Paul & Kate: Are Raiders prepared to replace McClain?


Paul & Kate: Are Raiders prepared to replace McClain?

'It wasn't perfect,' but Raiders defense made strides vs Jags

'It wasn't perfect,' but Raiders defense made strides vs Jags

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Raiders defense got embarrassed by Kansas City last week, in front of home fans. That loss to the Chiefs was a boiling point for the NFL’s worst defense, which came under scrutiny for a string of poor performances.

Players weren’t happy allowing yards and points by the bushel, playing in contrast to what they considered great potential.

“Everybody had a bad taste in their mouth,” Khalil Mack said.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were cool mint Scope.

The Raiders defense got right in Sunday’s 33-16 victory at EverBank Field against an offense unable to move the ball downfield. Their 344 yards allowed, while not great, was a season low. Most of that sum came in garbage time, with just 201 yards allowed through three quarters.

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was sacked once, hit five times and flustered most of the afternoon.

“You could see him smacking his thighs, throwing his head down and his hands up,” cornerback David Amerson said. “I could see that the front seven did a good job harassing him the whole time, getting him out of the pocket. I think we did a good against him.”

While Raiders gave up chunk yards on the ground, they stood tall at important times.

They had two interceptions. The Jaguars were 4-for-13 on third down, just 1-for-4 in the red zone and didn’t cross the goal line for roughly 54 minutes.

“It was huge for us to come out and hold it down on defense,” Mack said. “It was huge for us to get the win.”

Mack came up with a big third-down sack. David Amerson intercepted a pass in the end zone and former Jaguars draft pick Reggie Nelson got Bortles late in the fourth quarter with an opportunistic pick.

“We definitely made him move around a little bit and brought him down a couple times,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I thought the coverage was a lot better. We gave up some yards in garbage time late, but we were pretty solid throughout the day. I thought the defense played better.”

Detractors will say the Raiders defense looked better against a moribund Jaguars attack ranked low in scoring, total offense and rushing yards. That unit can only play the next opponent on the schedule, and they looked better than in recent weeks in key areas where the Raiders struggled in recent weeks.

They didn’t leave Jacksonville acting like every problem has been fixed. “We came out and played aggressive football on defense,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “Guys were in their gaps, communicated and it really showed today.”

“It’s a step. It wasn’t perfect,” Amerson said. “There are definitely things we can work on and improve, but we moved in the right direction. We got the win and we limited their offense from what they wanted to do. It’s something we can grow from.”

Smith leads Chiefs in nail biter over Saints


Smith leads Chiefs in nail biter over Saints


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes in another efficient outing, Daniel Sorensen returned an interception of Drew Brees for another touchdown and the Kansas City Chiefs held off the mistake-prone New Orleans Saints 27-21 on Sunday.

Spencer Ware ran for 77 yards to go with his 46-yard touchdown reception, and Tyreek Hill made an acrobat 38-yard TD catch to help the Chiefs (4-2) win their ninth straight at home.

Brees got the Saints (2-4) within 24-21 with his touchdown pass to Brandon Coleman with 2:33 left, but the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds. Kansas City added a 41-yard field goal, and the Saints could do nothing in the final 28 seconds to change the outcome.

Brees finished with 367 yards and three TD passes, but much of that offense came while he was trying to rally the Saints. It was actually another uneven performance away from the Superdome for the star quarterback, who was coming off a 465-yard game last week against Carolina.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs showed some mettle after falling into an early 7-0 hole. Ware's touchdown on a screen pass and Sorensen's pick-six off a batted ball quickly turned the momentum, and Hill added his long touchdown reception to make it 21-7 at the break.

The Saints drew within a touchdown on Mark Ingram's catch midway through the third quarter, but the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner fumbled inside the Kansas City 10 with 8:26 left in the game and the Chiefs leading 24-14.

New Orleans got the ball back and eventually scored, but the wasted time proved costly.


The Saints struggled with the crowd noise in Arrowhead Stadium, getting flagged for four false starts and a delay of game. They also got hit with two unnecessary roughness penalties, including one with just over two minutes left that kept them from getting the ball back.


The Chiefs' Andy Reid coached his 300th game Sunday. Most of those were over his 14 seasons in Philadelphia, where he was 140-102-1. He is now 36-21 in his fourth season in Kansas City.


Saints: LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad), LB Stephone Anthony (hamstring) and CB Delvin Breaux (broken leg) left New Orleans without three defensive starters, while starting LG Andrus Peat (groin) was also out. Backup LG Senio Kelemete later left with a stinger, forcing Tim Lelito into the lineup.

Chiefs: Starting CB Phillip Gaines (knee) was inactive, while RB Jamaal Charles (knee swelling) was active in a limited role. He had just one carry early in the game.