Raiders' fans can make an impact

Tony Dungy does not have fond memories of playing at Oakland.

In 1999, when Dungy was the head coach at Tampa Bay, he took his team west to face a Raiders team that was struggling a bit. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, were on a six-game winning streak en route to an 11-5 regular-season record and a spot in the NFC title game against the St. Louis Rams.

Oakland, which finished the season with an 8-8 record, came away with a 45-0 win in a game that Dungy still believes was one of the worst defensive efforts any of his teams have ever had.

"(Former Raiders running back) Napoleon Kaufman, as I remember, had a big day," he recalled recently. "Rich Gannon was the quarterback. But it was the same type of scenario (as the Colts are facing this week). I kind of referred to it last year after we lost to Jacksonville (44-17). That Jacksonville game (in which the Jaguars had 447 yards in total offense, including 375 on the ground) was beautiful compared to (the Oakland game). I know what it's like going out there, going out there with a good team and still not being able to come back with a win. So we're forewarned, and I think we'll be ready to go."

Still, since many of the current Colts players have never been around the type of fan atmosphere that they're sure to experience in Oakland this week, the Indianapolis coach has been offering some nuggets of advice.

"You have to really work to focus on the field," Dungy said. "You can't get caught up in what happens off the field before the game, after the game, those kind of things. You have to really just zero in on their team, and that's hard to do. So that's part of it, too. Especially if you don't play out there a lot."

According to Dungy, few in Oakland probably remember that win over his Tampa Bay team nine years ago. But it's a game that continues to stick in his memory, for obvious reasons.

"I was on a conference call with the Oakland media (Wednesday) and a guy asked me if I had ever (coached in Oakland). He didn't remember me coaching out in Oakland before. I said I'm glad that he didn't remember," he joked.

"We're going to try not to have a repeat performance of that. I think our guys understand how tough it is going out there to the West Coast and going out and playing well. So that's our goal. I think we're off to a good start in terms of preparation and meeting time. And we want to go out there and see if we can get our division locked up. That's kind of the order of business for us."


SB Report Top Stories