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Big plays mask Raiders' improvement on defense

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Sept. 13, 2010 @ 2:58 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

That Raiders-to-the-playoffs bandwagon was getting crowded heading into Week One, but some people are no doubt hopping off after Oakland was humbled by Tennessee on Sunday, 38-13.

The same problems that haunted the Silver and Black last season bit them against the Titans. The offense, now led by QB Jason Campbell, looked just as bad as it did when JaMarcus Russell was under center, and the offensive line allowed Campbell to get sacked four times.

The defense gave up big plays. WR Nate Washington beat CB Stanford Routt for a 56-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and Javon Ringer scored on a 15-yard carry in the second quarter about two minutes before RB Chris Johnson broke free for a 76-yard touchdown run. The Titans had 162 yards rushing in the first half. Johnson scored again on a four-yard run in the third quarter, which put Tennessee ahead 31-6.

CB Nnamdi Asomugha told PFW earlier this month that his team wasn't too far from being a Super Bowl contender. Some expect the club to make a leap in the AFC West, but Oakland didn't play like a team serious about making the playoffs in its season debut.

The PFW Spin

Oakland focused on bringing in personnel specifically to help stop the run this offseason. First-round pick Rolando McClain became the new starting middle linebacker. Richard Seymour moved inside to tackle and veteran John Henderson was signed to beef up the interior defensive line.

It's clear that the Raiders' run defense isn't where it needs to be quite yet, but it showed glimpses of improvement Sunday. If you take away Johnson's 76-yard touchdown run, he gained just 66 yards on 26 carries (2.5 avg.), so it's not as if he ran wild. His second-longest run was for 10 yards. Oakland stuffed him for the most part, yet the Titans finished with 205 rushing yards and gained 5.3 yards per carry.

The Oakland "D" is going to have to figure out how to avoid giving up the big play, because this game probably would have been closer had the Raiders done a better job on two plays — Washington's 56-yard TD catch and Johnson's 76-yard TD run.

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