Season Preview, a look back on "The Tuck Game"

The play still lingers in the back of Charles Woodson's mind. As much as he tries to avoid it, the Raiders' cornerback can't escape the memories of Oakland's 2001 AFC divisional playoff loss to New England.

Visions of the 'Tuck Game,' it seems, are everywhere.

''I think about it every now and then,'' Woodson said. ''People bring it up and you see it on little classic highlights. It's kind of crazy. Everything is a call away or a bounce here, an inch here, a yard there. Who knows what would have happened if it would have went the other way.

''You get some bad bounces sometimes. But at that point in time I was very (upset). I felt like we had a good enough team that year to go to the Super Bowl and win it.''

The play in which Woodson blitzed New England quarterback Tom Brady, forcing him to loose the ball which was recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert, was originally ruled a fumble.

Upon a challenge by the Patriots, however, referees changed the call and ruled that Brady threw an incomplete pass because his arm was going forward and had not tucked the ball to his body.

The game -- which New England eventually won 16-13 in overtime -- served as a springboard for the Patriots, who not only went on to win the Super Bowl that year but three of the next four, including the last two straight.

Oakland opens the regular season Thursday in New England at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots have been unbeatable the last two seasons. They've won 21 straight home games overall, including the playoffs, and are 32-4 at home since Sept. 29, 2001.

''It's a stage you can't find everyday in the NFL,'' Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. ''We're all looking at it that way. They have (21) straight home wins. It's a real opportunity for us to set up our season, get things rolling and see what we got.''

Raiders center Jake Grove agrees.

''I think it's a great opportunity for us,'' Grove said Sunday. ''Obviously last year was disappointing, and this year we have a chance, a fresh slate to come out on national TV -- everybody's going to be watching -- and show people what we're all about.''

NOTES: The Raiders signed seven players to their practice squad Sunday, including defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne, the team's sixth-round draft pick. Wide receiver Cedric Bonner, running back DeJuan Green, offensive lineman Brad Lekkerkerker and C.J. Brooks, tight end James Adkisson and Michael Quarshie.

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