MNF Matchup; Oakland at Seattle
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Strong defensive play has helped the Oakland Raiders to unexpected consecutive wins. The offense wants a chance to keep the turnaround going.
The surging Raiders look to win three in a row for the first time since the season of their last Super Bowl appearance when they travel to Qwest Field for a Monday night matchup against the sputtering Seattle Seahawks.
Oakland (2-5) hasn't posted three straight wins since a five-game run from Nov. 11-Dec. 8, 2002, en route to an AFC West title and the Super Bowl. Injury-riddled Seattle - the Raiders' former AFC West rival - is trying to avoid losing three in a row for the first time since Oct. 10-24, 2004.
The home team has won the last eight times these teams have met.
On Oct. 22, the Raiders snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 22-9 victory over Arizona. Oakland then got two interception returns for touchdowns last Sunday to defeat defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh 20-13.
Chris Carr returned a Ben Roethlisberger pass 100 yards for one touchdown and Nnamdi Asomugha added a 25-yard interception return for another score. The Steelers drove to the Oakland 3-yard line with less than 3 minutes to play, but linebacker Kirk Morrison broke up a fourth-down pass intended for Santonio Holmes.
``It looked pretty grim out there for a little bit when they were driving and only a touchdown down,'' Raiders safety Stuart Schweigert said. ``But that's when we picked it up and played our best.''
The Raiders have the NFL's worst-ranked offense, failing to score an offensive touchdown in four of seven games and managing only 98 yards against the Steelers - their second-fewest in a game since the 1970 merger.
``It feels like we're just beating our head against the wall a little bit,'' said quarterback Andrew Walter, who passed for only 51 yards. ``We've played seven games and I think we've had one decent outing in terms of the pass game. And that's really the thing that's affecting us as a team most right now.''
Since taking over for the injured Aaron Brooks, Walter has completed just 47.3 percent of his passes, thrown nine interceptions and just three touchdowns while being sacked 28 times.
Coach Art Shell, though, said he's seen positive signs from the second-year pro out of Arizona State.
``When he's given an opportunity to take a look and throw the ball down the field and do those things, he can be very effective,'' Shell said. ``We have to do a much better job of pass protecting, but I think he's coming along very well.''
Oakland will try to avoid an unprecedented fifth consecutive Monday night loss. The Raiders lost 27-0 to San Diego on Sept. 11 and have been outscored 116-27 during their four-game slide on Mondays.
Reigning league MVP Shaun Alexander and Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck helped Seattle (4-3) reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history last season.
Injuries to those two could ultimately keep the Seahawks from returning to the postseason in 2006.
Alexander, the league's leading rusher with 1,880 yards last season, his missed the last four games with a cracked bone in his foot. Though he's been pain-free for more than a week, Alexander is expected to miss this contest after X-rays showed his foot hasn't healed completely.
``If the pictures show the doctor what he wants to see, he will play,'' coach Mike Holmgren said Wednesday. ``If they don't, he won't. It's that simple.''
Holmgren added that Alexander could miss next Sunday's game against NFC West co-leader St. Louis.
``It's conceivable the same thing, the same deal, will happen next week,'' the coach said. ``I hope not. I hope he'll be back.''
The Seahawks are just 1-3 with Alexander our of the lineup. In a 35-28 loss to Kansas City last Sunday, Maurice Morris ran for a season-low 47 yards against a defense that had allowed 124 rushing yards per game coming in.
``It was a tough ball game. We battled our hearts out and came up a little short,'' Holmgren said.
Oakland's rushing defense is ninth-worst in the NFL, giving up 129.3 yards per game.
With Hasselbeck expected to miss two more weeks after spraining a knee ligament during a 31-13 loss to Minnesota on Oct. 22, Seneca Wallace will try to build off a good effort in his first career start.
The Iowa State product was 15-for-30 for 198 yards with three touchdowns, including a 49-yarder to Darrell Jackson, but also was intercepted twice.
``Once I relaxed and calmed down, it was just like another game for me,'' said Wallace, whom the Seahawks selected in the fourth round of the 2003 draft. ``It has been a while since I've played a full game.''
Holmgren said Hasselbeck is off crutches and remains on track to return Nov. 19 at San Francisco.
By: David Michaels - theSpread.com - Email Us
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