Russell Debuts, but McCown Lifts Raiders

The Associated Press
Sunday, December 2, 2007; 7:26 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. -- JaMarcus Russell's debut may have drawn the biggest cheers. Josh McCown delivered the biggest plays.

McCown threw three touchdown passes for Oakland despite missing two series when Russell played for the first time, and the Raiders capitalized on Denver's mistakes to beat the Broncos 34-20 Sunday.

Justin Fargas carried 33 times for 146 yards and a touchdown and Oakland (4-8) scored 24 points off four turnovers to snap a five-game losing streak to Denver (5-7). The Raiders also ended a 12-game home skid to AFC West rivals a week after snapping a 17-game losing streak in the division by winning 20-17 at Kansas City.

Russell, the No. 1 overall draft pick out of LSU, made his long-awaited debut in the second quarter in place of McCown. He threw a 16-yard completion to Jerry Porter on his first play and moved Oakland downfield, but was unable to lead the Raiders to any points on his two drives.

With coach Lane Kiffin only looking to give the rookie a taste of NFL action, McCown returned late in the second quarter after the first of two fumbles by Travis Henry. McCown quickly threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller with 50 seconds left in the half to give Oakland a 14-7 lead.

Oakland put together two more quick scores in the third quarter by McCown, scoring 17 points in a span of less than five minutes with help from two fumbles by Henry and Thomas Howard's interception of Jay Cutler's pass.

McCown's 13-yard pass across his body to Porter completed the scoring spurt and gave Oakland a 24-7 lead in the third quarter.

Jason Elam kicked a pair of field goals in the quarter for the Broncos. Henry's 3-yard touchdown run after McCown fumbled a snap from center cut Oakland's lead to 24-20 early in the fourth period.

Sebastian Janikowski, who missed a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter, hit from 44 yards midway through the fourth. After Fabian Washington intercepted Cutler, Fargas iced the game with a 5-yard run.

McCown completed a 13-yard pass to Justin Griffith on third-and-11 and ran 11 yards on third-and-2 to set up Fargas' score. McCown finished 14-for-21 for 141 yards and the three scores.

Cutler completed 16-of-32 for 214 yards and two interceptions. Henry, who missed the previous three games with a knee injury, ran for 49 yards and two touchdowns, but also lost two fumbles.

Russell entered to a standing ovation with 13:48 remaining in the second quarter. He looked in control for the most part, despite nearly botching a handoff to LaMont Jordan and fumbling a shotgun snap for an 8-yard loss before Janikowski was short on a 58-yard field goal attempt.

Russell drove Oakland to the 25 on his second drive before Fargas was stuffed on fourth-and-1 by D.J. Williams. Russell finished 4-for-7 for 56 yards in his two series.

After Tyler Brayton recovered a fumble by Henry on the next drive, McCown returned to a chorus of boos. Those quickly turned to cheers when McCown threw his TD pass to Miller.

McCown also led Oakland to a touchdown on the opening drive with help from a running-into-the-punter penalty on Cecil Sapp. Fargas ran for 43 yards on the drive and McCown capped it with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Tim Dwight. Denver responded with an 83-yard drive that tied it on Henry's 4-yard run.

© 2007 The Associated Press