John Sleezer Kansas City (Mo.) Star Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster, bottom, must settle for a one-yard gain after being stopped by Raiders defenders Sunday.

Win vs. Chiefs brings reward

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 - 7:54 am

ALAMEDA – The Raiders' first convincing victory of the season prompted coach Dennis Allen to give his players a day off Monday.

The Raiders are showing signs of hitting their stride after a rough opening month. Their 26-16 victory Sunday at Kansas City was their second in a row after a narrow loss to undefeated Atlanta.

The once-dormant running game has picked up, the penalties are way down, and Oakland (3-4) is doing a much better job of generating and preventing big plays.

But Allen is still far from satisfied with his team's performance, seeing many areas for improvement. The most notable one is in the red zone, where the Raiders managed just one touchdown in six trips Sunday. Oakland is the second-worst team in the NFL at converting trips inside the 20 into touchdowns.

"There's a lot of things we weren't happy with (Sunday)," Allen said Monday. "You can't look at the margin and say, well, because you won by more, you played better. We've got to look at, we were able to win a football game. There's still a lot of things that we've got to get better at, a lot of things we've got to correct. We've got a short time to get it done."

Oakland's first two wins – Sept. 23 against Pittsburgh and Oct. 21 in overtime against Jacksonville – came on field goals on the final play.

There was no such drama against the Chiefs. The Raiders led by 14 in the third quarter and were never threatened the rest of the way, leading Allen to reward his players.

With the big lead, the Raiders were able to run effectively late, rushing for 95 yards in the fourth quarter after having just 110 fourth-quarter yards on the ground during the first six games.

"There's times during the season where players need a mental break and a physical break," he said. "I felt like, we had the bye, we've gone through three straight tough weeks, it was time to give them a little bit of a mental break as much as it was anything else. So, they'll be back in here Wednesday. There (were) a lot of them in here today already looking at the tape."

Bartell expected back – The expected return of cornerback Ron Bartell to practice this week comes as the Raiders persevere with a long list of injured players.

Bartell suffered a shoulder injury in the season opener against San Diego on Sept. 10, and he missed the past six games while on injured reserve/designated to return. He is ineligible to play until Nov. 11 against Baltimore.

Shawntae Spencer, the other starting cornerback, has missed the last five games because of a foot injury, and there is no timetable for his return. The injuries to Bartell and Spencer prompted the Raiders to move free safety Michael Huff to cornerback.

Allen said he hasn't decided whether to leave Huff at cornerback once Bartell returns or move him back to free safety.

Bartell's return comes at a time when the Raiders added a few more names to an injury report that featured 20 players for Sunday's game.

Backup running back Mike Goodson suffered a turf toe injury Sunday, and center Stefen Wisniewski hurt an ankle. Goodson's injury is the most worrisome, Allen said. If Goodson can't play Sunday against Tampa Bay, Taiwan Jones and Marcel Reece will pick up the slack behind Darren McFadden.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Josh Dubow



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