Archive for Sunday, December 9, 2001

Raiders must stop Holmes

Chiefs back eager to face team struggling against run

December 9, 2001


— The Kansas City Chiefs are running the ball effectively, with halfback Priest Holmes the primary reason.

The Oakland Raiders, on the other hand, are having trouble stopping the run and must face Holmes today.

"When it gets into November and early December, teams can start to go into the tank or they can continue to do well," said Holmes, who needs 22 yards to become the first Chiefs player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Christian Okoye in 1991.

"I think that's a good team, but I feel we've found some weaknesses in their running (defense), and it will be good to exploit them."

The Raiders (8-3), coming off an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals, must plug the holes this week. Oakland hasn't lost back-to-back home games since coach Jon Gruden's rookie year in 1998, but holding down opposing runners has been a chronic problem this year.

"It's not a problem that can't be fixed," said Raiders defensive back Anthony Dorsett. "We have to concentrate on our run defense. We just need to get serious about doing it."

Holmes, who played for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens last year, is eager to face Oakland's porous run defense, ranked No. 23 in the NFL and allowing 128.5 yards a game. He's fourth in AFC rushing and has been getting better throughout the season as the Chiefs (3-8) who have lost four straight to Oakland, have committed to running the ball.

"Our running game just kind of came out because we have a number of talented offensive linemen and they were ready to block and ready to run," said Holmes. "It would be really good to go in there and steal one from them."

Before Seattle's Shaun Alexander humbled the Raiders with 266 yards rushing on Nov. 11, Oakland was ranked among the top five against the run. Ever since, the Raiders haven't been able to stop anybody's rushing attack. Arizona rushed for 145 yards last week.

"There's been some individual breakdowns, then it becomes a domino effect," said Oakland linebacker Elijah Alexander. "We have to get back to the basics. Everybody is pressing, trying to do too much. Week after week, you see 150 yards rushing against us. That grabs your attention. That gets us focused."

Oakland beat the Chiefs in the season opener on Sebastian Janikowski's field goal with 31 seconds remaining. The Raiders held Kansas City to 35 yards rushing in that game. A similar effort would help mend things on the defensive side.

"We need to do a better job of limiting opponents," Gruden said. "I have confidence in the defensive coaches and players that they will overcome these matters."

The Raiders were unsure of the status of defensive tackle Darrell Russell, who faced a one-year suspension from the league for testing positive for the drug Ecstasy.

"There are a lot of things going on, negative things that could distract us," said Dorsett.

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