Raiders not dwelling on the past

Since the Raiders closed out their third consecutive AFC West title against the Kansas City Chiefs, rushing for 280 yards and winning 28-0 on Dec. 28, 2002, the inability to run and stop the run is the main reason they have gone 2-24 in division games, including losses in the last 16 in succession.

The Raiders have lost 16 consecutive games against AFC West opponents -- the equivalent of a full season -- entering Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs at McAfee Coliseum.

The Chiefs have beaten the Raiders eight straight times. So have the San Diego Chargers, who beat Oakland 28-14 Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

Denver, the weak sister of the AFC where the Raiders are concerned, has won the last five against Oakland.

There is no divisional streak like it. The Raiders, both organizationally and in the locker room, pretend it doesn't exist.

Rather than dwell on the negative, the Raiders' weekly press release points out the following:

--The Raiders are the last AFC West team to go to the Super Bowl.

--The Raiders are the last AFC West team to win a division title three years in a row.

--The Raiders are one of only two AFC West teams to win a playoff game in the new millennium (along with Denver).

--The Raiders are one of only two AFC West teams to both play in and host the AFC Championship Game since 1998 and have hosted two of them.

--The Raiders are the only AFC West team to qualify for the playoffs in each of the past five decades.

Those 16 consecutive losses?

Not an issue.

"I don't think about anything but the next game on the schedule," Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said.

The next game on the schedule has the potential to be defeat No. 17. The Chiefs last lost to the Raiders in the 2002 season finale, with Oakland putting the finishing touches on a third consecutive division title and eventually winning an AFC championship.

The Raiders' 17-35 record against non-division teams since that day is nothing to brag about. Their 0-16 record against AFC West teams is hidden away from view like a humiliating family secret.

The fact is, only a handful of Raiders have been around that long.

"I've never won an AFC West game," linebacker Kirk Morrison said.

He some company.

Guard Robert Gallery, who was a rookie starter on the Raiders team that last won an AFC West game on Nov. 28, 2004, a 25-24 win over Denver, does his best to downplay the dominance.

"It's a big deal because you want to win your division, but in the end it's a game," Gallery said. "You've still got to win them. You lose a non-division game and it doesn't make you feel any better. A game's a game."

Gallery claims the infamy of the streak is not an issue.

"I mean, it's good stuff for you guys to write about," Gallery said. "But I don't really think about it. It's a new year for us. Anybody can win at any time in this league. I don't think of that. We're 0-2 in the division right now is how I look at it. "That's our streak."

The Raiders' impotence in the AFC West has many factors. Oakland is a minus-12 in those games in turnover ratio. They've committed 120 penalties for 936 yards compared to 84 for 629 for their three opponents.

But the biggest problem Oakland has faced received an exclamation point in their most recent loss to the Chargers. LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 198 yards on 24 carries and scored four touchdowns while the Raiders were making no headway on the ground, gaining 53 yards on 23 carries.

The 16-game streaks finds opponents having rushed for 2,338 yards on 557 carries, with the Raiders having 1,369 yards on 359 attempts.

The Raiders have six rushing touchdowns during that span, with the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos totaling 25.

Thomas Howard, a rookie starter last season who is 0-8 against division opponents, realizes things have to change. "We have to get off the field," Howard said. "As long as we can't do that, nothing is going to change."

Kiffin resisted the notion that the Raiders' personality will that be of a team that gives up big yards but counters it with making the big play. He thinks the Raiders will need to stop the run and believes the problem has more to do with assignments than with being beaten by superior technique and power.

"I think we can and we have to do better, or we're going to be in a lot of trouble, especially in this division," Kiffin said. "We're not pleased at all. Our players know that and our staff knows that we're being beaten with inconsistencies and big plays.

"You lose games with turnovers. You lose games with explosive plays. That's what's happening right now. We're stopping guys at times and then we're giving up explosive plays."

SB Report Top Stories