OAKLAND — The Raiders are not among the NFL's elite teams, a truth that has been made abundantly clear during the 2012 season. But as we discovered Sunday, they most certainly are not the league's worst, either.
The Raiders controlled, frustrated and generally bullied the hapless Kansas City Chiefs at O.co Coliseum, winning 15-0, snapping a six-game losing streak and opting out of the race for the first overall draft choice in 2013.
It was Oakland's first shutout since the final game of the 2002 season, and the Chiefs' 119 total yards were the fewest surrendered by the Raiders since they held the Chargers to 93 on Oct. 5, 1975.
"It's a great, great thing for us to be able to go out and get a shutout," defensive tackle Desmond Bryant said. "Since I've been here we obviously haven't had any kind of shutouts. I don't even know how to say it. It was awesome being a part of that."
Kansas City ran for just 10 yards on 10 carries, and most of Brady Quinn's 136 passing yards came with the Raiders in prevent mode. The Chiefs had 17 total yards at halftime, and didn't record their initial first down until 4:37 remained in the third quarter.
They certainly had their chances late, especially when Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston recovered Darren McFadden's fumble at the Oakland 18-yard line with 10:20 to play. But Kansas City actually moved backward, and Quinn's fourth-down pass to Jon Baldwin in the end zone fell incomplete.
That was one of three Chiefs failures on fourth down over the final two quarters. Safety Matt Giordano cut down Jamaal Charles for a short gain on fourth-and-goal from the 9 in the third quarter, and cornerback Joselio Hanson pounced on Dexter McCluster for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play with 3:59 left. That was the Chiefs' final threat.
"You know, let's not get ahead of ourselves. This wasn't the best offense in the league," middle linebacker Omar Gaither said. "But it's still an NFL team and I think we came out today and dominated. I think it just shows what we can do when we do everything right. I don't think there was a lot of mental errors today, and the score on the scoreboard showed it."
The Raiders improved to 4-10, with half of their wins coming against Kansas City.
"We had seen them before, earlier in the season, and we knew who they were, their weaknesses, and we took advantage of them," linebacker Philip Wheeler said. "We smelled blood."
If the Raiders had been playing any opponent other than the Chiefs, they may have been in trouble Sunday. They moved the ball efficiently at times and wound up with 385 yards of offense, but failed to crack the end zone despite seven trips into KC territory.
The Raiders' best shot came late in the first quarter when they had first-and-goal at the Chiefs' 9-yard line. But Palmer's third-and-goal pass from the 2 was batted down by Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston.
Fortunately for Oakland, Sebastian Janikowski's right leg is in fine working order. The veteran nailed five field goals, including a 57-yarder as time expired in the first half, to account for all of the Raiders' points. Janikowski missed once, from 51 yards.