2010 Oakland Raiders: Can the Defense Carry This Team to the Playoffs?

For the Oakland Raiders, a strong defense has always bided well for the team in the long run. Ask any Raider fan about those days of glory, with names like Tatum, Thomas or even Davidson to explain how a team's defense can change the course of a season.

This was long before the Ravens employed a "smashmouth" methodology, electing to use brute strength to dictate how games would be won or lost. Some for the Raider Nation would point to Jim Plunkett as being a good key to the Raiders winning titles in 1980 and 1983, but there was Lester Hayes making interceptions and Lyle Alzado bringing pain to the Steelers in the 1983 playoffs would be brought up and rightfully so.

This season, the Raiders seem to either find a new way to win, or so completely dominate an opponent that the opposing teams' fans are seen leaving before halftime. With a win over the Chargers, a key defensive blitz got into Philip Rivers' zone of comfort, causing a fumble.

In a trashing of Denver, the game looked more like a clinic of what plays to run in response to which package was called up. First a key pick returned for a touchdown, then a fumble recovery that should have been six points, put the game out of reach early.

The following week, the Raiders employed a tough defense on the Seahawks and their quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck. While the game was close, early on the Raiders defense made sure it would not allow any additional points...poor kicking on the Seahawks' part, plus eight sacks eventually led to another rout.

Within the Kansas City game, the Raiders needed two forms of effort to keep this game close. They needed to shut down a potent running game from Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, and to limit the passing attack with Nnamdi Asomugha on the bench.

In regards to the first threat, the Raiders had the level of difficulty turned up a notch with the loss of Rolando McClain after only 20 snaps. Ricky Brown was brought i...

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