Behind Enemy Lines

It shouldn't be too hard to beat the five touchdowns Drew Brees came up with last time the Chargers and Raiders met. Anyone for six?

For an encore, Drew Brees will need to come up with something special to one-up himself. Chances are he won't equal what he did to the Raiders last time the teams met three weeks ago.

Every time he got off a pass, his San Diego Chargers gained 11.2 yards. Every five passes he threw resulted in a touchdown. For three quarters, three out of every five plays he ran resulted in a first down.

"We got bullied last time," safety Ray Buchanan said. "They let the air out of us."

Buchanan insists the Raiders can't wait for a rematch, which is a bit like asking for another 100 pushups.

The Raiders might not stand a balloon's chance in a room full of safety pins of going anywhere this year, but they definitely have a lot of opportunity to show how much they have improved -- which they think they have.

"Now we have the opportunity to be the bully-er," Buchanan said. "I think everybody in this locker room is looking forward to this game. We're looking for payback. We need a game against a team with a winning record, a team that believes in themselves like they do ... to really show them what we've got."

What the Raiders had last time was a leaky defense, precious little offense and a propensity to turn the ball over without getting any turnovers back in a game that was lopsided as it was, but could have been worse.

The bye week gave coach Norv Turner and his staff a chance to do some repair work. In the first San Diego game, Turner says the Raiders were thrust into matchups they -- across the board -- failed to win.

Most evident was the matchup against Brees and his corps of receivers. Of Brees' five touchdown passes, three went to his tight ends and two to the hottest receiver in football, Antonio Gates.

That was one "matchup" that wasn't a matchup at all. Too often, Gates didn't even have the annoyance of a Raider covering him.

"A lot of it was we shot ourselves in the foot and didn't even cover the guy like we were supposed to," Buchanan said.

"It was a deal where a guy thought he had someone else and thought another position had that guy," safety Stuart Schweigert said. "A guy like him (Gates) scores touchdowns when he's doubled. If he's not covered, chances of him scoring are going to be pretty good."

"The two main guys in their offense are LaDainian (Tomlinson) and Gates," strong safety Marques Anderson said. "If you have a good game plan for those two guys, you can almost shut down their offense."

Against the third highest-scoring team in football, the Raiders are going to have to do better than almost.

"This is a big game for us," Kerry Collins said. "If we to have any chance, we're going to have to win this weekend.

"If we want to get back in it, we have to win our (remaining four) division games. It is a must win for us. We've talked and said to ourselves that even though we are 3-6, there is still a possibility." The possibility of winning their final seven games and finishing 10-6 may seem like pie in the sky but Norv Turner teams have been streaky in the past.

"My second year in the league (1998) in Washington, Norv was the coach and we started the season 0-7," LG Brad Badger said. "It seemed like we couldn't get anything going. We ended up finishing the season 6-3.

"It was a big improvement considering such a poor start. We just kept fighting and battling, saying we were going to take it one game at a time. That's what you have to do. The first win gives you confidence and you just get it going. We just need that confidence going into each game and we will be all right."

The Raiders' win in their last game over Carolina may not have been a defining game but it was a win and ended a five game losing streak. The Chargers, coincidentally, have won five of their last six.


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