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SAN DIEGO - What a stroll down Memory Lane!

Drunk and disorderly fans wearing silver and black. Inept and dopey football. And a mental picture of owner Al Davis muttering obscenities in a dark room somewhere up above it all.

Can it be 13 seasons already since the Raiders fled Los Angeles to return to their ancestral rat hole in Oakland?

Where does the time go?

It seems like only yesterday the Raiders were our problem.

Remember when attending a Raiders game in the Coliseum was an iron-clad guarantee of Hell's Angels wannabes in the parking lot, brawls in the stands, incompe-

tence on the field and an overmatched coach attempting to explain the latest debacle?

It's comforting to know some things never change.

The Raiders and their grungy camp followers are Oakland's blight, again, but the team's Commitment to Putrescence remains steadfast.

The Raiders arrived at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday with a 2-2 record -- meaning they already had as many victories as they managed last season under Art Shell regime 2.0.

Then they reverted to their form of their previous fourseasons, when they went 15-49 and were the laughingstock of the NFL.

Or as Lane Kiffin -- Kiddie Koach -- put it, "What happened today is we came out and played like really bad football teams play."

Can't argue with the young man, who was just warming up.

"We turned the ball over," Kiffin said. "We gave up sacks. We didn't stop the run. We didn't run the ball. And we got penalties.

"It's very easy to see how that game got out of hand."

It ended San Diego 28, Oakland 14, but it could have been 42-14, as LaDainian Tomlinson blitzed the Raiders for 198 yards rushing and fourtouchdowns.

Oddly, it also could have been closer.

It was shaping up as a blowout when Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers gave the Raiders a gift touchdown by chucking an interception while being sacked, a ball returned 66 yards by Thomas Howard. That made it 14-7.

A few minutes later, the Raiders managed their first drive of the game, reaching the San Diego 1-yard line with 20 seconds left in the half and a chance to forge a tie.

But they chose that moment to do what the Raiders so often do, suffering a sort of collective brain cramp former coach Bill Callahan might have had in mind, back in 2004, when he famously complained, "We've got to be the dumbest team in America, in terms of playing the game."

On first down, quarterback Daunte Culpepper took a sack for a loss of 6 yards, and the Raiders burned their last timeout. On second down, Culpepper again was sacked, losing a fumble, and that was the half.

Not what Kiffin had in mind, or so the 32-year-old former USC offensive coordinator said afterward.

He said he wanted Culpepper to look for the fullback or tight end on first down and throw the ball away if they weren't open. Then the Raiders would run the ball on second down, use the last timeout if they didn't get in ... and, well, it all went down a Black Hole there.

Sound familiar? We know it does to Oakland fans, who have seen only three Raiders teams compile a winning record since 1995.

"Daunte made a poor decision," Kiffin said, throwing his quarterback under the bus. "He'd be the first to tell you. ... And he did it two plays in a row."

Culpepper, of course, is not the Raiders Future. That would be JaMarcus Russell, top pick in the draft, the quarterback the Raiders didn't get around to signing until after their first game, thus making him essentially irrelevant to the 2007season. Just like the team he doesn't yet play for.

Culpepper fumbled twice, threw two interceptions and was sacked six times. But he wasn't the only Commitment guy to stink it up.

He wasn't on the field for any of the Chargers' 206 rushing yards.

He wasn't flagged for any of the Raiders' eight penalties (for 69 yards). He had nothing to do with a hare-brained fake punt that "everyone" knew had been called off except the punter, Shane Lechler, who was swarmed as he failed to get a first down at the Oakland 36.

"Crowd noise," Kiffin said. Not long after noting, "You know, maybe we were lucky it wasn't worse."


By the end of the game, most of the Raiders' fans were leaving the stadium. If three hours in the sun hadn't killed their parking-lot buzz, the performance of their team certainly had.

Ah, grand. Just like old times.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 15, 2007

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