The Oakland Raiders showed they are not the most prideless team in America.
Oakland's pride on Sunday was most apparent on defense.
"Being 3-10, the chips are kind of stacked against you," Oakland defensive end Tyler Brayton said. "Teams don't expect a lot out of you but we didn't lay down."
Oakland, which hosts Green Bay next Monday night, held Baltimore running back Jamal Lewis to 125 yards on 24 carries. Those numbers would be considered an outstanding achievement for most offenses. The Raiders, however, entered the game with the 31st ranked defense against the run coupled with Lewis having tallied 1,622 yards on the ground.
"We knew try going to run him," Raiders defensive tackle Chris Cooper said. "He's a tough runner. We just tried to cut his angles down and force him toward the inside."
Oakland's defense also sacked Baltimore quarterback Anthony Wright three times, twice by defensive tackle Rod Coleman and once by safety Derrick Gibson. Wright completed just 12-of-27 passes for 193 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
"It enhances our goal of finishing strong," Raiders head coach Bill Callahan said of beating Baltimore. "I'm hopeful we'll have a positive performance."
Another key note to the game was Oakland winning the takeaway-giveaway battle 3-0.
The Raiders used their defense to create the game's first score. Cornerback Phillip Buchanon intercepted an Anthony Wright pass intended for Frank Sanders and returned it 29 yards to the Baltimore 1-yard line. Zack Crockett then plowed behind fullback Chris Hetherington and center Adam Treu for a 1-yard touchdown to put Oakland on top 7-0 at the 14:05 mark of the first quarter.
Baltimore answered on the ensuing drive with a 32-yard Matt Stover field goal to make it a 7-3 Oakland lead at the 7:52 mark of the first quarter. The drive took up 12 plays for 61 yards.
Oakland's Doug Gabriel returned the ensuing kickoff 71 yards to the Ravens 19 but the Raiders could get no closer. Oakland then settled for a 37 yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal to go in front 10-3 with 6:53 left in the opening quarter.
The Ravens then trimmed the deficit to 10-6 with 12:38 left in the second quarter on a 27 yard Stover field goal. Wright completed passes to Terry Jones and Travis Taylor for 25 and 41 yards respectively.
Oakland widened its lead to 17-6 when Mirer fired a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice over the middle with safety Will Demps defending on the play. That score gave the Raiders a 17-6 lead at the 1:20 mark of the second half. The key play on the drive was a 26-yard Mirer connection to tight end Doug Jolley.
The Ravens cut into the lead late in the third quarter when Wright connected with tight end Todd Heap over the middle for a 13-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion attempt was no good and the Raiders led 17-12 with 2:10 left in the third period.
Oakland stretched the advantage to 20-12 at the 5:58 mark on a 23-yard Janikowski field goal. That drive was set up by a Brayton fumble recovery after Baltimore reached the Oakland 27 with 10:54 left in the game. Wright was trying to hand the ball off to Lewis before linebacker Napoleon Harris disrupted the play. Harris was officially credited with a sack and forced fumble.
"I was on the back side of the pressure," Brayton said. "Napoleon made a great hit before they could get the exchange. The ball popped out and I happened to be right there.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com