Tarver: Raiders need to control tempo more
Raiders' Sunday opponent Philip Rivers has thrown 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions this season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have played four games and still don’t have an interception. Charles Woodson normally has a few of his own by this point.
When it comes to catching errant passes, the Raiders have drawn a blank.
It’s a source of immense frustration for a talented, yet unlucky secondary heading into Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, but it isn’t a reason to panic.
The Raiders believe they’re doing what’s necessary to take a pass away, yet haven’t been rewarded for it.
“We’re all hungry for it,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I don’t know when it’ll happen, but it’s going to happen. We have too many good players back there in the back end of the defense for it not to happen. We just have to keep working, keep plugging, and look for our opportunities and take advantage of them when we have those opportunities.”
Interceptions are part skill, part luck. Sometimes a quarterback throws a football right to the wrong guy. Some times the ball’s tipped, and others a defender makes a great play. The Raiders have been close on several occasions and haven’t secured possessions. Despite drawing a blank, the Raiders can't let frustration impact their play.
“The more you press, the worse you play,” Raiders strong safety Brandian Ross said. “I can’t believe we don’t have a pick yet, but it’s a fact. We’re playing well and we’re putting ourselves in position to do so. That’s the comforting part. We just haven’t got one yet. When we get an interception, my guess is they’ll come in bunches.”
They’ve come often against San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in recent seasons. He’s thrown double-digit interceptions the last three seasons, with a career-high 20 in 2011. This year, Rivers isn’t making the same mistakes. He has just two to accompany 11 touchdowns in four games, thanks in large part to a new scheme that allows him to audible more and throw deep far less.
The Raiders need to coax Rivers into bad decisions -- a solid pass rush would help -- to break a streak no defender wants to own. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers share this ominous, interception-less distinction, and the Raiders hope to take a pick on Sunday.
“We always talk about who’s going to get the first pick, about who wants the first pick,” Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter said. “It’s all about who wants it more. At the end of the day, we just have to get our hands on the ball. We have zero interceptions and it’s coming up on Week 5. Something has to change. We have to attack the ball more than we’ve been doing.”