Raiders keep first road win in perspective


Raiders keep first road win in perspective

KANSAS CITY -- Sure, the Raiders' locker room had a certain bounce to it after Oakland's 26-16 defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs, but it's not as if the guys were not bouncing off the walls.Not even with the Raiders claiming their first road victory of the season and winning consecutive games for the first time under Dennis Allen to improve to 3-4 on the year.Not with so much perspective being preached by the Raiders' new regime, and the trade deadline fast approaching on Tuesday."This one's only important if we're able to go out and win the next one," insisted rookie head coach Dennis Allen."This victory's not going to mean nothing if we go home and lose to Tampa," offered defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.And there's more than a kernel of truth to it all. There's a handful of positives for the Raiders to glean from their sixth straight win in Kansas City, as well as negatives to massage.First and foremost, the Raiders won the battle in the trenches, on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Raiders had three sacks, one each by defensive tackle Richard Seymour, linebacker Rolando McClain and linebacker Philip Wheeler, who also had an unofficial total of 11 tackles, and two interceptions, by safety Matt Giordano and cornerback Pat Lee. It was the first pick of Lee's five-year career.The defense chased quarterback Brady Quinn out of the game on his first-quarter interception, knocked around Matt Cassel, limited game-breaking running back Jamaal Charles--who entered the day averaging 5.1 yards per carry--to four yards on five carries and receiver Dwayne Bowe to three catches for 65 yards, with 46 of those yards coming on one play."What you want to do is eliminate the team's big plays and execute your plays," Wheeler said. "You just want to play fast and physical. That's what we did."Offensively, Palmer threw for 209 yards on 14-of-28 passing attempts with two TDs and an interception, equating to an 83.8 passer rating to extend his franchise record of passing for at least 200 yards to 13 straight games.A week after taking a beating in the overtime defeat of Jacksonville, Palmer was not sacked by the Chiefs."I had all the time in the world to throw," Palmer said, crediting his offensive line."I don't think my jersey needs to be washed."Denarius Moore had a touchdown catch for the third straight game, last accomplished by a Raiders pass catcher in 2010, guy by the name of Zach Miller.And even Darren McFadden got into the act with 114 yards rushing on 29 carries, with 73 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter, when the running game was needed most to hold onto the lead.Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski converted four field goals to up his career conversion rate at Arrowhead Stadium to 32-of-36 made.But perhaps most encouraging on this day -- the Raiders were flagged a season-low two times, for 20 yards."It's something that you fight every week and you battle every week," Allen said. "Our guys understand that we can't have the dumb penalties that cost our team. We were better in that this week and we've got to improve in that area."Another area, or two, in need of improvement -- third-down efficiency (Oakland was just two of 12) and red-zone efficiency (one of six).Three times they had a first-and-10 inside the Chiefs' 25-yard line and had to settle for field goals."It's frustrating," Palmer said."We had opportunities to score and we didn't capitalize on it, so we're going to go back and continue to work and find ways to get better than 65 percent in the red zone. That's our goal."Here's one last goal heading into the next game -- take a deep breath. Again.The Raiders' last two opponents -- the Jaguars and Chiefs -- were each coming off bye weeks. Oakland's next opponent, Tampa Bay, will be coming on off a 10-day layoff having played Thursday night.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders used the No. 24 overall pick on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley. This wasn’t a second-round flier or a late-round gamble.

That’s a first-round pick. Rolling the dice this early is ill advised. The Raiders don't believe they did with a selection accompanied by a $5.78 million signing bonus, $10.5 million in total money and a valuable fifth-year option to keep a player in town.

They wouldn’t risk such an asset on someone in serious legal trouble. The Raiders did significant research on Conley, who was accused of rape earlier this week, before making a selection. Results gave the Raiders confidence in their choice. 

Conley has not been arrested or charged over an allegation that stems from an April 9 interaction in a Cleveland hotel.

Conley said the accusations are “completely false,” in a statement released by his agent. He claims to have witnesses and video evidence that he didn’t do anything illegal during an exchange where group sex was suggested. He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police about the allegation and an investigation into it on Monday.

Conley said he took and passed polygraph test prior to the draft, hoping to avoid a free fall into the draft’s later rounds.

The Raiders clearly believe him. They wouldn’t have used such a high pick on the Ohio State cornerback otherwise. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team thoroughly investigated the matter, and felt comfortable using a high pick on someone who sat alone atop their draft board at No. 24 overall.

“We did our due diligence throughout this whole process,” McKenzie said Thursday night, after making the Conley pick. “We trust our research, reports, everything that we have on Mr. Conley. We feel really good about picking Gareon Conley and having him join the Raiders team and having him be a great teammate for our players.”

McKenzie didn’t detail the Raiders research efforts, but didn’t seem concerned about this off-field issue.

“I don’t want to get into all the details,” McKenzie said, “but the bottom line is that we’ve done miles and miles of research to make sure we were totally comfortable with our decision, which we were.”

McKenzie said he spoke with owner Mark Davis about Conley, as he does most first-round options.

The Raiders were impressed by Conley’s workouts and his game tape. The rape accusation obviously gave the NFL pause regarding his draft status, and he slipped somewhat in the first round.

The Raiders are confident following an internal investigation that his legal troubles will pass without incident.

“The research was done,” McKenzie said. "It wasn’t just a gut (feeling). It was based on research, and we’re very confident in all the information that we got.”