It often bears watching whether or not an embarrassing loss in the postseason has a long-term effect.
Do not, however, expect the Oakland Raiders' 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII to fit that category. Besides their performance, the fact that Bucs head coach Jon Gruden (former Raiders coach) enjoyed sticking it to his old team added to the Raiders most embarrassing postseason loss since Buffalo annihilated the Raiders 51-3 in the 1991 AFC Title Game.
Though to different degrees, the Raiders have rebounded from frustrating defeats the last two seasons on the way to winning three straight AFC West titles. First, there was the home loss to Baltimore in the AFC championship game two years ago in which quarterback Rich Gannon was sidelined after being sandwiched by Tony Siragusa. Then, there was the infamous "Tuck Rule" in New England.
Two teams come to mind that have not recovered from blowout losses in the postseason are Jacksonville and Minnesota. In 2000, the New York Giants blasted Minnesota 41-0 in the NFC Title Game. Minnesota has not been the same and has a combined 11-21 record the last two seasons. In 1999, Tennessee belted Jacksonville 33-14 in the AFC Title Game. Jacksonville has combined for a 19-29 mark the last three seasons, missing the postseason each time.
The Raiders remain the favorite in an ultra-competitive AFC West. While the conference has several good teams, it lacks a great one. Therefore, Oakland is in position to make yet another run because it did not take a step backward at any position.
Several teams have had to endure the frustration of repeatedly coming up short before finally winning the big one -- including John Madden's Raiders in the 1970s. But nowadays, and the window of opportunity generally closes a lot faster than it did 30 years ago.Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com