you can't overcome. You just can't make.

"Me, being the quarterback, I can't do that obviously. You can't throw that ball. You just need to take a sack sometimes if things are off of the same page and come back the next play."

Palmer completed 39 of those passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns. He also hit on a two-point conversion. Maybe he shouldn't have thrown to Moore. There was considerable time remaining. Still, when your offense is one-dimensional, what do you expect?

"We had done a good job of being patient," Palmer said in a postgame locker-room interview that didn't offer a great deal of insight. "We wanted to take some shots when (the Bucs) were in pressure situations where they were leaving us one-on-one.

"You can sit back and wish that you had done it differently after a loss, and after a win everything looks all right."

The Raiders had the Bay Area to themselves on Sunday. The 49ers were idle. The Giants and A's were waiting for spring. The Warriors had a night off. It was an opportunity to make an impression. Oh yes, the best-laid plans ...

"Obviously," said Palmer, "to come back and to not finish as a team was difficult, but we fought, showed a lot of heart. But we didn't make enough plays when all was said and done."

That's a loser's lament. The Raiders are reconstructing their franchise. They've shown they're at least better than Jacksonville and Kansas City - who isn't? - however, with a new coach and not enough talent, they're doomed to struggle.

"We were successful moving the football," Allen said of a game plan modified because it had to be when the Raiders were in a hole. "We didn't make enough plays to win. I thought our team hung in there. I thought our team battled. We tried to make a comeback and just came up a little bit short."

A little bit, a lot. It doesn't make much difference. What makes a huge difference is being compelled to throw 61 passes.

"I think that's the case in any of those games where you get behind and begin to chase points," Allen said. "You're unable to really run the football because you're chasing points and you have to get points quickly.

"We were effective throwing the football, but obviously when you put the ball in the air that many times sometimes things can go bad. We have to do a better job of keeping the score in a situation where we can stay more balanced."

Easy to say. Difficult to do. Very difficult.

Former Chronicle columnist and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Spander is a guest columnist.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/raiders/article/Running-woes-doom-Raiders-Carson -Palmer-4008042.php#ixzz2BOgH7o9Z

votes: 1

Posts: 329


We just don't block well enough. And now our two top backs are out with injury.

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