A month from now, when the Raiders are once again a player in the AFC West, silencing all the nattering nabobs of negativity, they'll look to a single play in a 13-9 win over the Philadelphia Eagles as the spark that ignited a doormant franchise.

Tom Cable has been talking about it for the last few weeks, and it's been dutifully echoed by quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Sometimes all it takes is a play to get things started.

Let the 2-4 record show the lead candidate for that play arrived with 2:21 to play in the first quarter and the Raiders trailing 3-0, following a 45-yard field goal by David Akers.

After Jonathan Holland's 15-yard kickoff return to the 14-yard line (it was another less than stellar day in terms of returns for the Raiders), Russell found his most trusted target, Zach Miller, open on the run at about the 30-yard line.

Miller was stunned to see wide-open spaces and broke into the clear toward the right sideline before being joined by a one-man convoy named Louis Murphy. Murphy took strong safety Quintin Mikell out of the play at the Philadelphia 45, then kept going as Miller chugged toward the end zone.

At the 5-yard line, with Miller expertly awaiting help, Murphy walled off safety Ellis Hobbs and the Raiders had their first touchdown pass since a 57-yard strike to Murphy on fourth-and-14 in Week 1.

It covered 86 yards, and with the help of missed field goal attempts of 43 and 47 yards by Akers, gave the Raiders and an announced crowd of 49,642 that came ready to boo, something to cheer about instead.


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The last time Russell threw a touchdown pass, the Raiders promptly gave up the lead and the game, and the 24-20 loss to San Diego had sadly been the high point of their season, considering the quality of opposition in Week 2's 13-10 victory in Kansas City.

Carried by a defense that sacked quarterback Donovan McNabb six times, unchracteristcally turned up the defensive pressure and blunted the Eagles last drive at the 50-yard line, the Raiders finally have a win to be proud of six weeks into the season.

It was enough for coach Cable to give a mini-sermon on the power of positive thinking.

``As I said to you guys time and time again. Stop looking to write negative things or worry about all the BS,'' Cable said. ``Let's develop a team and an organization that has struggled to win the last few years. You don't just flip a switch and do that overnight. You don't wake up the next day and everything is rosy. There's a process to get there.''

With that in mind, we'll overlook for the moment the Eagles missed those two field goals, and that if not for the herculean blocking effort by Murphy, the Raiders may not have scored a touchdown.

Or that the Eagles, who had beaten only Carolina, Kansas City and Tampa Bay with a blowout loss to New Orleans, may not be anywhere near the NFL's elite.

None of that really matters when it's accompanied by a team desperate for a win and looking for something to believe in during a prolonged period of gloom and doom. Miller and Murphy were instant adrenaline.

``When Zach scored, the whole energy of the stadium, the sideline, everyone was amped,'' Murphy said.

``We were struggling a little bit early on offense,'' Miller said. ``We didn't start as fast as we wanted to, and once that play happened, I felt that was a little spark for us and thought we moved the ball well all day and people felt good about the way we were playing.''

Miller said he never saw the first block thrown by Murphy until he looked at it on the replay board.

Murphy didn't seem to care that he'd made his biggest contribution to the Raiders in the first game where he didn't show up in the statistics. One pass thrown high and behind him by Russell glanced off his hands and directly to Asante Samuel, one of Russell's two interceptions. Otherwise, he came up empty-handed.

``That's what I'm here to do. I want to help, I want to block downfield,'' Murphy said. ``I want to help the team win, by any means necessary. I didn't have a catch today. Doesn't matter. We won. That's all that matters.''

Miller has been the Raiders' most reliable receiver for three years now. Murphy, the fourth-round draft pick from Florida, may have done more for his credibility with his blocking than he has as a promising receiver.

``It earns the guy a lot of respect," Miller said. "His teammates see how much effort he puts in. That's a pure effort play, making blocks, what was he, 75 yards down the field? That earns a ton of respect from everyone on the offense. Gets everyone going, just shows how much fun Murphy has playing the game.''

Said linebacker Thomas Howard: ``That's Raider football. No, that's not Raider football, it's football, make a block, run down, make another block, that's playing for your teammate, that's what it's all about. That's effort.''

And symbolic of the kind of teamwork Cable believes can erase the kind of thinking which he believes has poisoned both the orgnanization and the media alike.

``Great effort. Great effort. Two big blocks. Zach kind of set up the last one as best he could,'' Cable said. "Just a great job by both those kids. That's guys playing for each other. That's what you're supposed to do.''

Staff writer Jerry McDonald can be reached by e-mail at