ALAMEDA Dennis Allen's grand vision of a team that relies on a strong running game and a stout defense finally came into focus in the 14th game of the season. One day later, the Raiders coach contemplated the next step: Doing it again.
A 15-0 victory in their final home game Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs was nice, but a similar effort on the road against Carolina would be an important step.
"It's just like I've been saying since Day One we've got to be more consistent at it," Allen said Monday at his weekly news conference. "We've proven we can do it at times, but we've got to be more consistent at it. That will be our challenge moving forward."
The Raiders (4-10) finish the season at Carolina and San Diego (both 5-9) teams that aren't in the NFL's upper echelon, but they aren't the 2-12 Chiefs, either.
With the Raiders' defense taking a beating this season, Allen guarded against the perception that the result wasn't as impressive given the level of competition.
"It's tough to shut out anybody in this league," Allen said. "For us to go out there and do that it's the first time it's been done in this organization for 10 years I think that was critical for our defense."
The shutout was the first since the Raiders blanked the Chiefs 24-0 in a rainstorm to close out the 2002 season with an 11-5 record.
Allen also noted that the 119 yards of offense surrendered was the franchise's best since 1975, and he pointed out that the Raiders gave up 10 yards on the ground to a team that ranked fifth in the league in rushing.
"I think that was a good confidence builder," Allen said. "Now we have to build on that."
Big game for Carter Defensive end Andre Carter had his second sack and played 32 of 44 snaps, his highest percentage of the season. He was credited with five quarterback hits by the coaching staff.
Carter joined the Raiders on Sept. 26 as a free agent after a Pro Bowl season with the New England Patriots. His season ended with a torn quadriceps that required surgery.
"He's a lot closer (to top form) than he was, and I think he's only going to get better," Allen said. "He's been a great addition for us, not only on the field, but in the locker room, in the classroom. He's been good to have, and I expect him to continue to get better."
Land rush The 45 rushing attempts (for 203 yards) were the most carries for the Raiders since they had 52 (for 251 yards) in a 28-13 road win over San Diego on Dec. 5, 2010.
Is there a punt returner in the house? With Denarius Moore struggling to field punts against the Chiefs and Phillip Adams undergoing the NFL's concussion protocol for the second time in three weeks, the Raiders are looking for a punt returner.
Allen said safety Matt Giordano and cornerback Coye Francies, a former Cordova High School standout, are options.
Injury report Wide receiver Juron Criner will be evaluated Wednesday after playing eight snaps against Kansas City before injuring his hip.
The same goes for safety Mike Mitchell (neck) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring), who looked as if he was on pace to play against Kansas City before a setback Friday.